When you grow up in and around water, you get used to all of the fun things you can do in it. Splashing, diving, cannonballs, water balloons, water polo and so much more. Our frog family is at home in the water, so we think we're especially well equipped to provide the lowdown on Universal's Volcano Bay. We were lucky enough to visit Orlando's newest water park as part of its official opening last year and have spent plenty of time getting to know this waturi paradise.
This family guide has everything you need to know about the great slides, lazy rivers, virtual queue, dining options and even a few FAQs — it's all here. So hop to it!
Universal's Volcano Bay Overview & Theming
Kia'Ora! Or welcome. We couldn't help but be drawn into the story behind this water theme park with a huge volcano at its center. It begins with the native islanders who discovered Volcano Bay, the Waturi. As the legend goes, the Waturi traveled the ocean, searching for the Kunuku. This mythical fish guided the Waturi to Volcano Bay. Upon finding this island paradise, the Waturi made it their home — adding in all kinds of slides and experiences that used and celebrated water.
If the backstory is any indication, this isn't your typical water park. Universal is calling Volcano Bay it's "third gate," a water theme park. The powers that be have poured in the same level of detail, storytelling and immersion for Volcano Bay as it has done with Universal's Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. They want you to feel as though you've just discovered this island paradise and won't ever want to leave. There are thoughtful details that transcend the typical water park experience.
Families will especially appreciate the conveniences of family restrooms scattered around the park that include private, roll-in showers. There is also ample seating and umbrellas in the sand at most rides' end, multiple bathrooms, including family and handicap bathrooms with showers, and multiple life jacket locations. These seemingly little details make for a much more relaxing theme and water park experience. There is also TapuTapu. This free wearable device allows guests to virtually queue plus more.
Universal's Volcano Bay Parking & Transportation
Guests not staying on-site at an official hotel will park in the regular Universal Orlando Resort parking structure located at Universal CityWalk. While parking at Universal CityWalk is not free, there are free shuttles from the Universal CityWalk parking lot to Volcano Bay. The Universal CityWalk address is 6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando FL 32819 for your mapping pleasure. On-site hotel guests will have free bus transportation to Volcano Bay. They also have their own dedicated entrance to Volcano Bay at Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort and can walk from Universal's Aventura Hotel. To access the dedicated entrance from Cabana Bay, you will need to show your room key. All guests will go through security.
Universal's Volcano Bay On-Site Hotel Benefits
Aside from the amazing perk of being just a hop, skip and a jump away from the excitement, it makes a lot of sense to stay at a Universal Orlando Resort hotel. All on-site hotel guests will receive Early Park Admission to Volcano Bay, which is one hour early admission before the park opens for the day. While guests staying at select Universal Orlando Resort hotels receive free Universal Express Unlimited Passes at Universal's Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida, this benefit will not be extended to Universal's Volcano Bay.
The hotels closest to Universal's Volcano Bay are Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal's Aventura Hotel and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, although all of Universal's hotels are convenient and have free shuttles. Universal recently opened two new towers at Cabana Bay that are the closer to the water park. The Beachside Tower is the closest, and some of the rooms and family suites offer terrific views of the park. Speaking of family suites, these two new towers have a limited number of two-bedroom, two-bathroom suites. (Save by booking your Universal Orlando hotel room with us!)
Universal's Volcano Bay Rides & Entertainment
The centerpiece of Volcano Bay, Krakatau (kra-kuh-TAU), stands 200 feet above the park. It's the largest peak in Florida (no joke!), and when you climb all the way to the top you believe it! Krakatau Volcano really is the most amazing element of the park. From the front, it is absolutely spectacular, with streaming waterfalls and a glimpse of the clear tube of its most death-defying slide. At night, it will offer fiery lava effects.
The back side is open, with a series of stairs to its highest rides and a mass of tubes. The park's icon serves as the base for four different slides.
- Krakatau Aqua Coaster: This first-of-its-kind-in-Florida family slide is the park's signature ride and a must-do! Krakatau Aqua Coaster will send your four-person canoe UPHILL and racing through dark twists and turns within the volcano. For a grand finale, you'll be sent plunging through a waterfall! This aqua coaster will use linear induction motor technology — magnets will "pull" your canoe up the side.
- Ko'kiri Body Plunge: For those of you brave enough to take the plunge, you'll take a 70-degree fall though a drop door and down 125 feet of slide. Your reward will be sliding through a pool filled with guests!
- Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides: Join Kala and Tai Nui where sea and sky meet and take a leap of faith from high atop the volcano. Twin drop doors simultaneously plunge two guests down clear, intertwining tubes before sending them joyfully splashing into the turquoise waters below.
