Harry Potter’s half-giant friend Hagrid has been magically brought to life in a thrilling new ride at Universal Orlando.
Fans of the boy wizard queued up for up to 10 hours to be among the first to ride Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure – try saying that after five butterbeers.
But they say it was totally worth the wait.
In fact, even hardened theme park aficionados are calling the new, mile-long ride one of the best attractions in the world.
The latest addition to Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter enrols visitors onto a ‘care of magical creatures’ class, taught by Hagrid himself.
Riders strap themselves into a magical duplicate of the groundskeeper’s famous motorbike and sidecar before weaving at breakneck speed between the trees of the Forbidden Forest and skimming the surface of Hogwarts’ Great Lake.
Eagle-eyed muggles will spot Fluffy the three-headed guard dog, a swarm of Cornish Pixies and a Blast-Ended Screwt – a fantastic beast from JK Rowling’s books that has yet to make it to the big screen.
Universal’s Creative team – which included Alan Gilmore, Art Director of the Harry Potter movies – describe the ride not as a rollercoaster, but a ‘story coaster’.
It seamlessly melds meticulously themed ’dark ride’ elements and a blisteringly fast thrill ride with twists, banks, a backwards section and a 17-foot vertical freefall.
But because the ride is as smooth as silk, the rider isn’t jolted about like some of the park’s more ‘hardcore’ rollercoasters, and in places it feels genuinely like the motorbike and sidecar are flying.
It’s definitely a thrill-ride – the launches feel really fast.
But it’s a family friendly ride, and doesn’t have upside down sections or tall dips that might be too scary for some kids.
The unique ride vehicle is a real treat. Riders are given the choice between riding the motorbike itself or sitting in the sidecar.
The motorbike is a full six inches higher – and because riders are only secured in place with a lap-bar, they more upper-body freedom than you would expect from a 50-mile-an-hour thrill-ride.
Leaning forward, grasping the handlebars and feeling the full force of acceleration is an extraordinary sensation.
The sidecar is a slightly more laid back experience, but being closer to the track makes each of the seven full-pelt launches feel a little more intense.
Hardcore thrillseekers should ask to ride the motorbike in the front row, where they’ll get the best experience of the ride’s 70 degree ‘spike’, which propels riders 65 feet into the air with no track in front of them, before being hurled backwards into a patch of Devil’s Snare.
And as die-hard Potter fans know, there’s only one way to escape from Devil’s Snare – straight down.
There’s no better way for fans to immerse themselves in JK Rowling’s stories – and Universal's Wizarding World just got even better.
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