Water is life. Life is Joy. The simple philosophy of the Waturi people could not be more appropriate to describe what awaits us all at Universal Orlando Resort’s newest theme park, their first water theme park, Universal’s Volcano Bay.
I was fortunate enough to experience living “the life” in this island oasis during its opening week. After my day in paradise, I’ve narrowed down my favorite things about Volcano Bay into this top 10 list.
10. The Story
With every attraction and experience Universal Orlando offers, it all starts with a story—and Volcano Bay is no exception. Knowing that my time at the water theme park would be driven and inspired by a story, I dove into the narrative of the Waturi people.
The tale of these proud people, who searched for a home and were led to paradise by a mythical golden fish, is exactly what I needed to prepare myself for the sights, sounds, and sensations of Volcano Bay. Attending the Grand Opening Ceremony made the story come to life right in front of my eyes, as I watched the talent and beauty of authentic performers straight from New Zealand.
9. Private Cabanas
The roaring waters of the Krakatau Volcano waterfall, the delicious tropical drinks, and the sounds of the islands are all best experienced in your own oasis of a Private Cabana. Featuring your own exclusive menu, complimentary fruit plate, and concierge service, these cabanas are worth every penny. I particularly love the “home base” feel that it provides for everyone in your party. No matter what attractions you experience, what restaurant or bar you choose to savor, the whole crew can meet up at their own private “home” for the day!
8. The Food
A lover of all things tasty, I was really looking forward to the different food offerings at Volcano Bay. Like all other dining choices at Universal Orlando Resort, the cuisine is themed to the story and this food did not disappoint.
After tasting some of the best the park had to offer, I found myself going back to the giant hot dog, encased in a delicious pretzel bun, topped with pineapple relish. I also developed a slight obsession with the chocolate pineapple upside down cake.
There are four main dining locations at Volcano Bay; Kohola Reef Restaurant & Social Club, Whakawaiwai Eats, Bambu, and The Feasting Frog. With so many delicious dishes and restaurant choices, my only regret was that I didn’t have enough time, or stomach real estate, to try them all!
Technology is one of my passions and Universal Orlando is always pushing the envelope with incorporating new technologies into the parks and attractions. When I first heard about TapuTapu, I was curious how an electronic wearable would work in a water theme park. So I set up my account prior to entering and was surprised how easy it was to link a credit card to my profile.
Upon entering and receiving my TapuTapu, I must admit that any apprehensions were vanquished when I donned the surprisingly comfortable, funky little wrist hugger! The cool graphics greeted me and added to how pumped I was to enter and start my day.
Shortly after, I was waist deep in one of the pools, being encouraged to use my TapuTapu on one of the easily identifiable TapTu Play symbols found all around the park. Upon contact, water began spraying and giant water windmills began turning around me!
Not only was the TapuTapu fun, but it was also super functional. I’m always making sure that my wallet is secure and never like letting it out of my sight. TapuTapu became my wallet with TapTu Pay and the fact that I didn’t have to carry cash or touch keypads with wet hands was priceless. While apprehensive at first to wear TapuTapu, after my day at Volcano Bay, I was sad to see it go.
6. No Standing In Long Lines
What’s the number one theme park hassle? Lines. Well, at Volcano Bay you can enjoy the fun and sun without having to queue for long periods of time. With so many things to see, so many drinks to drink, and so many rays to catch, I didn’t want to spend my time standing in a long line. Fortunately, like everyone who visits Volcano Bay, I got a return time on TapuTapu and was able to spend the rest of my time enjoying the best that the park has to offer.
Watching the countdown in five-minute intervals helped build the anticipation. And when it was my time, I rode the best water attractions that I’ve ever experienced, with little to no wait. I really appreciate how much Universal Orlando respects my time and that they created this great way to give it back to me so I could enjoy soaking up the sun and fun!
5. The Thrills
When I read about the thrills that Volcano Bay had to offer, I was counting down the days until it was my turn to experience every ounce of adrenaline rush. With more than 18 attractions, the park has something for everyone. Especially those like myself, who are in pursuit of jaw-dropping thrills.
The Maku Puihi round raft rides were a great experience, allowing multiple people to enjoy the ride together. And the Punga Racers were such a cool take on competitive fun. Although I enjoyed those attractions (and others) immensely, there was one that I absolutely had to conquer—The Ko’okiri Body Plunge!
High atop the Krakatau Volcano, this gift of an attraction to any “adrenaline junkie,” is home to a 125-foot drop at a 70-degree angle.
After making my way higher and higher into the heart of the volcano, I knew that there was only one way down for me. I stepped into the tube, followed instructions to cross my arms and legs, and then began to hear drums.
I looked out from atop of the Krakatau, taking in the beauty of the park, listening to tribal drums beating faster and faster when suddenly, the floor came out from underneath my feet and I was headed straight down! It may have only lasted around six seconds, but it was one of the biggest thrills I’ve ever experienced in my life.
4. The Drinks
While the kids are swimming, playing and enjoying the cool things that TapuTapu can do, what can Mom and Dad enjoy? The answer to that question can be found in a delicious “Blue Hawaiian” or “Strawberry Ginger Lift,” two of the many signature drinks that can only be found at Volcano Bay.
When any adult thinks “Tropical Oasis,” they think about sitting on a beautiful beach with a drink in hand, hopefully with fruit garnish and a tiny umbrella. I am happy to report that one can bring that very vision to life, complete with umbrella!
3. Kids Areas
Although my kids are older now and were not with me during my first trip to Volcano Bay, I remember how important it was that each theme park we ever visited had a spacious, fun area for them to play in when they were little.
2. The Slides
When one thinks “water theme park,” of course water slides come to mind. And Volcano Bay is the buffet of water slides. With so many different variations to enjoy, even the most traveled, seasoned water park enthusiast will experience plenty of new things here.
The Honu ika Moana raft rides, Taniwha Tubes, and Ohyah & Ohno Drop Slides are all strikingly different from one another and provide unique experiences for everyone. Whether you want to brave it alone, or bring the whole crew for a multi-person slide experience, Volcano Bay has you covered. I thoroughly enjoyed the group fun atmosphere on the Maku Puihi round raft rides, while my favorite individual slide was the incredible Ohno Drop Slide, sending me into a six-foot plunge into the pool below!
1. The Krakatau Volcano
Towering 200 feet tall, Krakatau is the breathtaking centerpiece of Volcano Bay. Walking through the entrance, I was eagerly anticipating my first glimpse of the impressive structure, but nothing could have prepared me for my being rendered speechless by its power and beauty upon first sight.
Not only a visual marvel, it’s also home to The Krakatau Aqua Coaster. This impressive attraction showcases the evolution of theme park rides and illustrates a perfect marriage of water-based experiences and the thrilling coasters that we’ve come to expect and love from Universal Orlando.
This four person aqua coaster brings you into the heart of the volcano and sends everyone rocketing up and plunging down through shimmering waterfalls. Beauty, power, and fun are the best words to describe this iconic epicenter of the best water theme park that I’ve experienced.
Have you visited Volcano Bay? Tell me your favorite thing about the new park.