Earlier this year, Universal Orlando Resort opened its first water park, Volcano Bay. And as you might already know, this park was built from the ground up to utilize a virtual queue system that gets rid of lines altogether, instead having guests reserve a time to return to slides they want to experience. However, Volcano Bay’s first few days haven’t exactly gone well, and it is clear that Universal needs to tweak this system over the summer to make sure that guests have amble opportunities to experience this park’s various attractions without having to deal with multi-hour waits and “ride full” notices in the middle of the day.

However, even though Universal has had a little bit of trouble with this system out of the gate, the park is continuing to bet big on virtual queue technology. Not only does the current Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon attraction utilize this technology, but Universal announced a few days ago that the new The Fast and the Furious: Supercharged attraction, which is expected to open next year, will also use a virtual queue, with no standby option available.

Image: Universal

Though comparisons to Walt Disney World’s FastPass+ system are inevitable (after all, Universal’s in-park system allows guests to reserve times to ride attractions with their phone similar to My Disney Experience), there are some key differences and issues that Universal will need to address in the years ahead as they expand and continue to develop this new virtual line system

Where to put guests?

Image: Universal

One big issue that guests ran into at Volcano Bay during its opening days was a lack of things to do. While Volcano Bay does have a beach, lazy river, and kiddie areas for guests to enjoy while they are waiting to experience an attraction, if Universal is serious about expanding this virtual-only queue system, there may be an issue with what to do with guests who are not in line.

While Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure both have great dining spots and a smattering of live entertainment, this simply isn’t enough for the majority of guests who won’t be waiting in line, and may end up just wandering the parks listlessly while waiting for virtual queue return times.



My local water park introduced a virtual line system by allocating guests an hour long window when they could ride the big attraction once.
Unfortunately, it was difficult to balance capacity and the ride often sat empty for the last 15 mins of the hour where all customers for that hour had ridden. There was also a line of people waiting for the next hour to click over so they could ride. It was frustrating to see people waiting for a ride that was effectively closed.

The biggest problem they're creating comes from the problem they are solving: It's no longer unpleasant to stand in line. If I see a one hour wait for a ride (in a real line) that may deter me from getting in line because I don't want to stand the for that long. But if it's a virtual line, then I don't mind waiting an hour or even two or three.

Plenty of people who would skip a long standby line for a ride were eagerly tapping their tapu-tapu bands at Volcano Bay for waits of three hours or more. By making it no longer unpleasant to wait in line, the lines will get longer and longer, until you get the Volcano Bay situation where you can only ride two or three rides in the whole day.

I think the virtual queue system is here to stay. More parks should use them since guests will only wait so long in a standby line, second some people think the idea of a Fast Pass is unfair since Fast Passes skip the long wait lines and can get on right away. Plus other entertainment venues are trying out the virtual system and there's multiple companies all creating virtual systems that their hoping to sell to theme parks and other venues. This's just my opinion.

Particularly at Universal and Disney, where the queue is such an important aspect of setting the scene and building the story. Even in a simpler queue, there's the building anticipation of getting closer to the front that you would instead replace with wandering around some stores or something unless every ride goes the Fallon route of replacing the line area with a lounge area.

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