Is This The New Coaster Replacing Dragon Challenge?

Hey Thrill Seekers,

The news that Dragon Challenges last day would be the 4th September was met with similar feeling as when we announced that Jaws would be closing. The much loved coaster will be making way for a brand new Potter attraction but not much more information has been  released, so we’re working off crumbs.

One potential large crumb came to my attention last night when coaster specialist Dynamic Attractions tweeted this…

Now its not the article that’s the interesting part because like all of us we know nothing Jon Snow. Its the comments section that’s interesting…

Hmm an SFX Coaster, what is this strange device you speak of;

Dynamic Attractions bill the SFX Coaster as The World’s most exhilarating dark ride and state;

Combining a high thrill coaster with new track technologies, high definition storytelling visuals and state-of-the art audio effects. This attraction is filled with ‘firsts’ that will attract theme park enthusiasts from around the globe.

Dynamic Attractions did confirm that “someone” in Orlando had purchased an SFX coaster at IAAPA which does help fuel this rumour.

At first glance it does appear to have similarities to Escape from Gringotts but we’re thinking that this attraction may well have an indoor and outdoor part to it.

Universal are promising a “new generation thrill ride” so we’ll keep you posted when we learn more…

Smiles included…


Top Secrets at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Hey Thrill Seekers,

We poked our noses in at Universal Studios yesterday so now it’s time to pop next door and nose a little bit more.

We’ll start off in Marvel Super Hero Island where there are red phones dotted around that you can pick up and listen to various options on how to report different crimes.

All the buildings have been designed with all of the Marvel characters. The artist Adam Kubert has secretly signed his first name into each painting with the exception of Storm from X-Men.


Some of the Marvel characters ride into the park on quad bikes at the top of the hour but quickly disperse to get ready for their character meet and greets.

The Incredible Hulk Coaster has lots of games to keep you entertained throughout the queue on a busy day but don’t forget to listen out for the roar as you shoot out of the slingshot launch tunnel!

Doctor Dooms Fearfall has prints of his victims, the Fantastic Four, on the floor! There’s also a little cubby hole underneath the Osborn Industries sign. If you stand there and listen carefully, you will hear two thugs planning their next stunt!


Just across the road at Captain America’s Diner, you will see Thor’s hammer stuck in the glass and if you head inside, Thor will be over the other side, mid-throw.

Time for some Jurassic Park now and if you look carefully just outside the exit of Jurassic Park River Adventure, on the shelf there is a Barbosol shaving cream tin which represents the tin that contains the dino embryos in the film.

We’re gonna jump across back to by the entrance now into Seuss Landing where it all looks a bit different and crazier than the rest of the park! There are no straight lines and all of the buildings are unorthodox.

As you enter into the area, you will see McElligot’s Pool on the right hand side. One of the fish in the pool is special and if you toss a coin into it’s mouth, you’ll see what happens next..

“Young man, young man, you’re sort of a fool. You’ll never catch fish in McElligot’s pool”


Moving swiftly over the The Lost Continent, you will find a mystic fountain which you can talk to. He will tell you jokes and riddles, but you won’t want to get the riddles wrong…!

Let’s go over to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter now but this time we’re in Hogsmeade! Ladies, if you’re wanting a toilet break, now is the time to go. If you listen carefully you will be able to hear Moaning Myrtle!

Olivander’s is the place to be if you want to become a wizard with your very own wand and if you’re lucky, the wand may even choose you! You can then head off to some of the spell locations dotted around the area and cast some of your own spells!


Just outside of Olivander’s is the Owl Post station where you can post a letter of your own to anywhere in the world with the official Hogsmeade stamp before heading back to Diagon Alley on the Hogwart’s Express. Don’t forget, the journey is a completely different experience this way!

So there we have it, some of Universal Islands of Adventure’s secrets. What else have you found on your travels?

Smiles Included…


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Top Secrets at Universal Studios

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Most of the parks have their own little secrets which lots of people may know about. If you don’t know about them, I’ll fill you in, but remember…it’s a secret!!

Let’s start off with Universal Studios:

To enter into either of the Universal parks you have to go through CityWalk anyway, once you’re in, head over to Blue Man Group and you will see a little single entrance with barely any queue with staff members there to scan your ticket to head straight into Universal Studios.


Despicable Me Minion Mayhem has real banana trees grown outside..why? Because minions love bananas of course!

Hollywood Rip Ride Rock It allows you to choose your own song from the list each time you ride, but did you know you can play a secret song?! Simply hold down the logo for 10 seconds and enter in any 3 digit code for your secret song to begin!


