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    Universal's Volcano Bay

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Today's Park Information

Volcano Bay Park Hours and Crowd Levels
(Next 3 Days)

Volcano Bay is rated 4.5 out of 5.0, based on 75 reader surveys assessing its attractions. (See our Ratings and Research page for details.) Volcano Bay is located at 6000 Universal Blvd in Orlando, FL. Its phone number is (407) 363-8000.

Touring Tip: Volcano Bay is currently very popular, yet has some significant operational hiccups. This combination makes it difficult for regular day guests to comfortably do everything in one day. We advise any visitors to temper expectations or possibly skip Volcano Bay until crowds decrease or the system is fully worked out. More details are included below.

The Park

Billed as a "water theme park," Volcano Bay is based on the lifestyle of the fabled Waturi islanders. "Water is Life. Life is Joy." is the mantra of Universal's first water park—a water park that contains some of the inventive technology expected from the Universal theme park division.

The park is beautifully landscaped and contains many small details that showcase the inventiveness of Universal. It is not substantially different from any other water park in style, however, no matter what the marketing suggests. Of course, Volcano Bay is still a very good water park with some interesting slides. It is also centered around an absolutely stunning volcano that serves as the housing for some of the wilder rides.

TapuTapu and Virtual Lines

One of the more fascinating aspects of Volcano Bay is the inclusion of TapuTapu, a FastPass+ style system that allows guests to skip the lines. Where it differs from FastPass is that there is no standby line at all; guests save their places in line with their TapuTapu wearables, allowing them to do other things as they await their turns.

We love the idea of the Virtual Line and being able to relax while waiting our turn. The problem so far has come in the execution, which has not been as smooth as Universal would have liked. First, an explanation of how TapuTapu works:

  1. Upon entering Volcano Bay, each person in your party is given a TapuTapu wearable--think slightly bulkier Apple Watch
  2. Near the entrance to any slide will be a set of screens that list the current "virtual" wait time for the slide. Alternatively, if there is no wait, they will say "Ride Now."
  3. Tapping your TapuTapu on the screen will add you to the virtual line for that slide. Your wearable will then display the name of the slide you are in line for and the amount of time you have left.
  4. When your TapuTapu screen says "Time to Ride" you can go get in the real line for the ride, which is theoretically short.

Early in the day the system works very well--guests can often ride a few slides immediately and reserve short waits in others. The problems start as the crowds grow. By lunchtime, the virtual waits for many slides are 60 minutes or more (we've seen 180 minutes often enough to mention it) and you cannot be in virtual line for more than one slide at one time. Therefore, if you add yourself to a virtual line that is an 80 minute wait, that is 80 minutes you have to spend in the few things that are not on the TapuTapu system. Those include two raft slides, the wave pool, the lazy river, the rapids river, and the kid areas. Those are all fun areas, but it's hard to spend multiple hours doing those while you wait.

It all might be worth it if you got to walk right onto the slide when your time in virtual line was over, but that is also rarely the case. When the system works well, you will wait less than 10 minutes in real line. More often than we would like, however, we have waited between 20 and 40 minutes in real line after waiting in a significant virtual line.

TapuTapu is great in theory, but in reality guests spend a lot of time in the wave pool and may only get to ride 4 or 5 slides on a busy day. We are extremely hopeful that the operational issues will get straightened out, but until they do we are not particularly enamored with the virtual lines.

Staying On Site

Volcano Bay is located right next to the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, making it easily walkable from both that and the Sapphire Falls Resort. Other resort guests and day guests take frequent shuttles to the water park.

Just like Universal's theme parks, Volcano Bay has Early Entry for Universal hotel guests (although there is no Express Pass available right now). We cannot recommend the Early Entry at Volcano Bay strongly enough. During the extra time, most, if not all of the slides are kept at "Ride Now" allowing guests to take advantage of the relatively short lines. We have ridden as many as 8 of the 13 slides just during Early Entry, which allows you to use the TapuTapu system to finish the rest off fairly easily. Honestly, using Early Entry is just about the only way to experience all the slides in one day.

Getting to the Park

For guests not staying at a Universal hotel, parking is only available in the garages near CityWalk. From there you go through security and queue up for a shuttle bus that runs to Volcano Bay. The entire process, while efficient for what it is, is not particularly pleasant and can be time consuming--arrive 45-60 minutes before you want to actually get to Volcano Bay.

Touring Tips

Once again, we only recommend visiting Volcano Bay with measured expectations. It is a lovely water park with some inventive slides, but it is difficult to do everything in one day. Here are some general tips:

  • Use Early Entry if possible. If you are not staying at a Universal hotel, arrive as early as allowed.
  • Ride Krakatau, Ko'okiri Body Plunge, and Ohyah and Ohno Drop Slides early if you can. These are the slides that tend to get the longest virtual wait later in the day.
  • Do your research before you go. The TapuTapu system is not very well explained in the park and the slide names are almost impossible to remember. Having an idea about how the system works and what slides are what will save some time later.
  • Try to build in some relaxation time or an early exit time. With the virtual line system, it increases the number of people on the walkways, in the wave pool, and in the two "rivers" which can increase the frustration level quickly. If you can go for a few hours in the morning and then "hop" to another park, that is the best option. If not, find yourself a shady chair and just relax for a while.

Universal's Volcano Bay Attractions

Quickly flip through the attractions in Universal's Volcano Bay, ranked by our book, The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando, and easily sortable by age group!

Universal's Volcano Bay Dining

Get a detailed overview of every full service and quick service restaurant, including ratings of quality, value, cost, as well as reader-survey responses. For full service restaurants, we list the setting and atmosphere, house specialties, our dish recommendations, and where to find the menus online.

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