Universal’s Volcano Bay is the third theme park at the Universal Orlando Resort. It is an amazing and beautiful water park! And being here in sunny Florida, a water park day is a must. With temperatures that soar into the upper 90’s, we look for various ways to keep cool!
My first impression: It’s a bit of a hassle to get into the park. Like the other two parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, you must park in the parking garage at City Walk. Parking will cost you about $30.00. Once you are parked you walk over to wait for the bus that will shuttle you to Volcano Bay. We arrived around 10:00am and there was a large group of people waiting. (Park is open 9:00am-7:00pm, park hours vary so check the website before visiting.) The buses are huge and they fill them to the max. Thankfully it’s a quick ride, only a few minutes and you’re there. Once unloaded you get into another line…..yes, more people from other resort hotels have been dropped off as well! Yay! This is the security line where they scan your bags and walk you through the metal detector. This process from start to finish took about 15 minutes. But now you’re in the park!….sort of. At this point you buy/pickup your tickets and head to the turn-stiles to be admitted into the park.
The park is a beautiful tropical theme. The gigantic volcano, Krakatau being the centerpiece of the park. I decided to book the premium seating the day before we went. The premium seating has two cushioned loungers with an unmovable umbrella cover (DID NOT LIKE). It’s hot people! I need to be able to adjust my umbrella to block the scorching sun! There’s also a locker box that is in between the loungers to store your items while riding the rides. Also included is an attendant to bring you food and drink from the menu found in the locker box. This and the locker were the stand-out benefits of the premium seating. Premium seating starts at $49.99 and goes up depending on time of year, availability, etc. If this is something you would be interested in, I suggest calling in advance. All premium seating had been sold out by the time we got into the park.
This park features various group raft rides, body slides, racer slides, and the very tall “serpentine” slides. And something new to me was the Krakatau Aqua Coaster! This 4 person canoe takes you through the Volcano on a wet and thrilling ride! I loved it! But if rides aren’t your thing, there are several pools in park that are made for relaxing. There are two rivers, one being very relaxing the other quite the opposite! And of course, the main wave pool, which is at the base of the Volcano.
The Volcano itself is an attraction! I enjoyed walking through the Volcano on a winding bridge. Along the way there are several interactive activities. These can be activated using your Tapu band. You also get some great views of the park!
One of the interesting things about this park is the Tapu Tapu bands. These bands allow you to hold your place in a virtual line. If there’s a ride you want to ride, you tap your band to the rides designated computer terminal. It then tells you how many minutes you will wait till you can return to the ride and get in line. When your time is up, the band will vibrate and the screen will tell you to return to the ride. Once you get back to the ride you will have about 5-15 minute wait in line. My favorite feature of the Tapu band is being able to link your credit card so you can make purchases throughout the park. No need to get your money out of a locker every time you want a snack, drink, or do some shopping!
My overall thought of this park is that it is visually interesting. It was clean and it didn’t feel overly crowded the day we went (Friday). I enjoyed the rides I went on, five in total (two raft slides were closed that I had wanted to go on). My son enjoyed them as well. He went on some of the body slides that did not interest me. But I found the virtual line system to be a little confusing and unnecessary. That coupled with the process to get into the park, made for a less than ideal day.
Overall, this is a beautiful park and I may visit again…but for a more relaxing day, you may want to check out Aquatica. To see my thoughts on that waterpark: click here!