Twilight at Volcano Bay Water Park

Greetings – Volcano Bay Style!

You will instantly know when you are on Volcano Bay property.
Call me a grump, but the enthusiastic Hawaiian style greeting of ‘Kia Ora’ will undoubtedly either confuse, annoy or warm you.
It confused me and kind of made me want to avoid team members, a lot!
The language thing is intended to be fun to figure out though, and adds a little extra appeal, but try telling your kid a safe rendezvous point is called something like WHAKAWAIWAI EATS and you might have a very unexpectedly kid free day! 😜
Language aside, there’s a LOT of ambience there at Volcano Bay and for TotalOrlando, that is part of the Magic! (More about that Magic later!)
And that’s as close as Volcano Bay gets to criticism from our team!

Volcano Bay – Landscaped Paradise Wedged between I-4 & Turkey Lake Rd!

My office is within eyesight of Universal’s Volcano Bay, so I’ve been intrigued by the brave move to locate an immersive, 25 acre, Island themed paradise between Florida’s busiest section of Interstate and a major local route.
From the nearby roadways, Volcano Bay looks impressive, towering, and yet out of place.
Thankfully, from the inside though, you would do well to even notice any sign of the outside world.
Tat’s how smart the design team were.
Dale Mason, Vice President and Executive Art Director at Universal Creative told us that they took great care to separate the ambient noise and skyline from Volcano Bay guests.

Multiple layers of landscaping are far more effective than one tall simple screen, according to Dale.  Those layers do a far greater job of breaking up details and preventing a wandering eye from seeing into the distance.
The water park’s towering center piece, the 200ft tall Volcano is a huge key to the sense of tranquility.
Visually, the Volcano is probably in line to be #2 selfie background in Central Florida (unlikely to take #1 spot from Cinderella Castle).
The bazillion gallons of water that plunges from tip to base is much more than a visual detail though.  That soothing water effect does an incredible job of drowning out all but the loudest of passing semi-trucks on I-4.

Volcano Bay has been designed to make the very best of a difficult location and it works very well indeed.

The Attractions and Slides at Volcano Bay!

If you think that Volcano Bay is just a ‘copy’ of other water parks, you will be pleasantly surprised by the very nice detailing and some extremely innovative rides and experiences.

The park is designated by four main areas;

  • Krakatau Area (The Volcano)
    1. Krakatau Aqua Coaster
      A Water Coaster ride through the center of the volcano!
      (A clever induction motor system propels the ride vehicle)
    2. Punga Racers
      A classic style mat racing slide with 4 lanes
      (Mats are styled in the form of Manta Rays)
    3. Kala and Ta Nui Serpentine Body Slides
      A trap door style slide ride, with lots of twists and turns along the way.
    4. Ko’okiri Body Plunge
      Almost needs no further explanation!
      Includes a trap door style launch, almost vertical descent (70º)
      125ft fall that rapidly passes by!
  • Wave Village (The Beach and Pools)
    1. The Reef
      A family style pool area with ripples rather than waves
    2. Waturi Beach
      This is the place to be for those great backdrop selfies of the Volcano.
      Wave pool theme and white sands and sun loungers.
      Gorgeous, but pricey 2 story Cabanas can be rented
  • River Village (Family fun!)
    1. Kopiko Wai Winding River
      The Lazy River with some nice effects and features!
      It’s gong to be hard to adjust to calling it the Winding River!
    2. Honu and Ika Moana
      Two family style raft rides
    3. Tot Tiki Reef
      Cool splash pad style toddler play area
    4. Runamukka Reef
      A cool 3 story multilevel adventure play area with mini slides for kids
  • Rainforest Village (Main area for Slides and Rides!)

    1. Maku
      Family raft slide with multiple high-banked turns.
    2. Ohyah and Ohno Drop Slides
      Two Body slides with a ‘refreshing’ splash entry into the base pool.
    3. Puihi
      A group raft ride through dark sections, funnels and drops!
    4. TeAwa The Fearless River
      White Water style raft ride
    5. Taniwha Tubes
      Single and double rider tube ride
    6. Puka Uli Lagoon
      Relaxing small pool, great for hanging out while other family members enjoy the slides and rides!

