When you think about family fun and what kids love, it often involves water. It’s no surprise since you can do so much in it like swim, splash and slide. My daughters Gabby and Michaela are no exception. We recently had the pleasure of visiting Universal Orlando’s newest water theme park, Universal’s Volcano Bay. Read on to discover the many reasons why we think this Waturian utopia is a top destination your family will love.
1. It’s Themed
Kids love it when they can step into another world. In the case of Volcano Bay, they walk into the Pacific isle of the fabled Waturi islanders. The feel of the park is that of a tropical resort. It is the kind of place where you can forget your worries and just surround yourself with fun.
When the creative minds at Universal Orlando Resort decided that they were going to design their third park, they knew that it needed to continue to meet their standards when it came to themed entertainment.
You’ll see palm trees, beautiful orchids, water fountains, and tiki huts. But the most remarkable sight you’ll see is the 200-foot volcano, Krakatau. It’s in the heart of the park and invites you to venture through its hidden caverns and cascading waterfalls.
The park tells a story and, according to legend, the volcano was created when the fiery god, Krakatau, tried to prevent his daughter, Tai Nui, from seeing a boy, Kala, whom she loved very much.
Krakatau had Kala banished to the sky, where he became the moon, in hopes that his daughter would stop all her foolishness. Instead, his daughter became miserable, her tears becoming the sea.
Krakatau realized he had to find a way to make her happy again.
So he reached deep into the Earth and pulled it to the sky, connecting the sea and the sky, reunited the young lovers. This is how the Sky, Sea and Earth united to form the paradise of Volcano Bay.
The Waturi are the fabled islanders who discovered Volcano Bay, a piece of Pacific isle paradise. They traveled to the ends of the Earth before stumbling upon this spectacular destination.
Now, their goal is to make everyone who visits Volcano Bay feel welcome and loved. After all, they feel that “water is life, and life is joy”.
Our girls loved the theme and remarked that they felt they were actually in the Polynesian islands.
TIP: The origin story is why the two, intertwining trap-door slides are named Kala and Tai Nui!
2. You Can Play While You Wait in Line for Rides
As a parent with kids who want to do EVERYTHING when they go to Universal, Volcano Bay was no exception. The park has innovative, waterproof TapuTapu wearables that help you do just that.
With TapuTapu, you can hold your place in a ride’s virtual line experience while you go have fun throughout the park. It also can unlock your locker, engage interactive play areas, and more.
For more information on TapuTapu, click here.
You can catch some rays on Waturi Beach or do what we did: ride the waves in the wave pool. While you float along, you can enjoy fantastic views of other guests going down the Ko’okiri Body Plunge. The kids will love to lounge in the Kopiko Wai Winding River or splash through TeAwa The Fearless River’s white waters that roar through the Rainforest Village. The littles will love the Puka Uli Lagoon that has spraying water elements and bongo drums. Check out all of Volcano Bay’s attractions here.
To note, you can only secure one ride at a time. If you find a ride with a shorter ride time, you switch rides, but you will lose your existing return time.
TIP: Head towards the back of the park, it tends to be a little less busy at first. Select a time for any ride that you really want to go on first. Keep watch for signs on rides that say RIDE NOW and enjoy that attraction without giving up your current return time for another.
3. No Need to Carry Your Wallet or Phone
Carrying around your wallet, when you only want to enjoy the park, is no fun. We made TapuTapu our wallet and set up our account before arriving at the park. You can set it up right through The Official Universal Orlando Resort App or do it online.
We linked all of our tickets for our whole family in the app and added our credit card. We set up a pin and then we were ready to go. We were ready to literally tap for anything we wanted, whether it’s food, drinks or souvenirs.
TIP: Go ahead and add the kids and give them charging permissions. Since you can set spending limits, you won’t have to worry about anyone getting too carried away!
Everyone wants selfies when they’re having a blast in a tropical place, right? But, enjoying a water park and carrying around a phone isn’t always optimal.
TapuTapu comes to the rescue when you find selfie stations around the park. These will snap a pic of the fam in locations that are picturesque. With this option, memories are made AND captured to share on your Instagram or social feeds later. Or you know, maybe an old-school photo album?
