It may be winter, but we’re already dreaming of summer sun and our favourite warm weather activities. We’re talking about none other than Universal’s Volcano Bay waterpark.
Recently opened in May 2017, Volcano Bay is a water-logged force to be reckoned with, jam-packed with 30 activities, 18 of which are water attractions. They’re epic, Polynesian-themed and designed with nothing but fun and relaxation in mind.
If you’re heading stateside anytime soon, here’s all you need to know about Universal’s own island oasis.
Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Theme Park – is undoubtedly one of the coolest waterparks on the planet. The park is themed after Polynesian islands and cultures, and you’ll notice this instantly – sandy beaches, palm trees, caves and the unmissable Krakatau Volcano are all reminiscent of deserted landscapes out in the Pacific.
Volcano Bay replaced Universal’s Wet ‘n Wild waterpark just this year, bringing along 18 water attractions including slides, a water roller coaster, wave pool, lazy river and so much more. The park itself is broken into four areas – the Wave Village for relaxation, the River Village, which is a top choice for families, the Rainforest Village, an adrenaline junkie’s haven, and Krakatau, named after the volcano.
Krakatau towers over the entire park at more than 60 metres tall, and even erupts water during the day and ‘lava’ at night. Karakatau undoubtedly gives Volcano Bay that extra island edge, though the warm Florida weather certainly helps.
The best rides
These Volcano Bay attractions should shoot to the top of your agenda.
Krakatau Aqua Coaster – The first of its kind, this four person water coaster plunges you at high speeds into the misty depths of Krakatau Volcano and through raining waterfalls.
Ko’okiri Body Plunge – A whopper of a slide, the Ko’okri Body Plunge is the tallest slide of its type, dropping brave guests through a capsule from a 70-degree drop. The fall is nearly 40 metres, and passes through Krakatau, too.
Kopiko Wai Winding River – Not just your average lazy river, Volcano Bay’s version takes you through Krakatau and caves whose special effects are activated when you glide through.
Honu – Sitting guests on a circular four person raft, Honu then whisks you down twisting slides before emptying you out on huge walls stamped with turtles.
One of the biggest bonuses Volcano Bay has to offer is its TapuTapu feature – it’s a revolutionary approach to waiting in line, by that, we mean you don’t have to.
While you can wait in line for some of the rides, others you just have to tap your TapuTapu wristband on the slide’s totem and you’ve joined the queue. Except this time, while you wait, you can go grab a bite to eat, relax on the lazy river or stretch out for a snooze. Then, when you’ve reached the front of the virtual queue, your wristband will alert you that it’s time to hit the slides.
The only catch is, you have to ride the slide you’ve tapped before tapping your place into another queue. But you don’t have to drop everything when your wristband has sounded the slide alarm. You can mosey over at your convenience.
What’s more is, your TapuTapu wristband is included in admission, so you don’t have to pay anything extra for its usage. Plus, you can also use it to pay for things throughout your day – the TapTu Pay feature lets you set up at account online beforehand that links to your credit card and will let you buy souvenirs, food and drinks without physical cash. You can set spending limits on your account too.
Your wristband is also what sets off water features like water fountains and lights across the park. Plus, you can use it to open lockers, so there aren’t any pesky keys to worry about.
By staying at one of the hotels in the Universal Studios family, you get a few extra perks for your visit to Volcano Bay. For starters, Universal Cabana Bay Beach Resort is directly connected to the waterpark via a walking path, so you don’t have to worry about transportation. Otherwise, there are complimentary shuttles to Volcano Bay leaving from Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. You can still drive to Volcano Bay, but will have to take a shuttle from the car park to the waterpark.
Staying on-site also gives you the bonus of early park admission. Universal hotel guests get to head into Volcano Bay one hour ahead of the crowds, which means you’ll have the chance to nab a better spot at the beach and tapping in for slides before everyone else.
If you’re heading to Volcano Bay anytime soon, you’ll want to clock these tips before you go.
- Volcano Bay is at its quietest early in the morning or closer to closing time, so you’d be wise to plan your trip on either end of the day if you want to avoid crowds and long lines.
- There are some attractions without virtual lines – these ones will have signs outside their entrances that say ‘Ride Now’, so keep an eye out for instant slide potential.
- Even if Florida’s climate gets less-than-balmy in the winter, the water in Volcano Bay is heated, so you’ll always be comfortable.
- If you want to book a cabana or premium beach chair while splashing around Volcano Bay, you’d be wise to do so way ahead of time, as they tend to sell out on the day-of.
- Volcano Bay offers a staggering number of dining options – all island-themed, we might add – but they’re incredibly popular. If you plan to eat here, try and grab your meals or snacks outside of peak hours, which are typically from noon to 2pm.
Is it summer yet? It’s safe to say we’re counting the days. Get a head start and plan your holiday to Universal Studios today.