Fans Slam Universal Hollywood's Passholder Reservations

April 5, 2021, 7:00 PM · Universal Studios Hollywood opened reservations for its annual passholders this morning. And it, uh, didn't go well.

Many fans logged onto the Universal website at 12:01am, prompted by the reopening FAQ on the website that said passholders could make one reservation per day, starting at 12:01am. However, a Universal team member later clarified that the 12:01am window was to start on Tuesday, April 6 and that the park did not intend 12:01am to be the launch moment for initial reservations on the fifth, which was the announced date for reservations to open to passholders.

Eventually, Universal Studios Hollywood tweeted at 9:28am that the reservation link was available. However, many fans who had been hitting refresh on their browsers all morning missed it because Universal did not configure its website's homepage to expire immediately, meaning that many fans were just reloading the same old, cached page - without the reservation link.

Based upon replies on Twitter, a few fans who were hitting the site in incognito mode, or with caching disabled, managed to get in and snag a reservation for one of the designated "Bonus Days" for passholders before the tweet went out. But many site visitors were greeted by an "Unknown Client" error every time they tried to click the reservation link on the USH website.

Unknown client

The Universal Studios Hollywood homepage linked to a reservation page that offered options for passholders and people holding day tickets they had not been able to use before the parks closed for the pandemic in March 2020. The passholder link sent visitors to a redirect that was supposed to lead you to the reservation selection page. If you got that final URL from someone who did get in, trying to access it directly redirected you to a login page that seemed to be intended for Universal team members.

But for many USH website visitors, the redirect instead threw them to the Unknown Client page instead of to the date selection page. It's an inelegant way to handle overwhelming customer demand. Other theme parks (okay, Disney) have set up virtual queuing systems to handle an overflow of website visitors trying to make reservations, rather than just throwing errors that lead to people clicking again and again, perpetuating the overload of the website's servers.

I joked with some fellow fans who'd also spent hours clicking away without getting in that perhaps Universal at least could have served us some pictures of Minions screwing things up a different way each time we failed to make it to the reservation page. But an orderly queue with an accurate wait time to get in would have been better yet.

Minions

By early afternoon, Universal posed this statement to the reservation page: "We appreciate your patience as we experience high volume. If you are not immediately able to make a reservation, please continue checking back."

I have reached out to Universal Studios Hollywood for additional comment and also asked what availability remains for the designated passholder Bonus Days, including the April 15 preview. So far, I have received no reply, but I will update just as soon as I hear back. (Update: I got in! See comments. There did appear to be availability for all days, but I didn't linger to check every date between the 15th and May 17. I wanted to get that preview date booked ASAP.)

Universal Studios Hollywood opens officially on April 16, but passholders may not use their passes for admission until May 17. Until then, passholders must instead reserve one of the designated bonus days to visit, at no additional cost. Single-day tickets go on sale to the public on April 8.

Update 2: Universal posted another update this evening.

April 6 update: Universal issued this statement on Tuesday afternoon: "We have resolved the technical difficulties and reservations are open. We sincerely apologize for the delay, but look forward to your visit and to providing you with an amazing experience at the Park. See you soon!"

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Replies (6)

April 5, 2021 at 7:36 PM

And half an hour after posting this (following eight hours of intermittent clicking), I got in and got a reservation for the preview day!

April 6, 2021 at 1:17 PM

I know this isn’t related, but Velocicoaster will be opening on June 30th!

Edit: oops. In my excited rush, i got the date slightly wrong!

April 6, 2021 at 10:48 AM

Robert, Disneyland used the same virtual queuing system, Queue-It, for Touch of Disney that the Huntington Library & Garden uses. For everyone waiting when the system opens, the system places them randomly into the virtual queue-- it's not first-come, first-serve. Anyone who enters the queue after the system opens then is placed in the back of the line.

Is this system fairer than concert tickets or Universal's system, where it's completely up to luck whether you are able to get in to the system when you try to log in? Probably less frustrating, as you only have to enter once, and you can watch to see your progress as you get closer to the front of the line.

What's not fair is for Disney or Universal *not* to announce what time the queue will open up. People stay up until midnight to try to log in, and then figure out eventually that it's not going to open until 8 or 9 am. I will say that Universal did a good thing in limiting annual pass members to only one reservation per day, so (if the system had worked properly) more people would be able to make a reservation instead of making 10 or 15 reservations all at one time.

April 6, 2021 at 10:50 AM

Also, Universal opened almost every day for Pass Member previews during the month-long period. Only April 19 & 20 were blocked out. People had been speculating that there would only be one or two weekdays available for pass members during that Bonus Days period.

I am guessing that only a certain percentage of available tickets for each of these dates starting April 16th will be reserved for pass members, while the rest will go on sale to the general public residing in California.

April 6, 2021 at 11:08 AM

Just an update, the VelociCoaster opening date is June 10.

So, yes, the VelociCoaster announcement came before the end of the UOR Mardi Gras event. ;^)

April 7, 2021 at 9:53 AM

It may because I live 15 miles outside of CA (but closer than some Californians) and am not allowed to visit, but even if I wanted to visit Universal (I'd rather visit Disneyland), I can understand that things happen. I'm not going to come down on any park for any hiccups during a pandemic.

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