One of the biggest changes over the last year 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 Orlando 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 Line pass, as long as the Express queue is not at capacity. The only exceptions are Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and Jurassic World VelociCoaster, which do not have Express access. Unfortunately, there isn't a way to check for Express queue capacity in the app, and this can vary by attraction.
You can only make same-day reservations while you’re on Universal Orlando property. (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
In the early stages of Universal Orlando's reopening, we had seen the following rides use a Virtual Queue, but we have not seen any of them being utilized lately:
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Pteranodon Flyers
- Skull Island: Reign of Kong
Universal Studios Florida:
- Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
- Fast & Furious - Supercharged
- 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 Hogsmeade’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 earlier 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. During our most recent visit, Fast & Furious - Supercharged 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, once you submit how many guests are in your party. 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've had mixed results when reserving Virtual Line passes. There have been some visits during which we were unable to get any. Whenever timeframes showed up, there would be an error message when we tried to select one. On those days, the parks were busier, 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 different previous visits when crowds were lower, Hagrid’s was the only ride using a Virtual Line all day long. Virtual Line 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.) During a previous visit with lower crowds, we noticed Hagrid's utilized its Virtual Line within a half hour of the park opening. It was easy for us to get a pass around 8:30 a.m. when the Virtual Line initially opened, but by 9 a.m., all passes were gone. The app tells you certain times to check back for additional releases (such as 2 p.m.). We started checking around 1:50 p.m. and didn't see any available until right on the dot. Once it hit the top of the hour, passes became available before running out two minutes later. However, on a busier day, we tried getting passes during a couple of the additional release periods, but we had no luck.
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. (If you try, it will say there are no available times and you can keep the original pass. But we don't recommend deleting it as a way to find new times.)
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.
During a 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.
Other Tips and Tidbits for Using the Universal Orlando Virtual Line Experience
- We mentioned this before, but we'll say it again because it can get confusing! If you have an Express pass, you do not need a Virtual Line pass (except for Hagrid's). However, if the park is really busy, the attractions team members may need to temporarily close the Express queue. In that case, you would need a Virtual Line pass.
- If you're having trouble getting a pass for Hagrid's Virtual Line (or any ride for that matter, but Hagrid's Virtual Line is usually the most in-demand), know that more times may be added later in the day, but aren't guaranteed. The app suggests checking back around these times: 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
- Is riding Hagrid's your top priority? You should take advantage of Early Park Admission, if you're a Universal hotel guest, and arrive as soon as EPA starts, so you can get in the standby line. Hagrid's uses its standby line until it is at capacity, and then it switches to a Virtual Line. If you don't have the EPA benefit, we'd suggest arriving on property when EPA starts, so you can start checking the Virtual Line system and snag a pass once it opens (exact timing will vary on crowds and how quickly the standby line fills up).
- When a ride is shut down during your return time and doesn't start operating as quickly as anticipated, you will automatically receive a single-use Express pass for any ride that has an Express queue. Just like your Virtual Line passes, it doesn't hurt to snap a pic for easy access (and insurance).
- If you have an Attraction Assistance Pass, you can have a Virtual Line pass for one ride and a AAP for a different ride at the same time.
- All you need is the app! You do not need to have a Universal account in order to get a Virtual Line pass (and if you do, your tickets do not have to be linked to your account nor do you need to be signed in). Therefore, if your group has frogs with separate smartphones, you can make more than two Virtual Line passes at a time. Theoretically, Leap and I could snag two separate passes for Hagrid’s that allow four frogs each (and thus, would be able to ride twice!).
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!