To Queue or Not to Queue:

July 7, 2023, 12:01 PM

To Queue or Not to Queue:
That is the question I ask of you.

FastPass - Express pass – Head of the line pass…(Or whatever they call it now).

When you buy the Express pass you gain a lot of time at the park along with much less aggravation and waiting. But there is a tradeoff.

Obviously the Express pass will add a huge cost to your vacation or park visit. But besides that, some of the Queues are great. You will miss some fantastically well-planned Queues.

Happy Potter Queues, Haunted Mansion, Flight of Passage and others are enjoyable. So you will miss out on some things that add to the attraction.

The question is to Queue or not.

Replies (16)

July 7, 2023, 12:10 PM

Here's the irony, for me. A line-skip pass delivers most value to a one-time visitor who's likely never going to visit that park again and wants to be able to get on as many rides as possible. However, a first-time visitor to an attraction is best served by going through the full queue experience (on attractions with queue experiences, of course).

Now, this is not an issue at Six Flags and other iron parks, where the queue experience is just going back and forth through the line. But it's a real consideration at Disney, Universal and other fully themed parks.

As Genie+ gets to be a bigger part of Disney Parks' revenue stream, I think that the company will do a better job of designing Lightning Lanes so that they do not have a degraded experience over the standby queue. But with the possible exception of Disney's Hollywood Studios, I believe that smart planning can allow even a first-time guest to see all the top attractions without having to pay for DG+ and ILL.

So I guess my answer is... at Disney and Universal for a first-time guest, queue. At iron parks, pay for the skips if you have the money and it's busy. And, obviously, if a park is not busy, there's no good reason to pay for a skip pass.

July 7, 2023, 1:40 PM

I think it can be so difficult to tell how elaborate a queue is without spoiling yourself about the experience. There are plenty of Disney and Universal queues where the standby and expedited queues merge that are before critical parts of the queue important for the ride. For example, the best attraction in the world according to this website, RotR, has a merge point that is just before the first pre-show area (with Rey and BB-8). Guests in the standby queue of RotR walk past lots of thematic elements, but very little of that is critically important - most of the queue contains cages of supplies, artifacts, and other stuff just to look at while you're waiting an hour or longer (yes there are the QR codes that help to occupy your time in the Datapad app, but again, not critical for the actual ride experience).

In fact, most of the "queue experience" for even the best attractions at destination parks is just time-wasting activities. Yes, there are tons of Easter eggs and elements that can deepen the storytelling aspects of the attraction, but in general you're not missing much by avoiding the standby queue. Also, as more and more attractions are developed with two different queues (standby and upcharge), those experiences are becoming more and more similar.

However, IMHO it has to be a very special instance for me to pay extra to avoid a standby queue. In my mind, it has to be a once in a lifetime type trip at a park where I know I would either have to spend a second day (i.e. more admission cost) or a park where I know I would NEVER be able to see all of the big attractions during our planned visit to get me to consider paying extra for a queue avoidance/shortening product. Obviously Universal Orlando is a unique situation where paying a little extra to stay at one of their deluxe hotels can get you Unlimited Universal Express for everyone in your room.

I also think that queue avoidance products being sold today are not as efficient as they were 10+ years ago. Before selling FOTL passes became so lucrative, very few guests bought them, meaning there were a lot fewer people in the parks that were using them. This in turn made waits in those line virtually non-existent to the point where guests with those passes were practically walking on rides all day. However, as more people buy these products, those lines are getting longer. On attractions where guests with FOTL passes could be on within 5-10 minutes, it's taking 15-20 minutes in many instances. Yes, those lines are still significantly shorter than the standby lines, but it's definitely not as efficient as it used to be.

I also tend to prefer situations where I can gauge how crowded the park is prior to purchasing a queue avoidance product. However, so many parks are mandating that you buy in advance or warn that there is a limited supply that may be sold out on the day of your visit. Again, it's got to be a pretty unique situation where I'm going to pay extra to avoid some lines, and even more unique if I need to pay for that privilege ahead of time.

July 7, 2023, 1:56 PM

I admit at Disneyland, some queues would have loved to be in and look around. But end of the day, I want to be on the rides and can't wait for a long line. So I would say I prefer the skipping overall.

July 10, 2023, 7:31 PM

If there's a queue that everyone says is top notch, I'll make sure to rope drop it early in the day. Otherwise, I'll have no problem skipping right through it.

