Ah, the Dragons: Blizzrock (Ice) and Pyrrock (Fire). They were two of our favorite icons and rides at Islands of Adventure from our first trip there in 2001. Having the view of the coaster in the background as Blizzrock and Pyrrock dueled at the entrance to the queue was one of the great views in themeparkdom.
In addition to just being a great ride when dueling (for those of you that have only ridden Dragon Challenge or the non-dueling Dragons…sorry), the original Dueling Dragons had one of the great queues of all time. It had a moving stained glass window at the beginning that was a great effect, a good backstory told by Merlin and it was a great place to cool down during the hot summer days in Orlando! But the greatest parts of the queue were the fire and ice rooms, where the Dragons got loose in the castle.
We also have great memories of Dueling Dragons because it is an attraction where a few special moments happened with RATB over the years. First, a classic that we have talked about many times is the ride where we started up the lift hill with our brother-in-law right as a downpour hit. The entire ride felt like paintballs were blasting us (or more appropriate to the theme, ice chips!), and we couldn’t stop laughing. The famous after-ride pic from that moment is below. It is without a doubt, my favorite single ride on any ride or attraction that I have ever experienced.
Second, we used the backdrop of Dueling Dragons for a couple of scenes (including the final confrontation scene) in Mission IOA:2 Universal Revenge. Considering all of the fun we have had with that short movie over the years, DD being part of the movie makes that a special memory for us.
Finally, I can remember walking through the queue at Dueling Dragons for the first time and being in awe of the size, length and detail of the queue (especially in 2001, pre-Potter and the Theme Park world changing with respect to detail and queue theming). Those feelings are strong (and relate to a previous article on Theme Park Emotions) and bring an importance to the attraction greater than its EV (exhilaration value) alone.
So, for all of the above reasons (and many more), we were sorry to see Dueling Dragons go to make way for Dragon Challenge and Hogsmeade. Don’t misunderstand, Hogsmeade is spectacular and we certainly don’t want it not to be around, but we wish it could have been accomplished without the eviscerating of an iconic ride and visually stunning queue. But, change is inevitable and if the dueling was going to have to go anyway (thanks, inconsiderate jerks), you couldn’t ask for a better replacement than the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
We are sure many of you have great memories of Dueling Dragons as well, let us know what you think. Do you agree it was better than Dragon Challenge? Do you like it better now?
In closing, I (Rex) am going to quote a classic Robert Frost poem that I memorized in 8th grade and that I always thought of when I walked through the queue of Dueling Dragons with the Beast (and usually quoted it to him as well!):
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice
From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice is also great.
And would suffice.