Volcano Bay Water Theme Park Officially Opens At Universal Orlando Resort
After two years of anticipation, construction updates, and announcement upon announcement from Universal Orlando, the high tech water theme park Volcano Bay, finally opened!
May 25th, 2017 the park opened its gates to season pass holders. It was actually a cloudy morning and heavy rain was projected, but the only rain that appeared throughout opening day was a tiny drizzle that lasted for about a minute. The sun came out around 10:00 AM and stayed out the remainder of the day.
We kicked off our morning along with thousands of others at the Universal’s parking garage at 5:50 AM in the morning for the special pass holder event. Pass holders were checked in, then given a bus ride to Volcano Bay. Once guests walked through the tunnels (it was a long walk from the bus to the entrance) they were then taken up an escalator to the park entrance. Passes were scanned and guests were given Tapu Tapu wristbands immediately.
The park offered a wonderful free breakfast for pass holder day! Food and drink selections were coffee, orange juice, bottled water, bagels, muffins, and croissants. Pass holders were allowed to purchase lockers, relax, and eat, until 8:00am. At 8:00am Universal team members started moving everyone to the beach for an opening ceremony.
The opening ceremony was approximately ten minutes long and included entertainment staff on canoes and body painted performers dancing around the wave pool. The most surprising part was an entire group of teenagers in their bathing suits jumping into the pool and splashing each other mid ceremony!
The attractions opened at 9:00am. For many including ourselves, first stop was the parks signature ride, The Krakatau Aqua Coaster. At the time of our arrival, Tapu Tapu had not been activated yet, and everyone was being told to wait in line instead of being given a return time (this changed later). After waiting a few minutes, we were told the water coaster was experiencing technical technical difficulties, so we decided to return later.
Next was Taniwha Tubes, which wasn’t taking return times yet either. We rode two of the four slides and really enjoyed them both! They are your average tube slides; nothing totally unique but very fun to say the least!
After we rode those two slides, we took a stroll around the park and explored the Swift River (one of the two lazy rivers). The other river, “Lazy River” was not operational that day.
During the day, we lost our Tapu Tapu wristband. This was actually a good thing to see how on top of their game guest relations were. Guest services was very helpful! All we needed to show them was our annual pass barcode and a photo ID. All Tapu Tapu wristbands are linked to guests’ tickets or passes, so those must be presented if a Tapu Tapu wristband is lost. The lost wristband is then deactivated once a new one is distributed. Also, remember that if you choose to leave Volcano Bay and return later, your reservations will be forfeited.
We finally got to experience Krakatau Aqua Coaster at 2:00 PM and loved it, especially the airtime hills! Our original reservation time was for 1:30, but due to technical difficulties the time was pushed back a bit. We loved that even if you don’t make it to your designated ride, you can show up anytime after that designated time and still have the chance to ride. By this time, all of the ride reservation times had been distributed. Park management was standing outside the reservation station and advising guests they would not be allowed to make a new reservation.
The highest reported wait time for Krakatau Aqua Coaster on pass holder day was 370 minutes at 1:50 PM. Volcano Bay closed at 8:00. Unfortunately, all ride reservations were exhausted by 2:00pm.
It’s worth noting that you can only have one attraction reservation at a time with the exception being Krakatau. You cannot make another reservation until your current reservation is completed. If you choose to cancel your current slide reservation, you are allowed to go to the slide you wish to ride, and then you’ll be given the opportunity to reserve a new reservation at that slide.
Another set of fun slides are the Ohyah and Ohno Drop Slides. These slides are not very common among waterparks in the states. Riders will fall off the end of the slides plummeting four to six feet into the pool (which is ten feet deep). The reservation wait time exceeded four hours very quickly on these slides, so get there early to experience these slides.
There’s a few fun body slides in the park as well called Ko’okiri Body Plunge and Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine body slides. The Ko’okiri Body Plunge is 125 feet tall dropping straight through the volcano! The Serpentine Body slides are a bit shorter intertwining slides sending riders into the waters below. The Serpentine slides are difficult to photograph, but here is one of the Ko’okiri Body Plunge. At 125 feet high, it’s the tallest drop box slide in the world. The slide is clear, so riders get an extra thrill by not being able to see where it ends!
Take a look at some of the merchandise in the parks main gift shop. There’s two shops at the entrance: one of men’s items and one of women’s. This is merchandise that can’t be purchased at City Walk or anywhere else. It can only be found at Volcano Bay.
“Universal’s Volcano Bay sets a new standard on every level – from the attractions to how our guests experience them,” said Tom Williams, Chairman & CEO – Universal Parks & Resorts. “Our new water theme park is the perfect complement to the rest of our incredible destination. It provides our guests with spectacular entertainment experiences and innovative technology that helps them enjoy more of what matters most – connecting with each other and having an amazing time together.”
We absolutely enjoyed the first day of Volcano Bay. From the opening ceremony, to the slides and scenery, everything was beautiful and highly detailed. Lines were a bit longer than expected and there’s some kinks to work out with slide reservations and return ride queuing, but overall it was a great experience.
The park did a live stream during opening day showing off various attractions, food, drinks, and even offered a live Q&A with fans. Check out the replay below.
As of May 28, Universal is no longer selling express passes online or at the park as a means to decrease wait times. Volcano Bay filled to capacity (only hotel guests were allowed in) on May 27 and 28, but that is totally expected being a water park over a holiday weekend. You can always call the capacity hotline at 407-817-8317 to check the status.
For more information on Volcano Bay, including tickets and passes, visit the water parks official website by clicking here.
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