Over at the Revenge of the Mummy, there is a hidden statue of King Kong just inside, paying tribute to the original attraction. So he never actually left, he was just hiding!

Let’s shoot down some of the parade path over to Men In Black: Alien Attack. If you get there on a busy day and end up queuing, try jiggling some of the handles on the laboratories…

If it’s a quiet day, ask a team member for a tour of the ground floor of the immigration room. They may or may not be kind enough to do this with you! 😉


It’s time for the bit you’ve all been looking forward to, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Here at Universal Studios you’re in Diagon Alley representing London. If you’re lucky enough, you might be able to spot Kreacher the house elf peeping out over Diagon Alley.

Traditional red telephone boxes through Diagon Alley have their own little magic trick. You can go in and dial 62442 (MAGIC) and be transferred through to the Ministry of Magic!

If you look closely you might also notice there’s a few references to Jaws throughout Diagon Alley such as the the record shop has a record in the window titled ‘Here’s to swimming with bow legged women’. There’s also telescopes made of jaws and a set of jaws inside the window of the apothecary shop.

If you’re looking to experience Harry Potter and the Escape to Gringott’s then you will get to see all of the goblins hard at work. If you get the chance, talk to Griphook the head goblin and ask him questions. Maybe even ask him about the dragon! 😉


Now that you’ve escaped the safest place on Earth, why not take a trip on the Hogwarts Express over to Hogsmeade?!

There’s lots to look out as you walk through the queue area but don’t miss platform 9 3/4 because you can actually walk through the wall!!

So there’s some of the secrets that I know of! Do you have any that haven’t been mentioned?

Smiles Included…


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More Details About Universal’s A Celebration of Harry Potter Are Out

Hey Thrill Seekers,

A celebration of Harry Potter is becoming a big deal for Universal now in its fourth year the event is going from strength to strength. This years event will take place from the 27th Jan until the 29th.

Below is this year schedule;



Harry Potter™ Expo
9am – 5pm | Soundstage 33 and 21
Movie in the Park
10am – 12:30pm | Music Plaza Stage
Movie in the Park
1:30pm – 4pm | Music Plaza Stage
Opening Night Event
7:15pm – 8:15pm | Music Plaza Stage


Harry Potter™ Expo
9am – 3:30pm | Soundstage 33 and 21
Kids’ Dance Like a Beauxbatons, Battle Like a Durmstrang
10am – 10:30am | Music Plaza Stage
WB Studio Tour London – Discover the secrets behind Creature Effects with Nick
Dudman & Warwick Davis
10am – 10:30am | Toon Lagoon™ Amphitheatre
Harry Potter™ Trivia
11am -11:30am | Music Plaza Stage
Learn Wand Combat Skills with Paul Harris (Kids)
11:30am – 12pm | Music Plaza Stage
MinaLima: Graphic Design for the Harry Potter™ Films with MinaLima
11:30am – 12pm | Music Plaza Stage
Harry Potter™ Trivia
1:30pm – 2pm | Music Plaza Stage
Learn Wand Combat Skills with Paul Harris (All Levels)
2pm – 2:30pm | Music Plaza Stage
Stories From The Exhibition: Taking the Audio-Tour Experience to the World
3pm – 3:30pm | Toon Lagoon™ Amphitheatre
Harry Potter™ Film Talent Q&A
4pm – 4:45pm | Music Plaza Stage
An Interview with Mary GrandPré
4:15pm – 4:45pm | Toon Lagoon™ Amphitheatre
House Rally Meet-Up (Costume Contest)
5:30pm – 6pm | Music Plaza Stage
Evening Tribute
6:45pm – 7:45pm  | Music Plaza Stage


Harry Potter™ Expo
9am – 5pm | Soundstage 33 and 21
Kids’ Dance Like a Beauxbatons, Battle Like a Durmstrang
10am – 10:30am | Music Plaza Stage
MinaLima: Graphic Design for the Harry Potter™ Films with MinaLima
10am – 10:30am | Toon Lagoon™ Amphitheatre
Harry Potter™ Trivia
11am -11:30am | Music Plaza Stage
Learn Wand Combat Skills with Paul Harris (Kids)
11:30am – 12pm | Music Plaza Stage
Learn Wand Combat Skills with Paul Harris (All Levels)
2pm – 2:30pm | Music Plaza Stage
Stories From The Exhibition: Taking the Audio-Tour Experience to the World
2:30pm – 3pm | Toon Lagoon™ Amphitheatre
Harry Potter™ Trivia
3pm – 3:30pm | Music Plaza Stage
WB Studio Tour London – Discover the secrets behind Creature Effects with Nick Dudman & Warwick Davis
4pm – 4:30pm | Toon Lagoon™ Amphitheatre
Harry Potter™ Film Talent Q&A
5:30pm – 6:15pm | Music Plaza Stage

Soundstage 21
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter™
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Soundstage 33
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter™
Stories from Harry Potter™: The Exhibition
Universal Parks and Resorts™

Where will you head?