The Food (and beverages) at Volcano Bay!

  • Kohola Reef Restaurant & Social Club
    A very diverse selection of well prepared dishes with shaded seating.

    • Smoked Glazed Chicken – $12.99
    • Mango BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich – $11.99
    • Hawaiian Ribs – $16.99
    • Chicken & Ribs Platter – $15.99
    • Burgers – $13.49 – $14.99
    • Coconut Curry Chicken – $10.99
    • Kohola Chicken Sandwich – $11.49
    • Coconut Crusted Fried Chicken – $11.99
    • Chicken Tenders – $9.99
    • Jerk Mahi Sandwich – $14.99
    • Pizza – $9.99 to $10.99
    • Grab n Go (Salads, wraps, sushi etc) From $7.49
    • Various Desserts
  • Dancing Dragons Boat Bar
    • Nicely themed ‘Cabana style’ full service bar based upon a Chinese junk boat!
  • Whakawaiwai Eats
    • Long board pizzas from $9.99 to $10.99
    • Foot long Hot Dog – $11.69
    • Foot long pretzel dog – $12.99
    • Jerk Shrimp Mac n Cheese $11.99
    • Mac & Cheese – $9.99
    • Various Desserts
    • Grab n Go from $5.99 to $9.99
  • Bambu
    • Bambu Burger – $14.49
    • Reka Burger – $13.49
    • Karika Chicken Sandwich – $10.99
    • Waturi Mahi Sandwich – $14.99
    • Quinoa Edamame Burger – $13.49
    • Foot Long Pretzel Dog – $12.99
    • Chicken Tenders – $9.99
  • The Feasting Frog
    • Tacos
  • The Kunuku Boat Bar
    • Full service bar

Does Central Florida Need Another Water Park?

It was never easy to grab a sun lounger at Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach or Aquatica, proving that Orlando visitors Love their water park experiences!
Add the loss of the aging but ever popular Wet n Wild, and Universal invested wisely in Volcano Bay.

Orlando, the best State for Water Parks!

We are big fans of the water parks here in Orlando.
It’s the heat, you know!
Nothing beats the heat better than a splash pool, or lazy river and a few cool drinks and ice cream.

Add to that, the fact that theme parks can punish tired legs and aching feet, a bit of ‘down time’ in a hectic vacation schedule does wonders for your family.

Central Florida is blessed with a bunch of great water parks, each, with its own signature, each offering a different theme or sense of place under that hot baking sunshine.

Volcano Bay Launched in May 2017 – Were the Press in too soon?

If you read enough blogs, news articles and social media posts, you can read a lot about long waits, rides not running, and other stuff that might make you doubt Volcano Bay.
Many of the posts are genuine.
But the context is a little slewed.
The press descended upon masse several days before the official launch of Volcano Bay amid a scurry of 24/7 activity from the creative team at Universal Orlando.
Probably 200+ media attendees saw a water park in the making, rather than a water park ready to splash around in.
It’s hard to climb out of that scenario and social media ‘lit up’ with mixed reviews.

What is Volcano Bay like today?  Is it ready?

Yes.  Principally, the park is now open, fully functional and ready to enjoy.
It is however, very busy, as any new attraction would be.
Also, as with any new attraction, unexpected stoppages will definitely occur, so don’t expect to have a totally perfect day, without problems at Volcano Bay, or any other new theme park attraction for that mater!

The opening teething problems have been pretty much addressed and after speaking to the senior execs at Universal, they have a voracious appetite for perfection.
As with Diagon Alley, over in Universal Studios, the creative team is taking bold steps, with new concepts, to create great experiences for guests.

That doesn’t come easy and we are confident that Universal as taking the business of creating fun, very seriously indeed!
Watch out for news on Super Nintendo World coming soon to Orlando, as a great example!

