- People have been waiting anywhere from six to more than 10 hours to ride Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure.
- The “Harry Potter”-themed coaster is a great ride that should be tried out during the day and night. But what is it like getting onto the ride?
- During a recent trip to Orlando to cover the ride opening, I decided to see what the wait was really like the day after the ride opened and definitely wouldn’t do it again.
- I waited for 8-and-a-half hours through multiple ride delays, weather delays, and rain.
- Though I still enjoyed the ride, along with some friends I made in the queue, the current wait is an adventure that may not make the ride worth it.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
By the day the ride opened on Thursday, June 13, I was lucky enough to ride the coaster four times over as part of a media preview. It was great, but I didn’t get to have a real fan experience of boarding the ride. If you’re someone who frequents theme parks, like myself, then you know that waiting to get on the ride is usually half the challenge.
So the day after the ride opened, I decided I was going to make it my mission to ride all four main “Harry Potter” rides at the park to see if it can be done. (It can.) Even though I heard and saw that wait times were anywhere from six-to-10 hours, I was confident it would be manageable. Last year, I managed to go on each ride at Toy Story Land the Monday after the park opened.
Unfortunately, some snags, multiple ride delays, and inclement weather ballooned my wait time from what should have been five hours or so to almost nine. If I wasn’t on a mission to ride every “Potter” ride across the Universal parks, I would have bailed early.
Through confusion, heat, traversing through Universal’s backlots, and getting poured on, Hagrid’s definitely lived up to its name of being an adventure. It just wasn’t the one I was planning on having.
My game plan to conquer the parks
I put together my master plan the night before. The four main “Harry Potter” coasters are located across Universal’s two theme parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Three of the attractions – Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Flight of the Hippogriff, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey – are located inside Islands of Adventure (IOA). The fourth ride, Escape From Gringotts, is in Universal Studios.
The two parks are connected by the Hogwarts Express, technically a fifth “Harry Potter”-themed ride, which let’s you travel between IOA and Universal Studios if you have a ticket which lets you visit both parks.
Here they are on the park maps:
Every day, one of the parks opens an hour earlier than the other if you’re staying on Universal property. Luckily, I was, so I planned to use this to my advantage. On Friday, June 14, Universal Studios was opening at 8 a.m.
My plan was to head there and ride Gringotts, the other most popular “Harry Potter” ride at the parks. From there, I’d hop over to King’s Cross Station to board the Hogwarts Express to get into IOA a bit earlier to beat the crowds and wait for Hagrid’s. This is a little trick I used before when Gringotts first opened in 2014 to success. However, my plan was riding on one main thing.
The Hogwarts Express needed to be running early and I feared this was a toss up. When I was in the parks the day before the train didn’t start operating until a little later as a means to help maintain crowd control.
I was feeling really confident at the start of the day after a minor hiccup threatened to throw off my plan
7:35 a.m.: IOA wasn’t opening until 9 a.m, but when I arrived at the park there was already a healthy group of people waiting to head into the queue for Hagrid’s. The crowd outside made me reconsider my original plan to conquer the four coasters.
As I was getting ready to settle in for a 90-minute wait for the gates to open, I overheard a security guard say that Hagrid’s wasn’t going to be open right at the start of the day. In fact, they weren’t sure when the ride may be operating. That didn’t sound like good news, so I decided to book it over to Universal Studios first to knock out Gringotts.
8:03 a.m.: Unfortunately, as I approached Diagon Alley, I knew my little trick to get into IOA early wasn’t going to work. I was met by a sign that told me the Hogwarts Express wouldn’t be running until some undetermined time later in the day. Bummer. But it wasn’t the end of the world.
8:08 a.m.: I made great time getting to Gringotts. I had an express pass so I made my way right through most of the long, winding queue.
8:29 a.m.: After getting off of the ride, I booked it back all the way to the front of Universal Studios and jogged a bit of the way back to IOA only to be met with some unfortunate news.
Islands of Adventure wound up opening earlier than 9 a.m. and that was bad news for me for multiple reasons.