- Punga Racers: A favorite among Waturi children of all ages, Punga Racers send single riders on their manta ray mats sliding down four lanes through underwater sea caves. And to this day, the first racer to cross the finish line receives a watery salute from Punga himself.
Wave Village is located at the base of Krakatau Volcano.
- Waturi Beach: This is a sparkling, multi-directional wave pool where guests can swim and relax on the sand. There is abundant seating on the beach, and the option to upgrade to premium seating (two padded loungers with a canopy, lockbox, and food and drink attendant) or indulge in private, one- or two-story cabanas.
- The Reef: This adjacent leisure pool provides guests with calmer waters and exciting views of riders speeding through the clear tube of Ko’kiri Body Plunge.
Nestled along the shores of a river, Rainforest Village offers guests spots for relaxation and exhilaration.
- Maku Puihi: North America’s first "saucer ride" sends multi-passenger rafts speeding around three saucer-shaped curves.
- Ohyah and Ohno Drop Slides: These two twisting slides launch guests from the tubes four- and six-feet above the water for an adrenaline-pumping plunge into this 10-foot deep pool. We really only recommend it for strong swimmers.
- TeAwa The Fearless River: This swift-moving river has multiple places to get on and off. For parents or younger tadpoles who don't want to participate, there is a fabulous beach with covered seating between Maku Puihi and the Taniwha Tubes.
- Taniwha Tubes: These are four separate Easter Island-inspired slides with rafts for single or double riders.
- Puka Uli Lagoon: This tranquil zero-entry pool with sandy beach is the perfect spot for the younger tadpoles to just chill out while the more fearless ones tackle Ohyah and Ohno right next to it.
The colorful River Village offers fun for all ages, including the very youngest tadpoles.
- Kopiko Wai Winding River: The picturesque lazy river passes through the volcano’s hidden caves, featuring spontaneous water effects and special nighttime lighting.
- Tot Tiki Reef: This whimsical toddler play area has spraying Maori fountains, slides and a kid-size volcano.
- Runamukka Reef: Next to Tot Tiki Reef, this sprawling water play area is inspired by the coral reef. It is overflowing with twisting slides, sprinklers and more. For parents with younger tadpoles, this is probably the spot to rent a cabana (although there aren't many). Lily loves this area. We dare you to try to get your little one to leave!
- Honu Ika Moana: It's one name, but two distinct multi-passenger raft slides. The daring among you will want to try Honu, with its two massive walls that make for some stomach-dropping moments. Ride the waves of Ika Moana just like the ancient Waturi on this longer, twisting journey.
Universal Volcano Bay TapuTapu Wearable
Two common hassles found within water parks are carrying tubes and waiting in long lines —usually holding said tubes. Volcano Bay is trying to tackle those inconveniences by eliminating them. Its solution is TapuTapu — an interactive bracelet that you'll be given when you enter the park. TapuTapu is free and required to ride the slides. You'll give it back when you leave at the end of the day.
How does TapuTapu work on rides?
When you arrive at a ride, you'll see the current wait time. If you want to "get in line," just touch your TapuTapu on the totem pole. Then head to the wave pool or lazy river, or grab a cocktail and a bite to eat. Your TapuTapu will alert you when it's time to ride. You can only reserve one ride at a time. You might also be able to reserve Krakatau Aqua Coaster simultaneously with other rides. This was being offered when we visited, but we've heard that it isn't anymore. It doesn't hurt to check! If you find a shorter wait time at another ride, you can reserve it instead, but you'll lose your other virtual spot in line.
While initial reports on TapuTapu were mixed among guests (we had read reports of long wait times for rides and experienced them ourselves in the first weeks of operation), but we're hearing that guests are now finding the experience much improved!
What else does TapuTapu do?
TapuTapu lets guests unlock interactive features in the park — shooting water cannons on riders or revealing images inside Krakatau's hidden caves. You can use TapuTapu at special photo spots around the park to automatically link your photos to your My Universal Photo account.
Guests also have the option to add a credit card to their TapuTapu for the ultimate, hands-free park experience. (Universal is calling this TapTu Pay.) It's not required, but you can use it to pay for your locker, souvenirs or merchandise, food and drinks. I can't tell you how nice it is to be able to store your wallet safely in the locker and not have to retrieve it each time you need to make a purchase.
How to Set Up TapTu Pay
You can do this anytime, but we recommend you do it before you head to the park.
- Create a Universal Orlando account online or use the official app on your phone.
- Tap the wallet icon (in the lower right corner of the app) or from the main menu.
- Enter your credit card information.
- Link your party's Volcano Bay tickets. You can key the numbers in manually, but scanning the bar code is easiest. Don't worry! You can set spending limits for each party member.
- Create a pin that your whole party will use for purchases.
If you set up an account, your card will be linked to your TapuTapu when you enter the park. At the end of the day, all of your personal information will be unlinked from it.
