Our visit to Universal Orlando Resort in Florida has been the most memorable travel experience on our USA America Unplugged road trip yet.
I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan, so you can imagine how excited I was.
Unfortunately, we missed the Christmas decorations by a week or so, but it was still awesome.
I started to write this post on the entire Universal Studios experience and then saw how long it was just after writing about Volcano Bay Orlando!
Mum said it might be best to split them up. So here we go.
This post is all about Universal’s new waterpark, Volcano Bay, an epic water theme park in Orlando and one of the new popular places to visit in Florida.
We chose to visit Volcano Bay water park on the first of our three days at Universal Orlando. It was the day with the best weather, so make sure you check that before you plan your schedule, because you know water parks!
If you are spending a few days at Universal Studios in Orlando, I recommend you visit Volcano Bay as a day of rest in between the other parks or on the last day so you can relax more.
Although Mum said she thought it was good to go on the first day to gently ease into the craziness of intense theme park days.
I thought it was epic fun, not intense!
We spent the day at Volcano Bay with our friends from Crazy Adventure Family, who we met for the first time in Nashville.
Volcano Bay Orlando Water Park
Ok, Volcano Bay is Universal’s newest theme park, and one of the best!
I recommend this water park for all ages, even the little kids. Volcano Bay is divided into sections to suit different interests. Each section has particular rides to match the area.
The sections in Universal’s Volcano Bay are:
- Krakatau Volcano
- Wave Village
- River Village
- Rain Forest Village
Volcano Bay Rides
Pack your swimmers and a fun attitude.
There are a lot of rides to experience so get there as early as you can to make the most of your day.
Krakatau is the focal point of Universal Studios Volcano Bay.
Beautiful waterfalls stream down its sides (with slides hidden within and at night it lights up in a fiery glow) and the different sections of the park encircle the volcano.
It is the starting point for four different water slides – the most thrilling of this water park.
Let’s look at the rides and different areas at Universal’s Volcano Bay.
Runamukka Reef and Tot Tiki Reef
Runamukka Reef and Tot Tiki Reef is an awesome section for the little kids with slides that go on for ages, water squirters, and lots of fun.
But, if they are too scared to do the slides, they also have smaller slides which are great for babies.
I have to admit, the slides looked fun, so I tried to go on them but you have to be under 48”.
Lazy Rivers and Wave Pools
We LOVED the lazy rivers, and so did our friend’s from Crazy Family Adventure – check out their tips for Volcano Bay.
There are two rivers called: Topiko Wai winding river, and the not so lazy TeAwa the Fearless River.
Big waves = Big fun! Get ready for the massive wave at the end!
Another fun attraction is the Waturi Beach, which is the wave pool next to the Volcano.
I recommend wearing a life vest like Savannah did or even if you’re an adult. Then you can relax while you swim to the back where the big waves are.
In Topiko Wai winding river you go through an awesome crystal cave and there is no height restriction
So as you can see, there is a lot to see and explore. And lots of fun memories to be made!
My Favorite slides at Universal’s Volcano Bay Orlando
There are many different water slides at Universal’s Volcano Bay, instead of telling you about all of them, I”ll share the most epic ones.
Don’t miss these.
The other slides are fun to go on while you wait to plunge out on the big ones!
1. Krakatau Aqua Coaster
The Krakatau Aqua Coaster ride is AMAZING. In my opinion, it’s the BEST ride in the park.
How could it not be when it’s a Roller coaster and Water slide COMBINED!!
You go down steep drops and up steep hills through the magnificent volcano. All while sitting on a banana, hotdog shaped tube thing (the Krakatau Aqua Coaster seats four riders).
And, wait – I won’t tell you the end part, you have to discover that for your self.
(height restriction: 42”, between 42” & 48” ride w/ adult).
2. Ohno & Ohyay drop slides
These two side by side water slides are so fun. Both have a big drop down into a deep pool.
The Ohno (purple slide) was the bigger drop at 6 feet. The Ohyay is a 4 foot drop!
Make sure you are a strong swimmer because you get pushed to the bottom of the pool. Some crazy lady went down before us who couldn’t swim. Who does that?
(height restriction: 48”)
3. Taniwah Tubes
You’ll get dizzy turning in circles! A couple different rides to choose from but they are all the same.
(height restriction: 42” between 42” and 48” to be with an adult).
4. TeAwa the Fearless River
Again, big waves and big fun.
As mentioned above the Fearless River is a fun one to go around and around on. You can even relax on this one if you want, just paddle yourself to the side of the big wave.
( Height: 42” kids. Wear a life vest and be with an adult).
5. Ko’kiri body plunge, Kala & Tui Nui Serpentine Body Slides
I’ll let Mum tell you about this ride as she was the only one brave enough to go on it.
Not really, I was just having too much fun on the Krakatau to join her. That’s my story anyway!