Edited: July 11, 2023, 3:24 AM

For me to invest in any sort of skip the line pass at a theme park, all of the following must be true:

-It must be a park that I've either never visited before, a park that has added several major attractions since my last visit, or a park that I don't anticipate being able to return to for some time.
-It must be sufficiently busy that I don't reasonably expect I'll be able to experience all the headliners and unique attractions without purchasing the pass.
-The pass must be cheaper than adding an additional day to my visit, or there must be some reason why adding an extra day is not possible.
-The pass must allow boarding significantly quicker than utilizing a regular queue line.
-The pass must include access to every headliner attraction.

Rarely do I run into situations that satisfy all five of the above (points two and three are the most frequent disqualifiers), so my usage of skip the line systems is rare. That said, I have used Flash Pass at several Six Flags parks, Fast Lane at several Cedar Fair parks, Quick Queue once at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and a couple other miscellaneous skip the line passes. I've never used Genie+ or Universal Express as those typically fail multiple criteria above.

When it comes to seeing the queue line, I will never decide whether or not to get a skip the line pass based on how much of the theming it bypasses. To me, a good queue line should set the stage for an attraction, but it should not contain information essential to the experience. If an express queue bypasses story critical elements, it's a poorly designed express queue. If an attraction is significantly impacted by not waiting in a lengthy queue line, it's a poorly designed attraction. Either way, it's fair to judge it by whatever experience the park deems acceptable for paying guests.

July 11, 2023, 4:22 PM

I always get the express passes. I hate queues more then I love a well themed line. If there's a ride that I haven't seen the queue with a reasonable wait time I'll do the regular line to see it once but after that always express.

Edited: July 22, 2023, 2:45 AM

If you can afford it, don't queue. Why spend 60% of your time queuing for hours on end for a 90 second experience? The exception are Potter fans' first experience of Gringotts and Hogwarts where the immersive queuing experience is integral to the entire ride experience as you miss so much with a fast pass. As for the rest, maximise your time in the park, you've paid enough for your ticket.

July 26, 2023, 11:00 PM

@ProfPlum: you beat me to it. The WWOHP queues offer top notch theming that IMO is worth at least one trip through before enjoying the Express Pass or Single Rider queue. Hell, Escape From Gringotts’ single rider queue completely omits the entire pre-show.

July 27, 2023, 7:45 AM

@fattyackin - The Gringott's Single Rider queue may bypass much of the queue, but the UE queue does not. I think the question was whether it was worth paying for a queue avoidance service if you miss out on the queue, and in the case of Gringott's, you don't really miss much from the UE queue. HPFJ's UE queue does cut a lot of the normal queue out, though the standby queue rarely goes through the greenhouse anymore.

July 27, 2023, 11:51 AM

@Russell: good points there. I was mainly thinking of “essential queues” (the ultimate oxymoron!) rather than answering the actual proposed hypothetical. I think paying for a queue avoidance pass is worth it if you’ve already factored it into your vacation budget and don’t plan on visiting the park more than once every great while. I also don’t mind springing for “once-in-a-while” type passes for new e-tickets. Case in point, my wife and I ended up with an extra, unplanned morning at Epcot during a recent WDW trip in April. We took our daughter to MK the day before and were planning on leaving first thing after check out the next morning. We opted instead for a leisurely Epcot morning and decided to try and get ILL for Cosmic Rewind. We were able to get 2 for $15 each. It was worth it to us because we didn’t have to aim for the virtual queue and then wait for a boarding group and we weren’t going to be there in the afternoon for another crack at the virtual queue. Long answer to a short question: yes, queue avoidance is worth paying for SOMETIMES, depending on what your budget and/or schedule allows. Well-themed queues are great, but freedom to roam is priceless.

Edited: August 8, 2023, 12:52 PM

Anyone with enough time would be foolish to miss out on some the ride queues. They are often excellent and draw you into the theming of the ride.
We had Resort Key fast passes when staying at The Royal Pacific over one Xmas week period and didn't use them once at either US or Islands.

August 10, 2023, 11:29 AM

First ride we ever did was Indiana Jones at Disneyland not long after it first opened. We had no concept of lines that lasted 2 and half hours but we did it because we thought that's what you had to do.
The experience waiting in line was so much fun and added to the ride itself which is probably only a few fleeting minutes long.
A year later we rode it without a queue. Just walked through and on. Can't say I liked that even though it was quicker.

August 10, 2023, 12:25 PM

I think it is always going to vary depending on time, whether it is a first visit / multi day, etc. For many attractions, queues are part of the experience...for others not so much.

Personally, I like to experience queues at least once for every attraction.

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