Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Part III: The 'Other' Rides

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 - 
I'm delayed, and I apologize.  I'm slowly catching up on the vacation recap.  After this post, only one more Wizarding World of Harry Potter post to describe the streets of Hogwarts.  However, the "other" rides definitely played a part of the experience.  There are two rides besides the Forbidden Journey to round out the ride amusement of this magical world.  They include:
  • Flight of the Hippogriff (formerly known as the Flight of the Unicorn I believe)
  • The Dragon Challenge (formerly known as the Dueling Dragons)
Flight of the Hippogriff is a child appropriate ride, but of course, we had to ride it.  The Hippogriff is a magical creature from Hagrid's (gamekeeper and Prof. of Magical Creatures.)  With the head of an eagle and body of a horse, Buckbeak (a specific Hippogriff from the books/movies) flies Harry and company through the skies, and in this ride, you get to ride the creature!  

The ride queue moved very quickly, we were maybe in line for 10 minutes.  And throughout the queue, you were able to see Hagrid's hut and surrounding area.  What would have made this that much more entertaining was if you got to walk through the hut rather than just looking at it.  But I understand it is a small area, and I was appreciative of all the pumpkins (my fave!)
The ride was definitely more thrill than I was anticipating.  But yes, still child appropriate.  No loops or anything, so your friends who do not like roller coasters will be fine.  It was very quick, less than one minute, ride.  But with a 10 minute wait, I wasn't complaining.

The Dragon Challenge was more of a thrill roller coaster.  The queue went by very quickly and was focused on the Triwizard Tournament.  As you were walking, you saw banners cheering for the students of choice from the particular school that you would cheer for, including Hogwarts, Beauxbatons (which is an all girls school) and Durmstrang (all male.)
Inside, it was SO dark. I managed to take a few photos with my phone - including the Triwizard Cup and Golden Egg. 
There was also the candlelight ceiling, like what you would expect in the Great Hall.  It looked amazing at candles seemed to float over you, but because of the darkness, photos just weren't turning out.  Here is a video, I know it isn't much, but at least you can see a flicker here and there and listen to some beautiful HP music!

Besides those items, there wasn't much to look at.  Seemed very much like a dungeon.  I was surprised, Universal could have done much more with jazzing up that queue - maybe they will in the future as it will need it.

When you arrived to the actually ride portion, you had to choose the Chinese Fireball or Hungarian Horntail.  We choose the shorter line, which happened to be the Chinese Fireball.  We opted to wait just a little longer so we could have front row seats of the excitement (there is a separate line to do so.)  Both tracks run at the same time as you twist and turn your way through the ride.  At one point, it looks like you are going to collide with the other dragon only to do a loop and continue to scream some more.  It was exciting, a great roller coaster that hasn't changed from the original form.
All in all, the two rides were great additions to keep everyone happy.  Of course, the Forbidden Journey was just so amazing that it is hard to compare these two - just so different. 

Next up - the rest of Hogsmeade!