If you have driven on I-4 between downtown Orlando and the various theme parks in Central Orlando you have probably been intrigued by the giant volcano that is visible near the Universal theme parks. This curiosity is the centerpiece of Universal Orlando Resort's third park: Universal's Volcano Bay.
Volcano Bay joined Universal Orlando Resort in May 2017. It is a 27 acre water theme park, and probably my favorite part of our most recent vacation. There is something for everyone to enjoy here, whether your goal is to find adventure or total relaxation.
Starting Your Volcano Bay Experience
While you can purchase single-day tickets to Volcano Bay, the best bang for your buck is to bundle it with the other theme parks in a 3-Park Ticket. Guests staying at one of the on-site resorts have an advantage for Volcano Bay: Early Park Admission! You can enter the park 1 hour earlier than offsite guests, which means you have more choice for seating and you can hop on the more popular slides with a reduced wait!
How Do I Get to Volcano Bay?
Universal's Cabana Bay Resort or Universal's Aventura Resort
Walking path to Volcano Bay entrance
All other Universal Orlando Resort Hotels
Bus from your resort to Volcano Bay entrance
Park in garage at City Walk then board bus to Volcano Bay entrance.
What Should I Bring?
I try to pack light when we go to water parks. Here are the basics we like to bring (in addition to our tickets, phones, and IDs, of course).
- TOWELS: While towels are available at Volcano Bay, there is a $5 rental fee for each towel.
- SUNSCREEN: Pretty self-explanatory, I think!
- SUNGLASSES: I like to have my sunglasses when relaxing by the pool or beach. Bring a glasses strap and you can wear them in the water and on many slides too (not the body slides though.)
- GOGGLES: My kids hate having water in their eyes while swimming. They like to have their goggles in the wave pool and the lazy rivers. They were even able to wear them on slides with rafts.
- COCA-COLA REFILLABLE CUP: If you bought one of the refillable cups when you were in one of the other theme parks, be sure to bring it to Volcano Bay too! You can pay to reactivate refills here and access many free-style machines.
- FLIP-FLOPS or WATER SHOES: My husband and I like shoes that are easy to slip on and off at our chair, then we went barefoot around the park. My kids prefer water shoes in the wave pool and lazy rivers. Just as with their goggles, they were allowed to wear their water shoes on slides with rafts.
***NOTE: Please listen to Team Member instructions regarding goggles, water shoes, sunglasses, etc… Some rides do not allow these items, and rules can change at any time.
You might notice I did not mention bringing any form of payment. I advise you to add a credit card to your “wallet” in the Universal Orlando Resort app. This will allow you to simply use your TapuTapu bracelet to make any purchases necessary. Which brings me to my next subject!
What is a TapuTapu?
As soon as guests scan their ticket and enter the park they will be given a TapuTapu. These bracelets are very similar to MagicBands, for those of you that have visited the Mouse in recent years. The TapuTapu has several functions within Volcano Bay, and at the end of your visit you will turn it in as you exit the park.
- Tap to PAY: As I referenced before, if you have added a credit card to your profile on the Universal Orlando Resort app you can use your TapuTapu to pay for food, beverages, and merchandise. Simply Tap and enter your pin number.
- Tap to RIDE: Volcano Bay utilizes a Virtual Line system for most slides. Let’s say you want to do the awesome aquacoaster, Krakatau. Everyone in your party that wants to ride this slide would go to the attraction entrance and touch your TapuTapu to one of the kiosks to reserve your spot in line. Then, you can go enjoy other things while you wait to ride. For example, you might grab a bite to eat, relax in your lounge chair, or enjoy the wave pool. When your wait time has passed your TapuTapu will let you know. Head on over to the slide and get in line! It is worth noting that there will still be some wait time in line, just like using the Express Pass in one of the other theme parks.
- Tap to Play: Keep an eye out for places to tap around the park! You might be able to spray guests in the lazy river or activate lights or sound effects!
