Planning a trip to Orlando looking for the newest thrills and fun? Make sure you include Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Theme Park to your itinerary. Why you ask? I have listed below 5 Reasons To Visit Volcano Bay including tips on how to get the most out of your visit.
I recently visited Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Theme Park in Orlando as part of We Grow Retreat 2018 sponsored by Universal Orlando Resort and Mediavine. Please know all opinions stated here are my own.
What is Volcano Bay?
In the summer of 2017, Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Theme Park opened as Universal Orlando Resort’s third park, joining Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure. Conveniently located next door to Universal’s Cabana Bay Resort, Volcano Bay offers the maximum in water park thrills and yes, relaxation too. Volcano Bay’s island theme and decor immerses guests into the legend of the Waturi people who journeyed all regions of the South Pacific searching for a home, settling at Volcano Bay. The customs and cultures of various peoples encountered on their journey are found throughout the park.
Universal Orlando Resort theme parks are known for impeccable attention to detail and that certainly flows over to Volcano Bay. The theming and island style of the landscape, the attractions, the buildings, statues, artwork, and food menus immerse you to the land of the Waturi and the South Pacific.
Volcano Bay Offers Something For Everyone
With the warm temperatures in Orlando pretty much year round, visiting a water park is the perfect way to keep cool while having fun. Your Volcano Bay exotic South Pacific adventure awaits on 28 acres with 14 signature attractions and offers treats to delight your palette. Get ready for thrills of all levels as you spend a day cooling off “in the tropics”. Kids will love the huge splash and play area just for them. From Toddler to Tween to Adults, whether splashing, racing, swimming or lounging, Volcano Bay has you covered.
Krakatau Volcano looms as Volcano Bay’s central icon. Three surrounding villages entice guests to test their limits of thrill seeking or simply relax.
- Wave Village’s sandy Waturi Beach, is a perfect spot to sunbathe and chill. Behold the volcano as you swim or sit in the zero entry wave pool. When you hear the gong from Krakatau, get ready to ride the waves. Lounge chairs are available for free, first come first serve. Upgrade your beach stay by renting a Cabana or Premium Lounge Chairs with Adjustable Shade Canopy. Both options include lockers at your chairs and area attendant service. For something completely different, Ko-okiri Body Plunge drops the bold 125 feet down a tube at a 70 degree angle. Imagine drums pounding faster and faster, then silence as the floor beneath your drops open.
- River Village showcases attractions geared to families and younger guests. Among the area attractions, Krakatau Aqua Coaster, my favorite attraction, is a four person raft twisting up and down through the volcano! Magnets seamlessly take rafts up hills and gravity brings them down. Runamukka Reef play area is massive and dedicated to younger guests shorter than 48 inches to enjoy. Tot Tiki Reef a toddler area includes splashy slides, a tot sized volcano, friendly water spraying Tikis.
- Rainforest Village contains a mix of exciting plunge rides, a fearless river, slides for multiple guests to enjoy together and a relaxation pool. My favorite TeAwa The Fearless River is not your mama’s lazy river. Put on required park provided life vest and prepare for swift current ride of your life.
TapuTapu Virtual Lines Allow you To Enjoy More and Stand Around Less
It can get real hot in Florida and lets face it no one enjoys standing in a long line outside. TapuTapu shortens line time to attractions with the Virtual Queue. Check in the Virtual Line and get notified when it is time to return to ride. Guests entering Volcano Bay receive a TapuTapu wearable device (like a watch and yes it is waterproof) allowing guests to reserve a return time Virtual Line.
A screen at each attraction will display either “Ride Now” meaning little or no wait (go enjoy!) or will display “Virtual Line Wait Time”. To enter the Virtual Line, simply tap your TapuTapu on the Volcano Icon. Your TapuTapu will display the time in minutes for you to return. When your time to return is up, TapuTapu buzzes and vibrates displaying “Time To Ride”. Head back to the attraction.
To set expectations, only ONE Virtual Line Reservation at a time is allowed, and yes you can change your virtual line if you wish before time is up.
