Who likes waiting in long lines. Nobody, especially at theme parks for really popular rides. In October I went to Florida and visited Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World. Both have a system available for skipping the regular line. Universal’s is called Express, while Disney’s is called Fastpass +. Note: the Fastpass+ system is only in use in Disney World, all other Disney parks use the old style Fastpass. Both Express and Fastpass+ work in both different ways, but do the same job of letting you skip the regular line. In this post I’m going to tell you about both and which one I think is better.
At Universal, if guests wish to skip the regular line they can use Universal Express. Express is a separate ticket that can be bought in the park on top of your park admission. By using it you get to skip the regular line and join the much shorter Express line. Express is available in one time use and unlimited. Most rides are on Express and with the pass, the person at the ride entrance scans it and lets you through. One time use is exactly what it says, it gives you one time access to the Express line. You can buy one time Express passes all around the parks. Universal do limit the amount of Express passes they give out as to not overload the system.
It’s great because you don’t have to come back at a certain time and can do another ride straight after. The other version of Express is unlimited. This is the best in my view, as you can use it again and again. Enjoyed the ride on The Simpsons, you can go straight back on. I really enjoyed Men And Black Alien Attack. The regular line was 45 minutes and with Express I was on it in 5. I liked the ride so much I went straight back on using my pass. I even went past the same people in the regular line. Unlike one time Express, this one has to be purchased online with your ticket or at the ticket booths outside the park.
Another bonus – stay onsite at Hard Rock Hotel, Portofino Bay or Royal Pacific, you get Unlimited Express included with your hotel stay. That’s a saving of $84 per day, per person, as that would be the cost of Unlimited Express if you bought it. The two park Universal Express which gives you one time access is $64.99 per person.
Express is available on all rides at Universal Studios except Harry Potter And The Escape From Gringotts, Hogwarts Express and Kang And Kodos Twirl N Hurl. At Islands Of Adventure, Express can’t be used on Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey, Hogwarts Express and Pteranodon Flyers.
Fastpass+ is now the system used at Disney World and has replaced the old style Fastpass system. Unlike Universal Express, Fastpass+ is free to use. You basically make all of your reservations for rides electronically. You get three fast passes at first and when you have used them all, you are only able then to get one at a time. Fastpass+ allows guests to make reservations for rides 30 days in advance. I found there were a lot of problems with this system which you can read about here. You basically pick a time available for the ride and come back at the time given.
In Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot, rides are put into different groups, meaning you can only pick one from one category and two from another.
So What Do I Like Best
Universal’s Express wins by a long shot. I know you have to pay for it, but it is a far superior system to the one at Disney. Even with one use Express you can go from ride to ride and not have to bother about waiting for a certain time. It gives you the freedom to do what you want in the park and truly allows you to ride everything you want.
The Disney system on the other hand is too overloaded. Because people can make reservations in advance, it means the people who are unable to reserve in advance cannot get a fastpass on the day because there are none left. You could enter the park at 10am, which is still pretty early and not be able to get a fastpass. The system also limits your time, meaning if after riding one thing, you might have to wait all day for your next fastpass. Disney say they like to keep the system free because it gives everyone a chance at using it, in reality it doesn’t work like that as people are unable to use the system because there is nothing left. Either Disney goes back to it’s original Fastpass system or it changes it to a system like in Universal where they charge guests for it, because the system has too many people using it. If people are unable to get fastpasses they should seriously consider reducing the cost of a ticket to accommodate for it.
I love the freedom that Universal Express gives you. You can use the pass in any order and don’t have to worry about making it to a certain ride in time.
Another point worth mentioning is the onsite experience that Universal offers it’s guests staying at Hard Rock, Royal Pacific or Portofino Bay. You’re basically getting probably the best theme park perk there is, Unlimited Express access to the rides in the park. Disney offers nothing like this at all for it’s onsite guests. You could spend a few thousand dollars a night to stay at a top suite at the Grand Floridian or Contemporary and Disney won’t give you anything like Universal do. Disney are way behind with their system. Fastpass+ is not an improvement to Fastpass, it is a complete downgrade.