I’m taking a break from the typical recipe post to share a travel post with you all. We just got back from a trip to Universal Orlando, and while it’s fresh on my mind, I wanted to give you the scoop on Universal Orlando’s NEW water theme park Volcano Bay. Volcano Bay opened just a few months ago in May 2017. The island theme is very apparent throughout the whole Volcano Bay park, from the music to the styling and decor. It makes you feel like you are in Hawaii, and that gave me happy vibes.
Volcano Bay’s hours are typically 9am-9pm. If you stay at any of Universal Orlando’s five on-site hotels, you get early entrance into the parks, which is 7:30am for Volcano Bay. Be sure to have your ticket and room key with you to gain early entry into the park. (I highly recommend staying on-site to ensure you get into Volcano Bay. Since it’s brand new, it reaches capacity rather quickly.)
You’ll be getting a TapuTapu wearable once you enter the park. You will use this to virtually save your spot in the lines for rides and can even use it for purchases inside the park by linking your credit card to your TapuTapu wearable. To do this, go to the Universal Orlando Website or the Official Universal Orlando Resort App, click “create account.” Provide your full name, date of birth, email address, and password.
Once you have your Volcano Bay ticket(s), visit the “wallet” section and link your ticket to your account. Then you can add your credit card info. (You can even set a limit so you don’t overspend.) You’ll have to create a pin here, which is what you’ll use when you scan your TapuTapu at the park. If you happen to lose your TapuTapu, someone would have to know your pin in order to use your wrist band to pay for something. There’s no pressure to use this option, but it is nice to not have to carry your wallet around with you. Cash and cards are accepted throughout the whole park as well.
NOTE: If you or anyone in your party loses their TapuTapu, gather every wearable and every ticket for your party and take them to Guest Services. They will need to verify which ticket belongs to which band, and then they will be able to provide you with a new wearable to replace the one that is missing. This happened to our son who lost his wearable in the winding river, and my husband had to wait in line twice because he didn’t have everyone’s tickets and wearables with him the first time.
POOLS AND RIVERS:
There are three pools and two rivers to enjoy the whole day long without any wait times.
- Waturi Beach – a wave pool at the base of Krakatau volcano. (Pictured above – left)
- The Reef – a peaceful leisure pool with a waterfall.
- Puka Uli Lagoon™ – a pool with multiple interactive elements. (Pictured above – right)
- Kopiko Wai Winding River™ – This is a CALM river, that you drift along through a tropical landscape. Perfect for adults and children alike. (Pictured below)
- TeAwa The Fearless River™ – Thrilling whitewater TORRENT river. Must be a minimum of 42″ and ride with a supervising companion unless you are over 48″.
Sometimes it is hard to find an available inner tube to use in the river, but Volcano Bay also offers life jackets of all sizes to use in the rivers as well as the pools (free with admission).
Runamukka Reef™ and Tot Tiki Reef™ are combined into one area and is only available for children UNDER 48″ tall. There are slides, splash pads, and water toys galore. The only downside is that every slide is for single riders only. That means that you may not ride with your toddler, and you can’t send your older child (under 48″) to ride with your toddler down a bigger slide. My 2 year old couldn’t do much more than the things available in the tot area. He rode one of the shorter slides a million times over. He was still all smiles though.
- Krakatau™ Aqua Coster – (RIDE THIS!) Four-person canoes send you up and down the volcano. Be prepared to get WET! Lots of water splashing the entire time, but oh so fun! This ride gets busy quick! I’d make it a priority to ride this first. Guests between 42″-48″ must ride with a Supervising Companion. (Pictured above – right)
- Honu of Honu ika Moana™ (Turtle) – This BLUE slide uses a five-person raft that sends you up two massive walls, like a half-pipe. Must be 48″+ to ride. (Pictured above – left)
- ika Moana of Honu ika Moana™ (Whale) – This GREEN slide is a five-person twisting, turning raft ride. Guests between 42″-48″ must ride with a Supervising Companion. (This was fun and kind of fast!)
- Maku of Maku Puihi Round Raft Rides™ – Six-person raft spins you around bowl-like formations. Guests between 42″-48″ must ride with a Supervising Companion.
- Puihi of Maku Puihi Round Raft Rides™ – Six-person raft sends you around a massive funnel. Guests between 42″-48″ must ride with a Supervising Companion.
*SINGLE RIDER ATTRACTIONS:
These personally aren’t my style, but here’s the info for those of you that love the thrill rides.
- Ko’okiri Body Plunge™ – Drop door slide plunges you 125 feet from atop the volcano. Must be 48″+ to ride.
- Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides™ – Twin drop door slides from atop the volcano. Must be 48″+ to ride.
- Punga Racers™ – Four lanes of single-rider mat slides. *Guests between 42″-48″ must ride with a Supervising Companion. (Pictured above – right)
- Ohyah & Ohno Drop Slides™ – Slides launch you four feet (Ohyah) or six feet (Ohno) above the water into a ten foot pool. Strong Swimming ability required. Must be 48″+ to ride.
- Taniwha Tubes™ – Four twisting single-person water slides. *Guests between 42″-48″ must ride with a Supervising Companion. (Pictured above – left)
NOTE: Some of these rides come with weight restrictions (up to 230-250lbs depending on the slide), where the ride attendant will actually have you step on a scale before you enter the ride for safety reasons.
For more info on all of the rides see the Volcano Bay Riders Guide.
There are six signature dining locations, featuring more than 60 delicious dishes from traditional water park favorites to Polynesian-inspired fare.
- Kohola Reef Restaurant and Social Club™ – Burgers, barbeque, chicken, seafood, and pizza.
- Dancing Dragons Boat Bar – Tropical cocktails and frozen drinks.
- Whakawaiwai Eats – Pizza, hot dogs, mac & cheese, and salads.
- Bambu – Burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, and salads.
- Kunuku Boat Bar – Specialty cocktails, frozen drinks, sodas, draft beers.
- The Feasting Frog – Tacos, poke poke bowl, plantain chips, and guacamole.
Universal Orlando really thought of the details when they made Volcano Bay. There are little water sprayers that turn on along the walkways to rinse sand off your feet and keep the concrete cool.
No carrying inner tubes around the whole park. Volcano Bay has all the supplies and takes care of all the heavy lifting with conveyor belts and ride attendants to assist you as you get on a ride.
LOTS of free seating is available throughout the park. And quite a bit is shaded. I even found lots of empty seats in the middle of the day tucked away near the back of the park. There are also options to upgrade your seating, if desired, to padded loungers with an adjustable shade canopy and a built-in storage lockbox, OR Single Cabana and Family Suite Cabana units. Be sure to call ahead for reserved seating. FYI: Most seating is in sand areas. The only area I found that didn’t have sand was in the Tot Tiki/Runamukka Reef, which is where we sat, because I dislike sand.
SHOPPING – Forgot a waterproof case for your phone? Or sunglasses? Or sunscreen? There are LOTS of shops and kiosks available to pick up the stuff you forgot, or to purchase fun merchandise and apparel.
TOWELS & LOCKERS for rent! Rental lockers are located throughout the park (three different sizes available) and you can link up to four TapuTapu wearables so the whole family has access. Lockers can be rented using cash or credit card. You can even rent towels ($5 each) if you’ve forgotten, or don’t want to bring your own.
Clear Signage for directions and amenities is all over the park. They also have paper guide maps available to make it easy to navigate the park too.
WAIT TIMES – The rides start to fill up fairly quick. If you go early enough, you may see “Ride Now” on many of the rides. For these, you simply scan your TapuTapu and wait in line.
Once the rides start having wait times, you’ll scan your TapuTapu at the ride kiosk of your choice, and then you’ll see a return time on the screen of your wearable. When your wait time is up, your TapuTapu will vibrate lightly to let you know. You can then return to that ride at any time. (If you are in the middle of lunch, don’t rush, finish your food and then head over. Your TapuTapu will still hold your place for you.) Once you return, the ride attendants will verify your TapuTapu says, “Ride Now” and you’ll scan your wrist band and enter the current line. NOTE: The ride attendants WILL NOT let you wait in a line if there is a wait time at the ride kiosk. You must scan your TapuTapu and come back.
You can only secure ONE attraction return time at a time on your TapuTapu, but you can switch rides if you see something else with less of a wait, or something else you’d rather go on. To switch rides, scan your TapuTapu on the kiosk and it will give you the option to switch rides OR to keep your wait time. Tap to make the switch and then tap your band to confirm. Easy enough. I just wish they had a limit of three instead of one. You’d get more chances to ride something.
RAIN – Florida is known to have rain showers daily, but don’t let that deter you from staying in the park, you’re already wet anyway, right?! Wait it out, grab a bite to eat, or shop while others leave the park. Then you can take advantage of shorter attraction wait times when the sun returns.
PERSONAL ITEMS ON RIDES – Some rides don’t allow you to bring anything on them. This includes water shoes/flip flops, sunglasses, or phones in waterproof cases. They have a storage area for some of those items near the front where you enter the line, but just be sure to read the signs before you go so you can safely store your valuables in a locker.
All in all, we had a great time at Volcano Bay. We have a young family, so I wasn’t expecting to ride much anyway, but I would still recommend it because there are lots of places to get wet and stay cool. If you’re reading this then you are one step ahead to having a great vacation because you’re doing your research beforehand. Hopefully this guide helps you with what you need to know before you go, so you can have a lot of fun in the sun! We sure did!