4. The Food is AMAZING
The food at Volcano Bay will not disappoint. What we loved as a family was that there are so many options and a variety to choose from. With a family that craves different things at different times, we all chose something we were satisfied with.
Since you’re in a Pacific-isle themed resort, you’ll find island-inspired food! Some of Volcano Bay’s tasty tropical dishes include: Karika Chicken Sandwich, Jerked Mahi Sandwich, and Island Chicken Salad.
We finished our meals with Chocolate Pineapple Upside Down Cake, which was so good! If that doesn’t float your boat, they have cookies, milkshakes and more that will satisfy any sweet tooth.
Gabby also loved the ICEE bar with various ICEE flavors. She picked them all and mixed it up and topped it off with a churro. She did this all while waiting for the next ride. You can check out all of the food and drink options here.
5. The Rides are Worth It
Sometimes you can leave a water park feeling a bit underwhelmed, but not at Volcano Bay. There is something for everyone, whether it’s the person that wants to float in the winding river or the ultimate adrenaline junkie. If it’s thrills you seek, you’re going to want to ride the Krakatau Aqua Coaster as it twists and turns through the volcano. Or you can walk through all the hidden caverns and the waterfalls of Krakatau if you’re looking for a more relaxing activity.
There are also three body slides that are in the volcano. You’ll be shocked that one second you’re in the tube… and the next second a trap door opens up below you and you drop down into the volcano.
The Ko’okiri Body Plunge is for the ultimate thrill-seeker with its 70-degree drop that will plummet 125-feet down the face of Krakatau. It’s also the world’s first slide to travel through a pool filled with guests. You’ll emerge at the bottom and let me tell you—you’ll be screaming from the adrenaline rush!
The Honu 5-person raft ride offers excitement, but not as much as the twists and turns of the Ika Moana. What I love about this ride is that if you have younger children who don’t meet the height requirement for Honu, they can ride the Ika Moana. That way, they don’t miss out on the slides either! It was fun and I think I screamed more than the kids! It was a fun ride for all four of us. And that’s just two of the multi-person raft rides you’ll find here.
The Ohyah and Ohno Drop Slides are two exhilarating, twisting, adrenaline-pumping slides. The look on your family’s faces will be priceless when they realize there’s a 4 to 6-foot drop at the end of the slide. By the time they realize it, they’re already free-falling and it’s simply EPIC.
6. Plenty of On-Site Accommodations
You don’t need to stay at one of the hotels to enjoy Volcano Bay, but it does make it easier. Not to mention, it comes with perks! When you stay on-site, you get Early Park Admission to Volcano Bay one hour before the park opens. Click here to see the hotel options.
When you stay at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort towers, you’re pretty much staying inside Volcano Bay. The towers are located on the edge of the park. All hotel guests can walk to the park entrance.
I had the chance to tour the 2-bedroom suites in the towers that face Volcano Bay. They are gorgeous and, let me tell you, the view of Volcano Bay is breathtaking. You have the volcano right outside of your window and floor to ceiling windows to boot! We have stayed at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort before, but will be coming back to stay in the towers soon.
7. Fun for Everyone!
This water theme park caters to guests of all ages. There is something to do for everyone, no matter what level of thrills you seek. You can relax on the beach and get a tan while reading a book, lounge under a tiki hut whilst sipping on a cool drink or take on the Ko’okiri Body Plunge.
If you’re traveling with younger kids and tots, they have the Tot Tiki Reef that is a whimsical toddler play area with spraying tiki fountains, slides and a kid-size volcano. They can also explore the Runamukka Reef, which is a three-story water playground inspired by the coral reef. It’s overflowing with twisting slides, sprinklers and more. It’s like their own little water park!
Universal Orlando has created high standards for their parks and their new Volcano Bay exceeds them. Everyone who visits the park will find themselves falling in love with the water, the rides, and the Waturi that live there. Paradise doesn’t get any better than that!
For a family who loves adventure, we were incredibly thrilled and had an unforgettable experience. We can’t wait to go back!
Now, the next question to answer is: when will YOU visit?
Comment below and let us know when you plan to visit and what you’re looking forward to trying the most.