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Dragon Challenge’s story line is that you’re preparing to compete in the Triwizard Tournament from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. As you wind through the long, long queue, you pass through tournament tents and dark passages that are supposed to be under the stadium. You’ll see the Goblet of Fire on display and hear the distant roar of the crowd in the supposed stadium above you.
Riders board one of two coasters—Chinese Fireball or Hungarian Horntail—that are launched moments apart on tracks that are closely intertwined. The tracks are configured so that you get a different experience on each. The trains are dispatched sequentially instead of simultaneously, so it looks as if one train is chasing another.
Because this is an inverted coaster, your view of the action is limited unless you’re sitting in the front row. Regardless of where you sit, there’s plenty to keep you busy. Dragon Challenge is the highest coaster in the park and also claims the longest drop at 115 feet, plus five inversions, but it’s a smooth ride all the way.
Coaster fans argue about which seat on which train provides the wildest ride. We prefer the front row of Horntail for the visuals during the close call with the castle and the last row of Fireball for added g-forces during the more intense inversions.
Visit the john before getting in line. The queuing area is the longest, most convoluted affair we’ve ever seen, winding endlessly through a maze of faux subterranean passages. After what feels like a comprehensive tour of Mammoth Cave, you finally emerge at the loading area, where you must choose between Fireball or Horntail. At this momentous juncture, of course, you’re as blind as a mole rat from being in the dark for so long. Tip: Follow the person in front of you until your eyes adjust to the light.
Waits for Dragon Challenge, one of the best coasters in the country, rarely exceed 30 minutes before 11 a.m. Ride after experiencing Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Even if there’s no line to speak of, it takes 10–12 minutes just to navigate the passages and not much less time to exit after riding. A stairway to your right along the exit path serves as a shortcut back into the queue for re-rides, but everyone must pass through the Muggle metal detectors erected just outside the castle before each trip. Finally, if you don’t have time to ride both coasters, the Unofficial crew unanimously prefers Chinese Fireball.
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