Ok, mum here. I suggest you take the plunge from Florida’s highest peak. But be warned, the stairs up to the top of the 200-foot Krakatau Volcano will have you gasping for breath and your legs shaking.
Or is that just the fear?
My philosophy is to do what scares you the most first.
So while Craig and the kids were lazy river floating I raced up to do Volcano Bay’s most thrilling rides. I knew if I didn’t do it first thing, it wouldn’t happen.
I was so glad I did because the rest of the day was just fun and relaxing – no thrills necessary.
I did the Kala & Tui Nui Serpentine body slides first, which starts with a big drop and then launches you into a twisting slide.
I wasn’t expecting the speed and power of it. I found it super intense, and although I liked it, I almost chickened out of the Ko’kiri body plunge.
It is hard to psyche yourself up for scary rides when you have no companion for support.
But, since there were no lines, I knew I would regret it if I didn’t do it now, I trudged up those stairs again.
I’m so glad I did.
The Ko’kiri may have a scary start standing waiting for the floor beneath your feet to disappear, but once it does, you shoot on down 125 feet and torpedo out the bottom.
The ride is over in about 5 seconds. It was thrilling fun. Not as intense as the Kala and Tui Nui serpentine slide.
I’d recommend doing that one first. Eat the Frog.
Watch our Volcano Bay video for more inspiration (and subscribe to our YouTube channel):
Wear the Tapu Tapu
What is the Tapu Tapu?
The Tapu Tapu Wearable is an awesome waterproof watch device that you wear on your wrist like a watch and it saves your place in line for busy rides.
This means you can go on other rides or relax while you wait – sure beats wasting the day waiting on long boring lines.
You can also use your Tap Tapu to pay for things like food and drink.
You can connect the Tapu Tapu to an online account which holds your credit card details, or if you stay at the Universal Orlando Resorts, it can charge back to your room account.
This awesome device is free (and waterproof, of course because you wear it one rides and stuff), because it’s included in your ticket to Volcano Bay.
We were confused about this until we entered the park as very few online sites clearly stated it’s free. So yes. You will get one when you enter.
How does the Tapu Tapu work?
Each member of the family gets a Tapu Tapu.
I think this was awesome because we got to scan it on a certain ride screen and it would say come back in thirty minutes or something like that lol.
But you can only ride other rides that say ride now while you are waiting for your reserved ride. You can only book into one ride at a time.
I got to explore the park by myself with our friends while the parents relaxed too.
Also, I got to ride my FAVORITE ride (Krakatau Aqua coaster) about ten times!
And when my Tapu Tapu said ride now, the line went down as well.
To join the virtual line all you do is walk tap your TapuTapu band on the totem located at the front of the attraction.
Your TapuTapu will then tell you how long you have to wait and it will beep to let you know when it is your turn to ride.
You may have a 5-10 minute wait once you join the line, but it’s better than a much longer one you’d experience without the virtual line.
The TapuTapu also offers extra cool experiences throughout Volcano Bay.
You can use it to illuminate images in the volcano’s hidden caves and also speak to hidden voices.
In Tot Tiki Reef you can control the spurts out of the whale sand shoot water cannons at those relaxing on the winding rivers.
You can also access hired lockers through the TapuTapu and any park photos that may be taken of you having fun on the rides.
How to set up the Tapu Tapu
To set up the Tapu Tapu, you create an account on the Official Resort App (which is super handy to have to monitor park rides across the entire Universal Orlando Resort).
You don’t need an account if you don’t want to use it as a form of payment.
You then add a credit card to your wallet and link your Volcano Bay park tickets.
I recommend creating a pin and only allowing your children a certain dollar limit on what they can spend. We actually didn’t give them permission to purchase using their TapuTapu.
I can imagine how many ice creams they may have sneaked if we did!
Don’t forget to return your TapuTapu when you leave the park. Don’t worry your information will be erased
Top Tips for Universal’s Volcano Bay Orlando
- Stay at one of the four resorts of Universal. (We stayed at Cabana Bay.) You’ll get early access to the park. This means first dibs on chairs in a GOOD spot, and you can ride all of the slides before the park gets busy. (same with other parks). It’s SOOOO worth it.
- As soon as you enter the park, go to the most popular rides (Krakatau aqua coaster, Ko’kiri body plunge, Kala & Tui Nui Serpentine body slides and Honu ika Moana.)
- Find a spot and stay there. We planted ourselves at the pristine sandy Hammerhead Beach for the day. It was awesome. We were right near the funnest rides in the park and it wasn’t busy (we visited in early November just after the Halloween craziness) so it felt like we had the space to ourselves. While mum would have loved to sit down for a while and read her book, us kids had other ideas!!!
- You can hire lockers for your bags to keep your valuables in if no one is going to stay and watch your things. We didn’t. Not sure if that was wise or not but nothing went missing and I have a very trusting attitude!
