New Harry Potter roller coaster posts lines as long as 10 hours on opening day

Posted Monday, June 17, 2019 8:45 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Harry Potter fans flocked to Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park on Thursday –– for a long, long wait. The attraction was the park’s newest ride, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and some fans said they waited up to eight or 10 hours for a chance to ride. On Friday, the park began using its virtual queuing system.

Read more from Time.

Monday, June 17, 2019 9:26 AM

First, there is no way this attraction cost $300 million as the article states.

Second, I think both Disney and Universal smartly managed to get the opening of their shiny new attractions exactly right.

For Disney, the wristband reservation system in place for Star Wars Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland has, for the most part, been really smooth, allowing fans to get their fix inside the new area without creating chaos across the rest of the park. And the biggest, best ride is yet to come.

For Universal, reports of a 10-hour line (an estimate shared by Universal but one I highly doubt was accurate), is giving them way more coverage than this ride would have otherwise received, generating lots of additional buzz. It also revives the magic of the book release parties where kids would stay up until midnight at book stores. This story has legs. It will forever be built into the lure of this ride ("people waited 10 hours so it has to be good!"), and serves as a badge of honor for those who waited it out.

Further, it allows them to flex their muscles and brag to executives and board members across Comcast land about the strength of Harry Potter and their parks. "We can hold our own against Star Wars."

Disney and Universal are in an interesting place right now. They orbit the same universe and play in the same space, yet they are increasingly playing different games from one another, and both managing to be successful in their own lanes.

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Monday, June 17, 2019 9:56 AM

I generally agree, though Universal needs to get its act together in terms of operations, which are wildly inconsistent. It's super obvious if you also frequent Disney. (I'm not sure if a once-a-year tourist would notice, but I do.) I applaud them for building a tactile, non-screen ride. Kong, Fast & Furious, Transformers, Jimmy Fallon, Gringotts, on top of already having Spider Man and Simpsons.

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Monday, June 17, 2019 12:00 PM

The 300 million price tag is from start to finish, including the demolition of the previous dueling coaster. As hard as it may be to believe, but there are plenty of blogs and videos of ppl (two I know personally) stating and showing their 8-9 hour wait experience (breakdowns included). I've heard nothing but great reviews, but I'll wait until Oct.

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Monday, June 17, 2019 1:56 PM

It is Intamin right? With way too many launches right? I would think that plentiful breakdowns would be a real concern and impact waiting times. Reviews seem good though but would expect this ride to be needlessly complicated for what it is.

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Monday, June 17, 2019 3:31 PM

Jeff, I agree Universal is not operating on Disney's level. I have brought first-timers who, after a few days inside the Disney bubble, commented on how odd it was to see Uni employees checking their phones and wearing brand-name sunglasses.

But it's not that most won't notice, I think these are now two different audiences that care about different things, with some overlap.

Universal gets away with stuff that would never fly at Disney (aforementioned standards, ride reliability, security screenings at queue entrances, overflow lines in backstage areas to name a few), and it is working for them. Disney is in the same business but brings a different focus. People do notice these differences, and if someone favors Universal over Disney it probably means these types of details don't bother them. Clearly there are lots of people out there in both camps.

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Monday, June 17, 2019 5:20 PM

Yeah, I don't think it matters to me, maybe, but Disney feels... classier? It's hard to put my finger on it, in part because I think UO has two tiers of operations. The people working the Potter attractions are not the same people that you'll find working the smaller, less popular things. For example, last visit, the crew on the Storm ride next to Hulk was right out of a Six Flags park, or carnies, in terms of urgency and professionalism. But people on Forbidden Journey were all business and pushing capacity.

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Monday, June 17, 2019 6:45 PM

I'm sorry, but "Brand-name sunglasses?"

Are employees not allowed to protect their eyes from sunshine in the Sunshine State, or am I missing something?

To stay on topic, I'd say that managing demand for an entire Land is easier than for a single ride. Once inside SW:GE, guests are free to simply wander, look, eat, and shop in multiple areas, thereby spreading the crowd out. Hagrid is one single attraction, not a "land" with lots of things to do.

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Monday, June 17, 2019 9:24 PM

They are allowed to have sunglasses (and wardrobe does have ones that meet Disney Look) But they are not allowed to have any name or markings on the frames. Also the lenses must be "see-through" (not mirrored) as you must be able to see a cast members eyes.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2019 3:28 PM

Universal announced that the ride won’t open until “midday” for the next few weeks. They’re selling it as catching up on maintenance after the debut, but my guess is Intaminitus.

https://mobile.twitter.com/universalorl/status/1140777902927155206

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Tuesday, June 18, 2019 4:06 PM

Intaminitus

Yuuuup

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Wednesday, June 19, 2019 12:04 AM

Is that like tinnitus?

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Thursday, June 20, 2019 2:28 PM

RCMAC said:

Is that like tinnitus?

Sort of. But instead of hearing a persistent ringing noise, it is hearing a persistent series of complaints about "why isn't the ride running?"

Last edited by PDXPointer, Thursday, June 20, 2019 2:28 PM
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Thursday, June 20, 2019 4:10 PM

PDXPointer said:

Sort of. But instead of hearing a persistent ringing noise, it is hearing a persistent series of complaints about "why isn't the ride running?"

Slightly different than VekomaFlyeritis, where you hear persistent complainst of "Why IS the ride running?"

Last edited by yawetag, Friday, June 21, 2019 3:16 PM
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Friday, June 21, 2019 2:57 PM

Well we definitely don’t want the wrong (or left?) running...

;-)

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