8:45 a.m.: By the time I reached the entrance of IOA, I was surprised to find the large crowd I saw earlier gone. They decided to let people into the park early. The bad news? Every ride was open, except Hagrid’s. The worse news? Cast members had no idea what time it may be opening, if at all. To make matters worse, fans were lining up for the ride anyway even though the queue for the attraction wasn’t open.
I was put in a dilemma. Do I ride the two other Potter rides at IOA or do I wait with the crowd that was still forming?
If I made the wrong choice, I may not get on all of the rides. At this time, I could ride Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff without a problem, but then I may be waiting a very long time for Hagrid’s. On the other hand, what if Hagrid’s didn’t open until noon or it didn’t open at all? These were not great options.
8:55 a.m.: Hogwarts is on the very far northeast corner of the park. Typically, I’d cut through Seuss Landing, the Dr. Seuss-themed area of the park, to get there. But if you wanted to ride Hagrid’s at all on Friday morning you were directed to make the longer journey around IOA.
Here’s how that looks on the park map:
The upside is that a lot of people were just entering the park and probably didn’t know others were already on line.
9:00 a.m.: I talked it over with a crew member who told me the line for Hagrid’s was already a decent way back. I’ve waited about three hours to get into Toy Story Land on opening day, so if I have anything, it’s patience.
The unexpected adventure to find the start of the queue.
9:05 a.m.: I reached the end of a very long bridge and then there were no more signs for the Hagrid’s line.
Instead, I was met with one to get into Hogsmeade. When I inquired where the next sign was for Hagrid’s, a crew member looked at me with a puzzled face. Not a great, reassuring sign after you walk two-thirds of the way around the park. I asked her where to go and she told me the line was all the way down by Seuss Landing.
I wanted to laugh. That was where I originally wanted to go when I arrived in the park.
I asked why I just walked all the way around the park when I could have just walked to Seuss. I was told it was to “maintain crowd control.” I explained that was fine but it didn’t make sense that I was following signs to enter a queue for Hagrid’s and that they just stopped. I pointed out that I just came from over a bridge where a person was holding a sign at its entrance instructing me to cross the bridge to enter the ride queue. It’s very confusing if you’ve followed a path most of the way around the park only to stop seeing signs. I was told she would look into it. I don’t know whether or not she was actually looking into it.
I didn’t care so much that I wasted a good 15 minutes, but I didn’t want the same thing to happen to others and other families. It wasn’t fair.
Here’s the path I wound up taking before finally finding the queue entrance:
9:12 a.m.: As I approached Seuss Landing, I saw more people in a line queue and followed it until I could find the start. Funny enough, it led me right back to the start of the park.
I assumed that at some point after I started taking the long way around the park, the park switched up how they were letting people enter the queue. (I later found this to be the case.) I felt like a sucker for walking all the way around the park when I could have just waited a few moments to get into the queue at the park’s entrance.
The start of a very long wait.
9:26 a.m.: I quickly learned to keep traffic moving throughout the park that Universal was snaking the Hagrid’s queue up through the park away from the main foot traffic area.
I’m told that my wait will be anywhere from seven-to-eight hours. That sounds pretty awful. The longest time I’ve ever waited for a coaster was seven hours for Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure. I can’t say I’d recommend doing that. It’s early though so I’m not sure if that’s a worst-case scenario that we’re being told.
9:27 a.m.: Another cast member now says that we have a six-hour wait plus the several hours that Hagrid’s may not be up and running. There is no estimate on when it will be up and running and no explanation for why it isn’t running. In the few days I’ve been in town, the ride has had technical difficulties for the media preview Tuesday afternoon and on opening morning Thursday.
My gut says I’m being given a worse-case scenario time. I’m also thinking that some people will start dropping out of the line at some point. I really rather not wait over six hours for a coaster I’ve already ridden four times.
9:53 a.m.: I’ve moved up a little bit in the queue because of others leaving. But I’m still at Seuss Landing and we haven’t gotten any updates from Universal cast members. We don’t even know if the ride is operating.
