One of the biggest changes at the Universal Orlando theme parks is the revamped Virtual Line Experience system. In the past, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon and Fast & Furious - Supercharged already had existing virtual queues that would give you a return pass at a kiosk near the ride’s entrance or through Universal’s mobile app. But now the Virtual Line Experience system has expanded to include even more popular rides. So far, the system has been hit or miss for us. We’re here to tell you about our experiences with it, along with some tips and tricks!
What is the Universal Virtual Line Experience?
The Universal Orlando Virtual Line Experience allows you to reserve a ride time for your frog squad for the most hoppin’ attractions at Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. (Universal’s Volcano Bay continues to use its unique TapuTapu virtual queue system.) If you have an Express Pass, you may go straight to the Express queue without having to make a virtual pass. The only exception is Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, which does not have Express access.
You can only make same-day reservations while you’re inside the theme parks or Universal CityWalk. (So, guess what we do first thing when we arrive at CityWalk … attempt to get passes for Hagrid’s!) It will allow you to set your group size, up to eight frogs, for a maximum of two different rides at a time. The timeframes for the two Virtual Line passes cannot overlap. Once you use a pass, you can make another one for a different ride (or the same one if you choose), as long as passes are available.
Rides With a Virtual Line
It’s important to note that Universal generally uses the Virtual Line system when there is high demand. That means the rides using a Virtual Line may vary from day to day. To find out which rides are using the Virtual Line system during your visit, you'll need to download the official Universal Orlando app. If you go to the app’s home page, the Virtual Line Experience is one of the featured landing pages at the top, and you can click on “Virtual Line Venues” to see which rides are currently using it. So far, we have seen the following rides use a Virtual Line since Universal’s reopening:
Universal's Islands of Adventure:
- Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Pteranodon Flyers
- Skull Island: Reign of Kong
Universal Studios Florida:
- Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
- Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
- Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
- Revenge of the Mummy
Hagrid’s has been the most consistent with using a Virtual Line (but there have been slower days with a regular standby line). More than likely, you will need to acquire a Virtual Line pass if you want to ride Universal’s newest and most popular attraction.
It’s also possible that a ride uses its Virtual Line for only part of the day. During one of our visits, Skull Island: Reign of Kong did not start out using a Virtual Line. However, later in the afternoon when we passed by it, team members were only allowing Virtual Line access. We’ve also noticed the exact opposite hoppen. On our first day back at Universal, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts used a Virtual Line for the majority of the day, but it had stopped requiring Virtual Line passes about an hour before the park closed.
How to Reserve a Virtual Line Pass
When guests select a ride in the app, it will show half-hour timeframes to select, if available. You can add up to eight guests for your reservation. Once your time is confirmed, you'll get a QR code that a team member will scan when you return. As we mentioned before, you can only book the day of your visit, and you'll need to be on property to grab a pass. You are able to book up to two different Virtual Line passes that do not have overlapping times. We found that some rides said Virtual Line or standby in the app, but those actually only had standby lines.
Frog tip: If your group has frogs with different Universal accounts and separate smartphones, you can make more than two Virtual Line passes at a time because the accounts are not linked. Theoretically, Leap and I could snag two separate passes for Hagrid’s that allow four frogs each (and thus, able to ride twice!).
On the first day, we had a lot of issues with reserving Virtual Line passes. We were unable to get any during our initial visit. Whenever timeframes showed up, there would be an error message when we tried to select one. The park was busier that day, so many frogs were trying to get passes at once. If that hoppens, team members suggest quitting and rebooting the app, as well as connecting to Universal's Wi-Fi network.
During a different visit, crowds were lower, so Hagrid’s was the only ride using a Virtual Pass all day long. After a few tries, we were finally able to snag a pass. Virtual Passes can go fast, so you’ll need to hop on it quickly if you spot any available times! (And know that sometimes, you may still receive an error message when trying to confirm.)
If you’re able to successfully get a Virtual Pass, the QR code will show up at the same spot where you reserved it in the app. We suggest taking a screenshot in case you experience any technical glitches. You also have the option to edit your reservation’s time or party size, but we highly suggest not doing so, especially for a popular ride such as Hagrid’s. Otherwise, you risk losing the Virtual Pass that you originally made and not being able to find a new one.
Once you check in for your return time, you do still have to wait in line. The Virtual Line Experience mainly helps control capacity in the queues. But because there are fewer frogs in line than normal and everyone is spread out, the line moves quickly. We waited in the line for Hagrid’s for about 30 minutes. There was another time that the team members let us through Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey when it was Virtual Pass access only. The wait for that ride only took about 15 minutes.
During a recent weekend trip in August (when wait times were higher), a good chunk of rides at Universal Studios Florida were using a Virtual Line exclusively. We suggest arriving to the parks early enough to snag passes — no matter which park you're in. When we hopped over to Universal Studios Florida from Universal's Islands of Adventure after lunchtime, we tried booking passes, but return times were not available that late into the day.
Since the Virtual Line Experience system is relatively new for many attractions, things may change, especially when park capacity increases and crowd levels change. We'll keep testing it out for you (best research project ever!).
Do you have any questions about Universal Orlando's Virtual Line Experience system? Let us know in the comments below, and we'll help you out!