Universal Orlando’s third park, Volcano Bay opened on May 25, 2017 and has replaced Wet ’n Wild on International Drive which closed at the end of 2016.
Volcano Bay is a 28 acre Polynesian themed water park, located next to Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort and just west of I–4. It was first officially announced in May 2015, 3 months after construction started.
It features lush vegetation and is themed on Pacific islands like Easter Island, New Zealand and Hawaii. This is also reflected in the names of the rides.
At its heart is a 200 foot (61 m) tall volcano called “Krakatau”. During the day it features waterfalls and by night “lava” flows.
The park is split into four regions:
- Krakatau - the central volcano with three water slides
- Wave Village - an area for sunbathing and relaxation with tiki hut styled cabanas that can be rented
- River Village - attractions for families and children
- Rainforest Village - thrill rides for single and multiple riders
There are 18 attractions at Volcano Bay and Universal say it has been designed to avoid lengthy queues by using new “virtual queue” technology.
There is also no need to carry your tube or raft to the top of each ride. Each area of the park has its own lockers and there are themed restaurants and bars throughout the park.
Krakatau is located in the centre of the park and contains three separate body slide rides, a four lane racer and a dark raft ride.
- Ko’okiri Body Plunge - a 70 degree drop speed slide with a trap door (similar concept to Ihu’s Breakaway Falls at Aquatica). Guests fall 125 feet (38 m) as they slide through the volcano before plunging through The Reef, one of the pools at the base of the volcano
- Kala and Ta Nui Serpentine Body Slides - a pair of intertwining body slides also with a trap door starts. Ride is 124 feet (38 m) long
- Punga Racers - a single-rider four-lane enclosed race slide with mats shaped like manta rays
- Krakatau Aqua Coaster - a dark ride with waterfalls and slides and featuring inflatable four seater canoe shaped rafts
Unlike a conventional gravity water slide where you have to climb to the top to start, on the Krakatau Aqua Coaster it uses linear induction motor (magnetic) technology used on some roller coaster to allow the rafts to ascend sections of the ride.
The ride starts inside a temple in the jungle before dropping down into a river and then travelling up inside the volcano. Special effects include volcanic eruptions, rumbling and smoking.
The Water Village is located at the base of the volcano and is a perfect spot to relax and soak up the rays along its sandy beaches. There are two pools:
- Waturi Beach - a multi-directional wave pool with private one and two story cabanas available for rental.
- The Reef - a leisure pool with fewer waves where you can see the riders of the Ko’okiri Body Plunge pass by.
The River Village is a family friendly area with play areas, lazy river and two raft rides. Attractions include:
- Kopiko Wai Winding River - a lazy river ride that actually passes through hidden caves in the volcano with special water effects and starlight lighting.
- Tot Tiki Reef - a toddler play area with a miniature volcano, slides and spraying Maori fountains.
- Runamukka Reef - a second play area for older children themed as a coral reef fortress, built over three stories with slides, dump cups, bubbling geysers, water cannon and sprinklers.
- Honu - a multi-passenger raft ride that sweeps up two walls.
- Ika Moana - a second multi-passenger raft ride with twisting turns and bubbling geysers.
The Rainforest Village contains a number of thrill rides including slides and rafts:
- Maku - a six person raft slide with three high banked saucer shaped curves, described as a first of kind ride in North America.
- Puihi - another multi-passenger raft ride that drops you into pitch dark chambers and a funnel followed by a final zero-gravity drop.
- Ohyah and Ohno Drop Slides - two twisting body slides with tall drops that launch you either four or six feet above a splash pool.
- TeAwa The Fearless River - a white-water inner-tube raft ride down a racing torrent river.
- Taniwha Tubes - four raft slides that can ridden solo or in pairs.
- Puka Uli Lagoon - a tranquil pool for swimming and relaxing.
Parking and Access
Volcano Bay does not have its own parking area. Instead guests park in the existing South multi-story parking garage and then catch a shuttle bus/tram to Volcano Bay. A pedestrian tunnel under Interstate I–4 will link to the park.
Three of Universal’s resort hotels, the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Loews Royal Pacific Resort and the new Loews Sapphire Falls are all a short walk away.
When guests arrive at Volcano Bay they receive a complimentary wearable technology wristband called TapuTapu. With TapuTapu guests are able to reserve ride times on the main slides at Volcano Bay and activate special effects like firing water cannon, controlling water jets and illuminating images inside the volcano.
Unlike Disney’s MagicBands though, TapuTapu offers two-way communication and can advise guests when their ride time is approaching by vibrating for example when it is 15 minutes before the start time.