10:03 a.m.: My section of the queue gets to the very front of Seuss Landing. Unfortunately, I just miss making the cutoff to exit the land and go on to the next section.
10:07 a.m.: I don’t have to wait that long to cross to the other side. Farewell, Seuss Landing! Onto The Lost Continent.
10:21 a.m.: A woman for Universal comes by to tell us our wait from where we are is five hours. The ride is still not operational. Chatter in the line says that the ride ran until after midnight last night.
10:29 a.m.: Universal cast members start passing out free bottles of water to whoever wants them. The weather app tells me it’s a warm 82 degrees. I’m in the shade for now so it’s not bad.
10:31 a.m.: Park guests pass by asking how long we’ve been waiting. They seem bewildered. An hour and a half was nothing at this point.
10:33 a.m.: A helicopter can be spotted overhead on the scene. I figured it was a news chopper. People have been reporting on the long waits for Hagrid’s and I was told from a Universal representative the day before that news helicopters were flying over the park.
10:42 a.m.: Another giant wagon with water goes by. I learn from two fellow guests behind me that when they entered the park they were never told to walk all the way around the park to enter the queue. They were instructed to simply walk straight into Seuss Landing. Oh well.
10:47 a.m.: The Universal cast members are trying to make the best of a bad situation and to keep people comfortable. An employee is spraying some people down with a fan to cool them off.
11:05 a.m.: It’s been about two hours and we haven’t moved too far. We’re still waiting to hear if the ride is operating. I told myself I’d stick around to see if the ride started running at noon.
We start moving a significant amount and take a detour through the park’s backlot
11:08 a.m.: We’re on the move again and have an update that restores my faith a bit.
The ride still isn’t up and running (boo). However, they’re finally putting people into the actual Hagrid’s ride queue. A Universal representative tells me they didn’t have anyone in the actual ride queue before. Everyone was just standing outside of Hogsmeade in a queue that snaked throughout the park.
That news makes me feel a lot better about the wait and our chances of getting onto the ride. I don’t think they’d be putting us into the actual queue if they didn’t believe the ride would be up and running soon.
11:13 a.m.: We’re being taken through the Poseidon’s Fury ride queue as part of a detour. Fascinating! After standing in one spot for so long, the crowd is on the move and are breezing through this ride queue.
11:20 a.m.: We’re still walking and haven’t stopped! From Poseidon, we’ve been taken through an employee walkway to go through the Universal backlot. Funny enough, on opening morning for the ride I was driving through this very area to get to the ride queue before it opened to the public so I could gather some photos of Easter eggs on the attraction.
At the time, I inquired as to why there were guests in the backlot and I was told they were on line for Hagrid’s. I was confused, but didn’t think much of it at the time. Little did I know that image would make a lot more sense in about 24 hours.
11:25 a.m.: We’ve made our next pit stop in The Lost Continent, but I know we’re getting close. We walk up past the Sinbad theatre in the backlot. It’s a route I’m familiar with by now. It’s the same back way into the park they had media enter the park on Tuesday. I let a mother and daughter duo behind me know. It was the mother Dodie’s birthday and they were planning to ride the coaster together.
11:30 a.m.: There’s a giant fan out in the open and guests are taking turns standing in front of it to relieve themselves of the heat. They’re really happy, though the crowd is told the ride still isn’t operating yet.
After three hours, the ride is finally up and running. But I’m still not in the main queue yet.
11:40 a.m.: There’s a Dippin’ Dots cart. I cave in along with Dodie’s daughter, Sommer, and two young women behind them.
I figure it will take my mind off the wait for a bit. It does. But the talking water fountain we wind up right next to keeps us more entertained for the next 20 minutes.
12:00 p.m.: Chatter in the line says that the ride is operating. I haven’t heard any official word yet, but I know we’re right around the corner from Hogsmeade in line right now so it seems silly to leave.
12:08 p.m.: Well, we’ve made it to the three-hour mark and I haven’t decided to abandon the line. We’re really close to Hogsmeade (of course that doesn’t mean much when we still have the entire ride queue to go through), but that in itself feels like a reward.
