Posted by: Sophie M. | 19/11/2011

Ride Profile – Dragon Challenge

Ride Profile – Dragon Challenge

Duelling Coasters - Will you take up the challenge?

  • Name: Dragon Challenge
  • Location: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Islands of Adventure
  • Ride type: Steel, inverted, duelling coasters
  • Ride length: 2 minutes 25 seconds
  • Number of tracks: 2 – Chinese Fireball and Hungarian Horntail
  • Inversions: 5
  • Maximum G Force: 3.8Gs
  • Maximum speed: 60mph (Fireball), 55mph (Horntail)
  • Previous name: Duelling Dragons
  • Minimum height: 54″ (137 cm)
  • Universal Express Pass: Yes
  • Single rider line: No
  • Extreme score: 8/10
  • Family score: 2/10

Hungarian Horntail

Chinese Fireball and Hungarian Horntail; two fearsome beasts locked in battle, but which one do you dare ride? Dragon Challenge is an extreme coaster experience in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter featuring two different track layouts. Opinions are divided as to which coaster is better but coaster enthusiasts will get a kick out of riding both tracks.

The two coasters were one of Islands of Adventure’s original attractions, opening with the park on 28th May 1999. Then they were known as Dueling Dragons, with the two tracks named Fire and Ice. The two coasters trains were dispatched at the same time, ascending the lift hills together before Fire dropped off to the left and Ice to the right. The trains from the two coasters would then complete their circuit, including 3 near-miss points that give riders in the front seat the feeling that a collision with the other coaster was imminent.

With the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter the coasters were re-named and re-themed after dragons from the Triwizard Tournament. The queuing area is themed heavily around the tournament with banners supporting the contestants and the Triwizard Cup.

Tournament Support Banners

The queue for Dragon Challenge initially starts off as one line before splitting in two with riders choosing which coaster they want they ride; the Chinese Fireball (red track) or the Hungarian Horntail (blue track).

For those who decide on the Chinese Fireball you ascend the lift hill with the Hungarian Hortail track to your right. At the crest of the hill you drop down into an Immelmann loop before passing over an airtime hill and crossing over the Hungarian Horntail’s zer0-g roll (the first near miss). The dragon then speeds into a wrap-around Immelmann before entering into a straight piece of track where you can see the Hungarian Horntail racing towards you. At the last second the train pulls up into a vertical loop, narrowly avoiding a collision (the second near miss). After the loop you enter into a corkscrew that is intertwined with a corkscrew the Hungarian Horntail is performing (the third near miss). After one final corkscrew you arrive safely back at the station – you’re a Triwizard champion!

Which beast will you face?

For those who would rather try to tame the Hungarian Horntail riders ascend the lift hill with the red track of the Chinese Fireball on their left. Riders then drop down to the right and into a left hand spiral before entering into a zero-g roll situated underneath the Chinese Fireball’s airtime hill (first near miss). Almost immediately afterwards riders enter into a Cobra roll before flying into a straight section of track that appears to be on a collision course with the Chinese Fireball. Pulling up into a vertical loop the coaster features its second near  miss. The ride finishes with a corkscrew that intertwines with the Chinese Fireball (third near miss) before a few last turns lead back to the station.

Dragon Challenge is the world’s only dueling inverted coaster and is a must for coaster fans. Due to the inverted track, those in the front seats have the best view and are more aware of the near-misses than those in other seats. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has only been open for 18 months and still draws huge crowds throughout the day. While Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey may be the top attraction, queues for Dragon Challenge can grow fairly quickly. Head there early or in late afternoon for the shortest queue times.

Dragon Challenge Track Layout

Sadly on 31st July 2011 and 10th August 2011 two riders were injured by falling objects during the near miss sections of the ride. As a result of these incidents the ride no longer operated simultaneously while investigations were made, but in October 2011 it was announced that the dueling aspect of the ride was to be permanently removed. ***Remember folks – please leave ALL loose articles in lockers before riding a coaster with inversions***

The loss of the dueling aspect of the ride has definitely affected the look and feel of the ride but they are still both extreme, fast paced coasters that shouldn’t be missed on a visit to Islands of Adventure.

?? Did You Know ??

  • The tracks of both coasters are filled with sand to reduce noise because of the proximity of Dr Phillips High School. Huge walls were also erected after local residents complained about the screaming from riders.
  • When the coasters were still dueling the cars came within 18 inches of each other! Now that’s close!
  • Each train features a seat with a double seat belt for larger riders (rows 3 & 6).
  • The restraints on the Chinese Fireball are yellow while the Hungarian Horntail has blue restraints. The front row restraints on both coasters however are pink to represent the dragons’ mouths.

Dragon Challenge


  1. From the pics, the place rides awesome!

  2. Awesome website…

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