Fans react to Universal Orlando's new locker charges

December 3, 2018, 10:16 PM · Universal Orlando has been rolling out new lockers around several of its attractions. But some fans are not happy about the changes.

Universal provides complimentary lockers outside attractions where riders cannot bring large packs or purses... or any personal items at all. Locations with the free lockers include Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts; Men in Black Alien Attack; Revenge of the Mummy; Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit; Incredible Hulk Coaster, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. (Paid lockers are available outside Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls, Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges, and the Jurassic Park River Adventure.)

The new lockers use your Universal park ticket to open and close, changing from the finger scans that they used before. Some fans report that this is a big upgrade, as it seems to be much easier for the scanners to read the tickets reliably than they could people's fingers. The lockers are timed to provide enough free time to allow you to get through the queue and ride, then return and claim your belongings. Universal's system can account for downtimes and extend your free period should the ride's wait balloon while you are in the queue.

While fans seem to be welcoming the new lockers and their easier opening system, many are not happy that Universal is now charging for the larger-sized lockers at these locations. The free lockers will hold a pursue or fanny pack, but if you're carrying a diaper bag or backpack, you now will need to pay $2 for the larger-sized locker.

A few thoughts: First, a reminder that Universal, like most theme parks, offers a free package pick-up and delivery service. So there's no need to lug your purchases around the park, pushing you to need the bigger lockers. If you are staying on-site, Universal will deliver your stuff to your room or hotel's front desk. And if you're worried about luggage space and willing to pay the postage to have your souvenirs shipped home, Universal will make those arrangements for you, too.

Second, if you are carrying a diaper bag, you can keep it with you if you use Universal's child swap. I am assuming here that the diaper bag means that you have a child with you who probably doesn't meet the height requirements for these rides. But many visitors still don't know that child swaps are a thing, so if you have a kid who's too short to ride but you still want to go, ask about them.

Third, while safety remains the top priority for everyone, I think we can safely assume that fans also appreciate those dark rides where they can carry their bags aboard, too. And if bags can't be safely carried onto a ride, having a bag drop closer to the load station is also appreciated.

While many regional parks use bag drops at the load station, the honor system that guides those might not work at a more popular park, such as Universal. And Universal has banned all personal items from the queues at Hulk and Rockit in part because too many fans were stashing cameras, phones, and other items that ended up falling from their pockets, endangering other riders and fans below. Since Universal would need to staff a checkpoint after the bag drop — to ensure that everyone's pockets are empty — putting that at the attraction entrance saves on labor and helps keep the line moving close to load, since all explanations about the policy happen at the entrance instead of at the load station.

But passenger convenience is as much a design challenge as any other factor in a new theme park attraction. And as Universal looks to expand, and balance its collection of ride experiences, adding a few more family dark rides where people can bring their stuff certainly would be appreciated.

Replies (21)

December 4, 2018 at 1:46 AM

This is super unwelcome news for a photographer who, because of their photography gear, always has a large backpack!

December 4, 2018 at 3:37 AM

No mater why guests haul stuff to the parks, they shouldn't have to pay to store it when they can't take it on a ride.

December 4, 2018 at 5:32 AM

I don't see the controversy here. Anyone familiar with the old lockers at Universal Orlando should recognize that the new lockers are a humongous upgrade for a number of reasons. More lockers in the same space, opening and closing lockers now takes a fraction of the time (making guest turnaround and traffic flow in the locker areas far better), etc. I think this new system will do a good job of balancing out the demand for larger lockers, while allowing for a much greater supply of smaller lockers that will be available for free.

December 4, 2018 at 6:35 AM

So I usually have a drawstring bag with me when I go to the parks. Will a standard size drawstring bag (18”X14”X4” roughly) fit in the smaller free lockers? Usually I travel with 4 people each carrying one bag and we could fit two of those bags into one of the old lockers. Now if we each need to get a locker I’m okay with that as long as they fit.

December 4, 2018 at 7:48 AM

So a group/family will now take up 3 or 4 small lockers to avoid paying the fee for the larger locker, thereby reducing the # of available lockers.