Smiles included…


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What’s Next For The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter?

Hey Thrill Seekers,

To say Universal’s partnership with JK Rowling has been successful would be a massive understatement! Many people put the rise of Universal solely in the Wizards robes and the evidence is pretty hard to ignore with attendances rising since its introduction. So it only makes sense that Universal will look to expand this area.

Back in 2015 Jamie wrote a piece about what he’d like to see introduced to the Wizarding World and the majority of this article still stands. So I’ll try to steer away from the same answers apart from the Ministry of Magic, this rumour doesn’t seem to want to go away…

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

Ministry of Magic

As some of  you may already know, if you head inside one of the famous red telephone boxes and dial MAGIC (62442) you’ll be answered with a message stating ‘the ministry of magic is not open’ on that day which to me, is a little clue that maybe one day it will be…

There has been loads and loads of rumours surrounding “phase 3” and the Ministry of Magic – the largest rumour being that Fear Factor Live is going to be demolished to make way for London.. and the centre of the British magical community’s government. To place it here would mean it would be an expansion of Diagon Alley and not a third Wizarding World attraction. Universal don’t do things by halves though and I would still expect new rides, shops and food places if this were to happen.


I’ve had a little think about what sort of attraction could appear along with the Ministry of Magic and I think it would be something along the lines of battles within the Ministry of Magic, fighting off dementors , watching a duel between Professor Dumbledore and Lord Voldermort or as Jamie mentioned in his previous blog – more interactive wand opportunities and maybe even classes for young Wizard and Witches.

All of the talk and hype about this potentially happening will hopefully give Universal a push to maybe confirming the rumours to be true? 😉

New Universal Park?

Now, I bet if we ran a poll to ask what you would want a new Universal park to be based on, I would be very confident in saying a Harry Potter themed park would be top of that list.

As you probably already know, Universal have purchased a whole load of land – around 450 acres which is approx 25 minutes away from the current Universal parks. If a new Harry Potter land was placed here I reckon the majority of Universal guests wouldn’t mind making the journey down I-Drive to the new park if it’s as good as the others!!


The question on everyone’s lips is if it’s going to be a Harry Potter park then what would it be based on? I think Ministry of Magic is out the picture and Hogwarts Castle and Diagon Alley have already been done. Maybe, just maybe they might not stay in the ‘United Kingdom’…

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them… The film is set in 1920’s New York where wizards are being hunted by descendants of the Salem Witch Trial perpetrators and a range of magical and rare exotic beasts have been let loose. The Fantastic Beasts concept is definitely a great one and a rumoured two additional films could lead to tons of content and ideas for a new park. I – Drive could act as the Atlantic Ocean from U.K to U.S.A and maybe wont make the journey from park to park feel as boring. :-p

It doesn’t look as though anything will be open until the 2020’s though so I guess it’s another waiting game.

Dragon Challenge

There has been some speculation regarding the Dragon Challenge ride being replaced so I have taken it upon myself to do a bit of thinking (I know!) as to what it could be replaced with.

My favourite idea is Azkaban being incorporated into an attraction.. A prison that’s supposed to be impossible to escape from on a solitary island in the North Sea and guarded by dementors – How cool would being able to breach Azkaban’s walls be, especially for Halloween events!  – Maybe a 3D ride where you can drive around the prison, maybe even use the interactive wand concept. Although this could lead to a pretty scary ride for the younger ones and as Dragon Challenge was a thrilling roller-coaster maybe it could be making way for a all new, improved coaster.


Another idea is that it could be replaced with a Triwizard Tournamant ride.. Dragon Challenge was said to ‘honour the first task of the Triwizard Tournament so if they’re wanting to stay within that theme then any type of ride could become of  the Triwizard theme – the possibilities are pretty much endless. Here are some ideas; a race through the maze (from the third task), a ride through the forest to look at the dragons, a black lake based ride or maybe even something based on the other schools arriving to the tournament in their own magical ways.. Beaxbatons – in a carriage pulled by Abraxan horses and Durmstrang on a magical ship.

There’s just a few ideas, it really could be anything but who doesn’t love a bit of hearsay. What would you want a new ride to be?

Now none of these have been confirmed just yet, it’s just some things that we would like to see come to Universal, the interest in Harry Potter doesn’t seem to be diminishing at all and while the interest is high, Universal will do its best to give the public what they want.

