Every year, we look forward to visiting Universal Studio’s theme parks in Orlando, Florida! The latest attraction at Universal Studios is Volcano Bay, a new water theme park that opened in late May 2017.
If you stay at one of Universal’s on-site resorts, you’ll get Early Park Admission to any of the three theme parks! We definitely recommend taking advantage of this because we were able to grab an amazing seat right in front of Krakatau, the 200ft volcano, which is the centerpiece of the park! 🌋😍
Where To Stay
During this visit we decided to stay at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Our decision to stay here was easy. It’s located right behind Volcano Bay Water Park and has an easy access pathway from one of their pools. And it is also one of the more affordable Universal Resorts. We definitely recommend staying at one of the on-site resorts because of the perks that come along with it!
🌟 Perks of staying at any one of the 6 Universal Orlando Resorts:
- Early Park Admission (1 hour before the public)
- Convenient short walk to the theme park, no need for transportation
- No need to wait in line for tickets, simply go to one of the ticket desks inside the hotel. It’s super convenient, shorter lines plus extra minutes in air conditioning!😉
Plus if you stay at Cabana Bay, you can book a room that has an amazing view of the volcano. Who wouldn’t want to wake up to that every morning!🤩
Read our full review of Cabana Bay Beach Resort in our blog post 👉 here
One of the very first things we noticed was all of the beautiful flowers everywhere and the island theme! 🌺
Universal’s Volcano Bay
Volcano Bay has an island theme inspired by Polynesian culture. The idea behind it is the story of the Waturi people, which is a fictional Polynesian culture with the belief “Water is Life, and Life is Joy”. Volcano Bay does very well at portraying this fictional culture. Everything from the design of the whole water park, to the Volcano, the food, the music, and the overall vibe really makes you feel as if you’re actually far-far away somewhere on a tropical island!
The attractions are located in 4 themed areas.
Krakatau is the centerpiece of the theme park, the huge volcano!🌋 Within the volcano are 3 intense water slides and an aqua coaster.
The Ko’okiri Body Plunge is the most intense ride in the park. It features a 70-degree fall through drop door (basically straight down) that passes through the volcano, falling 125 feet! 😱 So you’re standing with a trap door beneath you, just waiting for it to fall out from under you. When it finally opens you plummet into a tiny clear capsule that sends you straight down to the pools below. The ride is so fast, it’s over in about 10 seconds! It’s the tallest drop slide in the world!! And also the first waterslide in the world to shoot riders right through a swimming pool with other guests at the park. So if you’re not a thrill seeker you can hang out in the pool and watch your friends shoot through the volcano. Pretty freakin’ cool!
The Kala and Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides are a pair of high speed body slides that also start with trap doors. Sending two riders down clear, intertwining tubes into a pool at the bottom.
The Punga Racers are racing slides. You can race your friends on this four-lane racing slide with your manta ray mats!
The Krakatau Aqua Coaster takes riders right inside the Krakatau volcano on a four-person canoe. Sliding upwards, with dark twists and turns, before plunging through a waterfall!
Inside the Volcano
Inside the Volcano is so neat! We even got to meet, Krakatau, who told us some really funny jokes! If you go, you should definitely ask him to tell you the story of Volcano Bay! You can even use your Tapu Tapu (we’ll explain what that is later in this post) to reveal some lights displaying cute Polynesian flowers.
The wave village consists of Waturi Beach and The Reef.
Waturi Beach is the park’s main wave pool right in front of the Volcano. Since we stayed at Cabana Bay Resort we were able to get into the park an hour early before the public! So the first thing we did was reserve our spot at Waturi Beach. We were able to get seats right in the front row with an unforgettable view of Krakatau! 🌋 The beach was so nice, it had actual sand to walk in and plenty of lounge chairs for relaxing. Even if you don’t even like going on rides you could spend all day just relaxing at the beach!
Easter eggs are scattered all throughout the park. You could literally have a mini easter egg scavenger hunt and try to find them all! This is one of the easter eggs we found at Waturi Beach, a big conch shell. 🐚 You can use your Tapu Tapu (we’ll explain what that is later in this post) to activate things like shooting water canons at guests and illuminating images on the walls of the Volcano caves. You just hold up your Tapu Tapu to the volcano symbol and it will activate. Blow into the conch shell and water comes out the top. The harder you blow the higher the water comes out! 💦
The Reef is where you can watch the bravest riders take the Ko’okiri Body Plunge! In the photo above, you can see people lined up to watch them come down through the clear tube. It’s so fast you can barely see them!
We found another easter egg here! When you put your Tapu Tapu up, go underwater to hear the dolphins! 🐬
The River Village is where you’ll find most of the family rides and kid areas.