Our Top Volcano Bay Tips
1. Stay on-site at a Universal Orlando Resort hotel, preferably at Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort or Universal's Aventura Hotel. While all of the hotel guests can use the official Volcano Bay dedicated entrance at Cabana Bay, it is easier to get to if you're staying at Cabana Bay. You have to show your room key. You also get one hour early entry, which is the best way to experience the most popular rides with the lowest waits of the day.
2. Purchase a multi-day Universal park-to-park ticket that includes Volcano Bay or consider purchasing a Volcano Bay Express Pass if you only have one day. We really think the best way to experience Volcano Bay is to do it over a couple of days. Park hopping is easy at Universal, especially if you're staying at an on-site hotel and have older children. With longer summer hours, it's not a stretch to visit all three parks in one day. During a three-day visit, we'd plan for one dedicated day at Volcano Bay. We'd spend two days hopping between Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure, and then might hop over to the water park for a few hours in the evening.
3. Create your Universal account and your credit card if you're going to use the tap-to-pay functionality of TapuTapu before you get to the park. You'll find it super easy to eat, drink and be merry — plus rent a locker when your credit card is already tied to your account.
4. Arrive ahead of park opening, especially if you want to ride the rides. I cannot stress this enough. If the water rides, particularly the thrill rides, are a priority, then hit them first thing. We would ride Krakatau Aqua Coaster first, then ride Ko’kiri Body Plunge and Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides.
5. Have only one person go to the locker area. This is one of our theme park pet peeves, but the entire family doesn't need to hover around the locker. Make it easier on everyone (yourself included) and have one party member put everything away.
6. Pick a locker away from the entrance. If you want to avoid most of the congestion, keep walking once you enter the park to one of the further locker locations.
7. Pick your spot. If you aren't planning on renting premium seating or a cabana, there's another great benefit to arriving early — you can pick a prime spot with your chairs. Volcano Bay has great seating around the rides and attractions. If you have younger children, you might want to park it at the tadpole-friendly, smaller Puka Uli Lagoon pool. For older children or adults, you can't go wrong with Waturi Beach.
8. Plan on a hike to Ko’kiri Body Plunge and the Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides. These three rides are at the very top of the 200-foot Krakatau Volcano. I didn't count my hops, but it feels like it's at least double the number of steps of the other park rides. This is the highest peak in Florida after all! It's a shame TapuTapu won't count your steps!
9. Beware if you have a fear of heights AND claustrophobia. We mentioned the height, but those of you with a fear of confined spaces may want to skip the capsule drop slides with trapdoors (and there are clear panes so you can see what's below)!
Universal's Volcano Bay Restaurants & Dining
The Waturi people must have really enjoyed the cuisine of the many islands they visited before landing at Volcano Bay. Their culinary discoveries serve as the inspiration for the tempting food and beverages available in the park. There are several locations serving uniquely island-inspired meals for the entire family. There is the usual theme park food fare, but there are also more exotic options.
Kohola Reef Restaurant: Located at the base of Krakatau volcano and closest to the entrance of the park, this restaurant serves fresh island favorites, including tangy Mango BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Quinoa Edamame Burgers or crunchy Coconut Crusted Fried Chicken.
Dancing Dragons Boat Bar: Shaped as an ancient outrigger canoe, this bar will refresh you with tropical cocktails and frozen drinks. Sit a spell and take in the volcano views. We highly recommend Vol's Fire Punch — a heady concoction featuring Mt. Gay Rum, fresh pineapple juice, agave, Sprite and grenadine.
Bambu: This shaded hideaway on the backside of the park offers quick-and-easy eats such as the Reka Burger, Pretzel Dog or the Tropical Fruit Salad.
Whakawaiwai Eats: Munch on dishes such as Island BBQ Chicken Pizza, Tropical Baby Greens Salad and Hawaiian Pizza. This is where you can find the hearty Shrimp Mac and Cheese. We like the shaded seating across the way that looks out to the back side of Runamukka Reef.
Kunuku Boat Bar: Also on the backside of the park, this is your stop for frozen drinks, specialty cocktails, fountain sodas and draft beers. It's named after the mythical fish that guided the Waturi islanders to Volcano Bay.
The Feasting Frog: This snack shop — SHAPED LIKE A TROPICAL FROG — serves drinks and snacks such as the Poke Poke Bowl, Taco Sampler or Plantain Chips & Guacamole.
Universal's Volcano Bay Cabanas, Premium Seating, Universal Express & More
For those of us more into shaded lounging than swimming, Volcano Bay has upgrades that offer more convenience and relaxation.
