Dragon Challenge will never duel again at Universal's Islands of Adventure

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Universal Orlando said this week it has decided to permanently end the practice of launching the two Dragon Challenge coasters simultaneously. That decision follows an internal investigation into two summer accidents in which riders were apparently struck by loose objects while aboard the attraction. One was gruesome: A 52-year-old Puerto Rico man suffered a lacerated right eye and ultimately had to have the eyeball removed, according to his lawyer.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

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Jeff's avatar

A penny tossed from the Empire State Building will not hurt you in any significant way. Stick to theme parks, Dennis.

I think this is unfortunate. Presumably, more than 10 million people have been on that ride without injury, and now it's done. At least we've got the photos and the memories.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

a_hoffman50's avatar

Well, I am kind of glad they changed the name from Dueling Dragons as that would not be accurate anymore. Sad day.

Glad they only launch Top Thrill one at a time as well. :-)

So do they really think no one will possibly get struck by something now that they dont run together?????

Sad for the people in the front row (and maybe row 2) of the train... those close calls were wild. As for people sitting in the rest of the rows... no big loss. Like any invert, you can't see anythign back there except for the back of the row in front of you... very bad visuals. An annoyign design on any invert... a BAD design for a dueler.

"Yes... well... VICTORY IS MINE!"
bjames's avatar

Meh, this isn't that much of a loss. I never rode in the front row, so I don't know how cool the experience was, but this isn't one of the better B&M inverts IMO, dueling or not. I think it is wise to put guests' safety before any gimmick, especially since injuries from the other train occurred at least twice this year according to Lance on his website.

I certainly wouldn't want to risk losing an eye for a stupid reason like this. So again, meh.

"The term is 'amusement park.' An old Earth name for a place where people could go to see and do all sorts of fascinating things." -Spock, Stardate 3025

Vater's avatar

I wonder what the odds are of losing an eye on a roller coaster. Probably lower than the odds of me falling out of my office window, which doesn't open.

DejaVuNitro's avatar

Sitting front row on any coaster comes with the slight risk of eye/facial injury. Just ask Fabio.

I'm sheriff of this here rollercoaster.

Yeah... Fabio. Brings a whole new meanign to that old kids game...

"Duck. DUCK!" BAM! (goose)

Seriously, I've ocassionly had things (bugs, etc) hit my glasses when I take front seat coaster rides. That is why I wear a very tight glass strap so I can keep them on ("no loose items)... both to see and for safety.

"Yes... well... VICTORY IS MINE!"
janfrederick's avatar

Knott's should take notice and let guests wear eyewear. ;)

"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
LostKause's avatar

This is very disappointing news. Dueling was the whole point of the rides design.

rollergator's avatar

Very sorry that the gentleman in question lost his eye...that's tragic.

Losing the dueling is a (realtively minor) bummer, but as noted, it really only "worked" in the front. Do have to wonder how they're handling dispatches/loading, and how that's affecting capacity....haven't been to the park since...geez, since the season started in the northern parks.

LostKause's avatar

Gator, thanks for reminding me to be a better person and remember that someone lost an eye. That is a damned shame.

I will disagree somewhat about the dueling not being noticed by anyone outside of the first few rows. The first near miss could be viewed by the entire train (you just had to look down a little). The same for the verticle loops, you just had to look down after entering the loop. The interlocking corkscrews (or are they called flastspins?) were only noticed by people watching from off the ride, but then again, so were the other near misses too.

And even if you disagree with that, those who are just discovering the ride for the first time are going to wonder why the ride is not dueling without understanding that to some people, the dueling wasn't a big deal. Some could still be somewhat disappointed without understanding that it might not matter much to the ride experience.

rollergator's avatar

^Thanks for pointing out that I forgot about "non-riders" (I'm not one of them)....but yes, the visual appeal of having the trains cross paths made for MANY guests to simply stand near the ride exit, or elsewhere nearby, to simply hang out and *watch*. This visual effect has been lost...and from the sounds of things, won't be coming back.

My hope is that these incidents were merely loose articles and not the result of malicious intent.

They couldn't just put up a net in-between the loops (assuming that is where the incident happened)?

LostKause's avatar

Ingenious, Amnesiac. The ride already uses nets to catch loose articles on the lift. HULK has nets too. I'm sure that was an option that they considered, but why didn't they use it?

Interesting idea, however, as close as the loops and riders come together, I don't think that's possible.

Jeff's avatar

Sure it is. The forward momentum that would (in theory) drive anything into the other train is converted to upward momentum long before the trains get close. As such, the net wouldn't have to be very high. If it's like those used on other rides (Busch Williamsburg comes to mind), they're transparent enough to even maintain the visual.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

ApolloAndy's avatar

I'm pretty sad about this (as far as one can be sad about anything coaster related) just because Dueling Dragons/Dragon Challenge was such a unique attraction. There just aren't that many dueling coasters out there and very few that are as well designed as DD to get the near-misses right on every dispatch.
On my one lap on Gwazi this summer, the trains were dispatched together, but by the top of the lift, we were about 2 seconds ahead. We didn't see the other train at all until the very last near-miss.

Was DD's duleing the awesomest(!1one) thing ever? No. But it did make DD stand out compared to Raptor, Talon, or the million other stand alone inverts in the world.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Jeff's avatar

I still think that Fire in particular stands pretty well on its own. Ice is a little off-pace by comparison, but the pull up into the cobra roll by the wall, if you're in front, freaks me out every time.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

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