Volcano Bay is new water theme park created by Universal’s amazing team. The theme park is situated on 30 acres behind the Cabana Bay Hotel. It is a next generation water park themed to the fictional Waturi islanders. The water park is centered around the 200 foot tall Krakatau Volcano. The Waturi now inhabit this sacred island and want to share their joy and carefree lifestyle with you. Universal’s Volcano Bay has 18 awesome attractions with something for everyone.
Passholder Grand Opening Event
So passholders had a chance to register for limited spots to attend the Grand Opening of Volcano Bay. We checked into the parking garage at 6am. Volcano bay parking is to the right after you pay for parking (If your a premiere or preferred passholder it’s free). We were then loaded onto the buses and shuttled over in under 10 minutes. It was a short walk to the turnstiles where we showed our passes and got out TapuTapu watches.
Only the front of the park was open. The lockers were available and 3 stores were open. They also provided a light breakfast with bagels, pastries, muffins and coffee. At about 7:30 we were split into different groups. One group went to the Today Show set and we went to the WESH 2 set in front of the Volcano.
The opening ceremony then started which you can watch here!
Then some passholders got to run into the water and start splashing around when the official opening was announced. It was a fun experience and awesome to be some of the first people to enjoy Volcano Bay. They then let us go to experience the park before it was open to the public at 10am.
- Your PASSHOLDER DISCOUNT works on everything just like universal. So be sure to use it!
- Bring your own towel or rent one for $4.50.
- Freestyle Cups work the same. You can use your old one or buy a new Volcano Bay Freestyle Cup.
- There is an exclusive Freestyle flavor designed for Volcano Bay. The Kunuku Cooler is a mixed berry punch.
- WEAR SHOES! I walk barefoot through all water parks without many issues. But for some reason the combination of the sand and textured cement really hurt my feet after awhile. Most rides have cool shoe nets to hold your shoes.
- GET THERE EARLY! This is a “no brainer”! The earlier you are at the parks, the more rides you will enjoy. I am usually one of the very first people at the front of the line. Get all the rides in early and relax for the afternoon. Be sure to claim a chair first otherwise they will be taken.
- EARLY ACCESS! If you stay on-site at the hotel, you will get 1 hour early access to Volcano Bay. This will be crucial in getting all the rides without long waits this summer. If you stay at Cabana Bay it is only a short walk.
Review of Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Theme Park
So this is the Grand Opening of Universal’s Volcano Bay. Keep in mind things are NOT going to run smoothly on the first day. All new theme parks need time to work out the kinks as they get feedback and learn what is working and what is not. With that said we had a great time and it was a lot of fun. But of course we have some constructive criticism 🙂
First off the park is gorgeous! Once all the work is complete and the lush landscape and foliage fill in, it will look absolutely amazing. It truly is a paradise to behold. There are gorgeous details all over the park. All the employees were very nice and often greet you in the Waturi native language.
Look at this beautiful picture we captured with our S7. It almost looks like a rendering.
The park was not quite complete though! Crews have been scrambling into the night to be ready for the opening. It is quite amazing what they were able to accomplish in 2 years. BUT there is still some work to be done! Some of the rides/areas were NOT open. And paths to certain rides were not finished so they had to route you in different ways.
UPDATE: The park is fully open and almost everything is running much smoother. All the rides were up and running but the wait times are insane! But with a brand new Universal water park (in the summer), what did you expect 🙂
The TapuTapu is a watch like device you use to reserve wait times, to purchase items and to open your lockers. It will also activate certain interactive areas (like Harry Potters interactive wand at Universal). But that system was not working on opening day. It is a new technology and with new technology comes new problems. Remember the launch of Dinsey’s Magic Band?
There were many times we returned for our reservation only to wait 30-45 minutes. In one instance we waited for 40 minutes for our reservation and 90 minutes in line. Many people who bought the fast pass were frustrated because they were waiting just as long as everyone else. Some people found the TapuTapu a little confusing. You can reserve only one ride at a time. With exception to the Krakatau Aqua Coaster, you can have that and another ride reserved at the same time. In many instances the wait time would pause because a ride was down. We seen our wait times increase and then with 30 minutes left to go, it would switch and say “Ride Now”. Hopefully once the kinks are worked out the system will work much smoother.
Paying with the TapuTapu is very easy. Just set up your credit card through the universal app, choose a pin and then just tap to pay. The locker system was very nice! Just tap your watch on the Volcano Bay symbol near the monitor and your locker opens. You have to use your credit card to purchase the lockers though.
UPDATE: The TapuTapu is still making guests upset! You can only reserve one ride at a time. With ride waits over 4 hours, there is very little riding going on. The first day they allowed everyone to reserve the “Krakatau Aqua Coaster” and another ride. But now it’s just one ride at a time.
We were fortunate to be in the park before it opened to the public. So we were able to experience almost all of the rides. The rides were definitely a blast and we had a lot of fun! Unfortunately many rides were up and down all day.
