Volcano Bay is Universal Orlando Resort’s newest theme park. It opened in May 2017, joining Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. Go with the Flow Traveling Mom Jill gives us the the 4-11 on Volcano Bay tips every first time visitor needs to know.
My family of four visited Volcano Bay this past August. It was thrilling, relaxing, and everything in between all rolled up into one fantastic and very long day. We arrived before 7 a.m. and didn’t leave until almost 9 p.m., so you know it was really that good. If a visit to Volcano Bay is in your future (and really, it should be) then I have you covered with these Volcano Bay tips. I might be Go with the Flow Traveling Mom, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in planning ahead to ensure my family has the best vacation possible. I hope my Volcano Bay tips help you plan your own epic adventure to what I’m calling the BEST water park ever.
1. Arrive Early
Volcano Bay opens at 8:00 a.m. which might sound like an insanely early time to go to a water park. And yes, there’s an element of crazy in waking a small child up before six a.m. and demanding, “Eat this Poptart and put on your swimsuit right now!” But, go early! If you stay at one of the Universal Orlando Resort hotels, you’re allowed early admission and can enter Volcano Bay at 7:30 a.m. (double check with the concierge to make sure that’s still current…times will vary throughout the year). Yes, that’s even earlier but get there as early as you can. You’ll thank me later. Even my kid who was mad at me for waking him up at the crack of dawn was happy once we got to Volcano Bay.
Why? Volcano Bay is a new, popular attraction. People are lined up early and the park has been known to reach capacity very quickly, as early as 9 a.m. Know what that means? You might have purchased a ticket and planned your day but if there are too many people already inside, you will have to wait until there’s room. No Bueno.
2. Set up cashless payment beforehand
You’ll need to download the Universal Orlando App and connect your credit card. You won’t have to worry about cash or credit cards and you can use your Tapu Tapu wearable wrist band (more about that in a minute) to pay for food and drinks, merchandise in the park, locker and towel rental and more. This is super easy to set up. I loved not having to worry about keeping track of cash or credit cards.
3. Reserve seating in advance
There is seating aplenty at Volcano Bay but most of it’s in the full sun. For pasty pale girls like me, that’s not a good thing. If you’re interested in reserving premium seating or a cabana (big splurge but so fun!) contact the park early. I suggest a minimum of two weeks before your visit. Premium seating is a lounge chair with a canopy and an attached safe. A cabana is much more luxurious and private and comes with a ton of amenities, including food and your own personal server.
You can inquire about seating availability at one of the concierge huts on the day of your visit. You might get lucky. But, if you want to guarantee yourself a shady take-a-break spot, reserve.
4. Get seats and lockers early
If you’re not planning to pay for premium/reserved seating, get your lockers and stake out your seats as soon as you arrive.
Do not pass go. Do not stop to look at all the things. All the things will be there after you get a locker and find someplace to sit but maybe not vice-versa.
You will have fun at Volcano Bay, no matter what. It’s that kind of place. But your visit will be so much more awesome if you take a little time to do some research beforehand.
Scope out the height requirements, menus and, most of all, read up on how Tapu Tapu works.
Tapu Tapu is Volcano Bay’s wearable wrist band that acts as your locker key, your cash and holds your place in line. Yes, really! To quickly get Tapu Tapu savvy, read this post.
6. Make a plan for riding and sliding
Use the Universal Orlando Resort app to familiarize yourself with the lay of the land before you visit. Decide if your family is going to stay together as a group or if you’re going to split up. What are the check-in expectations going to be?
Pick your must-do’s ahead of time and ride those first thing in the morning. The Krakatau Water Coaster is the most popular ride. We rode our must-do’s first and worked our way through all the ride our kids were tall enough to ride. After that, we re-rode our favorites. By lunchtime, the Krakatau Water Coaster had a three-hour wait. Yikes, right? We tapped in for that, had a leisurely lunch and a rest while we waited in the virtual line.
7. Don’t forget to pack essentials
Since you’re going to be starting your day so early, pack your beach bag the night before. Make sure you have plenty of sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and a waterproof case for your phone. If you forget something, you can purchase it in the park…at theme park prices, of course.
Volcano Bay charges for towels, so bring your own if you can. If you’re staying at one of the Universal Orlando Resort hotels, you’re prohibited from taking your hotel room towels into to Volcano Bay.
This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me since the pools at the resort hotels offer free towel service. This is one thing I hope they change in the future. If you’re traveling by air, beach towels for everyone will take up a ton of room in your luggage.
8. Expect rain
If it starts raining, don’t immediately scurry for the exit. It rains almost daily in central Florida. Wait it out. You’re already wet. Keep riding and sliding, unless there’s lightning nearby. And, smile and wave buh-bye at the people forming a mass exodus at the first signs of a rain shower. That only means shorter lines for you, right? Winning.
9. Stay late
Volcano Bay after dark is pretty neat. The volcano (Krakatau Mountain) lights up and changes colors. This is definitely work sticking around for if you have the energy after your oh-so-stinking-early start time.
Traveling Mom recommends Undercover Tourist for discounted Volcano Bay tickets. We receive a small commission if you purchase through our links, but many Traveling Moms use Undercover Tourist for our own tickets.