This summer, we have been blessed with not one but two major attraction openings between Universal and Disney. Not only that, but both rides are phenomenal in their own right. But the ultimate question is which one is better? Granted, both provide incredibly different things. Hagrid’s is a high speed roller coaster that focuses on major thrills with a little bit of story. Smugglers Run is more focused on putting the guest in the middle of the action and letting us participate in the story more than any parks attraction. But which is better? Well let’s take a look at a few factors.
Story: Both have relatively fun stories, while Smugglers is a little more concrete and stronger. Smugglers is helping Hondo Onaka (glad to finally get some Clone Wars representation in the parks) get some coaxium by borrowing the Millennium Falcon. Hagrid’s is taking a motorcycle ride with Hagrid through the forbidden forest and that’s about it. While it’s cool seeing all the creatures, I prefer having more of a plot on the ride. Point goes to Smugglers.
Queue: Both rides have amazing queue lines. Hagrid’s has caverns and dungeons with some class rooms and a nursery. Smugglers is going through a maintenance bay with full size props and engines. Both are very highly detailed and incredible. But, Hagrid’s gets this round for one small feature that means the world: the switchbacks can be modified to shorten the length guests have to walk. If the line for Smugglers is 10 minutes, you walk the same queue length as if it were 60. While a minor thing, it can help for the overall guest experience and save them some steps for later on. Note, this does not take into account the Millennium Falcon cargo hold with the holo chess table, that is more of a waiting room area and not part of the line so it really wouldn’t be fair to include it and give Smugglers the clear win.
Ride System: Both rides use familiar ride systems, but with some twists. Smugglers is a motion simulator, but has an interactive element and allows for the guest to control the direction the vehicle moves and the results of the ride. Hagrid’s is a launching roller coaster with highly themed ride vehicles, a staggering amount of launches, a hill that goes vertical into a backwards section and a first of its kind for the park vertical drop in a roller coaster. Both rides are absolutely great and fully utilize the ride system to its fullest potential. However, Hagrid’s gets the point for being a little more bold in how far it goes in pushing the limits of the system. Although…
Opening: Smugglers had a 90 minute maximum wait when it opened for the general public, with it averaging 30-45 minutes consistently. Hagrid’s opened with a 10 hour wait, multiple down times and points where they cut the line for capacity with several hours before the park closes and it still has capacity issues two months after the ride opened. Point goes to Smugglers.
Fun: This is the tie breaker. The final point. Which ride is better? Which theme park company did a better job at making a more fun ride? The answer is, incredibly complicated. Granted, Hagrid’s is technically a better ride because it takes a lot more risks and has high rewards. It has great animatronics and some amazing thrills. But, piloting the Millennium Falcon is something that is wish fulfillment and a great feeling. Each ride is also going to be different based on your role in the cabin and how well everyone else is at their jobs. I’ve been on rides that were boring and rides that we a blast (and we crashed on purpose for that one). Hagrid’s is going to be the same ride every time, but it’s a great ride. But at the end of the day, I would give the edge to Hagrid’s by the smallest of margins. This does not discredit Smugglers Run by any means as it is still a phenomenal ride. Hagrid’s is just a little bit better.
Regardless, 2019 has been a great year for new rides not based on The LEGO Movie. Smugglers Run and Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure are great rides and saying one is better than the other isn’t a wrong claim to make. A case can be made for both. But the big winner is us, cause we get better rides!