12:15 p.m.: Dodie was wearing a birthday button at the park. Any time where the wait was starting to get a bit tedious, someone would pass by and yell out “Happy Birthday!” She said she had never had so many people wish her a “Happy Birthday.” She was taken aback nearly every time someone said it to her throughout the day.
While we’re waiting, Dodie shows me and the two women behind us a photo of her dog, named Hagrid. So it was fitting she was heading on the ride. After we got to chatting, I eventually told Dodie and Sommer I was from the New York City area. Dodie was shocked, saying I was nice for a city person. I laughed, telling her we’re not all bad.
12:20 p.m.: After a little over three hours, I can finally see the entrance to Hogsmeade. I’ve never been so happy to hear “Harry Potter” music.
12:25 p.m.: Guests passing by the queue who have walked through the rest of the park are saying it’s a six-hour wait. We’ll see.
Despite the long wait, Universal was very good about letting people out of line and back in to go to the bathroom and get food. I saw people leave and come back with candied apples and to head to a restroom with no problem many times.
12:27 p.m.: A queue operator confirms that the ride is running and that from where we are it may be another three to three-and-a-half hours. That’s certainly much better than six more! I also hear that the park may launch a virtual queue on Saturday.
We’re finally inside Hogsmeade and in the actual ride queue after some weather delays.
1:16 p.m.: After getting into Hogsmeade, we haven’t moved much in an hour. The sky started getting dark overhead, so I’m guessing the ride stopped moving due to inclement weather. I’m told that if there’s any lightning within a five-mile radius that they won’t run the ride.
This was something I learned after being in the park earlier in the week. The coaster is based right over a lake so you can bet it’s not going to run if there’s any poor weather. If you’re familiar with Florida during the summer, it rains most days for a small portion of the afternoon usually between 1 and 4 p.m. The weather outlook for Friday seemed like it would be on our side. There was a 30% chance of rain around 3 p.m.
1:35 p.m.: We’re finally allowed past the lockers and into the queue! I didn’t bring anything with me to put in a locker for the day. Typically, I have an external battery on me at the park. After keeping track of my morning adventure, my phone is down to about 15%. At this point, I’m trying to use it more sparingly.
We’re able to walk a good amount of the way inside the start of Hagrid’s entrance which is all outdoors until you reach Hogwarts’ ruins.
A few ride delays, a failed attempt to join the single-rider queue, and a little rain make things interesting.
1:46: p.m.: Now that we’re in the ride queue, guests are able to hear announcements about what’s going on with the ride. It doesn’t take long before we’re told there’s a slight ride delay. They didn’t tell us why.
There’s plenty of space behind us in the queue at this point, but they’re not letting anyone else in. Dodie and I quickly deduce that Universal may have been running out of lockers for guests to store items before getting on the official queue. There weren’t that many lockers left when we were allowed to store our belongings and you weren’t allowed to have backpacks or any loose articles on you on the ride or inside the official queue.
The attraction itself didn’t seem to have as many lockers as some of its other popular attractions like Forbidden Journey and the Rip Ride Rockit coaster. The amount of lockers limited how many people entered the ride queue at once.
1:54 p.m.: The ride is back up and running in less than 10 minutes. As we wait in the queue, we learn this is about to become an hourly event.
A group of kids in line start playing a mobile charades game called “Heads Up” to pass the time.
2:32 p.m.: I reach Hagrid’s hut, which is about halfway through the outdoor portion of the queue and have seen some people going on a single rider queue. I consider heading there, but I didn’t want to abandon the people I’ve been on line with for the past five hours. A few people in front of me decide to ditch the normal queue and successfully make it onto the single-rider path.
Sommer pointed out that I did want the full experience. She made a good point. They told me to go and see if they would let me through anyway. They knew that I was trying to get on all four “Potter” rides in one day and we were reaching the five-hour mark.
I bid a farewell to Sommer and Dodie and gave them a tip for an Easter egg once they make it into the indoor part of the queue. But it was pretty short-lived.
