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Universal Studios' magical new Hagrid roller coaster expands Harry Potter lore
If you always wanted to hop on a motorbike with Hagrid, now’s your chance with the opening of Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Universal Orlando’s latest ride in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter . Rubeus Hagrid, keeper of keys and grounds at Hogwarts as well as Care of Magical Creatures professor, is one of the most beloved characters in J.K. Rowling’s series, so it’s no surprise that he and his magical creatures would have a role to play in the Wizarding World. But this ride is more than that; it's an immersive experience, expanding on the franchise's lore and the myth of the Forbidden Forest.
The ride is referred to as a “story coaster," and the story begins once you enter the long, winding line. The length and wait time likely won’t bother fans because, like the ride itself, riders are instantly immersed in the world upon entry. It begins at the edge of the forest with Hagrid’s hut and then takes riders on a journey that includes a Care of Magical Creatures lesson, which offers a tour of some nearby ruins. The ride finally begins when the rider hops on a motorbike (you can choose to ride the bike or sidecar) that then gets out of hand and whisks them away deeper into the forest.
Universal Creative executive producer Elaine Hinds told SYFY WIRE during a press event for the ride’s opening that they wanted to create a story with Hagrid that could appeal to diehard fans as well as those who may not have read the books or even seen the movies. The ride was completed in a little over two years, which Hinds said was “a very aggressive schedule.”
“We had an amazing team," she added. "We were able to collaborate with the Warner Bros. team and the film team. By focusing all of that creative energy together, we were able to create the ride."
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is now officially the longest roller coaster in Florida. The vast scope of the project — there are 1,200 trees over the 7-acre space — is clear as soon as you walk in. That impressive reach was the most challenging part, according to creative director for Universal Creative Gary Blumenstein.
“It’s a new attraction, but it’s the size of a land," Blumenstein explained. "That was a lot of effort to do it in the amount of time we did it in, and we’ve done a lot in terms of an original story, innovative figures, effects, props, you name it."
That effort shows in the details, particularly in the ruins one sees while standing in line. There are beautifully carved statues and sculptures as well as paintings and writing on the walls. Fans will want to look closely at every wall and peer up at every ceiling to catch these details, especially since some areas are darker than others. By doing so, they'll get a glimpse of what Hagrid may have been working on behind the scenes as well as what students decided to leave behind during their visits.
The paintings seen along the way contain plenty of Potter lore as well, displaying everything from magical creatures to a dueling club reference with two dragons, which is not only a Harry Potter callback but a hint as to what came before here in the theme park. At one point where there are “spaces” between what looks like wood panels on the ceiling, riders can see the shadow of a creature that walks around, breathes fire, and lights things up for a while before fading away.
Obviously, the line isn’t the only fun thing about the coaster. The ride itself is a thrill from start to finish, and even includes a few surprises in its path. Most importantly, this coaster also offers different experiences whether you choose the sidecar or bike to ride in. According to Blumenstein, even the location of your seat matters, with the front providing a feeling like you’re flying while the back provides the perfect view for seeing all of the show and story.
Barreling through the forest on the iconic motorbike is certainly a lot of fun, especially as Hagrid and familiar creatures appear along the path, including the never-before-seen-on-screen-but-always-talked-about Blast-Ended Skrewt. Blumenstein says it’s a creature that Wizarding World has wanted to include since creating the Flight of the Hippogriff ride, so this presented the perfect opportunity.
The ride earned the praise of Harry Potter cast members Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick), Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), James Phelps (Fred Weasley), Oliver Phelps (George Weasley), and Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), who were present for its preview and opening and shared their thoughts on the line and ride with press. (If you were wondering what the Weasley twins may have done in the ruins, yes, it was mentioned that they would probably test fireworks and do what they probably shouldn’t be doing at the school in this newly revealed location!)
While Lynch had fun on the ride, she highlights the Skrewt as a standout element.
“They don’t smell as bad as everyone thinks. I think it was nice. I think they should make a fragrance,” she said. (Davis suggested the name “Eau de Skrewt.”)
Felton said he rode the ride three times and that it was “bloody brilliant.”
The cast gathered again at a big opening celebration Tuesday night with a feast fit for Hogwarts and were joined by Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley). It also featured recorded messages from Hagrid himself, the actor Robbie Coltrane, who couldn’t be there in person. He reminded everyone to have fun and said that while the creatures in the forest may be dangerous, they’re also wondrous, injecting some appropriately pure Hagrid spirit into the event. Everyone then opened the ride with an impressive group display of Wingardium Leviosa, clearing the way to the entrance.
This ride shows again how far the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will go to make you feel like you received your Hogwarts letter. Fans who won’t mind spending some time in line to catch all the little easter eggs will enjoy the experience the most, as it takes you that one step closer to the dream of Hagrid paying you a visit to tell you “yer a wizard.”
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is now open at Universal Orlando The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade.