Saturday, June 09, 2012

Q-Bot at Islands of Adventure

Last month, Islands of Adventure started testing a new ride reservation system. Called Q-Bot generically (or U-Bot here, for some reason), it's actually a well-established system that some parks have been using nationally for years. In essence, it's a device that clips to your belt and connects wirelessly to the computer systems to let you make ride reservations from anywhere in the park.

The Q-Bot testing at IOA (and not yet USF) is running parallel to the existing Express Pass system, which is like FastPass, but it's free for Uni hotel guests and for purchase for everyone else (Disney's system is free). The Q-Bot actually costs less than the Express Pass at the moment. Prices fluctuate and vary by day, as they do with the Express Pass. Here were the prices for last Saturday:

It works like this: you buy the Q-Bot "by person" - if you are a party of four, you buy a single device and pay for four people. Or you can buy it for two people and save money, with the plan to unclip the device and hand it to the other half of your party. This is a perfectly acceptable and legal way to use the device. It means you will ride less in a day, though, because you are always passing the thing around instead of moving to the next attraction.

You clip the Q-Bot onto your belt. It has a digital display, and you select which ride you want a reservation for. Like Express Pass, Q-Bot doesn't work on Forbidden Journey, the Harry Potter attraction. But all the others are there. Let's say it's 10:10am and you want to ride Spider-Man. It will display on screen the "return" time, so you can decide if that's too far away for your tastes. If so, you just choose a different attraction.

Since it's clipped to your belt, you can do this sort of thing from across the park. It's horribly convenient. Often, your reservation time is current by the time you get there, if you made the reservation from across the park. Obviously, that formula varies by how busy it is, how many other people are using Q-Bot that day, etc.

The simple version lets you reserve each attraction only once. The unlimited version, which is more expensive, lets you make as many reservations as you want on each ride.

It's definitely expensive for a family to buy this, but if you're on vacation and time is more important than money (definitely true of us when WE travel to out of state amusement parks), then it may well be worth it.

Here are a couple of photos of Express Pass still being advertised:

Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.