The brand new roller coaster attraction, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, has only been open at Universal’s Islands of Adventure for less than a month. In that time it has gained a reputation for being hard to pin down exactly when it will be open. People that have ridden the innovative new ride have sung its praises — but those that have tried and have not been able to get on, are left wondering when is the best time to tackle Hagrid?
Yesterday, for the first time in the ride’s first month of operation, the ride did not open at all. While it had been opening midday each day, to give ride technicians time to work on the attraction in the morning, a full day of not opening has given some out there pause. Perhaps it is still too early to be planning your next vacation around this new attraction.
If you were to ask Universal Orlando themselves, they would tell you not to line up and wait in the morning for your chance to be the first that day to ride this new ride. They will tell you to go, and enjoy the rest of the parks. Maybe come by later after the ride opens and hop into line then.
In my previous piece on the troubles facing Hagrid, written just a week after it had opened, I said that lining up in the morning and being the first to ride was your best bet to get on before technical or weather delays interrupted normal operation. But now, now I am not so sure that’s really the best strategy. If the ride doesn’t open at all for the day, as it didn’t yesterday, you would have spent a heck of a lot of time in line… for nothing.
Now, if you’re planning to visit for all of the other immensely fun and immersive theme park experiences that the Universal Orlando Resort has to offer, by all means, do not cancel your trip. The theme parks of Universal Orlando offer some of the greatest rides in the world, and if you haven’t been in a few years, there’s lots of new things to experience.
You can even set alerts on your phone using the official Universal Orlando app. You can be alerted when the Hagrid ride first opens for the day, so you’re not standing around all morning. If you consider the opportunity to get on this brand attraction as a bonus for your stay, but not the make-it-or-break-it thing at the top of your to-do list, you’ll still have a good time, even if you don’t happen to get on. And you’ll be pleasantly pleased if you do.
In my last piece I talked a lot about the numbers for Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. I explained how many riders (or rather, how few) the coaster saw in its first seven days. The good news is, in the weeks following, the ride was able to put more trains on the track at once, and saw a much better hourly throughput. It even started opening with the park recently instead of midday. So, it would seem that the ride is getting better, at least from a capacity standpoint… when it is running.
As with any new attraction, there are growing pains. There is a learning curve. Many have said that Hagrid’s biggest issues are related to timing and computer programming. Getting the advanced ride control system to account for the current weight of each train, along with other various factors like weather conditions, when attempting to calculate how much thrust to use on each of the ride’s seven launches — coupled with timing for the track switches, drop tracks, animatronic figures, and effects — is of course complicated.
And those same folks that explain what may be causing the delays and downtimes will be quick to say, that as with any new attraction opening — especially launched coasters — they’ll work through the issues and get this thing purring like a kitten in a few months. For example, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts at Universal Studios Florida faced similar delays and downtimes when it first debuted.
However, others out there are quick to jump to dire conclusions. I’ve seen comments from social media users worried that Universal may have another JAWS situation on their hands. This is referring to the original incarnation of the JAWS ride that opened with Universal Studios Florida in 1990. That ride malfunctioned so often that they had to close it and essentially rebuild its entire ride system from scratch. The Hagrid case is not the same.
Sure, this new ride may run on a completely unreliable schedule. It may see sudden and unexpected downtimes. And just because I think it’s not worth traveling all the way to Orlando ONLY to ride Hagrid until they work out the kinks, doesn’t mean I don’t think they will. This ride is going to be an amazing “people-eater,” as they say, once it is running at full capacity. Hopefully by then we’ll forget about its troubled start and just enjoy the ride.
But for now, when you’re in the parks, just remember to have fun, and maybe don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
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