Summer break is quickly approaching and that means it’s time to start planning for a dip in a nearby water park!
Central Florida has its share of amazing water parks, but we’re going to dive deep into one of the area’s newest, Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Theme Park.
Opened in 2017, Volcano Bay replaced Wet ‘n Wild as Universal Orlando Resort’s water park, and it was the first constructed by Universal itself, according to the company website. The park is themed around a 200-foot-tall volcano called “Krakatau,” which rises high into the air in a stunning marvel of engineering and construction.
On its own, the volcano is imposing and impressive. But the slides? They are just nuts. This isn’t a run of the mill, hang out and chill water park: the slides are intense and there is an action river, offering extreme options for thrill seekers of all ages. For those who want to chill, there is a lazy river and a gentle wave pool and beach, offering laid back venues where you can relax (or recover for a bit after the heart-pounding slides!)
One of the more interesting aspects of this theme park is the “virtual line” feature called Tapu Tapu, which is a waterproof wristband used at various touch points around the park. You simply tap a touch point at a slide that you want to ride and you are magically – and virtually – placed in line. Then you keep having fun until your wait is up, when the band buzzes to let you know it’s time to head back to your ride on the slide. From this point, there is a 10-minute (or so) wait, but that’s a lot better than standing in the sun for 30 minutes (or more) making your way up the steps for a ride.
Also much appreciated about the slides at Volcano Bay is not having to carry floatation tubes to the top of the stairs. Instead, every slide has a conveyor belt that ferries the tubes to the top for you. Less work, more play.
Take note about these slides: these are not your average water park attractions. In my opinion, they are all very intense, and super thrilling, but in the best way possible. And don’t be fooled: even the family raft slides are quite exciting.
The star of the park is the Krakatau Aqua Coaster. It’s fast, fun and really long, unlike some other slide rides I’ve experienced. (If you’ve been on Crush ‘n’ Gusher at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, it’s like that but faster, longer and more fun!)
For the two river options, there’s the “traditional” lazy river and the quicker-paced action river.
The lazy river, Kopiko Wai Winding River, is a slow-moving, scenic tube ride pretty standard at water parks and large theme resort hotels, only this one floats you through the park’s signature volcano.
The action rides on the other hand, are at a whole other level.
The Puihli of Maku Puihi Round Raft Rides is a multi-person rafting ride that winds you through a dark, winding cavern, where you experience zero-gravity hang time and are dropped into the far side of an immense funnel, splashing your way to safety at the bottom.
At the Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slide, trap doors plunge two guests down clear, intertwining tubes before sending them splashing into turquoise waters below. It’s a crazy rush and one of the most fun attractions at Volcano Bay.
At the Ohno of Ohyah @ Ohno Drop Slides, thrill seekers cross a deep chasm, braving a rope bridge and sliding down a serpentine slide that ends six feet above the waiting pool.
The food offered in Volcano bay is definitely the best quick service food in all of Universal. My suggestions are the tacos from the Feasting Frog and the Jerk Shrimp Mac n Cheese from Whakawaiwai Eats. The park also has two main bars and plenty of snack options.
One of my very favorite treats at Volcano Bay is the Waturi Fusion ice cream found at Koka Poroka kona ice cream shop. It’s so good, we have even contemplated visiting the park just to be able to order this. It’s a combination of four different flavors: banana, blue raspberry, orange and strawberry and is so delicious and refreshing that we’ve made sure to stop and pick some up on our way out of the park every time we’ve visited.
Park hours change from time to time, and prices vary depending on group size, packages and amenities. For more information, including details on park events, times and costs, visit online at www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/theme-parks/volcano-bay.
Jess is an adventure-seeking, theme park loving, star gazing, geek from New Jersey who moved to Florida to never be bored. She is constantly outside, and you can usually find her at Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando when she’s not working.