One of the biggest challenges for parents with toddlers is keeping them busy. Especially during the summer. So, I’ll let you in on a little secret: there’s a huge splash pad your toddler will love and it’s at Universal’s Volcano Bay. And that’s only ONE of the things kids enjoy at this amazing water theme park.
Recently, I spent a whole day there with my family. My husband and I were able to ride everything we wanted and, at the same time, entertain our toddler (and take some great pics as well). It was the perfect combination of thrills and relaxation — although taking care of a toddler is mostly thrilling. And now I’m ready to give you some tips on how to make the most out of your day with your little one at Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando Resort.
WHAT TO PACK
Whenever I go out with my toddler, I know I have to make a list of everything I need to bring or else I’ll end up forgetting something. So, here’s the ultimate check-list with all the essentials you’ll need for a stress-free day at Volcano Bay:
- Waterproof sunscreen
- Baby Hat
- Swim Diapers
- Two changes of clothes for your child(ren)
- Swimsuit — I prefer long-sleeve shirts for longer hours of sun protection
- Stroller — There are no strollers for rent at this theme park and it might come in handy for naptime
- Waterproof phone pouch on a lanyard — This one is very important, because you’ll want to always have your phone with you for photos and to stay in touch with your accompanying adult if you end up using child swap
- Beach shoes with closed toes — They’re great for walking around the park, but they’ll have to come off for the rides
- Snack-gear — Don’t forget your toddler’s favorite sippy cup or water bottle and snacks
- A change of clothes for yourself
WHERE TO STAY
We love booking a room at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort every time we go to Volcano Bay — it’s only steps away from the park! I mean, being able to wake up, get dressed and just walk there is so convenient, especially if you have kids. PLUS, you get Early Park Admission, which means you can enter the park up to one hour before it opens to regular guests and use your TapuTapu to tap into your favorite slides before everyone else does. This is how it works: head straight to the slide you want to ride, tap your wearable at the entrance of the attraction and it will tell you how much time until your turn is up. As for me, I go straight to my favorite: Krakatau Aqua Coaster.
PRO TIP: You can check wait times, restaurant menus, and a map of Volcano Bay using the Official Universal Orlando Resort App.
WHAT TO DO
Hang Out in the Kids Play Areas
There are two areas that are specifically designed for younger kids to enjoy at Volcano Bay and they’re right next to each other: Tot Tiki Reef and Runamukka Reef. There’s a splash pad, waterfalls and slides for all sizes and thrill levels. My little one was brave enough to try all three different slides and she’s not even three years old. One thing I can guarantee: you’ll most likely spend most of your day here!
PRO TIP: You can switch places with the adults in your party and enjoy the more thrilling rides. If you are both waiting for the same ride, one of you can go first, and then switch. Just make sure you let a Team Member at the attraction know you are doing child swap.
Enjoy Different Pools Around the Park
There are a lot of pools throughout Volcano Bay, and the biggest one is Waturi Beach, with amazing waves that change throughout the day. This is a place where kids of all ages — and adults — have loads of fun. But this is just the beginning, as there are multiple pools and experiences, including:
At every pool around the park you can find life vests for your little ones — and remember they must always be accompanied by an adult.
Have Fun at the TapTu Play Spots
There are fun things to do all around the park using your TapuTapu! Just tap into any of the play spots and splash everyone around. My kids love to stop at the bridge that goes over the Kopiko Wai Winding River and splash people who are relaxing in their tubes.
Try Premium Seating… Or Get a Cabana
Premium Seating includes a pair of padded loungers with an adjustable shade canopy and a built-in storage lockbox. Plus, you can enjoy the services of an area attendant who’ll see to your food and drink orders. Having shade, storage and an attendant are definitely helpful when going with your toddler, especially because they won’t be happy about leaving the pool to go get food with you. So, if you want a bang for your buck, this is the way to go!
Cabanas are SO helpful when coming to Volcano Bay. It’s a place to come back and forth from the rides and reconnect with your family. Plus, you can order food from here and use TapuTapu to get in line for your favorite rides, which for me, is the biggest PLUS of booking a Cabana. On my family’s last trip to Volcano Bay, we decided to go with this option just because it felt like having our own private room right there. Your food gets served directly to you and your kids can take comfortable naps there. Plus each cabana includes complimentary towels, water, cookies and fruits. Believe me when I say it is SO worth it.
PRO TIP: There are two options: Single Cabana units, which hold up to 6 people, and Family Suite Cabanas, for larger groups, which hold 16 people. Make sure to book your Premium Seating or Cabana before you arrive at Volcano Bay. There is limited space available for both, so make a reservation ahead of time by calling 1-877-801-9720.
Eat Some Delicious Food
Volcano Bay is one of my favorite places to eat at Universal Orlando Resort — the food is amazing! For toddlers, chicken tenders and pizza are available, as well as healthier options like fruit salad cups and grilled chicken sandwiches. As for my husband and I, we enjoy the Mahi Sandwich at Bambu or the Jerk Shrimp Mac & Cheese at Whakawaiwai Eats. And after a hot and fun day, nothing will cool the family down as much as a Waturi Fusion Ice Cream Cone.
PRO TIP: We were able to make all in-park purchases by simply tapping our TapuTapu, which is very convenient — especially if you’re there with a toddler and already have your hands full! You can either download the Official Universal Orlando Resort app on your phone or create an account at Universal’s website by clicking here. No risk of your wallet falling into the pool!
Take a Break (and a Nap)
Spending the day at Volcano Bay doesn’t mean your toddler has to skip their nap. After all, they need to recharge at some point. Whether you get a Cabana or Premium Seating, a spot in the shade by the quieter pools or choose to go back to your room at Cabana Bay, these minutes of relaxation will pay off. Enjoy that time by taking in the view, going on rides while another adult watches the kids, or catching up on your favorite Discover Universal Podcast (the Guide to Volcano Bay episode is soooo good!).
These are my tips for enjoying Volcano Bay with a toddler. Do you have any other recommendations? Share them in the comments below.