Florida Guide > Universal Parks
DRAGON CHALLENGE - UNIVERSAL ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE
There are many good rollercoaster’s in Orlando, some being up there with the World’s best. Dragon Challenge at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure is well renowned as being one of the best in Florida and in the US. The ride is situated in the back end of Islands of Adventure in the lost continent. The ride has two different rollercoaster’s (FIRE or ICE) that race against each other over totally different tracks. Each ride is totally unique and independent of the other and gives the rider a different experience.
Before you get onto the ride you have to negotiate the long winding queue section, this initially winds through the garden area and then once nearer you enter the castle. Once inside you wind your way down through endless corridors until you reach the rides. What Universal do better than any other park is to keep you occupied while you wait. The eary feel and special sounds effects really do add to the overall ride experience.
Just before you get to the rides you are given a choice to decide whether you should ride FIRE or ICE. If you have never been on the rides before this can take a long time to decide, but once the choice is made there is no going back! Inside the waiting area you can wait for the front or back seats, or if you don’t mind you can save yourself time and go for one of the middle seats. From experience I always go for the middle seats as these can save around 20 minutes in waiting time. Obviously if the park is quiet it is worth the wait to go on the front as that is where the best experience is.
The ride initially climbs to around 125 feet and then drops either into a large inverted loop or banked turn (depending on what ride you go on). The only thing that is the same on each ride is the initial climb, after this each one runs over a separate track. ICE tends to have tighter turns and more inversions, where as FIRE feels faster and smoother. Both rides come close on many occasions, and those on the front seats really do feel like they are going to crash. Both rides get in excess of 55mph in many places and hit 0 g-force. The rides last for around 2 ½ minutes each.
If the park is quiet you can ask the attendants if it is possible to re-ride the other rollercoaster. To do this you have to go through the door on the exit and then head for the service door. Attendants will open this door and then you are on the other side where the other coaster is. In peak dates this can be hard to do, but in quiet times you can keep riding as many times as you want without having to go through the queue again.
In my opinion Dragon Challenge is one of the best rides in Olrando, only the Hulk comes close to the pure rush you experience on this ride. My only criticism is the length of the queue for the front seats is around 20 – 30 minutes extra on top of the normal queuing time. The best time to visit this ride is always early in the morning and last thing at night, this is when the queue is the shortest. Overall this ride is something very special and should be definitely on your shortlist when visiting Florida.
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