Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park

Everything You Need to Know About Volcano Bay at Universal

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Two weeks ago, I got a sneak peek at the revolutionary water theme park that’s going to take the family vacation world by storm: I went to the opening of Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando Resort.

Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park

As you may recall, I’m on the Blog Squad for Universal Orlando Resort, and our entire posse was reunited for four days as we got a preview of the park before it opened to the general public. And if you ever want to talk about the ultimate #workperk, it’s getting to be one of just 200 people let loose inside a water park! It was epic and one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park

The opening party also came with some great entertainment in the form of a haka dance ceremony performed by a Maori tribe out of New Zealand. Universal sure knows how to debut a new park, that’s for sure!

For a full two days, SVV and I got to bop around Universal’s newest resident, the third in its collection of Orlando parks. For those of you planning a summer vacation to Volcano Bay, here’s everything you need to know:

Volcano Bay’s Premise

Universal created an entire story around the fabled Pacific islanders called the Waturi. And when Universal carves out a theme, it sticks to it. No fewer than 30 park employees greeted us with a cheeful “kia ora!” There are also tribal design elements woven throughout the park.

Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park

As the Volcano Bay video tells it, “Long ago the Waturi people criss-crossed the ocean. According to legend, the mythical golden fish Kunuku would one day appear leading them to a new home, where their spirits would be free. In search of Kunuku, they sailed far and wide, traveling to Tahiti, Hawaii, Bali, blending each remarkable culture with their own. Finally, at the very edge of the world, Kunuku leapt from the waves, calling, ‘Follow me to Volcano Bay.’”

Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park

The Layout

The Waturi live by the mantra “Water is Life. Life is Joy.” As such, their homeland is situated around the stunning Fire and Water Volcano, the park’s centerpiece. Surrounding it is Waturi Beach, sprinkled with lounge chairs (free) and waterside cabanas (for a fee), and it’s also got a wave pool, a lazy river and an adventure river (which to be honest, wasn’t that much more fast-paced than its “lazy” counterpart). If you’re worried about getting a lounge chair, you can reserve Premium Seating in advance, which also come with a dedicated server.

Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park

There are four different sections or “lands” of the park and 18 immersive rides. While I didn’t go on every one of them, I definitely had my favorites (see below for more ride specifics).

Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park
Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park

The Lines

Volcano Bay unveiled some pretty savvy technology: a virtual line system called TapuTapu. This means you get a watch-like wristband when you enter the park and can scan in at any of the rides you want, then it gives you a countdown and buzzes when you’re on deck. You can also use the app or the UOR website to link it to your credit card and pay for purchases cash-free as you go, as well as open and close lockers where you’ll want to store your things while you ride.

Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park

Is it perfect? No. There are definitely kinks to work out—wait times have been longer than expected—as is the case with any new park. Still, would I rather wait for a ride in the wave pool or lazy river than standing in line? Heck yes!

Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park

The Single Rides

I thought that the Ko’okiri Body Plunge, which shoots you straight down the middle of the volcano 125 feet at a 70-degree angle, was going to give me a panic attack—not because I’m afraid of steep slides but because I’m extremely claustrophobic and they fasten you into a glass tube then count down before triggering a glass door.

Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park

Luckily, no panic attacks here, but I did get a lot of water up my nose (and SVV’s back got pretty badly ride-burned). Would I do it again? Probably not. Am I glad I did it once? Definitely.

Near the entrance to the volcano, there’s also the Ohno and the Ohyah rides, a pair of enclosed chutes that spit you out into a pool via a six-foot drop. This was also a pretty fun one and one I’d do again in a heartbeat.

Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park

killer action shot by Eric Stoen of Travel Babbo

Additionally, there are a handful of other single-rider tubes, mat races, raft slides and more. The best part of Volcano Bay, in my opinion, is the fact that they have technology that hauls the rafts to the top of the ride for you so you don’t have to mess with any of it and can focus on having fun.

Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park

The Group Rides

You’re probably going to love the Krakatau Aqua Coaster—I did, as did everyone who was tackling the park with me—and as such, you’ll want to make it your first swipe of your TapuTapu. This is unlike any water slide I’ve ever been on before as you’re seated in a four-person canoe that shoots through the tracks like a roller coaster set in water. My other favorite was Honu ika Moana, which sweeps up one big wave-shaped wall and makes you feel as if you’re going to soar right off the slide.

Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park

The Food

You knew I was going to talk about how awesome the food at Volcano Bay was, right? Well, here goes.

Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park

You can have any type of dining experience at Volcano Bay from grab-and-go to something a bit nicer. SVV and I both really liked the pretzel bun hot dogs and flatbreads from Bambu (in the Rainforest Village) and the chicken coconut curry from Kohola Reef Restaurant & Social Club (in Wave Village). Snack-wise, the flavored Icees were awesome (banana, specifically), and the unicorn ice cream was possibly my favorite treat I had in the park. The Dippin’ Dots and smoothies were just OK.

Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park

The food overall was very impressive—a nice change over many theme parks I’ve visited where it’s all fried fair food. Best of all: There’s beer and liquor available! There’s even a signature drink, the Volcano Blossom, a refreshing passionfruit-flavored beer that I just adored that was created by Orange Blossom Brewery exclusively for the park.

Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park

What It Costs

A one-day Volcano Bay ticket is $67 for an adult and $62 for children, which is cheaper than the other two parks. However, you can buy a park-to-park ticket for $165 that gets you into all three parks on the same day. If you’re going to spend that kind of money, though, I’d highly suggest doing a multi-day ticket; it’s simply too ambitious to think you can do all three parks in one day. If you are said ambitious type and insist on squeezing it all in, you’ll want to tack on an Express Pass (starting at $55 per day)—especially during peak summer vacation time and also Spring Break—to accelerate to the front of the line and get the most out of your day in the parks.

Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park

I get a lot of emails asking how much time one needs to properly do Universal and now with three parks, I’m going to say three days. You could do it in two, but you’d be rushing from attraction to attraction and not have time to re-ride anything you loved. Check out all your ticket options and costs here.

Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park

Unlike Universal and Islands of Adventure where most locker rentals are free while you’re on the ride, at Volcano Bay you have to pay to rent one. The facilities are clean, nice and easy to use, much like the other parks. If you don’t want to have someone camp out with your lounge chairs and stuff on Waturi Beach all day, I recommend paying the $8 to $15 (depending on size) so you know your belongings are secure all day long. You can also rent towels or bring your own. At the entrance of each attraction, there’s a place to leave your shoes and cover-up (unmanned, of course) while you ride.

Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park

In terms of food, SVV and I spent around $45 for lunch for the two of us; that included a main and a drink (beer, for us) each. Given that Universal offers dining plans for $22 a day, that sounds about right.

Where to Stay

I love all five of the on-site Loews properties for different reasons, but if I had to pick a favorite, I’d probably say Cabana Bay—and lucky for you, it’s the budget option and backs Volcano Bay. Win-win!

Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park

Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park
Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park

Here’s a short little video I put together about the entire Volcano Bay experience:

Looking for other Universal tips? I’ve got a few:

Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park


 

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Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park
Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park
Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park
COMMENTS
  • June 7, 2017
    Raeshal

    This looks fun. I’m not sure if I want to take my 4 year old sons there but when they get older I’m sure it will be a blast.

    • June 7, 2017

      I think Universal overall is best for kids 12 and up. There’s Seussland and a couple areas for small children, but in general, it’s more of a big kid park =) But definitely take them when they get to their late elementary school years!

  • June 7, 2017

    WOW – Just wow! I’m in the UK and we have been to Orlando before which was just amazing. Our children would have such a blast here so will definitely show them this later. Your photography is fantastic too! I loved this post.

    • June 7, 2017

      Thank you, Natalie! What was your favorite thing you did when you were in Orlando with the kids? It’s definitely a city MADE for families!

      • June 7, 2017
        Natalie Dickinson

        Ooh it’s so hard to choose but I’m going to go with Universal Studios.

  • June 7, 2017

    Great photos! It seems like so much fun. And I just love that Waturi people story, so amusing! 😀 So glad you’ve had a blast. 🙂

    • June 18, 2017

      Right? I’m a sucker for a good story! Love the fable they’ve woven together.

  • June 7, 2017

    The photos are stunning and it seems like you had a blast. My favorite is the minion photo – they are so cute! The volcano blossom and the pool look so refreshing.

  • June 7, 2017

    This looks so awesome!! We are visiting Universal in August and I can’t wait to check it out. From the food to the rides it looks so fun!!!

  • June 7, 2017

    This looks pretty rad. I’m a Disney girl, but this water park looks a little more grown up than Blizzard Beach/Typhoon Lagoon. The aqua coast looks intense! Looks like you guys had an awesome time. I can’t imagine having a water park basically to myself!
    Shannon recently posted..Expensive vs. Economical: Striped SkirtsMy Profile

    • June 18, 2017

      I was always a Disney girl myself until about 10 years ago. The coasters at Universal are a lot better suited for adults sans kids 😉 I did, however, go to Typhoon and Blizzard Beach two summers ago and had a blast!

  • June 7, 2017

    I had no idea there was such a place but love the photos and looks like you all had a blast!

    • June 18, 2017

      It’s so brand new, I’m not surprised you hadn’t heard of it before!

  • June 7, 2017

    Wow! How awesome to be able to experience the park before it opened to the public. I’m not usually one for water parks, but this one looks amazing! I love how you really told the story of the park and went in depth on everything. The TapuTapu app seriously needs to be incorporated at every amusement park!
    -Kristin
    countdowntofridayblog.com

    • June 18, 2017

      I totally agree, Kristin! Love the concept of virtual lines.

