Volcano Bay is the newest theme park at Universal Orlando Resort. With theming like I've never seen before, this is the hottest new spot to have fun and cool down. Since Volcano Bay is so new (and crowded) we are breaking down everything you need to know before you go so you can have the best day ever.
First, lets just talk about Universal Orlando's third and newest theme park. Volcano Bay is based on a fictional group of people, the Waturi. The Waturi people believe water is life and an entire paradise was built around the myths and legends of Krakatau, the center of the island. The volcano is the centerpiece of the theme park, erupting and setting the mood for the entire theme park experience. It truly is a remarkable experience!
There is something for everyone at Volcano Bay. The wave pool is zero entry so little ones can play at the edge, there is a toddler splash pad area and lazy river. There are also family raft rides that seat up to six, which is awesome for our family of 5 who is usually split up on rides. And if you're a daredevil? This is the place to be! Since this water theme park is crazy popular, here is what you need to know before you go.
Taputapu is the waterproof bracelet you get when you arrive at Volcano Bay. Before you arrive you can set up your account and link your credit card. This makes navigating the water park super easy because you don't need to carry cash or credit cards with you throughout the park. We actually left everything but our room key in our room at the hotel.
Taputapu also works as the check in for the virtual lines. Sometimes you will see signs that say "Ride Now" which means there is no wait and you can just go on in. But for really popular rides, especially later in the day, you can tap an attraction and it will tell you when to come back. While waiting to go on the ride you have tapped you can do the lazy river, the wave pool, ride any of the Ride Now rides, have lunch or have fun with your Taputapu throughout the park.
Just note that after your Taputapu alerts you that you can Ride Now, you might still have a short wait on the ride. I don't think we waited more than 15-20 minutes and usually it was just the amount of time it would take to climb the stairs and get on the ride. Also, you can only tap one ride at a time.
Like I mentioned earlier, Volcano Bay is super popular. It's new and it's awesome. You know what that means - crowds. It is not unusual for Volcano Bay to reach capacity and have to close its doors to the people still waiting to get in. That would be heartbreaking, right?
There are a few things you can do to make sure you are one of the firsts in the gates. If you stay at a Universal Orlando Resort Hotel, you get early entrance to Volcano Bay. While we were there the park opened an hour early to hotel guests but the buses run even earlier so you could arrive and get in line even earlier. As you can tell from some of the photos in this post, we arrived before the sun was all the way up! It was an early morning but we were some of the first in the doors and could hop on any ride without waiting.
Have a Plan
Either while you are in line to get in or before, make a plan of what you are going to do once you are in the doors. Figure out what seating will work best for your family. There is free seating on a first come first serve basis, premium seating and private cabanas. The free seating worked fine for us and because we were so early, we even found seats under an umbrella. Premium Seating includes two lounge chairs with shade, a safe and bottled water. The cabanas are true, luxury cabanas with a server. They are pricey but would be super fun to share with another family or if you have teens that could go off on their own, you could totally relax in the cabana all day. Ahhhhhh.
Check out the app and see the height requirements for the rides so you can plan what rides you want to go on and in what order. The bigger the ride, the longer the wait times will get throughout the day.
The Krakatau Water Coaster was our FAVORITE ride. It's a 4 person water roller coaster that shoots you up into the volcano with fast quick drops. We were screaming and laughing the entire way! This ride also gets a really long wait time later in the day. Think 170 minutes long.
Another ride that gets a really long wait is Ko' Okiri. It's that ledge you see at the top of the volcano. Basically the floor drops out and you fall at a 70 degree angle for almost 200 feet. Not for me, but Ellie and Ryan thought it was just amazing!
Is Volcano Bay for Little Kids?
Yes! And it's for parents of little kids. The virtual lines let all of the adults ride the rides. Runamukareef is little kid paradise. In fact you must be under 48" to play and go down the water slides in this section.
Another thing that makes Volcano Bay's rides family friendly is that there are no rafts or tubes to carry. They just meet you at the top. Also, there are tons of multi-rider rides that are perfect for families. If a little kid is nervous about a ride, it's great to be able to ride it together.
It seems like for most rides 36" or 42" are the magic numbers to be able to do the rides. There are separate height requirements to go on alone vs with an adult. Or the kids can just play with their Taputapu bracelets all day!
What costs extra?
So this was a little interesting because it may not be what you assume. LIfe jackets in all sizes are free. There are large stations of them all over the park and you just take what you need. Will has only ever worn a Puddle Jumper before but he had no problem using the life jackets at Volcano Bay.
However, towels and lockers are not free. Towel rental costs $5 per towel and locker rental varies based on the size of the locker. The towels are large and thick. We didn't want to pack towels from home so we did not have an issue with renting towels but it was a little unexpected. Locker rental is free at a lot of the rides at Universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure so visitors may not be expecting a fee at Volcano Bay. The lockers are large and you access them all day with your Taputapu bracelet so it is super convenient.
Volcano Bay was such a great experience for our family. Everyone had the best time and we can't wait to go back! You can visit UniversalOrlandoResort.com to plan your visit to Volcano Bay. If you have any questions just leave the in the comments and we'll answer them!
We attended Volcano Bay as part of the Family Forward conference and received a discounted rate. All opinions are honest and my own.