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New Hagrid coaster at Universal Orlando will take Harry Potter fans into Forbidden Forest

Universal has released more details on the new Hagrid-themed coaster coming to Islands of Adventure in June, revealing the coaster will move both forward and backward at speeds up to 50 miles per hour into the dark forest of Harry Potter's world among more than 1,200 specially planted trees.

The ride, called Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, will open at Hogsmeade in the park's Wizarding World of Harry Potter on June 13.

The park released more details on Tuesday, including that riders will encounter some of the wizarding world's magical creatures such as Fluffy, the three-headed dog from the first Harry Potter book and film.

The ride replaces the previous Dragon Challenge, which closed in fall 2017, and it somewhat blurs the line between a roller coaster and a dark ride. It will be a two-seat roller coaster, with one rider on Hagrid's magical motorbike and the other rider in the adjacent sidecar.

Now forgive us as we take a deep nerdy dive into the Potter universe.

While fans of J.K. Rowling's book and film series will immediately know that the motorbike originally belonged to Harry's godfather Sirius Black, it plays a major role in the rescue of Harry from his aunt and uncle's house in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Rubeus Hagrid, who is the gamekeeper at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, hides Harry in the sidecar of the motorbike as other wizards and witches try to throw off the Death Eaters.

In the theme park, riders have to be at least 48 inches tall to board the magical motorbikes "specially designed to make them feel the freedom of flight," a Universal news release said.

As they make their way through the Forbidden Forest (that's the dark forest on the grounds of Hogwarts Castle), riders will encounter a Centaur (the humanized horses that have clairvoyant powers), and a swarm of mischievous Cornish Pixies — the electric-blue creatures with a love of troublemaking that Professor Lockhart let loose in his first Defense Against the Dark Arts class in The Chamber of Secrets. Fluffy, the three-headed dog who guarded the Sorcerer's Stone in the first movie, will loom over riders "and even a creature that's never been seen in the films," the park news release teased.

The ride will "hurl past challenging obstacles, become entangled in a thicket of Devil's Snare," the magical plant that will constrict or strangle anything that happens to touch it, as Hermione and Ron found out when trying to get to the Sorcerer's Stone.

Universal has been criticized by some coaster enthusiasts for an over-reliance on screens and 3D technology, such as in rides Race Through New York, Transformers and Fast & Furious Supercharged.

This ride will combine "innovative coaster technology with rich environments and sets — including an actual forest with more than 1,200 live trees," the Universal announcement said. So expect a real Forbidden Forest and Fluffy, not just a screen version.

Universal also released a four-minute video on the announcement featuring actor Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy. He talks with Alan Gilmore, who was art director on the Harry Potter films and has also been tapped over the years by Universal Orlando for the theme park's art design.

He talked about creating the Forbidden Forest and said the ride experience will be different if you are in the sidecar versus the motorbike. He said it will be "the most highly themed immersive coaster ever created."

Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at swynne@tampabay.com. Follow @SharonKWn

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