Along with Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida, Universal Orlando is billing Volcano Bay as its third theme park. It is actually a water park. But it is among the industry's best water parks, and it boasts many unique and compelling features. If you're planning a visit to Florida, check out the reasons why you might want to include Volcano Bay on your itinerary.
You'll Love the Ambiance
Every water park allows you to cool down on sweltering days and have some fun while you get wet. And many of the slides and other attractions at Volcano Bay can be found at a whole bunch of other water parks. But one of the things that truly distinguishes Universal's park is its rich themeing and overall ambiance.
For example, the centerpiece Krakatau Volcano is a 200-foot-tall wonder. Waterfalls cascade down the mountain by day, and lighting, "volcanic eruptions," "flowing lava," and other special effects bring it to life each evening.
Casual visitors may not fully appreciate Universal's detailed backstory for the park. It has something to do with a fabricated tribe of South Pacific islanders, known as the Waturi, who call Volcano Bay home. All visitors, however, will appreciate the park's lovely design and landscaping.
You'll Be Extremely Thrilled
Inside the volcano are three of the world's most extreme water slides. They all incorporate launch capsules. Sliders enter the capsules, stand nearly straight, anxiously await a countdown, and plummet feet first after the trap doors in the floors swing open.
Many water parks have launch capsule rides, but at 125 feet tall, Volcano Bay's trio of slides were the world's tallest when the park opened in 2017. One of the slides, the Ko'okiri Body Plunge, also took the record as the tallest speed slide in the U.S. It sends passengers racing straight down the mountain. The other two "Serpentine" slides take a more winding route. All three slides are not for the faint-hearted.
How, you may wonder, do Volcano Bay's thrills compare to the thrills offered at the water parks at Disney World and SeaWorld? Check out our Florida water park smackdown.
It's a Water Park, But You'll Want to Ride the Coaster
Also racing in and around the mountain is the Krakatau Aqua Coaster. A lot of water parks have uphill water coasters, but most use powerful water jets to propel the rafts uphill. Universal's ride, however, incorporates magnetic propulsion to catapult its four-passenger rafts. It's a giddy sensation to race uphill and experience a little bit of coaster airtime on the ride.
You Can Skip the Lines
One of Volcano Bay's most intriguing features is its TapuTapu system. All visitors are issued a waterproof, electronic bracelet upon entering the park. By tapping the wearable device at kiosks, they can virtually hold their places in line for all slides and attractions that would otherwise require a queue.
While they are waiting, guests can float in a lazy river, enjoy the Waturi Beach wave pool, grab a bite, or relax in a lounge chair. When it's time to ride, the bracelet informs guests. They report to the attraction and wait in a short line.
In theory, it's a revolutionary idea. In practice, the system had some snafus when the park first opened. Universal has since made some tweaks, and it is reportedly working better. Among the changes, visitors can only make reservations for one attraction at a time.
For visitors who want to skip the lines and the wait, Universal offers Express Passes for an additional fee. Read about the passes and other ways to skip the lines at Universal Orlando.
You Won't Have to Shlep Tubes
One of the downsides of water parks is that riders often have to carry their own rafts and tubes up to the tops of slides. The rafts can be large and awkward to tote. All Volcano Bay slides that use rafts or tubes have conveyor belts, so there's no need for passengers to haul anything. To get themselves to the loading platforms, however, visitors still have to climb lots of stairs.
You'll Enjoy the Food
In addition to the usual fast food fare served at water parks, Volcano Bay has an especially large and diverse array of tasty items. Sample dishes include Schezuan-glazed pork belly burgers, a jerk mahi sandwich, Hawaiian-style flatbread, and tropical fruit salad. There are some tempting desserts also, such as pineapple upside down cake.
...and the Drinks
There are some noteworthy beverages, both with and without alcohol, available throughout the park as well. Two "boat bars" serve potent specialty cocktails, some of which feature tropical fruit. There are also milkshakes and frozen drinks offered.
You'll Appreciate the Little Things
Visitors are likely to enjoy some of Volcano Bay's less-heralded, but engaging features. For example, the TapuTapu bracelets can be used to trigger sprayers and other interactive elements and surprise unsuspecting guests. They can also store credit card info and be used to make purchases at the food stands and shops. At designated photo areas, the wearables can be used to take selfies. And TapuTapu works seamlessly to control the park's lockers and free visitors from having to remember locker numbers or tote credit cards to reserve a locker.