Universal to use virtual queue for new Hagrid coaster

June 7, 2019, 7:43 PM · The new roller coaster in Universal Orlando's The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, opens to the public next Thursday, June 13. Since the ride will not be included with Universal Express, fans have been asking for tips on how to get on the new family thrill story coaster without having to endure a nasty long queue in the Florida sun.

Well, today Universal released new information about how it plans to handle the crowds when Hagrid's opens next week. Universal Orlando said that Islands of Adventure may open before its planned 9pm opening on June 13 to allow fans to queue for the ride.

That means you should abandon any plans to hit up the Early Park Admission at Diagon Alley, then ride the Hogwarts Express over to Islands of Adventure to beat the crowds from the front gate over to Hogsmeade on opening day. While that's a nice strategy in normal operation, it won't work if people have been queuing in the park for an hour or more already, as seems likely to be case next Thursday.

Universal also is teasing that some Harry Potter franchise celebrities might hang around after the media debut earlier in the week to stay for the public opening. "Have your camera ready," as they say.

Starting Friday, June 14, Universal may implement its Virtual Line system for Hagrid's whenever the stand-by line gets too long. You will need the official Universal Orlando app to get a return time in the Virtual Line and then to enter the return queue, so be sure to download that to your phone or tablet you will be bringing to the park, if you have not done that already. The Virtual Line won't allow you to skip the queue, but will allow you to avoid having to physically wait in it for the entire time. (I would say, "like Fastpass," except that's another chain's trademarked term. But yeah.)

I will be heading to Orlando this weekend for that media debut for the Hagrid coaster, so stay tuned to Theme Park Insider for full coverage.

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Replies (16)

June 7, 2019 at 8:01 PM

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
Their virtual queue SUCKS!

June 7, 2019 at 8:19 PM

Seems like you were right about the future of theme park opening-day lines, Robert!

I am sure going to be there for the opening in the 13th!

June 7, 2019 at 8:43 PM

I'll be there in August with Express and EPA, have no use for a virtual queue! I go to Universal for the explicit reason of not needing to plan ANYTHING, just do what I feel like whenever I want!

June 7, 2019 at 10:34 PM

Well, the virtual queue is only accessible once you're inside the park, so there's not a lot of planning. Hoping to be able to try it on some later time (being that it won't be available on opening day).

June 8, 2019 at 7:13 AM

I’ll be going, next March. Hopefully, it’ll be part of the Express Pass, by then.

June 8, 2019 at 7:36 AM

So they are forcing people to take in their phones?, so basically forcing people to use their awful locker system?

It's time for Universal to get rid of their very restrictive 'nothing in pockets' rule and adopt a policy where items can be secured in button/zippered pockets, and/or even better adopt the metal detection system as on twisted timbers, and can put items in a bag secured to the seat. Even Disney has this option on most of their rides.

June 8, 2019 at 12:20 PM

Makorider, you will be allowed to carry your phone onto this ride and it won't have metal detectors. Also, who doesn't bring their phone to a theme park?

June 8, 2019 at 1:09 PM

Me! I almost never take my phone into a park. I don't want the distraction, the hassle of worrying about it, etc. I'm like MrTorrance ... Part of the reason I like Universal so much is that Express allows me to be completely spontaneous. I don't even want to feel like I have to check in on an app....

June 8, 2019 at 3:33 PM

Me .... if I don't need it, I don't take it. Disney is the only park I take my phone all the time because of chasing FP+'s

Good to know about the Hagrid ride though. Thanks for the info.

June 9, 2019 at 11:48 AM

Looking forward to this ride. But also content to wait 9-12 months before our next visit. I have a feeling that those multiple launches are going to cause alot of downtime. Hope I am wrong though.

June 10, 2019 at 5:11 AM

I'll be there this weekend as well and for HHN in Oct. Initially my plans was to hit Aquatica and Volcano Bay but being able to utilize the virtual queue might coax me to hit up IOA. Everyone has made strong arguments about Universal making it anything but convenient to trap us into using those lockers. I'll be watching closely though.

June 10, 2019 at 8:28 AM

I don't understand why people would complain about a virtual queue. I get the criticism from those who don't actually own smart phones, but as long as the park has a way for those guests to also secure spots, it shouldn't be seen as a big deal.

Would people rather stand in a long, never-ending line stretching through claustrophobic corridors and dark spaces? I would much rather take advantage of a system that allows me to stand in a line while also riding another attractions, watching a show, or grabbing a bite to eat. What is wrong with that?

Now, if we're talking about the virtual queue technique UC has used on Jimmy Fallon and Fast and Furious where guests are grouped and placed into holding pens while they wait to be called, I could see the frustration there. I was not a fan of that the last time we visited the parks, but that is not what Universal is doing here with Hagrid's. They're merely allowing guests to put their name on a list if the line is extended out of the physical queue with a return time to claim their spot in the standby line. You're essentially being allowed to roam the park while you're waiting in line, and guests should see that as an advantage, not something to criticize.

As far as the technology requirement, I empathize with those that don't want to or simply don't have a smart phone to carry around in the parks. However, it's 2019, and aside from a TapuTapu-like system it's silly to think that parks are not going to take advantage of the majority of people in the world spending more time staring at tiny screens than at their family members. Integrating virtual queues and line avoidance systems into park apps is easy and straight forward, and those who actively resist these changes are doomed to the past. So, just bring your phone with you!

If you don't like Universal's lockers, then I don't know what they're supposed to do. The lockers are FREE and very easy to use. I still don't know what guests are supposed to do if they overstay their time limit and have their phone and wallet (with credit cards/money and ID) trapped inside, but aside from that as yet unanswered logistical hurdle, the Universal lockers are better than any other system I've encountered. The only other solutions would be for Universal to not build intense roller coasters that could dislodge loose articles from guests' pockets or like TapuTapu, invest money into ways for guests to take loose items onto the rides with them (zippered fanny packs or zippered pouches on coasters, though the on-train solution could significantly affect capacity, particularly on a coaster like Rip Ride Rocket where the trains never stop moving and guests also need time to select their music). As long as Universal's lockers are free, guests have NOTHING to complain about.

June 10, 2019 at 9:15 AM

Totally agree with Russell on the lockers. We use them all the time. Haven't personally run out of time as we put our stuff in the lockers and take them out when we finish a ride. The once or twice when we had an issue opening our locker the people working there kindly opened them for us.

June 10, 2019 at 9:46 AM

But the large lockers are NOT free and the small ones don't fit all the stuff universal sells you, coke freestlye cups, Large popcorn buckets, etc.
Plus certain people and those with kids need a small bag or backpack that there was always room for, until they re-did the lockers and make you pay for one that fits your stuff.

June 10, 2019 at 10:00 AM

I don't know what lockers you're using MrTorrance, but I've never had an issue with being able to get my wire-frame day-pack (about 16" x 4" x 12") and an empty refillable cup into the lockers at all of UO's non-water attractions that prohibit loose articles (MIB, RRR, Gringott's, Foribidden Journey, and Hulk). It's a tight squeeze, but we've always been able to get everything in including my SLR. Popcorn buckets pose a bit of a challenge, but there's an easy solution, don't buy it - bring in a Ziplock bag of microwave popcorn popped at your hotel room that morning.

June 10, 2019 at 10:42 AM

Russell ... it's not so much the locker system itself it's the frustration of having keys and phones secured in zipper pockets and they still won't let me ride. Again ... just put zippered bags on the train like Disney does, and all of this frustration will go away.

Agreed for large items the lockers are 100% necessary but this 'nothing in pocket' rule they implement is nothing short of paranoia on their part.

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