Surf's up at Volcano Bay! How to best conquer Universal Orlando's new water park

18 rides including a volcano "aqua coaster"
Posted at 2:36 AM, May 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-25 12:17:04-04

Universal Orlando's fully immersive Volcano Bay is serious about seducing you into its splashy theme-park world.

Its eighteen attractions cover 28 acres.

There are 7,500 beach chairs, finally making seating at a water park a stress-free event.

Everything about Volcano Bay is big, starting with the waterfall-laden 200-feet-tall titular mountain, with its four rides zipping in and out of it.


RELATED: Going to Pandora? How to best conquer Disney's new World of Avatar land


Size is a running theme.

This Polynesian paradise is also built for families, with many of the rafts, floats, canoes able to accommodate three, four, even five people.

My favorite ride? The three-seat Krakatau Aqua Coaster, a state-of-the-art merging of old-school roller thrills and wet-and-wild plunges; via water and magnetics, you rocket up hills as fast as you plunge down them.

Volcano Bay's most inventive creation may be the free bracelets you receive upon entering the park. "Tapu tapu wearables" are your waterproof wallet, your camera and your ticket all in one.

They have selfie stations where you can scan your tapu tapu. "Say cheese!" and the picture will be emailed to you.

Even better, tapu tapus alert you when it is time to ride. You scan them at the front of an attraction and they will tell you when to come back.

Universal wants this to eliminate long waits and serpentine lines (not to mention cranky guests). Time and crowds will tell if this works exactly how they want. If it does, the tapu tapus will give Disney's FastPasses and Magic Bands a run for their money.

There are lovely and spacious tiki-themed changing rooms all over the grounds.

The food is by far the tastiest and most inspired I've ever had at a water park. You will want to try the coconut curry chicken. There is a full drink menu of boozy concoctions for Mom and Dad. Go for the Vol's Fire Punch, trust me on that one, too.

Volcano Bay one-day tickets are about $67.

But, parking for Volcano Bay is another issue. Unless you are lodging at a Universal Orlando resort or Ubering from an Orlando hotel, guests are asked to park in the main garage feeding into CityWalk. That will cost you another $20. A shuttle will then take you to the water park.

Have fun, get wet and let us know what you think of Volcano Bay!