Dragon Challenge

"Past this point of no return your only choice is freeze or burn."

Dare thee ride a twisted dragon? This thrill ride, a dual track inverted roller coaster, comes with the greatest rollercoaster queue area ever created. It was spectacular in its original form as Dueling Dragons, as you enter the castle you know something is amiss. It is in shambles, bashed in, clawed at. Pyrrock and Blizzrock, the fire and ice dragons, have been here before. Merlin tells the tale of how as an aging sorcerer he came to the castle, only to have the demonic dragons attack. Charred knights abound in the room where Fire sizzled. Frozen knights on horseback, in blocks of ice, follow in another chamber where Ice chilled. These dragons have apparently been working knights. After seeing the fresh handiwork firsthand you walk through the castle's catacomb dungeons where skeleton bones reside. With Merlin's final warning, to turn back, ignored by thrillseekers, "Choose Thy Fate" awaits. Go left and Fire is your destiny. Go right and Ice is your endeavor. Some of the original themed touches have been replaced to fit the Potter them (no more frozen knights, and there are cool levitating candles)

This is an inverted coaster, meaning the track is above you and your feet dangle freely below you. Seating is four-across, enough to have a nervous kid or two wedged between equally nervous parents. This will be the first attraction ever to not only have a minimum height requirement but a maximum one as well (my apologies to any seven-foot knights out there). Why? Well the two tracks are not identical. While they each have three different inversions the one common bond is that at three different times the dragons will practically collide with each other -- pulling out at the last minute. From the first 125-foot hill, the red fire dragon train, on the red track, drops practically the entire 125 feet at nearly 60 miles per hour. On the other hill the blue ice dragon train, on the blue track, heads down about 115 feet.

From that point on, the 2 1/2 minute ride will take you through thrilling loops and near misses, whether you went with Fire or Ice -- racing around the land outside a makeshift castle. The ride is so elaborate that, while climbing the first hill, it weighs both vehicles and staggers the rise to optimize the near-misses. While these elements are best seen from the front row of each train that luxury also commands a much longer line. (You must be 54 inches to ride)

Baby Swap -- There are two separate baby swap areas here, one for each of the actual coasters. So make sure that you know if those riding first will be on Fire (red) or Ice (blue). The queue here is very long, through various rooms in the castle. At the end, you get to choose Fire or Ice. The Baby Swap area is just behind the last row of riders. So, on Fire it would be to your left. On Ice it would be to your right. The Baby Swap areas are narrow passageways, with bench seating. Once the first riders are done, as they are exiting the ride they will see the Baby Swap area (to their left if they rode Fire -- to their right if they rode Ice). If you don't wish to take the child through the long line it is possible to get to the Baby Swap area from the exit area (follow the Universal Express boarding signs) but it's easy to get lost in the dark corridors there if you don't know which way you are going.

Ride Fire in first perspective from the comfort of your own own home on America's Greater Roller Coaster Thrills, available from Amazon.com on VHS video or on the spiffy DVD version.

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By booking your stay at one of the three onsite resorts you will not only be staying a short walk or complimentary boat ride from the park -- you will also receive the Universal Express benefit to avoid long lines and get on your favorite rides like this one quickly.

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