Runnamukka Reef and Tot Tiki Reef are the kids play areas. Where you’ll find water guns, slides, dump cups, and a three story tall water playground with its own small slides! And it even has a mini volcano!
The green slide (left) is the Ika Moana and the blue slide (right) is the Honu of Ika Moana. These slides are multi-passenger slides that will have you twisting and turning up two massive walls. Volcano Bay has really thought of everything because you don’t even need to carry a tube up from the bottom! The rafts have their own escalator! We rode Honu because there was no wait at the time, and it was so much fun!!
Volcano Bay has two rivers. The Kopiko Wai Winding River is Volcano Bay’s lazy river. The Winding River is a nice relaxing lazy river to float around in. The other one is the TeAwa Fearless River, which is the opposite of the lazy river! Before we came we didn’t know that there was two different rivers, we thought there was just the Fearless River. So when we first saw the Winding River we were confused as to why it didn’t look so fast until we finally found the Fearless River. To tell them apart, besides the obvious speed differences, the Winding River has colorful tubes to lounge in, where as the Fearless River has life vests for you to wear.
Right on this bridge over the Winding River, we found another easter egg that sprays water canons at the guests below when activated!😜💦
This is where you’ll find most of the thrill slides.
The TeAwa Fearless River was probably our favorite attraction at Volcano Bay! The Fearless River is so much fun, not only does it go at a faster speed compared to the Winding River, but it even surprised us with a few rapid waves!🌊 It’s recommended that riders wear a life vest because it goes pretty fast and you could easily get lost in those waves if you’re not the best swimmer. This is where most people lose their Tapu Tapus if that tells you anything!
Ohyah and Ohno Drop Slides are body slides that plummet down twisting waters before dropping you 4 feet above a swirling pool! We really wanted to ride this one but didn’t get to. Next time!
Puihi of the Maku Puihi is a multi-person round raft ride that drops you into multiple tunnels, through dark winding caverns, to the final drop.
Puka Uli Lagoon is another relaxing pool set right aside the splash pool for the Ohyah and Ohno Drop Slides. Relax here and enjoy the view of all the fun as riders splash down from above!
Raki and Tonga of the Taniwha Tubes are raft slides that can be ridden solo or in pairs. These cute tiki statues spray jets of water when you least expect it! 🗿💦
How to Use Tapu Tapu
The really cool thing about Volcano Bay that makes it unique is that they have NO actual lines for the rides! They use Tapu Tapu technology to make everything virtual, it’s really revolutionary!
When you first arrive at Volcano Bay everyone is given a Tapu Tapu wristband. The Tapu Tapu is a wearable, waterproof wristband that’s connect to your park ticket. It works sort of works like a fast pass in a sense. Each ride has a totem 🗿 marked with the Volcano Bay logo right at the entrance to the ride. It provides you with the wait times. To reserve your time, all you need to do is put your Tapu Tapu up to the sensor at the waterslide you want to ride and it will assign you a time to return, that’s it! The Tapu Tapu should now display a countdown of the wait time (like the photo above)! This is amazing because now you have your spot reserved!
Once the ride is ready for you to get on, the Tapu Tapu will give off a vibration alert that will tell you “IT’S TIME TO RIDE”. The plus side is that you don’t need to wait in line the whole time, the downside is that you can only reserve one ride at a time. And depending on how busy it is when you go, you might have an hour or so wait time, so you need to be smart about how you use it! While you wait you can relax on the Winding River, hang out in the wave pool, grab a drink at the Dancing Dragons Boat Bar, or grab a seat in the sand at Waturi Beach!
The Tapu Tapu is your key to EVERYTHING and does more than just reserve your ride time! You can also use it for payment so you don’t have to go back to your locker and grab money every time you want food etc. With that said, it’s also your key to access a locker rental. And lastly there’s also totems 🗿 in the best spots of the park that take memorable photos of everyone in the group! Below is the best picture spot with the volcano in the background! (Right in front of Kohola Reef)
If you happen to lose your Tapu Tapu you can just go to concierge and they will give you a new one! You do need your ticket though, because its linked to your Tapu Tapu. We lost one of ours in the Fearless River, and we were told that, that’s where a lot of people lose them. The process to get a new one was very easy and quick! And if you had a time reserved for a slide, your new one will still have it. So you don’t have to worry about losing your spot! 👍🏼
You can’t have any loose articles on rides, and cameras (including GoPros) aren’t allowed on any rides except the rivers, so you’re going to want to get a locker! We rented a locker for the day at the Wave Village West. The locker rentals are very simple! Just pick out which locker you want to rent (they have multiple sizes). We rented a family-size locker because there was 3 of us and it was a better value for us to share one. You use your Tapu Tapu to access your locker, so you don’t need to carry a key or anything like that! And just incase you split up with your friends, you are able to link multiple Tapu Tapu’s to the locker, so that everyone can get in.