Smiles Included,


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New Night-time Show Coming To The Wizarding World?

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Happy New Year.. and what better way to start the year but with a good old rumour! On Christmas Eve the excellent Screamscape dropped a Potter bomb in the shape of a predicted new night-time show which they believe will take place at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

The idea being very similar to the opening ceremony that took place in 2016 for Universal Hollywood’s own Wizarding World of Harry Potter, that a look here.

You’ll note the amazing music and fireworks but the standout for me is the huge improvement in adding computer graphics that are imprinted on to the  Hogwarts Castle, the brilliants lions of Gryffindor that come to life and the way they allow you to take a sneak peak into the castle itself is simply breath-taking.

As an amateur photographer the idea of capturing some of that imagery is mouth watering and I hope this is truly something Universal are looking into. A quick look at Universal’s jobs website gives me hope 🙂

universaljobObviously this doesn’t confirm anything and Universal are keeping schtum but I am considering ironing my Hufflepuff robes!

There is one thing that concerns me slightly, have you ever been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Its small, its designed that way on purpose to give it the real feel that JK Rowling insisted on and although it works perfectly in creating the correct ambiance it wont be so good for large crowds of people waiting to watch the show.


But hey, these kind of conundrums are why the brains at Universal get paid the big bucks! Is a night time Wizarding World of Harry Potter show something you guys would be interested in?

Smiles included…


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Top 10 Orlando Attractions 2016

Hey Thrill Seekers,

We’ve seen the top 5 attractions in each park and now it’s the big one, the top 10 attractions in Orlando overall.

1st Place: Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts – Universal Studios.

2nd Place: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey – Islands of Adventure.


3rd Place: Expedition Everest – Animal Kingdom.

4th Place: Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster – Hollywood Studios.


5th Place: Soarin’ – Epcot.

6th Place: Crush ‘n’ Gusher – Typhoon Lagoon.


7th Place (joint): Summit Plummet – Blizzard Beach & Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – Magic Kingdom.


8th Place: Hard Rock Cafe – Universal City Walk.

9th Place: Manta – SeaWorld

i love manta

10th Place: Falcons Fury – Busch Gardens


So it is clear to see that the Harry Potter attractions are extremely popular amongst our thrill seekers and why wouldn’t they be, they really are incredible.

With the opening of Volcano Bay next year I wonder how different this list will look at the end of 2017?! If you’re heading out to visit the parks don’t forget to leave your feedback and vote for your fave attractions!!

Smiles Included,

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Islands of Adventure Top Attraction 2016

Hey Thrill Seekers,

No surprise here with the top attraction at Islands of Adventure, it is of course Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey.

This magical attraction is really out of this world. Your journey will consist of visiting loads of iconic places throughout Hogwarts such as Dumbledore’s office, the Gryffindor common room, Defence against the Dark Arts classroom etc.

You will also soar above the grounds alongside Harry Potter and his friends, meeting amazing creatures along the way.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey - Credit Universal Orlando

There is so much technology involved in this attraction that it really makes it a one of a kind ride that you 100% shouldn’t miss when visiting Islands of Adventure!!

Second Place: The Incredible Hulk Coaster – This coaster will enable you to actually experience the feeling of being the Hulk himself. This is a quick ride.. you will reach up to 67mph taking on zero gravity rolls, twists and turns.

Third Place: Skull Island; Reign Of Kong – Get involved in the 1930’s expedition which is caught in the middle of a battle, King Kong will beat his chest, roar and make it very, very clear that you are in his home.


Fourth Place: Dragon Challenge – Choose your dragon, will you go for a Chinese Fireball or a Hungarian Horntail? This is a amazing ride where two coasters will intertwine as they twist and loop, nearly colliding with each other. Three times throughout this ride the two dragons will come within 18 inches of eachother!!!

Fifth Place: Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges –  Be prepared to get wet! As you set sail you will help Popeye rescue Olive from Bluto. You’ll encounter dangerous white water rapids and even a 18 foot tall octopus!

Smiles Included,


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Universal Studios Top Attraction’s 2016

Hey Thrill Seekers,

I don’t think that there was a doubt in anyone’s mind that the top attraction would somehow be linked to Harry Potter.. The top attraction at Universal Studios is of course..

Harry Potter And The Escape From Gringotts.

This really is a surreal experience. You’ll start your journey by entering Gringotts bank which is where you will encounter goblins working hard in the lobby and then get ready for the mind blowing 3D, multi-dimensional ride.


You will feel as though you are in the centre of the action whilst manoeuvring through dark passageways and underground vaults. You’ll even meet Harry, Ron and Hermione.. but look out for Voldemort, Bellatrix and all of the other bad creatures and trolls who are the only things standing between you and your safe return!