The Krakatau Aqua Coaster
The water coaster was down a large part of the day. It also reached capacity and you couldn’t even make a reservation for it. We just happened to walk by when it reopened and got in in less than 5 minutes. It is NOT as thrilling a a normal roller coast, but man is it a blast! Going down the hills are fun but going up the hills are awesome. The coaster uses magnetic propulsion to shoot you up the hills. You actually go faster up the hills then down them. I found myself giggling like a little kid every time we zoomed up. This is a must ride attraction and is fun for the whole family.
Ko’okiri Body Plunge
This is fast ride with a 70 degree angle and a 125 foot drop. This one is for all the thrill ride lovers. It is a drop tower made of clear plexiglass that plunges through the volcano. Though part of the pexiglass is exposed, you are going too fast and there is too much water to see. It’s a long stairway climb to the top but well worth it!
Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides
These 2 body slides are also situated at the top of the volcano. But unlike the Ko’okiri it twists and intertwines around each other. This is also a fun thrill ride and a drop tower. The slides are different routes and separate experiences. Many people seem to be sacred of the drop element. But it is really nothing and once you experience it you won’t be afraid anymore.
The Punga Racers are your typical mat rides where 4 of you race through winding tubes. This ride is a little underwhelming but still fun. This ride is situated on the backside of the volcano.
Ohyah & Ohno Drop Slide
These are 2 body slides that drop you into a 10 foot deep pool. The Ohyah Slide drops out four feet above the pool. The Ohno Slide is slightly taller and drops six feet above the pool. We are lucky this was the first slide we went to! The lines for these slides seem very slow and the wait times were crazy all day. It was a good slide and the drop was fun.
TeAwa The Fearless River
This was the most disappointing ride! When I heard they were looking to build this similar to “The Current” at Atlantis Water Park in Nassau Bahamas, I was super excited. “The Current” is what an exciting river ride should be like. It is intense and fast with 10 feet walls that you fly all the way up! BUT the worst part is they force everyone to wear a life jackets. Life jackets are NOT necessary for this ride. Then to top it off you had to wait for the life jackets. Unless they get rid of the life jacket rule, I will skip this ride. If you ever go to Nassua be sure to check out the Atlantis Water Park and their river ride.
UPDATE: You no longer have to wear life jackets! They have changed the entrance to the River because people were slipping on the steps.
Honu ika Moana
These are both multi person slides that utilize the same raft system but they are very different. Moana twists and turns while water sprays from the center of the raft and is a lot of fun. The Honu is a little more thrilling and you can hear people scream almost every time. Honu sweeps you up to giant walls before it hurdles you through twists and turns. We rode this with a single rider who was almost 300 lbs and my girlfriend and I are about 350 lbs combined. Not sure what the ride weight capacity is but that is about 650 lbs. We when so I up those walls we were almost at the top. As we came down the second wall into the first twist, me an the raft were off the water slide. That was pretty scary and I think there was too much weight on it.
Volcano Bay Food
What about the food? To be clear we are foodies and love food. But we are also very critical of food and seek out the best food Orlando has to offer. Volcano Bay food is definitely a step above your standard theme park offerings. Everything seemed fresh and overall good. We only tried a few things but we will review more as we eat it 🙂
UPDATE: The Volcano Bay has drastically changed their menu and removed 28 items from the menu. They replaced these unique themed foods with hot dogs and nachos. This is very disappointing because all the food was very good and better than Universal’s other in park options.
The Feasting Frog
The feasting frog is a small food stand right next to the Kunuku Boat Bar. It is shaped like a frog and offers a variety of Mexican type fare with patio style seating.
I am a big taco fan! So I was excited about this particular menu item. You order at the window and wait for your name to be called. All the tacos were decent with my favorite being the Carne Asada Taco. But I felt all the tacos lacked favor. The biggest disappointment were the taco shells. Although they are pretty, they are also tough and gritty. I prefer more flavor and a softer shell. I will probably skip the tacos next time.
Kohola Reef Restaurant & Social Club
This restaurant is located at the beginning of the park to the right. They offer variety of island style goodies like Mango BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Quinoa Edamame Burgers and crunchy Coconut Crusted Fried Chicken.
Mango BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich
This was one of the dishes I really wanted to try because I love pulled pork sandwiches. Overall the sandwich was tasty and had good flavor. It is served on a Hawaiian style roll and topped with caramelized pineapple, fresh cabbage and mango slaw. My only complaint would be that it was a little sloppy and could have been cooked to a thicker consistency. You will need a fork and knife to eat it but it is little hard to cut. I would order the this sandwich again though.
Bambu Jungle Kitchen
This shaded retreat is created from beautiful bamboo stalks. They offer delicious island fare such as the Reka Burger, Pretzel Dogs and Tropical Fruit Salad.
How can we go anywhere without trying the burger! The Reka Burger is also served on the same Hawaiian bun. It is topped with Pepper Jack cheese, bacon, caramelized onions, pickles and mango BBQ sauce. The burger was very good and had great flavor. It is comparable to CityWalk burger offerings. I would order this again for sure!