  • June 7, 2017

    I’m not really an amusement park type of traveler but this does sound fun. I really want to try that unicorn ice cream too 🙂

    • June 18, 2017

      The unicorn ice cream was my favorite thing I ate all week!!

  • June 8, 2017

    Omg omg these are exactly my kind of rides! Honestly, I don’t really care about the food but the rides are.. wow!

    • June 18, 2017

      The rides here are insane! You have to visit!

  • June 8, 2017
    Ana

    Wow, this really looks like fun! Your photos are amazing and make me want to jump into the water. And you are so lucky to have experienced it without crowds before it opened to the public! 🙂
    Ana recently posted..Solo female travel in South IndiaMy Profile

    • June 18, 2017

      I think that might have spoiled me for life!

  • June 8, 2017

    This looks amazing! You sure do have a fantastic job! ;D . I don’t know if I too can brave some of those amazing water slides, but I sure would love to try just once! Definitely including this to my bucketlist!

    • June 18, 2017

      Some of them were NOT for the faint of heart! But I’m glad I did them all once 😉

  • June 8, 2017
    ada

    wow this place looks so much fun! I haven’t even realised how much you can do in Orlando! I am gonna be in South Carolina this year I feel like I should have a little trip to Florida now 😀 I would love to visit this place !

    • June 18, 2017

      You definitely should! The parks in Orlando are top-notch, no doubt =)

  • June 8, 2017
    Jean

    Wow what a fun new park. Love the idea of the lineless rides and using technology to give guests a better experience. Will be interesting to see how it goes once it’s open to the public.

    • June 18, 2017

      I’m interested, too! It’s great to see it before the crowds, but I’d be curious to see how they do with the lineless system when at full capacity.

  • June 9, 2017

    Amazing Pictures and wow the rides are so awesome. I love to visit there at least once in my life. volcano Bay is the best water park I have ever seen. thank you for sharing this information and pictures with us.

  • June 9, 2017

    Amazing trip Kristin, So many activities, beautiful shot and a great drink. Can’t wait to try this in next month.
    Jose Allen recently posted..These Delicious Dishes are The Pride of Southeast Asian CountriesMy Profile

  • June 10, 2017
    Lia

    Wow, this looks amazing!! We are in Orlando fairly regularly to visit Disney but we’ve been overlooking Universal. Def time to include them again! Thanks for such gorgeous photos and detailed info.
    Lia recently posted..29 Amazing Places to Eat in Louisville, Kentucky: A Local’s GuideMy Profile

  • June 10, 2017

    Wow this is like the ultimate park! I love the watch for the rides- that is a lifesaver! You’re so lucky to experience it with basically no one else!
    Tarah Vongbouthdy recently posted..The Best Place to Stay in Santorini: Our Ultimate Guide to SantoriniMy Profile

    • June 18, 2017

      Right? Waiting is the pits! I’d much rather wait while in the pool 😉

  • June 12, 2017

    This park looks like I could spend my whole summer there. And on the first picture I see some great girl power. Awesome!

  • June 14, 2017

    ‘Such a cool park.

    I wish we had similar in Europe, but it just wouldn’t work as Europeans would consider it too “American” as in code for “fake!”

    Disneyland Paris is as far as most European customers would go whilst calling it “for children.” And even then, it’s an add-on because it’s free for children under 12 years old, and marketed as “cheaper” than staying in the centre of Paris. Which, if you time it right, is quite true. Sigh!

    I absolutely adore your photography, the slides, the dancers,the ice cream, the minions, the rushing around, the fun…!

    Wheeeeeeee!!!!!
    Victoria @The British Berliner recently posted..Have you ever been to Sweden? Hej!My Profile

    • June 18, 2017

      Ha! I know what you mean. Similar to how so many of the cutesy attractions in Japan when executed over there are considered adorable, but if replicated in the US (or Europe) would be far too kitschy. Guess that just means you’ll have to come to Orlando for your park fix 😉

  • June 26, 2017

    Looks like a tropical paradise for the family! Would love to take the kids there one day!

  • July 10, 2017

    Wow, this is lovely. I have two kids – 10 year old Rhea and 4 year old Ritwik. I am sure they will go bonkers at Volcano Bay. Beautiful pics!
    Rekha Rajan recently posted..Fun things to do with kids in and around Miami beachMy Profile

    • July 11, 2017

      Oh, I’m sure they would, Rekha! There’s so much for kids of both ages to do there.

  • August 2, 2017
    Elizabeth Cortese

    I loved the video at the end! You really captured my imagination and attention. Thank you for the beautiful pictures of the park and food. I haven’t visited Universal’s Parks in years but now I know what I’m missing. It’ll take me more than 3 days though. Thanks for the motivation.

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