Keep in mind when you return, you will enter the Virtual Line in person. The Virtual Line return can have a wait to ride of 10 to 15 minutes, in my experience. With peak crowd seasons and times, could be longer wait. Still I prefer being able to swim, play, eat and enjoy the park and not stand for long periods of time in line.
TapuTapu Virtual Line Tips:
- For the shortest Virtual Line Times, get to the park EARLY. If you stay in a Universal Orlando Resort Hotel you have access to enter Volcano Bay one hour before public opening – take advantage of this! If you are an offsite guest, arrive at park opening.
- Typically the longest wait attractions are found in the Krakatau Volcano area.
- Have a plan on how you want to handle the midday crowds and long virtual wait times. Enjoy ‘Ride Now’ attractions including the less thrilling attractions Kopiko Wai Winding River, Puka Uli Lagoon Leisure Pool, TeAwa The Fearless River, Waturi Beach, or the kids areas with children. Eat, lounge or leave and come back later in the day.
TapuTapu Other Features:
- TapTu Pay Cashless Payment for purchases in the park. Before you go into the park, create an account on The Official Universal Orlando Resort App, where you link a credit card, then use your TapuTapu to make cashless purchases throughout Volcano Bay.
- TapTu Snap take advantage of special interactive photo opportunities and selfie-spots throughout the park (including on select Volcano Bay’s rides). Your wearable will automatically link your photos to your account so you can view, purchase, and share your photos at your convenience. Make sure you check them out before you leave the park.
- TapTuPlay offersInteractive experiences throughout the park – spinning objects, spraying water and other fun surprises for kids of all ages. When you see the Volcano icon, TapuTapu on it for the fun surprise. Interactive experiences are located throughout the park.
Volcano Bay Sets the Bar For How a Water Park Should be Enjoyed
I appreciate how so many details at Volcano Bay creating a positive experience for guests. TapuTapu is a big shift in guest experience, however there ar so many little things that went into creating Volcano Bay as a premier park:
- Sprawling outdoor park. No overwhelming smell of chlorine you can get at indoor pools or parks.
- Volcano Bay is incredibly clean. Really, I am shocked at how clean the bathrooms and shower facilities are kept compared to other parks and pools.
- Resort atmosphere as far as cleanliness and service.
- Plenty of bathrooms including family bathrooms, changing areas.
- Standing in line without having to hold a tube or mat. Conveyors carry the tubes up to the top so you don’t have to!
- The paths around Volcano Bay gently spray water to cool off feet and the paths. Cleans off sandy feet from beach too. No long lines at a single shower.
- Many attractions have ADA Access via elevators. Yes there are rider safety guidelines that vary from attraction to attraction, but it is nice to see Volcano Bay doing what they can to accommodate as many guests as they can.
- Plenty of lockers available to secure your valuables while you enjoy the attractions. And did I mention the facilities were clean? Tip: As you enter the park skip the first set of lockers and head to the back. These are convenient to more attractions and tend not to fill up as quickly as the ones just as you enter the park.
Volcano Bay Offers Relaxing Options Too
The good news is the least thrilling rides generally offer shorter wait times, and often “Ride Now” option. Need to chill out? Not a fan of super fast or twisting and turning slides and rides? No problem.
- Three pools to cool off in, with as much wave action or as little as you wish to choose.
- The Kopika Wai Winding River is a gentle float through the tropics with a few water surprises – a great way to spend your virtual line time.
- Take a walk enjoying the tropical foliage. Search for interactive TapTuPlay fun. Explore behind Krakatau’s waterfall.
- Rent a Cabana for the ultimate in relaxation with your own personal shaded space. Cabanas include padded lounge chair seating, concierge service, a small refrigerator stocked with bottled water, complimentary fruit and snack basket, towel and locker service, plus concierge service with an exclusive menu of food and drink delivered directly to the cabana. One-story (up to 6 guests) and two-story (up to 16 guests) retreats located throughout the park. Reserve your cabana in advance of your trip to secure your oasis by calling (877)489-8068.
- Reserve Premium Seating in Advance to guarantees shade and a comfy lounger. For about twice the price of renting a locker for the day, you can Reserve Two Padded Loungers with adjustable Shade Canopy. Your seating comes with a lockbox to store your valuables and an area attendant who will see to your food and beverage needs. Call (877)489-8068 to reserve.
