Dueling Dragons | Fire Dragon @ Islands of Adventure
The Dueling Dragons is a popular dueling roller coaster at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida. It consists of a red (Fire) track and a blue (Ice) track. The inverted tracks share a lift hill, but after that their layouts are unique. They boast three duels or near-misses where the trains pass within feet of each other.
An Amazing Medieval Castle
The Dueling Dragons has one of the best themed stations I have ever experienced. The ride is located in the Lost Continent area of Islands of Adventure. An elaborately detailed medieval castle acts as the home to the dragons. Guests enter the long queue that has them walking through authentic-looking dimly lit pathways. If it wasn’t for the occasional exit signs you might really believe that you were in some European castle. Finally, you emerge at a fork in your path. Here, guests are asked to “Choose Thy Fate” and either head left for the Fire Dragon or right for the Ice Dragon. Even the trains are adorned with claws and dragon skin to help add to the theme.
The Fire Dragon
The Fire Dragon delivers a much more intense overall ride than it’s blue nemesis. Both ride’s rise to the same 125 foot peak, but Fire Dragon’s drop is 10 feet longer generating a little more speed for its action-packed course. After Fire’s swooping drop, the ride wastes no time as it returns skyward for a tall Immelmann loop. Next, the train dives under the lift hill and then back up and over an airtime hill (rare for inverted coasters) as Ice Dragon performs a cool zero-g roll below. It’s the best executed near miss and most riders on the Fire train will catch a glimpse of the Ice train spinning below their feet. Fire Dragon then charges back down and into a smaller, more intense wrap-around Immelmann loop. This loop has a tighter, sharper turn as the inversion completes. I’d like to see more of these modified Immelmanns as they put a fierce twist on a typically graceful inversion.
Next, Fire Dragon flies through a flat section of track as it’s on a head-to-head collision course with the Ice Dragon. Unfortunately, unless you’re in the front row, you’ll have no idea. At the last moment, both trains pull up into vertical loops, around a turn into the final near miss, an interlocking corkscrew. Fire Dragon then begins making its way back to the castle-themed station, but it still has a good amount of speed and one final assault on its riders; another corkscrew.
The Near Misses Are Great for Style, Not So Much for Substance
In my opinion, the near misses are over rated. Your best chance to see them is in the front seat, otherwise they don’t really add much for the riders. I will say that the hill/zero-g roll near miss, when experienced on Fire Dragon, is the best of the near misses, because the largest number of riders actually get to see the duel. Even then, they have to be looking down to catch it.
On the other hand, from off the ride, the near misses look amazing. In that way, they remind me of Griffon and SheiKra’s splash sections which also do nothing (other than slow the train down) for the riders, but look cool for spectators. On my rides on both Dragons I never really felt that close to the other train like the maneuvers suggest. On the trains you are just way too insulated with four-across seating and the track over your head.
My Take – An Intense, Action-Packed Ride from Beginning to End
Compared to Ice Dragon’s fun, but meandering course that felt like it was just setting up the duels. Fire Dragon’s intensity grabs you and doesn’t let up. It has a great layout without the duels and would stand alone just fine. The difference in the two layouts is in the pacing and the placement of the inversions. Fire Dragon is action-packed and relentless from the drop to the station brakes. I put it just below Afterburn/Top Gun at Carowinds and it’s among the best inverted roller coasters around. Final Rating – 8.5 (Great Approaching Excellent)
Dueling Dragons Fire Dragon is rated ‘TH’ for Thrilling. It’s a 3 out of 5 on my Thrill Scale.
What’s Your Take?
Have you ridden the Fire Dragon? What did you think? Leave a comment below.