There is premium seating near the regular seating at the ride, lazy river and wave pool beaches. Premium seating includes a pair of padded loungers with an adjustable shade canopy and a built-in storage lockbox. You can enjoy the services of an area attendant who'll see to your food and drink orders. "We'll have another round of Vol's Fire Punch, please! Mommy Frog has found her happy place." He or she can also book your TapuTapu times without you having to reserve at the rides. Volcano Bay premium seating starts at $29.99 per pair per day plus tax. Call 1-877-489-8068 for reservations.
Go cabana or go home. Around the park, you can choose from one- or two-story cabanas that come with 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 and TapuTapu ride booking. Prices start at $159.99 per day plus tax for single cabana units, which hold up to six people. They are available as upper-level cabanas with great views, ground-level cabanas for easy access or stand-alone cabanas with more privacy. Family suite cabanas, which hold up to 16 people, are available starting at $299.99 per day plus tax. These are large, private stand-alone cabanas. Call 1-877-489-8068 for reservations.
If you have tadpoles, you may want to consider the cabanas near Runamukka Reef or Puka Uli Lagoon. If you want a prime spot near Waturi Beach for all day waves, we like the cabanas closest to the Waturi Marketplace.
Volcano Bay Universal Express
Water park visitors also have the option of purchasing Universal Express or Universal Express, which will be added onto your TapuTapu. With the Express Ticket, you can skip the virtual line at select attractions. You'll be directed to proceed to the boarding area, rather than given a return time.
Continuing in the quest to improve the water park experience, Universal is making it easier to store and get to your stuff. Lockers are located in the different park areas, so you never have to be too far away.
There are several shops that offer sunscreen, swimsuits, hats, sunglasses, swim diapers and cool Universal's Volcano Bay logo merch.
Universal Volcano Bay Discount Tickets
If you've got your swim trunks, we've got your discount tickets. Really. We're selling Universal Volcano Bay discount tickets along with Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. If you're not sure which ones to get, don't fret. We've put together a post on which Universal Orlando ticket is best for your family.
Universal's Volcano Bay FAQs
What are the Volcano Bay ride height and weight restriction s?
Height Restrictions vary on each attraction, but here are the basics:
- If you are over 48" then you can go on everything, except the kiddie areas.
- Some slides require those between 42" and 48" to ride with a supervising companion.
- Rivers, pools and beaches have no height restrictions, but children between 42"–48" (107cm-122cm) must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life vest.
As for Volcano Bay weight restrictions, some rides — including the multiple-rider, raft rides — have a weight limit. When you arrive at the top of the ride, a team member will have your party step into a square that discreetly weighs your group.
You can see height restrictions, plus a ton more information about each ride on our Universal Volcano Bay rides page.
What are the Volcano Bay multiple-rider rides?
Ika Moana, 2-5 riders
Honu, 2-4 riders
Krakatoa, 2-4 riders
Maku Puihi, 2-6 riders
Taniwha Tubes, 1-2 riders
What is the depth of the pools and slides?
Depths vary according to attractions. Riders should access their own ability to swim prior to boarding any slide or attraction. Riders can also review warning signs posted at the entrance to each ride prior to making a decision to ride. Strong swimming ability is required at both Ohyah and Ohno Drop Slides (pool depth is 10 feet) as well as the TeAwa Fearless River, which requires life jackets.
Is Volcano Bay accessible for guests with disabilities?
Wheelchair accessibility is available at Maku and Puihi Round Raft Rides as well as Krakatau Aqua Coaster via elevator access. Guests using wheelchairs may also transfer from their wheelchair to Kopiko Wai Winding River, TeAwa Fearless River, Puka Uli Leisure Pool, The Reef Leisure Pool and Waturi Beach Wave Pool. Guests must meet all ridership requirements, which means maintaining proper riding experience throughout the attraction experience.
Here is more accessibility information from Universal's site.
Are there showers at Volcano Bay?
Guests will find restrooms, showers and lockers scattered around the park for your convenience. Additionally, there are family restrooms around the park that offer more privacy, roll-in access and a shower.
Can I wear shoes on the slides?
Flip flops, sandals and water shoes are allowed on some of the slides. We remember removing them before riding Maku Puihi, Ohno and Ika Moana. Slides that do not allow shoes have places to store them before you head up to the slide.
Is Volcano Bay open year-round?
Yes. You can experience it during the hot summer months and the cool winter days. Virtually all of the pools and Orlando water parks are heated during cooler times. Occasionally, the Orlando water parks close because of exceptionally cold days in the winter months, but they are few and far between.
Should I see Volcano Bay over another Orlando area water park?
If you're already planning a trip to Universal Orlando, we think it's definitely worth adding an additional day to experience Volcano Bay. It's also easy to add in a few hours here or there to your existing trip with the park-to-park tickets.
We hope you've learned everything you need to know before you head to Universal's Volcano Bay! If you still have questions, drop us a line in comments below!