December 4, 2018 at 8:16 AM

Hmmm... My only thought about this is whether my ancient, so-old-it-still-has-my-picture-on-it-and-people-make-comments-about-it annual pass will work with these lockers..... I'll find out next week :-)

December 4, 2018 at 8:17 AM

I always take a bag for a bottle of water, sun screen and my SLR camera. If I have to pay $2 every time I want to go on a ride it will be very disappointing. I don't object to paying Universal's high entry prices because it's reflected in the quality of the rides, theming, entertainment and overall upkeep, but to pay those kind of entry prices and effectively have to do a pay per ride once inside seems like a rip off.

December 4, 2018 at 8:36 AM

If we were talking about an amusement park like Cedar Point or SFMM, I think there's more than ample reason to only offer smaller lockers for free while charging guests for a large locker capable of holding backpacks and other large items. However, this is Universal Orlando we're talking about, and these are not your run of the mill amusement parks.

When we travel to the Orlando parks (SW and WDW included), we usually enter with a larger backpack (18" tall with a wire frame) that has always been a tight squeeze to get in the older lockers. Since our son grew out of diapers, it's the only bag we enter the parks with (no purse, fanny pack, or other bags), and typically contains the following items...

1. Camelbag - filled with water chilled overnight
2. Small towel
3. Wand (only for UO)
4. Critical items from my wife's purse - ID, credit cards, cash, tickets, room keys, car keys, etc...
5. Cameras - depending on the park, I may carry up to 5 cameras (2 DSLRs including one with a 6"-long telephoto lens, underwater camera, video camera/GoPro, and a small point and shoot for my son).
6. Snacks - candy, chips, cereal, etc...

Now, I could forego the snacks (though I'd rather not) and the water (assuming parks would set up exclusive stations for ice/water that would eliminate waiting in concession lines for the necessity), and I could even trim down my typical camera package I haul into the parks (I usually only take one small high-quality point and shoot camera or my waterproof camera into a park like SFMM or CP unless I'm covering a media event). However, Universal wants guests to use their wands throughout the parks, and the tips are easily scratched, particularly by sharp metal found inside lockers. Wand sellers specifically recommended to guests that they be stored inside long rectangular boxes, which can sometimes be longer than the depth of the lockers when laid flat. As it stands now, the wand that chose my son is one of the longer models, and barely fits diagonally in the current lockers, meaning that it would unlikely fit into a smaller locker. Also, Universal sells All-Day drink mugs that are not fully sealed, meaning that the mug would have to be empty before placing it in the locker (old lockers were just tall enough to allow the mugs to sit upright inside).

I can see Universal trying to trim down the stuff guests come into the park with, and speed the locker renting process, but when you're selling items in the parks that you want your guests to use throughout the day, you must allow them to store those items without incurring additional charges. Even Cedar Fair and Six Flags recognize this by having drink holders on load platforms for the reusable bottles. If the new Universal lockers cannot accommodate wands and drink bottles, they must come up with another free solution for these items.

December 4, 2018 at 12:42 PM

It's always been a mystery to me just what on earth people carry in those backpacks that seem to have taken over theme parks these days (almost as bad as strollers !) .... but thanks to Russell .... I now know .... :)
I have a pair of what I deem to be "theme park shorts" .... i.e. all cargo pockets have button down flaps. If it doesn't fit in those, it doesn't go into the park.
I can't remember ever using a locker in all the years I've been going to the parks, so I don't think I'll need to worry about paying for large lockers at UO when I go in next year after the new HP ride has opened.

December 4, 2018 at 1:56 PM

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with a park changing a small fee for storage of oversized items, particularly those guests bring with them that may be a convenience but not a necessity to enjoy the park. All-day lockers are always an option for larger items, and unless you need constant access it seems those would be better than carrying bags of stuff around the park anyway. If it's an essential for the visit (phone, keys, wallet, etc.) or it's something the park sells for use during your visit, free storage should be provided if necessary for an attraction, and it seems Universal is doing that (unlike a couple popular thrill parks). Yes, fans might be disappointed by a new policy, but it seems fine to me.

December 4, 2018 at 3:07 PM

While I take the minimum possible to a theme park, a small point and shoot camera is the largest thing I take. I agree with Russel that the lockers should be large enough to accomodate the items the park wants you to use, and a little bit more, just being able to fit a couple of refillable drinks and a small bag.

