10 great high-tech thrill rides at theme parks around the world

Theme parks are in an arms race to use the latest technology to thrill their visitors.

The latest example: a Harry Potter-themed roller coaster that opened last month in Florida, with wait times of up to 10 hours.

“The rides have gotten totally immersive,” says Robert Ulrich, president of American Coaster Enthusiasts, a national organization devoted to roller coasters. “You’re blissfully unaware how much is going in on in the background.”

He shares some favorites with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY.

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Florida

Passengers straddle a stylized motorcycle or slip into a sidecar for an other-worldly Harry Potter adventure. As Hagrid narrates, the coaster roars through a thick forest, zooming by unicorns and menacing creatures. Universal calls it the world’s first “story coaster.” Ulrich says it’s worth the hype. “The storytelling makes the whole ride really unique.” universalorlando.com

In-depth look: See the new Hagrid roller coaster at Universal Orlando’s Harry Potter world

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