I was quickly told that they weren’t letting anyone else in single rider and that the line wait was just about as long. I was meant to be in the normal rider queue.
2:45 p.m.: We get another announcement that there are ride difficulties. More groups of people have started playing the “Heads Up” game. My battery was far too low at this point to do the same. Dodie offers use of their external charger for an Android. Sadly, I have an iPhone.
The charging idea wouldn’t have been great. It starts to pour for about five minutes. So much for 30%. I didn’t have my rain poncho or anything on me for cover. I just stood bare in the middle of the queue getting soaked.
2:50 p.m.: We’re told the ride’s back up.
It takes six-and-a-half hours to make it inside the main part of the queue.
3:11 p.m.: Once we reach the six-hour mark, we’re told there are ride difficulties once again. Like the ones before, this stall doesn’t take too long. The ride is running again in four minutes.
Unfortunately, my back was starting to hurt and I was hungry.
3:30 p.m.: Almost two hours after we were allowed into the ride queue, we’re finally going into the attraction’s ruins. Before heading inside, I told the four who were with me that we had about six rooms to get through before the actual ride and a few cavernous hallways. At least I knew I could point out some details they may miss along the way to pass the time.
As we walked into the entrance, I pointed out some scrawling, including a “J+L” for James and Lily Potter and two dueling dragons, which symbolized the old Dragon Challenge ride.
Soon after, we finally made it into the pre-show room where you get to watch Hagrid and Arthur Weasley chat and talk about the motorbike. If you stand in the right spot, you get spritzed a bit with water.
The interminable wait in the egg room.
3:49 p.m.: As we exit the pre-show, there’s another delay. Anytime this would happen while outside there would be a loud groan. This time, the groan was the loudest because it echoed in the halls of what I like to call, the egg room. (It’s a room filled with eggs.)
3:54 p.m.: There were loud cheers when we were told “the motorbikes will get moving shortly.” We got through what I considered the first three rooms pretty quick.
4 p.m.: By hour seven, we weren’t moving much anymore and we’re still in the egg room. Groups of people just started sitting down with no knowledge or idea of when we’d move forward again.
A Universal crew member in the room wasn’t sure about anything occurring outside of the room. She told guests she had been in that one room for a few hours.
4:12 p.m.: It’s very warm in the queue. I spot a thermostat that reads a tepid 79.9 degrees. Fun.
No one understands why we’re not moving in the queue. We’re told that the ride may not be running, but the person working didn’t know its status.
4:16 p.m.: We start moving again and people start clapping. But we were confused as to why there wasn’t a big number of people behind us. Apparently, they held back a number of people in the queue behind us at this point.
My phone is nearing 2% now. It’s been on low battery mode for quite a while. I decide to only turn my phone on to jot down a note about the ride when something noteworthy occurs.
4:30 p.m.: A man came through wearing a “Fast & Furious” shirt and said they decided to clear the room to lower the temperature in the egg room since it was really warm. They were planning to hold people back while they tried to fix the air conditioning.
At this point, we left the egg room and moved into a much cooler air-conditioned corridor. The thermostat on the way out of the egg room read 79 degrees. At this point, the line is moving at a snail’s pace.
It’s been eight hours and there are two more rooms until I make it onto the actual ride.
5 p.m.: We make it to hour eight and are in our second-to-last room in the queue. We wander through Hagrid’s room pretty quickly, which is funny considering there’s so much in that room which can be looked at. There are hand-drawn posters of fantastic beasts, Hagrid’s gloves, a tiny wooden hippogriff, and a nursery for the blast-ended skrewts Hagrid is illegally making.
But at this point, everyone is pretty exhausted. Some people are wondering how much longer the queue goes on. I tried asking a cast member how much longer to go and they simply told us we were, “Almost there!” (Of course, I knew this from going through the queue several times before.)
I informed the cast member I was familiar with how much longer the ride queue was. I was simply trying to get an estimate on how much longer the actual wait time may be. Unfortunately, they didn’t know.