Perhaps they could have a locker pass?

Hear me out.

You apply for a locker, then a pass is given to you that will allow you free access to the lockers that suit your needs. For instance I would only ever need a small locker, Russell a large one, that way the lockers are also being used most effectively.

it could be done by putting your items into a locker that measures the size and weight of your items, and assigns the locker size accordingly...

Of course, this is a major logistical hurdle, and I can't see it happening.

December 4, 2018 at 3:10 PM

Do HP wands fit in them, cuz they wouldn't let me take mine on Gringott's.

December 4, 2018 at 4:54 PM

My biggest concern is what if my ticket falls out of my pocket on the ride? Not only does it inconvenience me on getting my stuff back, but doesn't the park charge to reprint your ticket if you lose it? An upgrade? I think not.

December 4, 2018 at 5:01 PM

If this was Disney, shouts of... GREED, EVIL, NICKEL & DIME, etc.

So when Disney follows...

December 4, 2018 at 8:47 PM

What about those refillable popcorn buckets they sell, not such a good value anymore!

December 4, 2018 at 9:54 PM

Still better than Disney's $10.00 lockers. So stop complaining people!

December 5, 2018 at 8:37 AM

I think most people carry the bigger bags to save money on water and/or snacks. Why do you need a book bag to walk around a theme park? You need an ID, a credit card and a phone? Maybe you want a better camera but that is a specialized person.

I would make a smaller argument that the money they save on food can go towards the locker and they will spend less on the lockers.

Am I being the Grinch?

December 5, 2018 at 11:50 AM

I am willing to forego the snacks and can always pare down my camera package, but if the new lockers cannot fit wands and refillable drink cups (upright), which they reportedly cannot, then this is a seriously bad deal for guests. They also need to be clear how large the free lockers are so guests know what items that can reasonably bring into the park and store while riding the thrill rides.

December 5, 2018 at 6:38 PM

Very disappointing to hear that Universal plans to nickel and dime me when I already spends thousands of dollars there a year. I used one of the "smaller" lockers when I was there during Halloween Horror Nights recently...I ended up with a wet spot on the crotch of my pants where what was left in our refillable souvenir cups leaked into out small drawstring bag (because it was turned sideways to fit) and then got on the King Kong ride and set the bag in my lap not thinking anything of it. Needless to say I was mad...because we couldn't get a larger locker with all the large families hogging up multiple lockers per ride. Now that the larger ones have a charge, you can bet this problem will only get worse. Now these large family's will be forced to snatch up multiple smaller lockers to fit their items so they can avoid paying for enough space to put everything in one locker. We will see how it goes when I go back in the beginning of March. Call me a Grinch but if this normally relatively seamless process is made expensive and complicated then I won't be coming back again *shrugs* I have no reason to pay for a more frustrating experience when I know how easy it was before someone got the "brilliant" idea to muck it up!

December 6, 2018 at 11:56 AM

@97.106.141.163, Disney lets you take bags on the rides, or the cast members place them where you will exit, so it's easy to walk around with a backpack. We are a family of 4, with 2 children, so we pack what we'd need for the day in one backpack, similar to what Russell listed.

172.58.22.196, since Disney lets you take bags on rides, they don't need to provide the free service like Universal does. Disney already charges for lockers, so it's a moot point to complain.

December 9, 2018 at 8:30 PM

I can careless about the lockers. Until they make their "safety" policies in-place against those with a medical device that A. can not take off or B should not take off i.e. insulin pumps and then stand in line for unknown amount of time because if the ride goes down and you are stuck for longer than you should have that device off is both discriminatory and just plan anti-customer. If they have a problem with people sneaking phones and cameras stop those at the end of the ride and escort them from the park with big fan fare after a couple of times of that people would not do it. Further, I have ridden some of the biggest roller coasters in the world and have not lost anything in my pockets or secured in a bag or on my belt. So until they change or finally lose a large enough ADA that forces them to change their policy I will not spend any of my hard earned money at their parks. I urge others to look at their policies before they go to UO as they may find that they are very discriminatory against people with health conditions. There is another option that they could do and that would be to give people that have medical devices, that are required, a front of the line passes for them and their party. (yeah right that won't happen)

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