Will you pay to skip the lines at a theme park this year?
We've been talking a lot about theme park's ride reservation systems lately. Disney's testing its new, NextGen "xPass" system
this week, and Jim Hill's got a great description of how that system's working
. At the same time, Universal Orlando is testing a new Q-Bot system for ride reservations, and chains such as Cedar Fair are expanding their reservation systems.
It might be free of charge, but Toy Story Midway Mania is likely Disney's toughest FastPass to get.
Disney remains unique in the industry in offering its ride reservation service, Fastpass, for free to daily visitors. (You do have to be staying at a Disney Hotel to be considered for inclusion in the xPass trial.) Universal Orlando offers its Universal Express access to on-site hotel guests at no additional charge, as well. But at all the other chains, if you want to skip a line, you have to pay first.
Will you consider buying one of these skip-the-line tickets this year? That's our vote of the week. Let's review what the ride-skipping options are at the major theme park chains:
Universal Orlando: Universal Express Plus allows one time to skip the line at each attraction. (Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Pteranodon Flyers, and Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit are not included). Price ranges from $19.99 - $69.99, based on the day and number of parks you visit.
Universal Studios Hollywood: The Front of Line pass gets you access to the priority boarding lane or reserved seating area at all attractions, as well as access to behind-the-scenes presentations at Waterworld, Terminator2: 3D, and Animal Actors. The price is $149, but that also includes park admission, which is $77 at the gate.
SeaWorld and Busch Gardens: Quick Queue offers two options, one that allows a single time skipping the line, and another that allows unlimited skips. Prices range from $15 - $55, based on the option you select, as well as the day and park you visit.
Cedar Fair parks (including Knott's Berry Farm, Kings Island and Cedar Point): Fast Lane gives you unlimited skips to selected attractions. Prices range from $30 - $55, based on when and which park you visit. Discounts are available if you buy multiple passes.
Six Flags parks: Flash Pass offers three levels: On the Regular level, you don't get to skip any waits, but don't have to stay in the actual line. The Gold level offers you sharply reduced wait times, and the Platinum level allows you to ride twice after the shorter Gold-level waits. Prices are $45 for the Regular option, $60 for Gold and $105 for Platinum. Discounts are available for buying multiple passes at once.
Please tell us in the comments what you think about these various plans, especially if you think one or more of them is a better buy than the others.
Thanks for reading Theme Park Insider, and have a great weekend!
I'm planning on staying at the Royal Pacific in June. I can't wait for the free Express pass perk!
Generally I only buy these for special events. This year I will be buying priority boarding at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Tampa for Howloscream and Universal Studios Orlando for Halloween Horror Nights. That said, I couldn't see buying it on a regular day of operation.
It depends on the amount of time you have to spend in a park. When I know I have limited time and I might miss out, I will buy one. I'm planning on not buying one at PortAventura because I have time to do a few hours a day for each day of my vacation this year.
I voted "no" because we always stay onsite at Universal. But like Tom R., we absolutely, positively, always buy the express pass for Halloween Horror Nights. Having the chance to actually enjoy all the houses in one night is worth the extra money to us :-)
Don't expect to...unless a companion wants to and will spring for most of the cost if not all, or..to a much lesser extent..circumstances dictate. Since I've never paid for one, I'm unsure what those "circumstances" would be.
They're just way too expensive. I make decent money doing what I do, but doubling the price of my ticket just to get on the rides once for minimal wait just isn't really my deal. I'm a pretty patient guy and, sure, front of the line access is pretty sweet, but it's in no way worth $70 on the worst of days.
I won't be purchasing one directly, but since it is included at Canada's Wonderland as part of the cost of a tour I'm doing I still voted yes. I've used these at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Dollywood, and several Six Flags parks, and in my opinion they are worth it at any park you're not local to. For example, I'd never buy a Flash Pass at SFMM since I visit several times a year, but if I went back to SFGAdv I'd definitely purchase one because I'd want to make sure i did everything and wouldn't know when I'd be returning. Also, if you want to get everything done, it is almost always cheaper to spend one day at the park with a skip the line pass than it is to spend two days there when you factor in lodging.
