When Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure roller coaster opened a little less than two years ago, it was welcomed with a degree of fanfare that was only matched by the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter itself. The new roller coaster was one of the biggest thrill rides to open in recent years, and despite some early hiccups (as most attractions tend to have), the thrill ride has continued to be one of the most popular attractions in either of Universal Orlando Resort's two theme parks.
Fast-forward to now, not only is Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure still great, it's quite possibly the best roller coaster you can find at any amusement park in Florida. I recently had a chance to ride the attraction, and I honestly wasn't prepared for how great it actually was. I was expecting to have fun, but the experience was far beyond those expectations. While I'm willing to accept that many people will have different opinions, there's really no argument that Hagrid's doesn't belong in the conversation, and here are five reasons why it's one the best, if not the best, of Florida's roller coaster offerings.
Hagrid's Motorbike Ride Vehicle Is Great
The first thing you experience when getting on board Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is the carriage itself. Designed to look like Hagrid's motorbike and sidecar from the Harry Potter movies, this simple choice has huge implications for the ride. It adds a level of re-rideability that is not uncommon in theme parks, but is uncommon in roller coasters. Whether you sit in the motorcycle seat or the sidecar, the ride itself is going to feel quite different. Your body position and even your height is not the same.
While the sidecar is a pretty traditional roller coaster vehicle setup and even the motorcycle positioning isn't entirely unique, rarely do you find the ability to have both in the same roller coaster. You're going to want to ride the roller coaster at least twice in order to get each experience because they're different enough.
The Animated Character Storytelling
The best theme park attractions tell stories, but considering that roller coasters move really fast, there's isn't a great deal of time to tell them. Most roller coasters have no real story to them, or at least none that is told on the actual ride. But Hagrid's is quite different. While a lot of the story is given to you in the queue, no expense was spared when it came to the on-ride story. Some pretty impressive animated characters, some of whom have never been seen in the Harry Potter universe (even in the movies) are here to tell you the story, including Hagrid himself.
The great storytelling works for multiple reasons. First, the race through the Forbidden Forest and the different ways the ride moves are part of the story. But beyond that, the ride actually slows down in a few places to make sure you get to really see what it has to show you. And while slowing down may seem like a bad thing on a roller coaster, it's actually fun because each slow down means a brand new launch at high speed.
It's A Long Ride
One of the biggest problems with roller coasters is that, because they are designed to move fast, they are over quickly. That's just not the case with Hagrid's. By track length, Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is actually the longest roller coaster found in Florida. Despite the fact that you still experience a lot of it at top speed, which could have the ride over in a matter of seconds, the time you spend on the ride is longer than many comparable roller coasters. Or at least it feels that way.
At about three minutes long, Hagrid's is longer than many roller coasters, but it's certainly not the longest ride time in the industry. Some of that added length is because the ride occasionally slows down to show you things, but that's the beauty of the whole concept. Every time the ride begins to slow down, you wonder if it's is about to come to an end, and then off you go on another launch. It's an exciting feeling every time you realize that the ride isn't over yet.
Some people love roller coasters that twist and turn and corkscrew and loop, but for me, it's all about the speed. Now, topping out at about 50 miles per hour, Hagrid's certainly isn't the fastest roller coaster in the world; not even close. But honestly, the ride is plenty fast enough, especially because of the unique ride vehicle. If you're on the motorbike side, you lean into the wind or you can sit close to upright and just feel the wind blowing past you from all sides.
The roller coaster actually feels faster than it is, but at the end of the day, it's the experience that counts, not the specs. The coaster takes up a decent amount of real estate, so it doesn't feel crowded and everything has room to breathe. It feels more open than so many roller coasters that rely on corkscrews and loops because they don't have as much space to work with.
Then there's the moment when the coaster really does something you probably weren't expecting. At one point, after the ride has shifted to racing you backward rather than forward, the roller coaster literally drops straight down onto another level. Even if you know it's there and you're expecting it, it's a thrill simply because it's not the sort of sensation you expect on a roller coaster. There are countless other theme park attractions where that's part of the gimmick, but not roller coasters.
It's absolutely true that nothing on this list is entirely unique to Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. You can find every item here elsewhere, but you can't find them all in one place like you can here. It's this unique combination that make's Hagrid's special and a roller coaster experience that is absolutely worth waiting in line for or spending the extra money on the express pass.
The question is, how long will Hagrid's continue to be the best. Walt Disney World has too new roller coasters currently under construction in the Tron LightCycle Power Run at Magic Kingdom and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at Epcot. Even Universal Orlando Resort as its own Velocicoaster right next door to Hagrid's, which is certainly promising to be something special. Each of these certainly has the potential to be an even better coaster in at least some of these categories, but even then, it will be difficult for any of them to be quite as unique as Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.