Screamscape.com is reporting some changes that will be soon coming in the legendary Islands of Adventure coaster Dueling Dragons. As we all know, the park is constructing a new "island" which will be the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWHP). This island is going to create some changes not only to the area of the park where the actual island will be located, but also changes to the rest of the park. The most obvious and brutal is the island of the Lost Continent (tied for my favorite along with MSHI). Much of what made the Lost Continent so special has been either completely removed or is changing. The Enchanted Oak Tavern, which was one of the most recognizable structures in the park, has been removed. Now we are hearing (and have feared) that Dueling Dragons will cease to exist. Oh, the ride will still be operating, but as we at RexandtheBeast.com have tried to get across, a ride is much, much more than just the ride. Changes to Dueling Dragons will include the name of the ride changing, saying goodbye to the classic Fire (Pyrrock) and Ice (Blizzrock) dragons, and painting the structure to encompass a darker theme. Additionally, apparently one of the major attractions in the WWHP is the Hogwarts Castle which might incorporate the MagiQuest technology and use magic wands. However, these wands might work across the park as a whole, so you can be in Toon Lagoon and be using your Harry Potter wand to check stuff out.
So what does The Beast (me) think about all of this? Here are a couple of things:
1. Change is inevitable. In order for USF to keep up with Disney and keep their park as fresh and inviting as possible, change will have to happen. I understand that. So, I try hard to keep myself from having kneejerk reactions anytime something changes in the park for which I have an attachement to. There is no doubt that those in the USF leadership team have wrestled hard with decisions they know might upset loyal fans, so I tip my hat for their creativity and desire to keep the park running at an optimum level.
2. Having said that, they misstepped on this one. I hope time and experience will prove me wrong, but it is going to take one heck of an improvement to go from the classic Dueling Dragons to another theme. I'm just not sure why it is necessary. My fear is that the hype of the WWHP has the team thinking that major changes should come park wide and after a period of a couple of years, or when the Harry Potter films are finally over, they will regret the decision to have changed this beloved and classic coaster. What does this do to the Lost Continent? If the Dueling Dragons coaster is now part of the WWHP, all that is left for the LC is Poseidon's Fury (the future of which is questionable) and the Eighth Voyage of Sinbad. Wow. (they mystic fountain is there too, along with Mythos).
3. One of the elements that makes IOA so special is that you move from one island to another. They have worked hard to "magically" move you from one theme to another, even the music fades beautifully so that when you enter Jurassic Park for example, Toon Lagoon is a distant memory. With this new concept of having the magic wands work in all the islands, IOA is ignoring that crucial element of the park. Now park guests will be in Suess Landing looking for Harry Potter items? Weird. With this new concept in mind, what I want to see now is Captain America taking down a freakin T-Rex in Jurassic Park!
I am excited about the WWHP and look forward to seeing how it effects the park as a whole. I am not wanting to be negative here, but as a huge fan of the park I have a few concerns. We will wait and see.