- Tap to Snap: Look for special photo ops and selfie spots throughout the park. Touch your TapuTapu to the Volcano Bay logo and strike a pose! You can purchase these photos individually or get them as a part of the My Universal Photos package
- Tap to Lock: If you have rented a locker for your items, you will use your TapuTapu bracelet to access your locker.
Where do I Keep My Personal Belongings?
Lockers: As mentioned above, you can rent lockers to keep your items in while at Volcano Bay. There are multiple locker stations throughout the park. I recommend that you first select your seating for the day and then find the locker station closest to your lounge chairs. There are multiple sizes of lockers available, ranging in price from $9-$16 for the day. You can assign up to 4 TapuTapus to each locker so that multiple people in your party can access it throughout your visit.
Lounge Chairs: Some people choose to leave their belongings at their seats. You do, of course, assume a certain level or risk by doing this (Universal will not be responsible for any stolen items). This does make sense to me for things like towels, flip flops, etc., but I would still want to keep some items more secure in a locker.
Where Do I Sit When I Need a Break?
There is an abundance of seating at Volcano Bay! Most people will simply use the free seating that is available. There are plenty of lounge chairs located on the beach surrounding the volcano. You’ll also find some quiet areas to save a seat. If you prefer covered seating, there are some areas with lounge chairs beneath a roofed structure. It did seem like these were more out of the way though, so you’ll want to consider convenience vs. shade when selecting a seat.
There are two paid options as well. You can choose to reserve padded loungers in the Premium Seating area (more info in the Universal's Volcano Bay Premium Seating article) or you can reserve a private Cabana. Both of these options have additional amenities included with the seating as well. It is best to make a reservation ahead of time, but sometimes you can check and see if either of these options are available when you arrive at the park. Any of the Kingdom Konsultant Agents will be happy to tell you more about these options and assist you with reservations as a part of our booking services with your vacation package.
Slides, Pools, and Rivers (oh my!)
Volcano Bay truly has something for everyone to enjoy. For detailed descriptions and height restrictions, check out the Universal Orlando Parks app, but here is a basic rundown for you.
- Raft Slides: There are a several raft rides available. Some have rafts for larger groups and some are for two people at a time. You will notice that most slides come in pairs. They look very similar, but we found that paired slides generally have one side that is a bit more thrilling. Be sure to ask a Team Member for clarification before entering the line or tapping in for a wait time.
- Aqua Coaster: Krakatau Aqua Coaster is probably the most popular slide in the park. Up to four people can ride together on this slide that will accelerate, drop, and curve.
- Wave Pool: The wave pool is located right in front of the volcano. Listen for the drums to signal coming waves as they cycle on and off.
- Rivers: One unique thing about this park is that there are two rivers! One is a traditional lazy river where guests float along on a tube. The second is a “fearless” river, which moves at a faster speed. Guests are required to wear life-jackets (provided at river entrance) in the fearless river.
- Kids’ Play Area: Children can enjoy special splash areas and smaller slides just their size in Runamukka Reef and Tot Tiki Reef. These areas are designed for guests under 54 inches.
Where Do I Eat?
While you will not find any sit-down table service restaurants at Volcano Bay, there are multiple quick service locations and snack kiosks. There are a variety of offerings that are unique to the park as well as your standard chicken fingers and pizza.
If you have reserved Premium Seating you can place a mobile order for food through the Universal Orlando Parks app. The offerings are a bit limited, but everyone in my family found a good option. Plus it was wonderful to not wait in line! You can also order through one of the servers available in the Premium Seating area.
Guests that have rented a cabana can place orders from any of the restaurants or bars through your cabana attendant. You will also have a snack basket in your cabana.
Our family loved our day at Volcano Bay. Although we chose to do one full day there in the middle of our vacation, I can easily see us hitting the water park multiple times on our next trip. If you’re at Cabana Bay or Aventura it would be super easy to walk over any time for a short visit!
If you’re interested in this fabulous water park be sure to ask your Kingdom Konsultant Agent for more information!