How is the TAPU TAPU ‘Wait Free’ line system working?

From what we’ve seen, it works really well.
Pick out your #1 must do ride, take the wearable ‘watch’ to the ride’s TAPU TAPU station and check in.
You will begin your count down to that ride and be notified when you can return to enter the line.
It works well.
But, remember that at any one given time, you can only have one ‘open’ ride reservation per wearable device.
The strategy is simple.  Save TAPU TAPU for the BIG line waits, check in and then go and spend the wait time doing something else.
(You can wait in a regular line, dine, enjoy the lazy river or head to the wave pool!)
Once you’ve ridden your TAPU TAPU slide, you are free to register your next line wait reservation.
Once the initial rush to experience Volcano Bay subsides, TAPU TAPU could develop into much more, but for now, it does work as designed.

Tapu Tapu

The wearable device also unlocks a whole bunch of interactive effects, such as spurting whales, water cannon squirters and much more!
Look out for TapTu Play and TapTu Pay features, but the TapTu Snap stations are an awesome way to get a cool selfie into your Universal Photo Access account!

Totally Wait Free Park Experience – PREMIUM TAPU TAPU?

As for WAIT FREE, I think that some people are confusing the current TAPU TAPU with the concept with a ‘total day of wait free entertainment such as Express Pass’.
TAPU TAPU is ‘one ride at a time’ free service at the moment, and Universal have a lot of freedom to develop the free and premium side of TAPU TAPU going forward.
Maybe a DAYU TAPU TAPU could be in the mix as a paid Express Pass!?

Volcano Bay – Getting There

Volcano Bay Parking is easy.
Head to the regular theme park garages and follow the directions to the Volcano Bay section of the CityWalk parking complex.  $20 per car and a regular stream of buses will take you effortlessly to the water park entrance.
From there, an escalator, or ramp-way takes you up to the entrance plaza area of Volcano Bay.

Of course, Universal would LOVE for you to stay at their nearby Cabana Bay Beach Resort, and from our experience, we think you would enjoy it too, especially with ‘walking access’ to Volcano Bay, along with extended water park hours, exclusive to Universal Hotel guests!

Why is Volcano Bay TotalOrlando’s #1 Water Park?

That’s the most difficult question we’ve had to answer since starting our blog in 2014!
Perhaps the easiest way to explain is in a little list;

  1. It’s that huge Volcano!
    You can see it from our office, from I-Drive and especially in selfies inside the Water Park.
    It’s a work of art and a big 200ft masterpiece that is simply crazy fun to be around.
  2. The best of all worlds!
    We love Typhoon for the ambience, Blizzard for the crazyness and Aquatica for the spacious layout and ‘not so lazy river’.
    But Volcano Bay has the best of all of the other big 3 water parks, and much more!
    It is full on fun in a very immersive and classy setting.
  3. No Magic needed.

    Yep, Universal are making this happen without the reliance upon that D****y Magic.

    Instead, they are focussing on guest enjoyment right from the very core.
    It first began over at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade, and then even more so at Diagon Alley.
    There’s no stopping Universal’s creative team now, backed by NBC’s colossal spending power.  With no magic to hide behind, Universal wants the experience to make people happy, not the ‘idea of having fun’.

  4. A good layout, that’s not confusing for excited, lost kids.
    The volcano is easy to spot, and offers a good landmark for everyone to focus on if needed.
  5. The food included a cool blend of good old typical American favorites, with a little tropical twist here and there, right through to some really mouthwatering ‘Island Style’ dishes with exotic flavours and fresh ingredients.

Lean More About Volcano Bay – Universal’s Immersive Water Park

  • Visit Universal’s Official Page For Volcano Bay
  • Single Day Volcano Pass around $67 per person
  • A 3 Park3 Day Pass for Universal, Islands and Volcano Bay around $260
  • NOTE: Prices may vary by season!