When Universal unveiled Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, the highly-anticipated Harry Potter-themed successor to the beloved Dragon Challenge, the park experienced perhaps their largest opening day for an attraction since the Wizarding World itself. News stations reported ten hour wait times on the opening day. A success, yes, but also a disaster.
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure's opening day was as monumental and over-the-top as the ride itself, a heavily-themed Intamin multi-launch coaster with a final bill of 300 million dollars, the most costly roller coaster ever built. Considering this, it is no surprise that the ride brought in such crowds. What is a surprise, however, is how today (March 2020, nine months after opening) it’s still such a task to score a ride on this attraction. Wait times still skyrocket to over three hours on a weekday--only higher on weekends and school holidays--and consistency is spotty. The ride seldom opens on time with the rest of the park and continues to experience a mix of short delays, extended delays, and full days of closure.
So why is it so hard to get on Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure nine months after its opening? We’ve boiled it down to four main points.
Florida is iconic for three things: rocket launches, theme parks, and unpredictable weather. Its nickname of the Sunshine State acts more as a wry inside joke than an indicator of weather patterns. Though Florida does experience some beautiful Summer days, it experiences frequent thunderstorms and severe wind. While most Universal rides, including Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, can run in the rain, both lightning and high winds can result in delays or closures of outdoor attractions. Even a short delay on a ride such as Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure can back the line up for literal hours and make it incredibly difficult to grab a ride when it reopens, which in and of itself is unpredictable.
With all that being said, if you can find a day with rainy weather but no lightning, seek out a ride on Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Those 50 mph launches feel even stronger when you add the sensation of rain in your hair!
Complex coaster design
If you can’t already tell by looking at it, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is not exactly a simple coaster like its neighbor Flight of the Hippogriff. The Intamin multi-launch coaster features seven launches, a vertical spike, a high-speed switch track, and a first-in-Florida drop track. While the coaster runs up to twelve trains at a time, everything needs to work smoothly in order to ensure a high throughput for a resort dealing with crowds as large as Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
A quick piece of info on how coasters work: roller coasters ensure safety for passengers by operating in a series of blocks. These blocks are basically small sections where only one train can operate at the time, separated by either trim brakes or LSM launches which can also act to stop a coaster safely. Once a train completes a block, a new train can be added to the coaster circuit. (Sort of like a “checkpoint” in a video game.) Because no two trains can be in the same block at one time, there is no chance of trains colliding.
Running twelve trains, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure has an excess of sensors that must be cleared in order to run properly and safely. This is not even to mention the amount of special effects and animatronics which operate in sync with the coaster.
With so many elements needing to go right, it is only natural that the ride will experience delays or late opening times. This is a complex attraction which is still finding its footing in the landscape of the park.