Universal Orlando ditches free virtual queuing

Posted Tuesday, February 14, 2006 8:41 AM | Contributed by kpjb

Universal Orlando has eliminated its free ride reservation system and is going entirely to its "Express Plus" service, in which visitors can pay extra to cut lines all day, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Read more from Amusement Business.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 8:46 AM
I sure hope that they're still doing it for hotel guests. That was the single greatest reason to stay on-property.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006 9:13 AM
If I read the following passage correctly they still will do it for hotel guests:

"With Express Plus, begun in 2003, visitors pay an extra fee (ranging from $15 to $50, depending on the season and package) for a pass that allows them to get into any of the Express lines, any time. Universal also has a similar deal for its hotel guests."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 10:08 AM
Wow. I'm actually shocked. I hoped the Universal Express model would be viable and copied by other park operators. Nix that idea.

I wonder how much of the decision was to reduce staff workload. The Universal Express queue staff no longer have to verify return time-slots -- now either guests have it or not.

And staff will not have to maintain the outdoor kiosks anymore. I don't know how difficult these kiosks are to maintain, but my wife works for a bank where she has to call the techs to repair ATMs -- they break down a lot more than you would think. Like ATMs, the UE kiosks were basically a card reader, display, user interface and printer all connected to a CPU -- only the cash drums and deposit bins were different.

*** This post was edited by greatwhitenorth 2/14/2006 10:11:15 AM ***

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 10:12 AM
I never knew they had a free system! If I didn't know then no one else knew.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006 11:13 AM
LOL, I knew....used it a few times too...;)

Agreed about the on-site hotel guests, I seriously doubt they'd jeopardize THAT business over something this trivial in terms of operating costs...

As long as they keep the SR lines, I used them WAY more than UE...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 11:20 AM
'gator, you need more friends. ;)
Tuesday, February 14, 2006 3:02 PM
I just need more friends that like PARKS... ;)


Tuesday, February 14, 2006 3:48 PM
I'm in the process of planning a trip to Florida and the Universal Resorts sounded the best due to the feature of skipping the lines. I'm glad to hear it is staying. I just wish CP had something similar. They'd pull more people to the resorts than their 1/2 hour ERT does.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006 3:54 PM
I'm shocked as well. I do not agree with a cut system that is not free to anyone who wants to use it. Don't get me started...
Tuesday, February 14, 2006 4:12 PM
So what parks are left that still offer a free virtual queue?

Disney is the only one I can think of.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 4:34 PM
Yeah, I think that's it.

I can't see people getting only two rides a day with the old system, and I can't see it being any better with the new system.

People can now cut whichever line they choose, at any frequency. At least before the flow of traffic was controlled to a certain extent. It was convenient for those with tickets, and not too detrimental to those in the standard line.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 6:13 PM
Its sad that disney is the only company that is willing to have a system to let people wait less in line and not take a pound of flesh for the privilege from there guests.
I guess Universal doesnt want to make there parks more popular by adding new attractions so they will try to make up for decreased attendance by trying to force the guests to pay more money to skip lines.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006 6:36 PM
Disney already hands out all sorts of "free" fastpasses to hotel guests and Vaction Club members. Yes the system is still free, but for those of you who argue "fairness" as a prevailing virtue...Disney is no better than the others. Believe me...the day is coming in which hotel guests will have preplanned days through use of pre-arival and pre-printed fastpasses. The "off-property" guest will indeed scrap for whatever crumb Disney decides to allow.

...make no bones about it...we are coming full circle...it is only a matter of time before individual ride tickets become the "fair" way to maximize profits and control crowds. Universal's system is now just one big E-ticket add on for all the rides. It will not take them long to realize that Hulk, Mummy, and Spiderman are overloaded in the Express line while Twister is a walk-on from the regular line...Changes will be made to address the "premium" these larger attractions demand...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 6:40 PM
Frankly...I wish Universal would go back to first-come-first serve and add the cost of Express Plus to admission prices. This still does not address the fact that the premier rides will always have more people wanting to ride them at any given moment in time...

Only the return of individual tickets truly addresses this scenerio...no?
*** This post was edited by Jeffrey R Smith 2/14/2006 6:40:36 PM ***

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 6:51 PM
Well, we've had the discussion a gazillion times, but my logic is twisted enough that I find the free systems less fair than the pay systems due to the 'lottery' nature. With a pay system all people have the same access, with the freebies, it comes down to luck and timing.

Seems less fair to make guests be lucky than to offer it to all guests equally.

*** This post was edited by Lord Gonchar 2/14/2006 6:58:32 PM ***

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 7:06 PM
They only used one or two reservations per day because one of two conditions exist on any given day:

1.) The parks aren't crowded enough to warrant it
2.) The parks are so freaking crowded that all the reservations are gone by noon.

I've never seen a day in between.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 7:12 PM
I'm missing your point Gonch...? What is more fair than first come first serve? I'm not sure you can call getting your lazy butt out of bed early and getting to the park a factor of luck and timing...? All guests have the opportunity to wait OR not. Nobody is forced...and most importantly there are no tiered lines (ie the paying crowd cuts in front of the non-paying)! Not that I advocate the first-come-first-serve system!

I think the only truly fair system is individual tickets for each ride!

P.S. If everybody who comes to the park pays for the right to skip...this reduces lines how?? At some point you have to limit the supply of "go to the front of the line passes" or you cannot offer the service you charge for! The people who arrive after the "go to the front of the line passes" are gone get a fair deal...how?

...please note I am far from the "fairness" is the most important crowd! I just debate that these pay systems are more fair. I do not think they are. At the same time...I have no problem with them!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 8:33 PM

What is more fair than first come first serve?

A system that makes said service or product available to all...

...like the pay systems.

And a system like FastPass has limitations such as the one-at-a-time rule where it comes down to dumb luck on what times you're assigned and when you'll be able to get more. On top of that it has equally unfair exploits - such as the one FastPass per ticket thing. I don't know how many times there were four of us in a party but only two wanted to (or were able to) ride a certain ride, so we doubled up essentially getting 2 for 1.

The pay system is fair in that there is no luck involved. You want to skirt the long waits, you buy into the system. Anyone can do it and no one has an advantage over anyone else.

If everybody who comes to the park pays for the right to skip...this reduces lines how?? At some point you have to limit the supply of "go to the front of the line passes" or you cannot offer the service you charge for!

I've pondered this myself and I think it comes back to the whole thing being self-regulating. Eveyone isn't going to buy into the system. In fact, I'd guess it's a very set percentage of guests that are willing to participate. The system fixes itself so to speak.

And no, that doesn't contradict the fairness thing because it's one's choice to participate vs wanting to but being denied due to timing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 9:05 PM
I know that there was more than one time at Universal where we got Express passes with times 5 mins. from issue on rides that had 30-60 min waits. The system had HUGE bugs, and about 1 in 5 terminals were down when we went. (last june)

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