If you’re looking to head to Universal Orlando’s Volcano Bay, this post will explain the wait times (it’s so important to understand how TapuTapu works) and what the slides and attractions are like. If you are looking for information on tickets, getting into the park, early admission, seating, lockers, towels, food at Volcano Bay, and more basics, be sure to check out What to Know Before You Go to Volcano Bay.
Volcano Bay TapuTapu: The Wait System at Volcano Bay
Probably the most important thing you need to understand before you go is how Volcano Bay’s wait system works. You will be given a Volcano Bay TapuTapu wearable(bracelet) when you enter the park. As you see in the other Volcano Bay tips post, you can use this to pay for things in the park. But what you’ll use this for the most is to secure your place in line for the waterslides.
If you go early enough, you may see “Ride Now” on all or most of the rides. For these, you’ll scan (tap) your TapuTapu and simply head right into the line for a waterslide. As more people show up, you’ll start see wait times for the waterslides. You can find these at the slide entrance and also see them on screens around the park.
If a ride you want to go on has a wait time, you’ll scan your TapuTapu at the ride kiosk and you’ll see a return time on your bracelet. This will count down for you (wait times change in increments of 5 minutes). When your wait time is up(your bracelet will vibrate lightly to let you know), you’ll return to that slide, tap your bracelet at the start of the line(there are attendants there who will ensure your TapuTapu does say ride now), and enter the line.
It’s a virtual wait. There might be a 50 minute wait for your waterslide. Instead of you standing there waiting that long, you can go do other things, and then return to get in line. Return times are usually about 10 minutes shorter than the wait time, so you do have some wait time in the actual line, but it’s nowhere near as long as it would be if this system weren’t in place. We did notice that sometimes the wait times would be shorter than they first appear on the Volcano Bay TapuTapu. It might read that there are 20 minutes left and then just a few minutes later, say “Ride Now.” What we assume from our experience there is that if another group’s ride time comes and not many people are showing up, your wait time is then shortened.
What to Do While You Wait at Volcano Bay
Go on any slide that says “Ride Now.” Early in the day, this will be quite a lot of rides. And I’ve heard that this happens later in the day, too. We left at 6pm so I can’t speak from experience there, but it would make sense that early and late would be the shortest wait times. And if it starts raining, you’re already wet, so stay in the parks and you may experience shorter/no wait times.
We found that for most of the day, the Taniwha Tubes had “ride now” posted. There are four different slides at this attraction and 2 people can ride in a tube together. Keep an eye out for others, though we didn’t often see other rides that said Ride Now once we got past the first hour or so of the park being open. (Keep in mind this is being written about a trip on 8/10/17, while this park is still new and attracting the crowds that want to try the newest thing).
You can go on the rivers at Volcano Bay while you wait. The Kopiko Wai Winding River is a gentle lazy river. TeAwa The Fearless River is a faster-moving river, with churning rapids and faster waves. Hang out at the reef or small pools throughout the park or Waturi Beach with its waves. For the younger set, there are the Runamukka Reef and Tot Tiki Reef play areas. Slides, bubbling geysers, water guns, and dump cups are in this area.
You can use your TapuTapu at the interactive spots throughout the park, which do things like spray water at people on the winding river.
You can go get something to eat or sit back and relax.
What you can’t do while you’re waiting is go on any ride that has a posted wait time. All of the wait times must be accessed with your band and you can only have one of these at a time.
We did sometimes have wait times of up to 90 minutes, but we found ways to entertain ourselves and none of the 6 kids (or 4 adults) we were with complained that they were bored at any point during the 11 hours we spent in the park.
What If I Want to Switch What Ride I’m Waiting For?
You can only have one virtual wait. If you see a slide you think you want to go on, go ahead and tap your band to get your wait time. If you are walking through Volcano Bay and see another one you’d rather go on(maybe it looks more appealing or maybe see one with a shorter wait time and you’d rather have that), you simply tap your band at that station. A screen will come up telling you that you already have a wait time and which ride it is for. It will give you the option to switch rides OR to keep your wait time. If you do want to switch, you’ll tap that and then it will ask you to tap your band again to confirm. Very easy to do.
