Facial Scanner

Recently, Universal has taken the next step in recognition technology to further streamline the process for park entry. Up until earlier this year, guests would scan their ticket and press their finger to a small fingerprint scanner before entry was permitted into any of the parks, but the process has been permanently changed as of late 2023.

Now, longtime visitors may be surprised upon arrival to find that their fingerprints are no longer required. Instead of the finger scanners, each of the entry gates has been equipped with new facial recognition technology, allowing Universal to quickly validate your identity with the snap of a picture.

Facial Scanner at Islands of Adventure
Ellie Igou

As with any significant change, this new procedure has garnered some backlash from guests and raised some concerns about safety and privacy after its introduction, so let’s take a deeper look into these new devices and the pros and cons of their usage.

Universal has forgone the traditional turnstiles entirely for a swifter entry process within the last couple of months. One of the benefits of this upgrade is guests no longer have to remember which finger they initially used to register their ticket. The finger scanners could be fickle at times, often requiring multiple attempts to read the fingerprint and frequent cleans in between guests to remove smudges. With the facial recognition technology now in place, guests only need to scan their ticket and stand in front of the device. Once the picture is taken, you are cleared for entry.

I had the opportunity to try it out for myself in December. I was very pleased to find that the process did indeed feel smoother and faster, and the team members were able to cycle guests into the park far more efficiently.

Along with the increased efficiency, the facial scanners offer a hands-off approach to theme park entry, cutting down on the spread of bacteria that may linger on your hand after scanning your fingerprint. In a post-pandemic era, this is an excellent solution to help prevent exposure to disease from the moment you enter the park.

Most importantly, utilizing this new technology as a guest is entirely voluntary. Guests that feel unsafe or uncomfortable with their image being taken are free to opt-out of this service in favor of producing a valid ID at the gate.

Photo Validation Information at Universal Orlando Resort
Ellie Igou

With this new service, concerns have been raised about the safety and privacy of this new technology. Some fans have growing concerns about information leaks or risk to identity. In response to these concerns, Universal has written on their official page that templates and images taken for the purpose of entry are wiped from the system within six months following the expiration of the admission ticket.

It is likely that this technology will also be utilized at Epic Universe’s gates, encouraging a hands-free experience to move crowds through the entry at a much faster rate than before.

In our last poll where we asked, Are you happy that Photo Validation is being tested at Universal's Islands of Adventure? we have a tie with 50% of people voting saying "yes" and the other 50% saying "no". What do you think about this new process? Are you a fan of the facial recognition service, or did you prefer the fingerprint scanning method?

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