Now might be a great time to visit one of Orlando’s water parks. Universal Orlando reopened Volcano Bay a few weeks ago and we waited for the initial blogger rush to subside. Ivonne on our team visited Volcano Bay for the first time a few days ago and we’ve got some observations to share with you.
Here are some tips for any Volcano Bay first timers, as well as what it is like in the park with COVID-19 restrictions.
Volcano Bay First Time Tips
- Get there as early as possible
- Guests of on-site Universal Orlando hotels and other “good neighbor” hotels get early entry
- If you’re driving you will park at regular Universal Orlando parking garage then take a designated bus to Volcano Bay
- Review the Volcano Bay map ahead of time
- Make a list of must-do attractions
- Scope out beach seating near the attractions you want do the most
- Make use of Tapu Tapu, the park’s virtual line system (it’s included in admission)
- There are multiple locker locations throughout the park
- Use Mobile Ordering available in the Universal Orlando app
The beach style seating throughout the park fills up quickly. Get a plan together before you go. Do you want to be near the wave pool, or the lazy river, the slides, the bar? There are multiple locations with lockers so you don’t have to worry about walking back towards the front of the park each time you need to retrieve something from your locker. You can pay for locker rental at the start of your day then change locker locations throughout the day using Tapu Tapu.
One of the perks of both the Premium Seating and cabanas at Volcano Bay is that a locker at the cabana or Premium Seating site is included. Reserving one of these add-ons for your day at the water park can be costly, but when you factor the price of a daily-rate locker ($10 – $15), and the time you would save, it may be worth it.
Kohola Reef is one of the most popular places to dine. You can find tropical fare like Coconut Crusted Fried Chicken and a Jerked Mahi Sandwich. Using the mobile order function in the Universal Orlando app will save you lots of time. At Kohola Reef your food is prepared once you are seated.
Another must-do for food and beverage is to grab an ice cream cone of Waturi Fusion, which is as photogenic as it is tasty. You can find this signature treat at Koka Poroka Ice Cream Kona. The Waturi Fusion, which is a combination of four different flavors: banana, blue raspberry, orange, and strawberry, is iconic. Just be warned the magical machine that makes this colorful combination can sometimes take the day off and be unavailable.
Tapu Tapu is included in park admission and absolutely should be utilized for popular attractions. Krakatau Aqua Coaster is perhaps the most popular attraction, so reserve your spot early via Tapu Tapu before it fills up for the day. During Ivonne’s visit last week the ride went down at one point and the Tapu Tapu let her know so she decided to get something to eat while that was happening. It told her when it was working again and she could ride any time. There can still be a 5 – 10 minute wait once your Tapu Tapu time to ride becomes available.
Volcano Bay COVID-19 Precautions
- Capacity is limited, and the park could reach capacity on busier days
- Masks are required upon entering and exiting the park, at restrooms, dining, and merchandise locations
- Masks are not required in the water and when going from one attraction to another
- Temperature screening is required
- All lounge and seating areas are physically distant
- Floats and tubes are sanitized
- For multi-person raft rides, only one travel party is allowed to ride in a single raft
- Mobile ordering enables guests to save time and avoid long lines
- Social distancing markers in queues
In general, the COVID-19 precautions here at Volcano Bay are almost exactly the same as the COVID-19 precautions at Blizzard Beach. One slight difference is you are not required to be in a raft / innertube at the regular lazy river, Kopiko Wai Winding River, whereas at Blizzard Beach’s lazy river you are required to be in a raft.
Even before limited capacity as a COVID-19 precaution, Volcano Bay reached capacity on many days. It is crucial that you get there early to avoid disappointment due to limited capacity. If you want to be able to wear a mask as much as you can we recommend bringing a waterproof pouch that you can wear around your neck so you can pop it on and off. Waterproof pouches are sold at many of the merchandise locations in the park in case you need one. The walkways can get crowded, but the lines Ivonne experienced were physically distant and felt okay. There are markings on the ground just like in the theme parks.
Whether you’re planning to spend lots of vacation time at Universal Orlando, or you’re considering a water park day in your itinerary, Volcano Bay is a great choice. The attractions are fun and Tapu Tapu makes it possible to avoid lines. The food and beverage offerings are some of the best of any Orlando attraction. And, the atmosphere feels like a tropical getaway, a true vacation experience.
Have you ever been to Volcano Bay? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!