‘Harry Potter’ Attraction Abandons Riders Upside Down, Safety Protocol Fails

in Universal Studios

Hogsmeade, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood, welcoming Death Eaters, a fan-favorite extended offering

Credit: Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal will not be able to use magic to make this lawsuit disappear.

Universal Studios Hollywood is undergoing a lawsuit after four guests were hung in a dangerous position and left “abandoned” for a lengthy period of time after riding Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. 

Guests riding Flight of the Hippogriff in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood
Credit: Universal Studios

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was and still is a groundbreaking attraction at Universal Studios theme parks, known for its immersive experience and cutting-edge technology. It opened at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida, on June 18, 2010, and later at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Japan.

The ride takes guests on a journey through Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where they encounter iconic characters from the Harry Potter series, including Harry, Ron, Hermione, and other magical creatures.

The plot revolves around a visit to Hogwarts for a tour of the castle, which quickly turns into an adventure when guests are enlisted to help Harry and his friends retrieve a lost item. Along the way, they encounter challenges, magical creatures, and scenes from the beloved books and films. It is truly both terrifying and magical, and feels like you are flying through the series in mere minutes.

Hogsmeade, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood, welcoming Death Eaters, a fan-favorite extended offering
Credit: Universal Studios Hollywood

According to news site The Blast, “Four individuals are suing Universal Studios Hollywood in California after their cart on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride was left stranded in midair. According to the suit… Debra Biane, Gerald Scott Biane, Josh Taylorson, and Sami-Joh Goldberg, are suing the California theme park after riding the ‘Harry Potter’ attraction and suffering “severe injuries and incurred medical expenses.”

Around April 7, 2022, the four patrons visiting the theme park reported that while riding the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction, the ride abruptly halted, leaving their cart suspended midair at an angle, causing them to tilt backward and to the right. Debra, Gerald, Josh, and Sam-Joh allege that they remained in this position for about an hour before the cart was eventually adjusted to an upright position.

Subsequently, after approximately thirty minutes in the upright position, the cart was maneuvered to the catwalk, allowing the four individuals to disembark from the rollercoaster.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Hollywood
Credit: Universal

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey has had many malfunctions in the past, causing guests to either be stuck in an uncomfortable position for a lengthy period of time or to evacuate. This is not out of the ordinary, as nearly every theme park attraction breaks down from time to time, but there are areas in this ride that are less than ideal for ” hanging out.”

I myself have been stuck on this ride during the whomping willow scene, where the ride vehicle is nearly flipped upside down. In my case, I just had to remain in that position for a few minutes before the ride started back up again, but there were guests screaming for help. We were given the chance to ride again due to the technical issues, and unfortunately, the ride once again broke down.

All of that is to say, this experience is not a total shock, considering the ride’s history.

The lawsuit claims the “rollercoaster clearly malfunctioned,” and the guests were “left in a position which subjected them to severe injuries for an unreasonable and dangerous amount of time.”

The Blast continued to note, “The lawsuit further states that the malfunction of the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey rollercoaster “constituted a dangerous and/or unsafe condition” that subjected those who were riding “an unreasonable risk of injuries.”

The four individuals claim Universal Studios Hollywood should have known that the coaster “would malfunction and stop mid-ride,” but they “failed to properly inspect, maintain, and/or repair” the coaster “to adequately address this risk and prevent [the ride] from causing injuries to those who rode.”

A still from one of the projection sequences in 'Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.' Credit: Universal
Credit: Universal

Additionally, the four individuals accuse Universal Studios Hollywood of failing “to implement proper procedures to safely bring the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey rollercoaster to its landing for the safe exit by those who rode this [ride], and to prevent them from being suspended for an unreasonable amount of time.”

“The failure to implement and execute proper procedures for the safe and timely exit from the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey rollercoaster in the event of a malfunction” allowed the riders to suffer “severe injuries, and incurred medical expenses and general damages in an amount to be proven at the time of trial.”

Debra Biane, Gerald Scott Biane, Josh Taylorson, and Sami-Joh Goldberg have filed a lawsuit seeking damages, with the exact amount unspecified in the complaint but stated to exceed $25,000.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal Hollywood. Credit: Universal
Credit: Universal

The ride has undergone two other lawsuits from rider injury — one in 2016 and one in 2018.

At Universal Studios Hollywood, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is the main attraction for guests. The other attraction, Flight of the Hippogriff, is a much smaller kids’ coaster. At Universal Orlando Resort, there are other major Harry Potter-themed rides, such as Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. Soon, Epic Universe will also hold a ride themed to the Ministry of Magic.

Have you ever been stuck on a theme park attraction? What went wrong? 

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