- Sip one of Volcano Bay’s Signature Beverages, kid and adult versions are available. Adults can enjoy libations from two full service bars.
Volcano Bay More than Your Average Theme Park Fare
Volcano Bay offers 6 Signature Dining locations, all quick service. Each offers a variety from traditional theme park fare to delicious Island inspired dishes. For Budget conscious, the Quick Service Meal Plan is available for use.
Offerings for all dietary needs are available. You can expect to find gourmet chef crafted burgers and sandwiches made to order. Want something a little spicy how about Jerk Shrimp Mac & Cheese or a Carne Assada Taco with a side of plantains chips and guac. Taste the flavor of the islands with dishes including Coconut Crusted Chicken Tenders, Coconut Chicken Curry, Hawaiian Ribs, Mango Pulled Pork, Artisan Pizzas, Fresh Artisan Tropical Salad and sushi.
Prefer hamburgers, nachos, chicken tenders, etc, they have that too. Kids options include Mac & Cheese and good old PB&J. Grab N Go includes sandwiches, salads, fresh fruit and snacks. Save room for dessert including milkshakes.
For a real treat to try the Wave Village’s Koko Poroka Ice Cream Waturi Fusion. Four different flavors of soft serve come together to form a beautiful rainbow, reminding me of a magical unicorn horn of sorts with flavors of banana, blue raspberry, orange and strawberry. You can order flavors separately with a selection of a few more.
Additional Volcano Bay Tips:
My most recent visit was my third time at Volcano Bay. I first went a week after they opened and while we had a great time, there were a few hiccups since it was brand new. It is great to see issues with first TapuTapu roll out have been addressed – zero issues on this latest visit. Tips to help make your visit as hiccup free as possible:
- Plan your visit in any season but peak crowds. Weekdays can be less crowded than weekends.
- Before you go to the parks familiarize yourself with the attractions, park layout and plan which you would like to Ride first. A little pre-planning goes a long way when you are at the park.
- Download The Official Universal Resort App before you travel. An invaluable reference, Volcano Bay Park section has a park map, description of attractions by category (Thrill , Family, Relax), and full menus.
- For little ones, measure height before you go so you can set the expectations of what they can and cannot do. Under 48″ rules and attractions with a minimum of 42″, are enforced.. If your child is between 42″ and 48″, they will need an adult companion to supervise in the line and on the ride.
- If it starts to rain, stay put. Afternoon rainshowers are a regular occurence in Orlando and generally are short-lived. Many guests will leave the park. If you stay when it stops raining, often you the wait times are incredibly short.
- If you are the least bit chicken like me, try the family friendly rides. I surprised myself with some slides I thought too scary upon view that had me laughing all the way down.
- At Waturi Beach, if you want coveted shade or a spot on the end of the row, get there when the park opens. Being on the end of a row is nice for easy access to your things.
- Cabanas are great for those rainy Florida afternoons. I have known people to nap in the afternoon in the cabana waiting out the storm.
- Don’t forget to take your Sunscreen and a Towel. Towels can be rented or purchased at the park.
Volcano Bay is a GREAT family park, even picky tweens and teens will be happy. If you have the opportunity to visit Volcano Bay with a group of adults friends, or just your significant other, DO IT! A whole different experience than visiting with kids and family as a parent. Don’t get me wrong, both are fun, but I felt more childlike on the We Grow Retreat visit hanging with other moms away from their kids than previous visits. We were downright giddy, but of course I can’t wait to back with my tween .
Universal’s Volcano Bay is a perfect addition to a Universal Orlando Resort Stay Play and Splash Package where you can visit all three parks. That said, Volcano Bay also stands as a destination to those who love the sun and water and need a quick escape to the tropics. If you seek joy in your next vacation, keep Volcano Bay and the Waturi Mantra in mind: Water is Life. Life is Joy.
Let me know if you have any questions regarding Volcano Bay. Would you consider yourself a Water Park lover or leaver? I would love to hear from you.
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Julie, this looks like so much fun! I could use a roller coaster ride right about now… So glad you had a great retreat — we are so glad we could be a part of it!
— Susannah at Mediavine