My family loves Universal Studios. I’ve taken my three boys there 4 out of the last 5 summers, plus went on my own just a few months ago. It’s a reasonable drive from our home in North Carolina and is the Orlando theme park my boys like the best.
So of course, when Universal Studios opened a water park, we wanted to try it. Universal Studios Volcano Bay opened just a few months ago. We went there last week, on Friday, August 11, 2017. I have to admit that I walked in a little apprehensive because there are currently a lot of negative reviews for it on TripAdvisor. But we had bought a vacation package as part of a Mom It Forward Family Forward event and our Volcano Bay tickets were included. I went in thinking that we’d go check it out and possibly duck out by lunch time if the reviews I’d read were correct.
Our group of 10 (we were traveling with friends) had such a good time that we stayed at Volcano Bay for 11 hours. And actually, at that point, no one had complained about wanting to leave and we probably could have closed out the park. We only left because some of the older kids in our group wanted to head over to Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida to ride some of the coasters in the dark(especially the Dragon Challenge, since it’s closing very soon). But all of us said we’d love to go back to Volcano Bay.
In this post, I’m going to share the things that are helpful to know before you go to Volcano Bay. Later this week, I’ll get into the rides and attractions.
What to Know Before You Go to Volcano Bay
Tickets and Getting Into Volcano Bay
As of this posting, Volcano Bay is the newest park at Universal Orlando. It’s also the newest water park in the Orlando area. We all know that people flock to the newest thing to check it out. So yes, Volcano Bay can get crowded. It can sell out, so you want to get there as early in the day as you can. The ticket you buy isn’t for a specific day, but just a general admission ticket, so even if you buy ahead of time, you aren’t guaranteed entry. If you stay at any of the on-property resorts at Universal Orlando, you get early entry to Volcano Bay. This is the best way to ensure you’ll get into the park and also a great way to get to experience the waterslides while they have the shortest or even no wait. If you’re staying at any of the on-site resorts, you can take the resort bus over to Volcano Bay.
Paying for Things in the Parks
You’ll be getting a TapuTapu wearable(bracelet) once you’re in the park and you can link your credit card to this so you can use your wearable to pay for things in the park. If this is something you’ll want to do, either on the Universal Orlando Website or the Official Universal Orlando Resort App, click “create account.” Provide your full name, date of birth, email address, and password. Once you have Volcano Bay ticket, visit the “wallet” section and link your ticket to your account. And then you can add your credit card info. You’ll have to create a pin here, which is what you’ll use when you scan your TapuTapu at the park (so, no worries if you happen to lose your TapuTapu- someone would have to know your pin in order to use your bracelet to pay for something). Though you can use cash/card if you so choose.
Volcano Bay Seating
If you want a cabana or other reserved seating, you’ll want to call ahead to reserve your seating. Each cabana offers padded lounge chairs, a small refrigerator stocked with bottled water, complimentary fruit and snack basket, towel and locker service, plus concierge service with an exclusive menu of food and drink delivered directly to the cabana. One-story and two-story retreats are located throughout the park. There are single units for up to six people and suite cabanas for up to 16 people.
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. All of these options can sell out, though if you get there early, you might have a shot at getting them the day of. If it’s really important to you to get this seating, definitely call ahead to reserve.
If you’re interested in any of these options, call (877) 489-8068 to reserve. Prices vary at different times of the year. My family decided that we don’t sit enough at a waterpark to justify paying for seating (even though those cabanas are SO NICE). Because we went early, we had no problem finding regular seating right in front of the volcano. You can also try heading towards the back of the park to look for seating as soon as you get there, since a lot of people tend to go for what they can see when they first walk in.
Volcano Bay Lockers
Since we didn’t have a lock box at our general (free) seating, we rented a locker. Up to 4 TapuTapu wearables can be linked to your locker so you don’t have to hunt for the one person in your group who has a key- 4 different people in your group can have that easy access to your locker. There are three different sized lockers available.
What Can I Bring on Rides?
On some of the rides and in the pools, you can have your phones and cameras. On others, you’ll have to leave these behind. Yes, even if you have your phone stored in a waterproof pouch that you wear around your neck. At these attractions, there is a storage area where you can place these. On these same attractions, you won’t be able to wear your water shoes either. Any loose items may be stored on those shelves or simply leave them back at your seat or in your locker. There are some attractions where you cannot wear a t-shirt, either. Keep this in mind when deciding what you’re carrying around with you at the park and what you store. We kept everything in our lockers, except for our towels and flip flops that we left at our seats.
Volcano Bay Towels
Towels are available for rent at Volcano Bay for $5 each. You can also bring in your own if you don’t want to rent them.
Eating at Volcano Bay
There are a variety of restaurants, snack stands, and bars throughout Volcano Bay where you can eat and drink. Prices are what you’d expect at a theme park. You aren’t finding fast food value menu prices- I’ve yet to see that in any theme park. But the prices were comparable to what any other theme park charges for food/drinks. There are some unique menu choices and treats like a POG drink (Pineapple, Orange, Guava) and Waturi Fusion ice cream. There are plenty of kid-friendly choices. Here’s a link to your food choices at Volcano Bay. Keep in mind that you are allowed to bring in your own food and drinks as well.
Rain at Volcano Bay
If you’re visiting Orlando in the summer, you should be aware that it rains quite a lot. But often, these showers pass quickly. Don’t think you have to leave Volcano Bay because clouds are forming or because it starts raining. Let other people leave and then you’ll end up with shorter wait times on rides. You’re already wet anyway, so what’s a little rain? You can use this time to eat or shop or even still ride rides, as long as there isn’t lightning in the area.
Volcano Bay Slides and Attractions Plus TapuTapu
I’ll be sharing details about all of these later this week, so be sure to come back!
All images are courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort, as I took a quick pic of my family at the beginning of the day and then stored my phone in our locker.
More Universal Orlando Info
What You Need to Know to Plan Your Trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Your tickets and all the basics to plan your trip
A Deeper Look into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter more of the details about the rides and shops
The Harry Potter Fan’s Guide to Universal Studios Orlando even more details about the Harry Potter attractions
Universal Studios Orlando with Kids includes a free printable of rides listed by height restriction
Universal Studios with a Kindergartener what there is to do when you’re traveling with a child under 44″
12 Universal Orlando Insider Facts some park trivia for you
More Universal Fun more of what you’ll find in the parks