Receiving help for a party member with a disability at a theme park can be stressful and frustrating. Luckily, most theme parks are making accommodations so that everyone in the family can still enjoy the fun on vacation! Since we've touched up on Disney's Disability Access Services Card, we wanted to provide information on Universal's Attraction Assistance Pass. If you're heading to the Universal Orlando Resort, this post has answers to some of the questions you might have. We'll also discuss some changes post COVID-19, such as the revamped Virtual Line for some attractions and how that affects the Attraction Assistance Pass.
Most of the below information applies to Universal Studios Hollywood as well, but there are some slight differences. The attractions do vary. If you are heading to Tinseltown, hop over to our overview of the Universal Studios Hollywood Attraction Assistance Pass for the most up-to-date information for that park and its attractions.
Universal's Attraction Assistance Pass
Universal's Attraction Assistance Pass (AAP) works similarly to the Disneyland Disability Access Service (DAS) or Disney World's Disability Access Service, although AAP still uses a paper system, whereas DAS has gone digital. The AAP is intended for guests with a cognitive or physical disability or condition that prevents them from being able to wait in a conventional queue. Universal's Attraction Assistance Pass allows the person with disabilities and their party to wait in an alternate queue (such as the Universal Express queue) when times allow it.
Overview of Universal's Attraction Assistance Pass
How and where do I get the AAP?
Go to Guest Relations as you enter the park (Universal's Islands of Adventure or Universal Studios Florida if you're in Florida, and Universal Studios Hollywood in California). Give the team member as much details as possible about your or your family member's disability or health problems. You're not legally required to give a doctor's note, but it can help if you're comfortable providing it! Give examples of what you or your family member's limitations are, such as sensitivity to loud noises or other stimulations, or health reasons why you may not be able to wait in a standard queue.
You'll be issued the AAP if you meet the requirements. The pass is a card with a barcode, the date it is valid, the guest’s name and the party size on it; it has lines on the back for return times to attractions.
How does the Universal's Attraction Assistance Pass work?
The AAP allows the party member with disabilities and a limited number of people in their group to wait in an alternative queue that is much shorter than the regular queue if the posted wait time for the attraction is less than 30 minutes. You may wait in the Universal Express queue if the attraction has one. In Hollywood, it's 45 minutes.
How many guests may accompany the party member who is using the AAP?
The maximum party size depends on the park issuing the AAP and may have changed since your last visit. In Hollywood, three guests can accompany the AAP user, for a maximum party size of four. In Orlando, up to five guests may accompany the AAP user, for a maximum party size of six. If you are Hollywood bound, hop over to our overview of of the Universal Studios Hollywood Attraction Assistance Pass for more specific information for that park.
After I've received the AAP, what's next?
Head to your first attraction entrance and hand the pass over to the attendant. Depending on whether the wait time is less or more than 30 minutes, you'll either be directed to the alternate queue or receive a return time.
What happens if the posted wait time is more than 30 minutes?
If the posted wait time is 30 minutes or more, then the attendant will write you a return time on the pass. Once that time comes, you'll return to the attraction to ride and be directed through the alternate queue by a team member.
Can I have more than one attraction return time listed on my AAP?
No, you are only allowed one attraction return time on the pass. You have to use or forfeit your current reservation if you decide to get another one. However, if you don't need a return time because the posted wait time at an attraction is less than 30 minutes, then you can still experience that attraction without losing your return time for a different attraction. The pass is not valid for front-row seating on rides.
There may be rare exceptions to this rule, however. For example, at Universal Studios Florida, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts can get long lines (over two hours at times). If you have a return time for that ride and the line is quite long, a ride attendant may allow you to obtain another return time in the meantime before you have used the Hagrid's time.
What if the park is extremely busy and crowded and I'm always waiting for return times?
Unfortunately, this will most likely happen if you go during peak times. We recommend also purchasing a Universal Express Pass. (Psst ... we now sell discounted Universal Express Passes!) Hop over to our guide to using Universal Express Pass for more hopful information on this pass. While you're waiting for your AAP return time for one attraction, you can use the Express Pass (at those attractions that offer it). This minimizes your time waiting in line.
Keep in mind, if you're staying on-site at a premier Universal Orlando hotel (Loews Portofino Bay, Universal's Hard Rock Hotel or Loews Royal Pacific), then you'll receive Universal Express Unlimited Passes for each registered guest as part of your hotel package. Guests who stay on-site at any of the Universal Orlando resorts (all of the above, including Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls, Aventura Hotel, Surfside Inn and Suites and Dockside Inn and Suites) receive one hour of Early Park Admission for select attractions at Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida and half an hour of Early Park Admission for select attractions at Universal's Volcano Bay. Undercover Tourist now offers discounts on rooms at all Universal Orlando hotels!
Guests who purchase a Vacation Package for Universal Studios Hollywood can enter the park up to 30 minutes early. You can check the park early park admission status and attractions for Universal Orlando here.
You should still use Universal's Attraction Assistance Pass for those attractions that do not offer Universal Express, which includes Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure at Universal's Islands of Adventure. The rides may offer a Virtual Line.
How do I use AAP with the Virtual Line?
One of the biggest changes during the pandemic is the revamping of the Virtual Line Experience. Think of this as additional tool you can use to manage your time. At times, a ride may have a Virtual Line, which you join by following directions on in-park signage or visiting vltest.universalorlando.com. If the ride you wish to go on offers a Virtual Line, you must go through this process to secure your spot in the line. You'll receive a 30-minute window, during which you can approach the ride entrance. (You can also reschedule your window if the time assigned to you doesn't work for your schedule.) When it's time to ride, present your AAP to the team member and you will be sent to an alternate queue. Hop over to our post on how to use Universal Orlando's Virtual Line Experience System for the latest details. For all other rides, you'll use the traditional AAP method of acquiring return times. You'll encounter more Virtual Lines at peak times.
One tip we have for managing AAP with Virtual Lines is to take advantage of Virtual Lines when available. You can hold an AAP return time for a ride that does not offer a Virtual Line and join a Virtual Line at the same time.
What if our child uses the stroller as a wheelchair?
While you are in Guest Services to talk about AAP, be sure to have your stroller documented as a wheelchair. That will allow you to take the stroller into queues that are accessible for wheelchairs.
How long is the AAP good for?
The AAP is issued for the length of your stay in Orlando and the date it is issued at Universal Studios Hollywood. However, if you're an Annual Passholder at Universal, then the Attraction Assistance Pass can be issued for up to 14 consecutive days.
The AAP should cover most needs. If it is not working for you, speak with a supervisor at Guest Relations. Discuss your needs and explain why AAP isn't working for your family. A supervisor may be able to assist you further with a Guest Assistance Pass (GAP). With GAP, you may be directed to an alternate queue for more immediate boarding (most likely the Universal Express queue) at an attraction once the pass is presented to the team member. This service is much more difficult to receive than the AAP and takes some time. However, if it is clear the AAP is not accommodating your needs, then it might be the worth the time and effort to ask for assistance. If you require immediate assistance, call 407-224-4233, option 4.
Whew - we covered a lot of information in this post! If you have any questions or experiences with Universal's Attraction Assistance Pass, we'd love to hear 'em. Let us know in the comments below!