Universal Orlando guests wishing to minimize their wait times have a new, less expensive alternative to purchasing Express Passes. It’s called the Universal Ride Reservation System, and it assists guests with managing queue times by allowing them to create virtual placeholders in line.
This page includes complete documentation on how to use the system and advice to help you decide if it’s a good value for your family. Please note that the system is available at either Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure. This page documents the system at Islands of Adventure, but it’s identical at both parks (and there isn’t a “one-day, two-park” version).
The details you are about to read are not available from any other source, nor will you find anything about this new system on Universal Orlando’s own website. Here we go!
Purchasing access to Universal’s Ride Reservation System
To begin you need to purchase access, which can be done at any of the Express Pass kiosks located around the park. (At this time you cannot purchase access online or over the phone — only at the park.) When you approach an Express Pass kiosk, you will see a sign like this one:
On the top half of the sheet you see that days prices for Express Passes (see our Complete guide to Universal Express Passes for more information). On the bottom half of the sheet you see that days prices for the Q-bot system. Right away you will notice that there are two versions of the system available: the less expensive price is for “one reservation only per attraction” and the more expensive option is for “unlimited” reservations — we will explain the difference between limited and unlimited reservations a little later. You will also see that both options are less expensive than Express Passes, which brings us to our first major point: the Q-bot system is an alternative to Universal Express Passes, it is not replacing them by any means. Furthermore, guests staying at select Universal’s on-site hotels still get their unlimited Express Pass access as they always have — if you’re staying on-site, you have no need for a Q-bot.
What rides use the system?
It can be used for any attraction (ride or show) that accepts Express Passes – see the list. In addition, it cannot be used for shows, like The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad or the Horror Make-Up Show.
Do the Q-bot prices change from day to day like Express Pass prices?
Yes, they do. The Q-bot system will always be less expensive than Express Passes for any given day — but yes, the busier the parks are, the more you will have to pay to use the system. A good rule of thumb is that the Q-bot system is about $10 to $20 less than the regular Express Pass pricing you see on Universal’s online ticket store.
Do the Q-bots sell out?
Yes, like Express Passes, it is possible (though rare) for Q-bots to sell out.
How does pricing work for multiple people in a party?
Also like Express Passes, pricing is per person. There is no discount for purchasing access for multiple people or for multiple days. In addition, it is up to you whether you want to get a separate Q-bot for each person or have up to six people assigned to one Q-bot – it is the same per person price however you do it. But keep in mind that you will need to sign a separate contract for each unit you use…
Picking up your Q-bot and signing the contract
So you decide to give it a try. When you purchase access at an Express Pass kiosk, you will receive a voucher like this:
With the voucher in hand, you will now need to visit the room where you pick up your Q-bot. For Islands of Adventure, it is located near the exit by the stroller rental area:
Look for similar signs if you are inside Universal Studios Florida.
Now it’s time to receive your Q-bot. To do so, Universal asks you to sign a contract stating that, if you fail to return the Q-bot at the end of the day, you will be charged $50. You will then be asked for a credit card. Universal does not charge your card a $50 deposit. Instead, they copy your information so that, should you decide to keep the unit (or if you break it), they can then charge your card. It is important to note that you must have a credit card to use the Q-bot system. At this time they will not accept a cash deposit. Also, they will not assign more than one Q-bot to one individual person. Here’s a shot of the contract:
As we mentioned above, you can get a separate Q-bot for each person in your party if you wish. However, if you do so, you will need to sign a separate contract for each unit (and of course you will be responsible for each one as well). If you’d rather just have one unit, you can have up to six people use it – just remember that everyone will have to stay together in one group throughout the day.
How to use Universal’s Ride Reservation System
The Q-bot unit is remarkably simple to use. Press any of the four buttons to turn on the screen (We apologize for the somewhat blurry photos here):
When the screen is on, you will see a list of participating rides. Also, the current time and the number of guests assigned to the unit are displayed at the bottom of the screen.
Under each participating ride there is a separate time listed. This is the time you can currently reserve for the ride. It is very important to understand that the reservation time listed is simply the current time plus the ride’s current wait time. That is probably a little confusing, so let me explain: Using the Q-bot system does not get you onto rides any faster or slower than you would otherwise be waiting in the standby lines. For example, if the current time is 1:00pm and the current wait time for Ripsaw Falls is 60 minutes, the ride reservation time displayed on the Q-bot will be 2:00pm. Likewise, if the current time is 1:00pm, and there is a 15 minute wait for Doctor Doom, the ride reservation time available will be 1:15pm.