5:07 p.m.: We’re rounding through one last corridor. There’s a series of claps and cheers when we arrive to the final room of the queue. Rejuvenated by the excitement in the room, it feels like I could wait another hour (but I really wouldn’t want to do that).
5:15 p.m.: We’re moving pretty quickly through the last room, which has a series of paths to weave in and out of.
I spot where the single-rider queue joins ours. It looks like they were taken through a different hallway with stairs. I wonder if there were any other rooms with more “Harry Potter” references we didn’t get to see. The “Fast & Furious” ride queue at Universal Studios has some fun extra Easter eggs if you take the single-rider path. I never had a chance to check out the single-rider queue during the rest of my stay at Universal.
I’m a bit relieved when I notice the group of people who abandoned the normal line for the single-rider queue about three hours earlier not too far from us. It turns out the Universal crew weren’t kidding. It really was a similar wait time no matter where you were waiting. I was thankful I chose to stick with my little group in line.
5:21 p.m.: I learn there’s a perk of sticking in the regular queue. I get asked my preference to sit in the motorbike or side car. It turns out that if you choose the single-rider queue you don’t get to pick where you sit on the ride. You get placed wherever.
5:25 p.m.: I’m finally about to board the ride! I’m able to get on the same train as Dodie, Sommer, and the two young women who joined our little group.
5:31 p.m.: We’re off the ride and everyone’s smiling. As I go to look at my phone, it has finally died.
Was it worth the wait? Yes and no.
I asked everyone in our group if they enjoyed the ride. Whether they were sitting in the sidecar or motorbike, everyone said they had a good time.
But was it worth the wait?
Though everyone agreed it was “pretty fun,” the four agreed that they didn’t think they would wait that long again for the ride.
This was my fifth time on the ride and I couldn’t justify waiting this long for the ride. Five-to-six hours probably would have been my max. I was really surprised that after getting into the queue close to 2 p.m. that it took us another three hours to get onto the ride. If I wasn’t on a mission to go on all of the “Potter” rides in one day, I would have quit.
In case you’re wondering, I did head on to the two other “Potter” rides directly after this ride along with Sommer and her mum.
What I learned: If the ride isn’t operating until noon, wait to go on it another day. Regardless, be prepared to wait through some delays.
The Monday after my wait for the ride, I learned that was probably going to become the norm for some time. Universal Orlando put out a statement saying Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure won’t be opening until noon for the “next couple of weeks” in order to give the ride its necessary maintenance and technical support.
This wasn’t a surprise to me. In addition to the coaster operating past closing time, I had known the ride was having some technical hiccups. On media day, the ride didn’t start up for us right away. Two days later on opening morning, when I was at the start of the queue, the ride didn’t take off until 9:30 a.m. That’s a half hour after the park opened. On Friday, during our eight-and-a-half hour wait, we experienced three technical delays, that we knew of, once in the queue.
Even though the ride isn’t opening until noon for a while, expect people to still start lining up when the park opens at 9 a.m. to try to be the first ones on it for the day. Unless Universal doesn’t allow people to line up for the ride before it’s open at noon each day, be prepared to wait for a while to ride. It’s three hours in addition to however long the ride wait will be once it opens.
If you do plan on being in it for the long haul, I wouldn’t recommend having young kids in the line with you for this long unless you have a few external chargers on you for them to play some games or watch some shows on a phone. This is something I saw some parents doing.
While the friends I met on the ride queue all enjoyed the ride after our long wait, you may be better off waiting. If possible, I would recommend waiting to visit the park until the ride is operating close to the park’s start time so you’re not waiting any additional hours.
- Read more:
- 15 details you may miss while riding the new ‘Harry Potter’ coaster at Universal Orlando
- I rode the new ‘Harry Potter’ coaster at Universal Orlando, and it’s one of the best rides at the theme park
- Every ‘Harry Potter’ ride at Universal Orlando, ranked from worst to best
- The new ‘Harry Potter’ coaster is even better to ride at night, but it won’t be easy to do it
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