This attraction is not only absolutely amazing for all hardcore Harry Potter fans but I think even if you have never seen a Harry Potter film you will still enjoy this breathtaking attraction.

Second Place: Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit – Pick a song, climb onto the ride, strap in and then you’ll begin your ascent until you reach the top where you will be 17 stories above Universal Studios. The next thing you know you will be reaching 65mph on your decent. This is a really cool, high-tech ride.

Third Place: Revenge of The Mummy – This ride really throws you in at the deep end. You’ll start in complete darkness, the only things you can see will be lit up by huge fireballs and they won’t be pleasant. You’ll also come face to face with the Mummy himself, a really thrilling ride.
ÒTransformers:  The Ride-3DÓ OPENING

Fourth Place: TRANSFORMERS: The Ride 3D – You will become a N*E*S*T recruit, and find yourself in the middle of a intergalactic war between the Autobots and Decepticons. This 3D ride is so futuristic and great fun!

Fifth Place: The Simpsons Ride – You get to ride along with the Simpsons family encountering surprise after surprise as you travel through Krustyland. Fun Fact.. This is the first ever attraction based on the Simpsons show!

Smiles Included,


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More Information Released on the Celebration Of Harry Potter

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Universal have just today released some more information about the 4th Celebration of Harry Potter which is taking place from 27th January to the 29th January 2017 and there’s some pretty cool stuff!

Following this years very successful 3 day celebration the January line up looks even better. I’ll get the coolest part out of the way first, which actors will be making guest appearances… Wawrick Davis who played Professor Flitwick and Griphook and Matthew Lewis who played Neville Longbottom in the series of films are going to be showing their faces. These are just two of the celebrity guests who will be taking park in Q&A sessions and signing autographs that have been named. There are more to be announced soon!

Harry Potter 2017

The Expo for next years celebration is going to be huge! Take a look below at some of the wicked stuff Universal have released that is going to be taking place.

  • MinaLima: Graphic designers Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima recently finished production on the new feature film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
  • Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter:Fans will relive the magic through the eyes of the filmmakers who brought the Harry Potter film series to life.
  • Harry Potter: The Exhibition: Are you a Gryffindor or a Slytherin? A Hufflepuff or perhaps a Ravenclaw? Find out at this experience.
  • Scholastic: Celebrate Harry Potter at Scholastic’s booth by signing the “Muggle Wall” and testing your knowledge of the Harry Potter books at the Trivia Challenge. Fans will also be treated to a meet & greet and signing with Mary GrandPré, famed illustrator for the Harry Potter books.
  • Pottermore: If you’re eager to discover more about J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, Pottermore has a surprise in store for fans attending this year’s celebration.
  • Audible: Bringing fans Audible Recall – the ultimate audio challenge that decides who knows the wizarding world inside-out and who has a bad case of the wrackspurts.
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Get a glimpse into the world of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and see images from the award-winning West End production.
  • Google Daydream VR Experience – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: With Daydream View, Google’s newly launched virtual reality headset, you can experience the magic of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in VR. Wave a wand (via a Daydream controller) to solve puzzles and meet a few of the beasts in Newt’s case.
  • Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment: A magical adventure awaits in the LEGO Dimensions experience, where you’ll be able to explore the Wizarding World and be the first to play as Hermione Granger! Guests will also be given the opportunity to participate in special giveaways and contests.

Harry potter 2017 2

There is also going to be loads of interesting new demonstrations and cool panels which will really give potterheads a chance to see how some of the magic was brought to life in the films.

There will be a ‘Behind the Scenes: Harry Potter Film Talent Discussion’ which will enable guests to have an insight into what the set of the harry potter films was really like.

There is also said to be a ‘Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – Creating Creatures for the Harry Potter Films’ with Nick Dudman who is an award winning make-up effects and creature designer for motion pictures and Warwick Davis who plays Professor Flitwick and Griphook. This panel will see to a extremely interesting discussion into things such as: what went into creating creatures such as Buckbeak and Gringotts Goblins and you’ll even get to see some authentic models from the films.


You will even get to ‘Learn Wand Combat Skills with Paul Harris’ who is the films very own Wand Combat Chorographer so I would get practising your wand skills if I were you! Also don’t forget to do the Fan Art Walk where you will be able to add your own twist to a real art gallery which is going to be on display during the celebration.

There will also be loads of Harry Potter trivia so get revising 😉

Don’t forget that entrance into this annual event is free with your Universal tickets however access to some activities will be on a first come first served basis so be sure to get there early!

Spells Included,


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