Other Things to Note About Your TapuTapu
Should you lose it (one of our party of 10 did), you take your park ticket to guest services/concierge service. They’ll cancel out your other band and then issue you a new band. Also, they can tell where in the park a band is, so if you happen to lose track of a member of your family, it’s possible that guest services can help locate them for you.
Volcano Bay Water Slides
I already mentioned the child play areas, pools, winding river, and Taniwha Tubes, so now let’s get into more Volcano Bay water slides. There are height requirements for the slides. If your child is 48″ or taller, they will be able to ride all of the slides. A few of the slides have a weight restriction of 230 for some and 250 for another. You can see full descriptions of any ride restrictions and what each slide entails in the Volcano Bay Rider’s Guide. I’ll tell you about a few of our favorites. It’s worth noting here that for any of the slides that require tubes, the tubes are sent up to the top for you on a conveyor belt-like system, so there’s no waiting at the bottom for someone to finish and bring you theirs or having to drag the tubes up the stairs.
Krakatau™ Aqua Coaster
To me, this was the most unique of the water rides at Volcano Bay. I’ve never been on something like this. Like the name says, it’s an aqua coaster. Your ride begins and ends at the same spot, not shooting you out into a pool of water at the end like other rides. Up, down, around, it fits up to 4 riders. One of my children is not a fan of thrill rides, but this was his favorite ride of any we did at Universal (including the dry parks of Universal Florida and Islands of Adventure).
Ko’okiri Body Plunge
This is the ride that you might think of when you think of Volcano Bay. It’s one of three body slides in the Volcano. This one is the high speed, free fall slide where a trap door opens and sends you plunging down. The youngest kids in our group actually said this was their favorite ride. A 9 year old and a just-barely-tall-enough-to-ride 7 year old loved it. But it is a little un-nerving having to go into the tube and wait for the floor to drop out from underneath you. One of ours actually changed his mind once at the top and not all the adults with us went on it. You have to love thrill rides for this one- but if you do, this is the ride for you.
There are two other slides that also have a trap door that sends you down. These twist and turn around after that initial drop, instead of being a straight down ride. These are called the Kala and Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides and they have one line. You choose which to go on once you’re at the top.
Ohyah and Ohno Drop Slides
These were another favorite in our group. These are body slides and at the bottom, the slide ends above the water, dropping you through the air into the pool below. The Ohyah has a shorter drop than the Ohno. Everyone in our group preferred the Ohno. This was the slide that all of the kids came down and immediately asked to go on again.
Our Favorite Slides at Volcano Bay
Other Slides at Volcano Bay
Besides our favorites and the ones mentioned as options for during your wait, here are the other slides at Volcano Bay:
Punga Racers: this is a mat slide
ika Moana of Honu ika Moana: 5 person raft, twists and turns, much gentler than the next one I’ll mention
Honu of Honu ika Moana™: 5 person raft with steep climbs, twists, turns, spins, and drops
Maku of Maku Puihi Round Raft Rides: 6 person raft ride
Puihi of Maku Puihi Round Raft Rides: another 6 person raft ride
Overall Review of Volcano Bay
We were a little worried that were would be a lot of kinks during our visit to this new park or that we wouldn’t get to go on much. We initially planned to leave around lunchtime. But we stayed for a long time and had a wonderful day. The staff were all so helpful and friendly. We’d definitely go back to Volcano Bay. Remember to also check out my post about What to Know Before You Visit Volcano Bay for more details about this water theme park.
All photos (except the TapuTapu) are courtesy of Universal Orlando. I was too busy going on the slides and splashing in the water to worry about dragging my camera or phone around with me. My family went on this vacation as part of a package with Family Forward, hosted by Mom It Forward. Sponsors, including Universal Orlando, cut the cost of our trip.
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