Wizards and muggles (and Digital Spy) flocked to Florida last week for the opening of Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, a new attraction at Universal Orlando's Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
The ride, which officially opened on June 10, lets thrill-seekers hop on the gamekeeper's famous motorbike for a mile-long tour of the Forbidden Forest, made up of 1,200 live trees.
Avid Harry Potter fans queued for up to 10 hours on launch day for their turn on the ride, now the longest rollercoaster in Florida, and a chance to join Hagrid for a very special 'Care of Magical Creatures' lesson.
The newly designed 'storycoaster' allows guests to encounter some of the wizarding world's rarest magical creatures, including a swarm of mischievous Cornish Pixies and Fluffy, the Groundskeeper's famous three-headed dog.
Guests race at 50mph past familiar scenes from JK Rowling's series, and it's a testament to the franchise's iconic status and the ride's design that we were still able to take it all in despite being catapulted 65 feet in the air or suddenly dropped through the floor.
The level of detail present during the ride is unmissable in the staging and queuing areas too, with guests walking past a recreation of Hagrid's hut, looking out onto the forest, and entering the ride through an impressively constructed set of ruins.
One particularly interesting moment sees guests waiting below a wooden roof while scenes involving all sorts of creatures are projected down through the slats above.
All this and more was brought to life by Universal's award-winning creative team in collaboration with the Harry Potter films' Production Designer Stuart Craig and Art Director Alan Gilmore.
Speaking about the inspiration behind the ride during the launch event, actor Warwick Davis said: "It all comes from the literature. The fact that they made the film series is testament to how rich and detailed the books are, but there's so much that you can't tell in a feature film – and that's what Universal are able to pull from. They're able to create a wider wizarding world that ties back into the original notions, but gives us further experiences."
An impressive range of sophisticated animatronics helps bring these ideas and vision to life, with the newest roller coaster also featuring a truly impressive appearance from Hagrid himself.
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The magic doesn't stop there either! The ride is conveniently situated right near the entrance of Hogsmeade, where you can sample the finest Potter-themed treats from The Three Broomsticks (and a large number of Butterbeer carts) and stroll up to the castle for a go on the park's other standout ride – Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey.
It all adds up to an unforgettable experience, whether you're a Potterhead or not, and we can confidently say that Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is another exceptional feather in the cap of Universal Orlando's Wizarding World.
Tickets for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are available via the official website.
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