Volcano Bay, a brand-new themed water park, has opened at Universal Orlando.
Four themed areas are based on the story of the Waturi, an ancient tribe from Polynesia who set out on outrigger canoes to find a new home. Legend told them that Kunuku, a golden-finned fish, would show them the way. The Waturi visited many Polynesian islands without encountering this elusive fish until they caught sight of Kunuku playing in the waves of Volcano Bay. There are, of course, many more legends and tales, but know that the Waturi settled at Volcano Bay and that you have just arrived to discover what it’s all about. The overall theme is reminiscent of the islands of the South Pacific, with palm trees, tiki carvings,and thatched huts throughout.
The heart of the park is Krakatau, the volcano located in the Wave Village section. It’s here that you’ll find the park’s headliner, the Krakatau Aqua Coaster, and Waturi Beach, a multi-directional wave pool, as well as The Reef leisure pool. Thrill-seekers will make Wave Village their home.
Will you dare ride the 125-foot slide with a 70-degree angle descent on the Ko’okiri Body Plunge or the Kala and Ta Nui Serpentine Body Slides?
All three rides start with a fall through a drop door! At the Punga Racers, guests (on mats) race down across four lanes and through underwater sea caves.
The River Village is home to Volcano Bay’s children’s play area and Kopiko Wai Winding River, a lazy river that takes you through the tropical landscape of the park and the volcano itself.
Not for the faint at heart are Honu and Ika Mona, two multi-person raft rides. Try Ika Mona first, as it’s a gentler ride than Honu, the scariest group ride in the park.
If you prefer living on the wild side of life, head over to Rain Forest Village, where you can experience the Maku and Puihi round raft rides, which plunge riders through wild waters, bowl-like formations and winding tunnels. There are single- or double-rider tube slides to be found at Taniwha Tubes, as well as the Ohyah Drop and the Ohno Drop slides, two intense rides that end up with a big drop into a pool.
At Rain Forest Village, even Teawa the Fearless River is on a wild, high-speed whitewater river. The Puka Uli Lagoon, a shallow pool, is lots of fun for little tykes.
Food and drink
Four eateries serve Caribbean and island-inspired foods. Think Hawaiian ribs, poke poke bowls and quinoa edamame burgers, as well as the traditional park fare that includes chicken fingers, burgers and pizza. Two bars beckon with a variety of exotic drinks.
Getting around: TapuTapu wristbands
Upon entering the park, guests are given a wearable TapuTapu wristband, enabled with a technology that allows them to make virtual ride reservations, reserve and open lockers, and make payments throughout the park. The device is linked to a credit card via the Universal Orlando website or app.
In front of each ride there is a totem against which guests can tap their wristbands to obtain a return ride time. The device will then alert guests when it’s time to return and experience the attraction. That means that while virtually in line, guests are able to enjoy other areas of the park (though you can wait in only one virtual line at a time). At the park entrance, a board displays wait times for all rides, as rides are not yet displaying on the Universal Orlando app.
Before you go…
Volcano Bay is enjoying huge popularity, and wait times for many rides can reach up to six hours! If you’re visiting the park in the next few months, be at the park entrance 30 minutes prior to opening and go for the blockbusters—such as Aqua Coaster, the two Hony rides, the Ko’Okiri Body Plunge, and the Maku raft rides—first. Make sure you know to which queue you are committing, and be prepared to only be able to enjoy a few rides.
There are currently no standby lines, so queuing up for what would still be a long wait is also not an option. Once Universal has gained enough data on how many people a ride can handle in a specific time period, long lines will hopefully be a thing of the past. If all kinks get worked out, the TapuTapu system is the way to go, as lining up virtually sure beats the reality of a long wait in line under the Florida sun.
Steps away from Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Volcano Bay combines thrill rides with beautiful theming. It’s the prettiest water park I have ever visited. If you’re looking for a tropical South Pacific-inspired paradise, you’ve found it.
- Single-day access to Volcano Bay costs $71.31 for adults and $66.03 for ages 3-9, taxes included.
- Volcano Bay is a short walk from Cabana Bay Resort and Universal’s Royal Pacific and Sapphire Falls hotels.
- There is no parking at Volcano Bay. Florida residents and guests staying off-property must park at Universal’s theme park parking structures and ride the free shuttle bus over to Volcano Bay. The regular parking fee is $20; preferred parking is $30.
For more on Universal Orlando’s Volcano Bay, visit the park page here. For everything else there is to see and do at Universal Orlando, check out “The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando” by Seth Kubersky.