To make a reservation, all you need to do is use the keys on the bottom-left to scroll to the ride you want, then hit the circle button to the right to make your reservation. When you hit the circle button, the Q-bot will tell you that you have reserved a ride time:
When your ride reservation time comes around, the unit will vibrate and display a message telling you that you can ride now!
The final step is to take the Q-bot to the Express Pass entrance of the ride, show it to the attendant who will scan your reservation on his own Q-bot unit, and then you are good to go. It is worth noting here that, when using the Q-bot system, you will be accessing rides via the Express Pass queues.
Do I have to be on-time?
Nope. You can get on a ride using the Express Pass line at your reserved time or any time after your reservation.
Can I cancel a reservation?
Yes, you can. When a ride time is reserved on the unit, an option to cancel it is available, and it can be done in a click or two.
Can I share the Q-bot?
Yes, you can. For ride reservation purposes the Q-bot is not actually assigned to a specific person — or, at least it isn’t assigned in anyway that a ride attendant could check. So it is very possible to purchase access for one person, and then pass the unit amongst different people throughout the day. However, this really wouldn’t be an effective way to use the system, as we will see.
Do I stow the Q-bot on the big coasters?
As you may already know, you cannot bring any loose articles on Incredible Hulk, Dragon Challenge, and the like. Well, the same goes for the Q-bot. When you use the system for these rides, you will first approach the ride attendant as usual. But, instead of being let in the Express Pass line immediately, you are given a return ticket so you can go to the free lockers, stow the Q-bot and your other loose articles, and then return to the Express Pass line.
Is the Q-bot waterproof?
No, it is only water-resistant, so be sure to stow it in a dry place on the water rides.
How many ride reservations can I have at once?
You can only have one at any given time. You may cancel and rebook reservations as much as you want. But, once you have a reservation, you will need to cancel it or go on the ride before you can make another reservation. Please note that, if your ride time passes and you have not gone on the ride, you cannot make another reservation. Again, you either have to cancel or go on the ride before you can make a new reservation.
Here’s the handy cheat sheet Universal gives out with the units:
Limited vs. Unlimited
As we mentioned at the top of the page, there are two versions of Universal’s Ride Reservation System available: limited or unlimited. When you purchase the limited version, you are able to use the Q-bot one time for each participating ride. Once you have used it for a specific ride, that ride will no longer appear on the list. When you purchase the unlimited version, all participating rides will always be available for reservations (unless of course they break down, etc.).
No matter which version you use, remember that you can still only have one reservation at a time. Having the unlimited version does not mean that you can make unlimited reservations at one time. Rather, it means that a ride will not be removed from the list after you go on it.
Is the Universal Ride Reservation system worth it?
So, now you know how the Q-bot Ride Reservation System at Universal works. It basically puts a “virtual you” in a ride’s standby line so you don’t have to be there. But it doesn’t get you on to a ride any faster than standing in line, nor can you make more than one reservation at a time. (Very technical people will note that you actually may end up waiting longer than the standby line because, once you reach your reservation time, you will need to wait in the Express Pass line – and that may be five to ten minutes long if the park is really busy.)
But is it worth it?? This simply comes down to how much you value not having to stand in line. Check out our Universal crowd calendar and Attraction wait times based on crowd levels pages and see what you will be up against during your visit. Is it worth $30 to $50 per person not to be in lines for two to four hours during your day? For some people, yes. For others, perhaps not. Either way, keep in mind that much of the time you are not in line, you are usually spending money on food or merchandise. So the effective price of the Q-bot may actually be quite a bit higher than the purchase price (that’s why Disney’s FastPass system is free).
Q-bot or Express Passes?
This one is totally up to your budget. As always, the very first thing to understand is whether you even need a “skipping the regular lines” system. When crowds are low to moderate, most people don’t see the value. When it is busy, however, there can considerable value. Then it really comes down to how much you want to spend. If Express Passes fit in your budget, get ‘em, just because you get to decide when you want to go on rides. On the other hand, if you don’t have $80 per person to spend on Express Passes, but still don’t want to spend six hours in lines, then pick up a Q-bot.
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