Dueling Dragons: Choose Thy Fate brings a former Islands of Adventure attraction back from the dead for Halloween Horror Nights 32.
Dueling Dragons: Choose Thy Fate
Two warlocks of great power were turned into dragons after trying to take Merlyn’s spell book. Now you and your friends are caught in their epic battle. You must choose a path and a victor.
Dueling Dragons was an opening day roller coaster in now-defunct Merlinwood section of the Lost Continent area in Universal’s Islands of Adventure. It featured a red fire dragon and a blue ice dragon fighting, represented by riders in different cars on two different racks, running at the same time.
The Bollinger & Mabillard coaster was unique at the time in that the launch was carefully timed to have both tracks’ cars moving in tandem, leading to moments where riders came within 18″ from one another. This effect was ended in 2011 after two separate incidents where riders’ loose objects fell and hit riders on the other train. Dragon Challenge operated essentially as two completely separate coasters after that.
This attraction became Dragon Challenge when The Wizarding World of Harry Potter took over that portion of the Lost Continent before ultimately closing and being closed in 2017 to make way for Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.
This house is a sequel to the attraction and has many similarities to the original queue. Guests also travel through the Fairy Forest.
The house follows the warlocks, Pyrock (the fire dragon) and Blizzrock (the ice dragon) as they break into Merlyn’s Castle, each hoping to steal his spellbook for themselves. Like the ride’s queue, guests travel through the destroyed castle. Notably, guests were presented with the dragon’s victims in the queue before choosing their coaster. Merlyn warned, “Past this point of no return, your only choice is freeze or burn.”
This was universally beloved by our group. Guests enter through the Enchanted Oak, also once a feature of the Lost Continent. In the forest, you encounter trolls, fairies, and the warlocks. Pyrock and Blizzrock have light-up costumes with elaborate masks and headpieces.
The warlocks reach Merlin’s spellbook at the same time as guests. In the spellbook, you may notice Dr. Oddfellow’s symbol. It’s actually an ancient sigil adopted after discovering it on the skull in the Jungle of Doom scare zone.
The warlocks transform into dragons and we see the victims of their rampages as we walk through burning ruins. At one moment, Pyrock’s dragon claw swipes at guests from a hole in the wall.
The room with the actual dragons is breathtaking. The scale of them is jaw-dropping and they breathe “smoke” (steam). We were impressed by the set design of the entire house, but this room takes the cake.
The house is very similar to the ride’s original queue. There are prop recreations, knights, etc. For the first time since 2004, this house features a split path. Near the end, “choose thy fate,” pulsing red and blue, is carved into a wall. Guests can then choose to follow the path of Pyrock or Blizzrock. As the tagline says, though, “No matter who you choose, you lose.”
There are four possible endings in total, making this one of the most interesting and repeatable houses. Depending on which path you choose, you may see that warlock brandishing Merlyn’s disembodied head. You may also see Merlyn alive and well after “winning” the fight.
Dueling Dragons: Choose Thy Fate is located at D on the map below, with the entrance between Race Through New York With Jimmy Fallon and the Tribute Store.