Hogwarts alums apparated to Orlando for a special preview of the coaster, which opens Thursday

By Mackenzie Schmidt
June 12, 2019 05:21 PM

The newest addition to the Wizarding World lands at Universal Orlando Resort on Thursday — and it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, a massive new rollercoaster at Islands of Adventure, lets the bravest wizards and muggles alike climb aboard Hogwarts’s beloved gamekeeper’s notoriously temperamental motorcycle (and sidecar!) for a wild trip through the Forbidden Forest.

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The attraction joins Forbidden Journey, Escape from Gringotts and Flight of the Hippogriff on the lineup of the park’s wizarding attractions, but this one involves some very advanced magic.

Courtesy Universal Orlando Resort
Courtesy Universal Orlando Resort

Not for the faint of heart — or anyone under 42 inches — the outdoor coaster makes white-knuckle dips and dives and almost-upside-down turns at speeds up to 50mph as Hagrid leads riders on a journey more treacherous than one his Care of Magical Creatures lessons.

There are also too major surprises along the mile-long course that won’t be spoiled here, but let’s just say, in the world of Harry Potter, sometimes things look up when you least expect it and sometimes the bottom falls out.

Courtesy Universal Orlando Resort

At a special preview of the ride on Tuesday night, several of the film franchise’s stars turned up at Universal Orlando Resort to celebrate their beloved teacher’s big night. Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) and Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) rolled up in Mr. Weasley’s famous Ford Anglia that Ron and Harry crashed into the Whomping Willow in Chamber of Secrets, while Fred and George Weasley (James and Oliver Phelps) rode in on Hagrid’s motorcycle. Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) and Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick) were also on hand to welcome a group of lucky early riders.

Courtesy Universal Orlando Resort

The actors got to test out the ride before anyone else, and it seems their days flying high on broomsticks have turned them into adrenaline junkies.

“We do enjoy our rides,” Felton tells PEOPLE of himself and Grint. “We rode it a couple times, and I still feel like we need a couple more just to soak everything in.” 

Courtesy Universal Orlando Resort

And despite their early access, they knew “very little” as they strapped in, says Grint. “Nothing really prepared me. It’s truly one of the most special experiences in the park.”

The coaster offers two different ways to ride: as the driver of the titular motorbike or the passenger in the sidecar. While both offer a thrill, the motorbike seat is a unique experience that makes the rider feel like they’re really steering (and gives them control over that ominous purple “Dragon Fire” button on the dash.)

Courtesy Universal Orlando Resort

While racing through the 1,100 trees planted to create the ominous setting, look out for sinister Devil’s Snare, a plant that entangles humans in its vines, and Cornish Pixies, mischievous tricksters famous for their appearance in Chamber, in which they perilously hung Neville Longbottom from the ceiling. Hagrid claims there are Thestrals too, but they can of course only be seen by those who know death.

Courtesy Universal Orlando Resort

There are also cameos from centaurs, unicorns and Fluffy the three-headed dog from Sorcerer’s Stone. But the most exciting animal encounter is with the creepy Blast-Ended Skrewt — a dangerous cross between a Fire Crab and a Manticore featured in the book series that was never shown in the films.

For Lynch, whose character spent a lot of time surrounded by fantastic beasts instead of magical people, it was a chance to catch up with old friends. “It was nice to see all the creatures again,” she says. “It’s a thrilling rollercoaster, but it comes with this story experience as well.”

And for true Potterheads, what’s sure to be a lengthy wait to ride is also a hunt for magical Easter eggs. “The line itself is a cool experience,” says James Phelps, who went on the ride twice in a row. 

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A few hidden gems we spotted on Tuesday include Harry’s parents James and Lily’s initials scratched into a heart on the wall, and a lantern that looks very similar to the one Hagrid used during Harry and Draco’s detention in the forest sitting on a work bench.

But there are no doubt many more to uncover in the extremely immersive experience. Once you do make it on the ride though, your best bet is to just hold on and let the magic work.

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure opens June 13 at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resorts.

Check out @PeopleHome‘s Instagram Stories for video of the coaster in action.

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