- Hang around until close. Most people disappear so you can have the gorgeous Volcano Bay and Waturi Beach all to yourself. It’s super pretty at sunset, especially with the volcano lighting up in rainbow colors. Grab a cocktail from the Dancing Dragons Boat Bar, let the kid swim and you relax with the views. Some of the rides will still be open which is fun for the kids to ride at night or just float long the lazy river. You can see it in the video above.
- Bring your own water bottle. There are places to fill them up inside Volcano Bay. Those slides are thirsty work
- If you are gluten free, or have other food allergies, you can bring your own food into the park. Those allergies are so common these days!
Useful Info for Visiting Volcano Bay Orlando
- One day Universal Volcano Bay tickets are $67 for adults and $62 for kids.
- All 3-Park Multi-Day tickets offer guest admission to Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure AND Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Theme Park. Options available from 2 to 5 days in duration Starting at $92 per day (3-day ticket) If you plan on visiting all three parks, get this pass. You’ll definitely need the three days.
- A Volcano Bay annual pass is for Florida residents. Learn more here.
- You can rent cabanas at Volcano Bay starting at $159 per day. There are also premium seating to rent starting at $29.99. We weren’t sitting around long enough to justify the cost. Unless you plan to do that, I think the free chairs are good enough.
- You can’t take GoPro’s or cameras on any of the water slides (apart from the lazy rivers)
- Life vests are provided for anyone who needs them.
- Don’t forget your sun protection!
- You can rent towels, but bring your own and save money.
Parking & Transportation
Volcano Bay doesn’t have its own parking lot.
Guests are invited to park in the main parking structure at Universal City Walk. From there you can hop on the shuttle, which will transport you to Volcano Bay. It’s only about a 5 minute ride away.
A stay at Cabana Bay makes visiting Volcano Bay seamless as you enjoy a designated walking path that takes you right to the water park.
If you are staying at any of the other Universal Orlando Resort Hotels such as the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, the Aventura Hotel, or Universal’s Hard Rock Hotel you can enjoy complimentary shuttle bus transportation to the park.
If you are not staying on-site get to the park before it opens so that you can immediately enter and get to the fun.
Restaurants & Dining
Volcano Bay Orlando has over 60 food offerings, mostly all with a Hawaiian Pacific island vibe.
You can also find pizzas, burgers and nachos and some of your traditional fried favorites. It wasn’t too bad for a theme park.
The menus looked good, but I (Caz) was disappointed as per usual at a theme park, there is just not enough delicious options for those with gluten free.
My Island Chicken Salad ($9.99) was pretty tasty though. It was diced chicken, apples, grapes, and almonds tossed in a creamy coconut dressing.
If you have an allergy bring your own food, if you don’t then enjoy food such as poke bowls, tangy BBQ pulled park sandwiches, Coconut crusted friend chicken, and Quinoa Edamame Burgers.
There is a Universal Dining Plan which starts at $29.99 per persona which have various inclusions such as meals, snacks and unlimited coke refills.
Do your research to see if you think this will save you money.
Be sure to have an ice cream. They are epic and unique to Universal’s new water park. I had the Waturi Fusion. It has Banana, Blue, Raspberry, Orange and Strawberry.
And Savannah had chocolate with sprinkles.
Also you can get a topping, I got whipped cream. (Price: cup – $5. 49, cone – $6.49 and a sundae is $6. 99)
The Vol’s Fire Punch cocktail looked great. Our friend, Bryanna had it.
I LOVED my elderberry cider. It tasted just like a snake bite! (don’t worry, that’s from mum.)
Stay at Cabana Bay Beach Resort
Cabana Bay Beach Resort is a Universal property (some call it the Volcano Bay hotel). I loved the retro 50’s vibe here. It was super colorful and vibrant.
Cabana Bay is the closest Universal hotel to Volcano Bay.
Actually, it is a two minute walk to Universal’s Orlando Bay, so if you plan to spend a lot of time here at this water theme park on your three day pass, it’s best to stay at Cabana Bay.
It will also be the cheaper of the four resorts.
The facilities are great with two swimming pools and a lazy river.
They also have outdoor movies and indoor bowling lanes, a gift shop, cafeteria and different restaurants. The wings at the Galaxy Bowl Restaurant were delicious and reasonably priced.
Book your stay at Cabana Bay and read more reviews here.
Other Universal Orlando Resort Accommodation:
As a reminder, if you stay on-site, you can take advantage of Early Park Admission, which means getting on the park’s rides and attractions an hour before the park opens.
And that’s Volcano Bay!
We visited Volcano Bay as guests of Universal Orlando Resort. All opinions are our own!
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Got any questions about Universal Volcano Bay? Ask us in the comments. Or have you already been to this Universal water park? Share your tips!