Cool off during those hot Orlando days at Volcano Bay, Universal Orlando Resort‘s newest theme park. The water park is located next to Cabana Bay Resort and is known for the volcano structure that serves as the hub. It takes its inspiration from the South Pacific, from the Easter Island-style statues as you enter the park to the Polynesian dishes at the restaurants. Prepare to spend an entire day at this park during your Universal vacation.
There’s a ride for everyone, whether you’re traveling with your kids or an adult looking for a water thrill ride. Start with the popular options that usually have waits like the Honu of the Honu ika Moana, a multi-person “wall” slide, and the Krakatau aqua coaster, a four-person canoe ride with plunges and turns through the volcano. The Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides have trap doors that plunge guests through clear tubes through from the top of the volcano to the bottom and is another popular ride.
Ko’okiri Body Plunge is named for the volcano god and has a 70-degree fall with a drop door. The Ohyah & Ohno Drop Slides have two separate lines, one dropping higher than the other. But both have serpentine paths to the pool below. Keep in mind that both end in fairly deep water, so riders should be strong swimmers.
Similarly, the Raki and Tonga slides of Taniwha Tube has curving water slides but one sprays with more water in the two-person tube ride. The Puihi and Maku slides of the Maku Puihi Round Raft Rides is a multi-person raft ride that passes through a funnel before landing in a pool. Punga Racers is a child-friendly ride that goes face first and pits riders against one another.
Kopiko Wai Winding River is the laid-back “lazy river,” while TeAwa The Fearless River requires life jackets for the churning rapids. These are “ride now” options when you’re waiting in line for another.
The volcano is the heart of the park and the wave pool that surrounds turns on the waves every half hour or so. Waturi Beach is a great place to grab a chair for this reason. It has the best views of the volcano and is near the best rides. An upper pool area to the right of the base of the volcano is the best place to soak.
The Reef Watch is another one of the leisure pools, at less than 6 feet deep. It also has a splash pool for one of the slides and a private waterfall. Puka Uli Lagoon is another, located at the bottom of the Ohyah and Ohno slides, featuring tropical bongo drums and spraying jets of water.
Younger visitors can play at Runamukka Reef, which has geysers, water guns, slides and dump cups, and Tot Tiki Reef, a smaller version with a tiny volcano, spraying fountains, and singing whales.
Cabanas and premium seats are available for purchase to add to your relaxation. Cabanas have televisions that show your wait times as well as food and beverage service. Also take advantage of shopping at Waturi Marketplace and Krakatoa Katy’s.
Food and Drink
The food at Volcano Bay is inspired by the tropics and spread out throughout the circular park, with six food and drink outlets in total. I greatly enjoyed the poke from The Feasting Frog, pictured. The fast casual option also has tacos and nachos. Bambu serves fresh salads and entrees like burgers and sandwiches, including vegetarian options. Pick up a “longboard” pizza at Whakawaiwai Eats with toppings like pineapple and barbecue chicken. The menu also offers hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, and grab and go salads. Set at the base of the volcano, Kohola Reef Restaurant & Social Club has menu items from other dining outlets, along with coconut chicken and jerk mahi mahi.
When you’re ready for a grown-up beverage, visit one of Volcano Bay’s bars: Dancing Dragons and Kunuku Boat Bars. Designed like Chinese junk ships, both offer tropical cocktails and beers made specially for the park or from places like Hawaii.
Hotel guests have early access into the park, which is highly recommended. They also have a separate entrance. To avoid long wait times and crowds, go either during the off-season, like the fall or winter, or the early and late hours of park opening.
You can only wait in one line with your TapuTapu wristband at a time, so use it for the busiest rides, mentioned earlier. While you wait, you can go on the “Ride Now” rides, which you’ll see on the boards around the park, along with the lazy rivers. These are rides you can wait in line for without scanning your waterproof wristband. Be patient, as some rides during my visit were over 130 minutes.
Many rides have two slides that are similar experiences, so choose the one with the shorter line. Then you can go back if time allows, but only if you’ve done everything else already. Some rides also have height and weight restrictions, so be aware before you get to the front of the line.
If you’re traveling solo, you might want to rent a locker, which has multiple locations and starts at $10 for the day. It’s not ideal, but nice to be able to leave everything behind that you can’t take on rides like your phone and shoes. It can be opened with your wristband. Towels can also be rented.
Adult tickets are $70 USD, while childrens’ tickets are $65. Express passes can be added to skip the lines. Parking is an additional fee.
My park entry was provided through a partnership with Universal Orlando’s Blog Squad.