I said no, but realized that I did use these passes for halloween, first at our local park because I'm a haunt monster so we only had one night free to do everything.
No, because I only stay onsite at Universal Orlando, (annual pass holder). Disny and I are done for a few years. When you figure the extra cost, (one night gives you unlimited front of line for 2 days), against standing in 45 to 1.5 hour lines for all the big rides during peak season. Being able to do both parks in a shorter amount of time and ride each ride several times, it is well worth it. If staying overnight, it is a "no brainer"
I never plan to buy any express pass tickets, but as Mike wrote in his post, I would do so (and have done so) when it is required in order to have a good day at the park. But honestly, I try very hard to plan my trips around days when crowds are at an absolute minimum.
No, but I go during non-peak times anyways, plus I don't feel like paying. FASTPASS is the way to skip lines IMO.
According to the park's web site, Dollywood offers a line-skipping system, as well. Theirs is called Q2Q and involves an electronic device called a Q-bot. It seems much more reasonably priced, at $15 per guest ($12 for season passholders), but I still doubt we'll spring for one on our trip there unless the lines are horribly long.
Fastpass doesn't really let you skip lines on your terms and you can't just walk on whenever you feel like it. All other paid versions let you get on a ride almost instantly.
I voted yes. I got a one day/2park universal for $25.99. Worth every penny,i don't mind queueing. But with my 6 yr old niece with us (who liked to moan) it was great.
I initially voted no, but it would really depend on my situation.
I will never go to a park that charges extra to go to the front of the line.
Thankfully I can visit the parks when they are almost empty. In Feb you can walk on Harry Potter of Splash Mountain and there is no waiting involved. So no, I´ll never pay for it. You also always miss a part of the line and at a lot of attractions it´s part of the story and the ride and I wouldn´t want to miss it.
J. Gerber said: "I will never go to a park that charges extra to go to the front of the line."
I'm a bit leery of this pay-to-play perk.
^But the IQ's of the people who count the money are going in the other direction in many cases.
BTW, I forgot to add my agreement with those who feel cheated when you pay $70 for a ticket, you wait in line because that's the universal rule of humankind, and then people who have more money get to pay extra and jump to the front, making your wait even longer (note: I wouldn't mind a bit if they got quicker and it didn't impact the rest of us).
I understand your frustration, Charles, but it might be misdirected in the case of Rip Ride Rockit.... To my knowledge, Universal does not currently allow use of the express pass on this coaster. (Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was just there last week and didn't notice an express pass option....Not that it mattered as the park was pretty dead that day...)
HRRR has a singler rider line.
Waiting in line gives me a chance to people watch.
I used the VIP upgrade to tour Universal Orlando once. I traveled over 4,000 miles and had limited time. Although it was a time saver (done by 2 pm), I missed the theming of the ques. It also felt odd waiting in a room looking over the other park goers streaming into the park. I grew uneasy sitting on the comfy sofa, watching ET on the enormous screen, and hearing the running and commotion outside as the minutes ticked by. We got underway about 45 minutes after park opening. I still remember the angry looks and comments from people waiting in line. Our tour guide got chewed out by a woman staying at the Portofino Hotel. Our group was hardly rich. It was my friend and I, a stereotypical hillbilly looking couple on their honeymoon, and a unshaven guy with three teenage kids. We cut in front of her group for the Hulk Coaster. She went off on how she was assured that by staying on property and at the most expensive hotel, that her group would not have to wait. Our guide calmly explained that we paid for VIP privileges. It was surreal watching the regular crowd fuming and rallying for someone that paid to cut in front of them as well. I don't know if a manager intervened, but rules were rules and VIPs went first. We got ushered on the ride and we left the scene. After that experience, I'd say that I won't pay to skip lines.
I think if all the parks want to make their customers happy and hope that they keep returning they should reduce the prices of express tickets after all we are in a recession
I always stay at the Royal Pacific to for the convenience and very much love the skipping the lines perk.
I voted "No."
I would have voted no to "Would you pay premium prices to stay on-site where the only benefit is free parking at the hotel / theme parks and you can stay later to feel like you got your moneys worth".
NO is my final answer..
This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.