Regular locker $12/Family locker $16
They do have cabanas for rent at Volcano Bay. These one and two-story cabanas are located throughout the park. They have two options as far as renting:
- Single Cabana Units hold up to 6 people and are $199.99 per day
- Family Suite Cabanas hold up to 16 people and are $599.99 per day
The upper level cabanas give spectacular views of the park, while the ground level cabanas provide convenience and accessibility. Each cabana offers padded lounge chairs, a small refrigerator (stocked with water), complimentary fruit and snacks, towel and locker service, plus concierge service with an exclusive menu of food and drink delivered right to your cabana! Renting a cabana for the day could be the way to go if you have a large group. And is certainly a great way to relax and unwind, and take in the paradise charm of Volcano Bay!
Dining at Volcano Bay
There weren’t a lot of food options at Volcano Bay. Most of the food was fast food or pre-packaged food, there were no full-service restaurants to sit down and relax in.
We grabbed a bite to eat at The Feasting Frog, which is a quick service stop that features snacks and drinks. They have options like tacos and nachos.
While we visited the average wait times were between 20ish to 120 minutes, which gave us a lot of time in between rides! So we decided to grab a drink at the Dancing Dragon’s Boat Bar! 🐉
We both got the Ko’okiri Plunge because the bartender said that was the most popular. It was delicious, and came with a pretty flower as a garnish! 🌺 #allthetropicalvibes Something to know, you can only get one drink per person per ID. So you can’t grab drinks for all your friends, everyone has to get their own.
While we sipped on our tropical drinks we took in this incredible view of the volcano from the Dancing Dragons Bar. It never gets old! 😍
We all know that the Florida sun can bring some heat so to cool down we headed over to Koka Poroka Ice Cream Kona to get a Waturi Fusion!🍦🌈 An ice cream mixture of banana, blue raspberry, orange and strawberry, so pretty and so delicious! 😋
Tips for Visiting Volcano Bay
Get there early! Volcano Bay is still fairly new so it’s very popular. By 12pm, the wait times increase A LOT. There was hardly anybody at the park before then.
Wear shoes! Volcano Bay does a good job of cooling down the walkways with water mist, but it can still be super hot. So we definitely recommend wearing some type of flip flops or water shoes to walk around the park! They have racks in front of each ride where you can store your shoes on a shelf while you ride. Genius!
Buy a Waterproof Phone Pouch! These phone pouches come in so handy for a day at the water park! They do sell them at Volcano Bay (at the stand shown above), but we recommend buying them online beforehand. Way cheaper! The ones we bought worked great, you can get them here.
Download the official Universal Orlando App! We used it to navigate the park, and easily find the rides we wanted to ride. It also has park notifications, so if it rains it will alert you that the park is temporarily closed, and update you when it reopens. Or if the park is at max capacity (which actually happens!).
Stay at Cabana Bay Beach Resort! It’s right behind Volcano Bay. Like we mentioned earlier in this post, staying at an on-site resort has a lot of perks! We highly recommend staying at Cabana Bay if you plan on visiting Volcano Bay, because of early admission before the public and the easy access walking path to the park.
Bring a towel! You’re going to want a towel and why rent one when you can bring one! But just incase you forget, they do have towels to rent.
Bring your own food! Volcano Bay allows you to bring in pre-packaged food! If you’re like us and generally eat pretty healthy then we recommend bringing your own food for the day, since they don’t have the best food options.
During this trip we did have to end our visit to Volcano Bay short because there was some rain and lightning, so the rides did shut down which is a huge bummer. But we will definitely want to come back and visit Volcano Bay and ride the rest of the rides soon!
We are incredibly blown away by this theme park and the attention to detail. It honestly felt like we escaped to a tropical island! Everything from the amazing volcano, to the delicious drinks, all of the exotic flowers, and even the interesting names of the rides, that we kind of had a difficult, yet fun time saying!😜
We think that Volcano Bay can be fun for the entire family, no matter your thrill level! They have easy raft slides to floor dropping plunge slides that shoot you down from the volcano. And with the Tapu Tapu technology, it’s so cool that instead of waiting in lines all day, we were able to spend most of the time exploring this huge theme park! Maybe next time we’ll be brave enough to do all the slides! We can’t wait to plan our next escape to Universal’s Volcano Bay! 🌋