Florida Guide > Other Parks
Dragon Challenge, Islands of Adventure, Universal Orlando
One of my favourite roller coaster rides is Dragon Challenge at Islands of Adventure, Universal Orlando.
I love the feeling of my feet dangling, (especially if you’ve been walking around for quite a while and they ache! ), twisting freely as you whiz round and around. For the technically minded, Dragon Challenge, opened in 1999, is the first dueling, inverted roller coaster where the ‘train’ runs under the track with the wheels directly attached to the wheel carriage. However, there is more to the ride than just this!
You enter a land, far, far away and long, long ago where there is a castle for you to discover. A land set in Merlin’s time, full of myths and legends, guarded by two dragons. Dark spooky corners to explore culminating with a battle set above and beneath the sea – one you will take part in as you swirl as a fragment of a dragon’s body.
As you reach the ride choose between fire and ice – many will have a preference but I have to say I enjoy both Fire and Ice. The queue for the front row of the ride can be a little longer but those ‘die-hards’ think it is well worth the wait and adds to the thrill of the ride.
Fire Dragon and Ice Dragon run in tandem. As you start your journey you travel up to the start of the duel. Here you wait until Fire and Ice are both together, ready to start their duel. Suddenly the breaks are off and so you go to join that battle beneath the sea! Both tracks frequently come so close you feel you are going to touch in duel with each other as you ride round at speeds of up to fifty five miles per hour, maneuvering so closely with each other creating the illusion of near misses. (In fact at some points Fire and Ice are within just eighteen inches of each other! ).
The exhilarating ride lasts two minutes twenty five seconds and has five inversions to experience. A zero-G-roll (also known a heart-line spin) – a hill with a 360 degree twist in the middle where the centre of gravity is placed on the centre of the rider’s heart. The rider feels zero g-force giving a feeling of weightlessness. Then there is a Cobra roll which I’m told resembles a Cobra’s head (I actually haven’t noticed this shape whilst travelling at fifty five miles per hour! ). This takes riders upside down – twice. Two corkscrews, which are like very large loops which have been stretched and widened, giving a twisting action, just like a corkscrew and two verticle loops, circling a complete 360 degrees. When you are at the top of one of Dragon Challenge's two loops you are completely up the wrong way with your legs ‘hanging’ 125 feet up into the air!
This ride is not for the faint hearted and not recommended for young children. There is a 54 inch height restriction. However for those that enjoy roller coasters it is exhilarating and quite unique to ride so close to another train whirling its way around the track. Who will win on your ride – Fire Dragon or Ice Dragon?
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