Our family was able to visit Universal Studios in Orlando with Family Forward this summer and the highlight of the trip was our day at the new Volcano Bay waterpark. Here are 7 tips for visiting Volcano Bay.
Image courtesy of Volcano Bay
Volcano Bay is Universal Studios newest park, opening in just a few months ago, with a welcoming Polynesian theme. We arrived at the park at 6:30 in the morning and didn’t leave until they pushed us out at 9:30 that night, and my kids were begging to go back the next day before we had even gotten on the shuttle back to our hotel. You guys that’s 15 hours in a park and we hadn’t even eaten dinner because we were having so much fun.
Besides the obvious fact that there is a lot of water at Volcano Bay and our kids love water, here are our top reason Volcano Bay is so awesome!
Volcano Bay has this great volcano in the middle of the park with a wave pool. The Volcano is magical and mysterious. Every 15 minutes bells go off, the volcano errupts, and the waves start coming in. Slides wind their way through the volcano and the path through the volcano is great way to make it from one side of the park to the other without having to walk around it. Even if you aren’t looking for a shortcut through the park, take a walk through the volcano, under the waterfall and see the interactive tiki and the Tapu Tapu’s inside the volcano.
When you enter the park you are issued a Tapu Tapu wrist band. Tapu Tapu’s let you get in line for a ride without having to stand in line. While waiting for your turn on the Krakatua you can be floating the lazy river or hanging out in the wave pool, the Tapu Tapu will display how much time remains until you can return to the ride and vibrate when it is time. Around Volcano Bay there are interactive spots that the Tapu Tapu’s activate. Much like the interactive wands in Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade, but without needing the correct spell. Water will shoot out of a tiki’s mouth, or a wave will spray out of a giant conch shell.
Tapu Tapu’s can be set up through the Universal App with payment information, so you can leave your wallet at home. You have to set up a pin number to use the payment, so no worries if your Tapu Tapu falls off while you’re taking the Ko’orki Body Plunge no one else will be able to access your payment info.
Volano Bay employees can track a Tapu Tapu, and therefore a missing child wearing a Tapu Tapu. Luckily, we didn’t have to use this feature but I have heard that sometimes there is difficulty getting a reading. But the technology is there.
Our kids are 11, 8, and 5 years old and Volcano Bay kept them all busy. There are height and weight restrictions on some rides. Most often attractions just require a life jacket if they are under 48″. Life jackets are free to use and located at the beginning of rides in adult and child sizes. Hang them back up when you exit the ride and you are free to roam the park without lugging a life jacket with you.
Beaches are lined with chairs guests may use for free. Or there are cabanas you can rent for the day. There are added benefits that come with the cabanas, such as ice water and fruit trays, TVs and towel service. We staked out 5 chairs on the beach under an umbrella and ended up spending very little time actually on the chairs. If you have small children or family members who won’t be playing in the water a cabana may be a good idea. But if you’re planning on getting wet I recommend saving your money to use on something else.
Image courtesy of Volcano Bay
Rides and Slides for all Sizes
We a have a few levels of thrill seekers in our family. One child wants to experience it all-and he did! Including the 125′ Ko’Okori Body Plunge that drops your straight through the volcano. Another child found the Krakatau Aqua Coaster to be more his idea of fun, and loved most of the less extreme slides too. And the little sister loved the winding river and hanging out in the wave pool. Volcano Bay didn’t forget anyone – there’s Tot Tiki Reef for the little and Runamukka Reef for kids 50″ or under. The bubbling geysers and slides in the Runamukka area were a kids dream come true, but our boys were too tall for the slides so they left for other areas of the park. Little sister decided without a buddy to run around with she would rather hang out by Waturi Beach.
If you are familiar with Coke Freestyle cups in Universal Studios and Island of Adventure, then you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t heard of the Coke Freestyle cups here’s how they work. You buy the cup for $11.99 and get unlimited refills from Freestyle machines inside the Universal parks for the entire day. If you already have the cup, pay a flat $5.99 fee each day and get unlimited refills. The machine use an RFID tag inside the cups to know which cup is which and there is a 15 minute time between refills. While you won’t be able to fill up all of your friends cups from your refills you are still able to stay hydrated throughout the day. There are a row of 5 Freestyle machines in Volcano Bay. This was a great way for us to stay hydrated both from the soda and the ice water we dispensed from the Freestyle machines.
If you don’t want to fill up your luggage with beach towels, you can rent them at Volcano Bay for $5/towel. We fretted over which way would be better/more cost effective and in the end realized that we only used our towels to save our chairs on the beach. We laid them on the backs of our beach chairs and at the end of the day took them off the beach chairs to return.
Volcano Bay does a fantastic job of keeping crowds of people engaged throughout the park, without realizing there is a huge crowd all around. Out of the three Universal parks, this was all of our favorite!