How to Get Your Money’s Worth (and Have a GREAT time) at Volcano Bay!
Volcano Bay is the new (and only) water park located at Universal Orlando. The park is inspired by various tropical islands and includes a giant volcano centerpiece. This elaborate water adventure is FULL of tube slides, lazy rivers, and a 70-degree body slide. This place is a blast.
It’s also hectic, crowded, and it be very difficult to plan ahead.
This isn’t a theme park where you can leisurely stroll from a water slide to the wave pool. It can actually get downright frustrating if you don’t have all the necessary information ahead of time.
As an Orlando local, I’m answering ALL the FAQs for Universal’s Volcano Bay to save you time, money, and sanity.
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How much are tickets to Volcano Bay?
You’ll want to make sure the tickets are within your budget! You can buy a single-day ticket to Volcano Bay or by buying the 3-Park Pass. The multi-park passes will include admission to Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay.
The pricing varies greatly and depends on the type of tickets. A single-day ticket to Volcano Bay costs around $70 per adult. After that, you can only purchase a ticket to Volcano Bay by purchasing a multi-day pass that includes the other two theme parks. This cost starts at $85 per day and increases from there.
You will want to buy your tickets online at UniversalOrlando.com because they will be cheaper than purchasing at the gate. It will also make your entry time a little quicker!
Can I walk to Volcano Bay from Universal?
Volcano Bay is not located inside Islands of Adventure or Universal Studios Florida. It’s completely separate from the main parks but it is fairly close. You can’t walk from the theme parks or CityWalk. Instead, you will take a bus from the theme parks, parking garage, or hotels.
However, Universal’s Cabana Bay, Aventura, and Loewe’s Sapphire Resort are within walking distance of Volcano Bay. Cabana Bay happens to be extremely popular for many guests. The quirky 60s beach theme is super fun and the close proximity to the water park is a HUGE perk!
How early should I arrive at Volcano Bay?
If you take away ONE thing from this guide, remember this: arrive early to Volcano Bay! The water park gets extremely busy on sunny days. (Which means, it will be busy almost every day in Florida.)
Crowds at theme parks are always difficult to manage. However, large crowds make Volcano Bay a logistical nightmare. The main reason is the free-for-all seating that fills up FAST. At Disney World and Universal, you will spend your day riding attractions, eating, or briefly taking a seat on a park bench. Here, you’ll need to stake out lounge chairs so you have a place to camp out for the day.
Seating for dining is also fairly limited and you won’t always be in the pools or in line at a water slide. Arriving early will allow you to stake a claim on your chairs. It’s also a little more relaxing in the mornings since the lines will pick up a lot more in the afternoon.
Take advantage of early admission times and account for transportation time. You will need to park in the garage and take a short bus ride to the park entrance. (Unless you’re staying at a Universal resort.) Get to the parking lot at least 30 minutes prior to park opening to start your day on the right foot! The seats sometimes fill up as fast as 20 minutes.
Need more tips about finding seating at Volcano Bay? Watch my YouTube video here!
Your other option is to rent a cabana or premium seating to make your day go smoothly. Of course, the convenience comes at a cost…
How much is Premium or Cabana Seating?
The cost of Premium Seating comes with two lounge chairs that have some coverage. You’ll also have access to a lockbox and Team Members can deliver food to your chairs. According to Orlando Informer, Premium Seating cost starts around $30 during the off-season and can reach $150+ during peak seasons. (Peak season is often spring break and summer when crowds roll in.)
Cabana Seating is located under a covered gondola or two-level structure that comes with loads of amenities. A single cabana houses up to 6 people and pricing varies between $160 – $600 per day. A double cabana starts at $200 and can reach prices around $600. You’ll receive towel service, snacks, a fridge, and Concierge service. You can also reserve your spots in the virtual lines from your cabana. You won’t have to waste time walking to each attraction to get in line.
You should always reserve your Cabana or Premium Seating way ahead of time. You can do this by calling Universal’s Cabana hotline, talking with a hotel Concierge, or doing it at theme parks. Try reserving your seats about two weeks in advance during busy times of the year.
The number for Cabana and Premium Seating Rentals is 1-877-801-9720.
is Cabana or Premium Seating worth the extra cost?
You might experience sticker shock, but reserved seating might be worth the cost if you’re visiting for Spring Break or summer. The crowds are intense, the heat is oppressive, and your patience may wear thin. It’s worth the cost of convenience and peace of mind for many guests. Although, I might reconsider if you’re visiting during the colder, off-season.
Also, you might as well consider purchasing reserved seating if you’re shelling out the money for Universal’s Express Pass. (This is a paid system that allows guests to skip most of the line. The cost starts at $60 per person per day.) The cost of reserved seating is about the same as the Express pass and has similar benefits. It can be a good deal if you’re traveling with a large group and multiple adults can pitch in for the cost too.
Of course, this all has to do with your budget. Don’t feel pressured to absorb the extra cost of reserved seating or Express Passes. Instead, you can plan to get to Volcano Bay earlier and block off a few chairs for yourself.
The added conveniences at Universal cost extra and you have to determine whether it’s best for your budget!
What are the best Rides at Volcano Bay?
The main attraction at Volcano Bay is Ko’okiri Body Plunge. This is the water slide that plummets swimmers down the volcano at a 70-degree angle. It’s…intense and especially great for thrill-seeking teens and adults. Besides that, Puihi of Maku Puihi Round Raft Rides is a great choice for large groups since the water tube can fit up to six people. Also, you’ll want to try the two flowing rivers! The relaxing lazy river, Kopiko Wai, allows you to sit in a comfy tube and float under the palm trees. TeAwa: The Fearless River is a more intense river where guests wear lifejackets and get pulled along at a faster pace.
Best Volcano Bay Rides for Adults, Teens, and pre-teens
- Ko’okiri Body Plunge: Plummet down the volcano at a 70-degree angle
- Puihi of Maku Puihi Round Raft Rides: Tube ride with tubes that fit up to six people
- Kopiko Wai: The lazy river
- TeAwa: The crazy river
- Kala and Tai Nui Slides: Serpentine water slides that wind around the volcano
- Krakatau Aqua Coaster: Board a toboggan tube, shoot down dips, and up vertical climbs
- Ohyah and Ohno Drop Slides: Head down a short slide and drop into the water from four feet or six feet above
Best Volcano Bay Rides for Kids
- Tot Tiki Reef: A splash pad for toddlers and little kids
- The Reef: An interactive pool that ranges from zero to about 4 feet deep.
- Runamukka Reef: A huge water playground with water guns, dump buckets, and slides
- Waturi Beach: The main wave pool where you can wade in the water or swim deeper
- Puka Uli Lagoon: A small pool with more interactive elements and water features
Volcano Bay caters to all ages and thrill levels. You can choose to chill in the pools or take a raft ride!
What is the best food and drink at Volcano Bay?
Volcano Bay has some of the most creative food at Universal Orlando. It’s actually my favorite place to eat and drink a the theme parks. It’s a step above your regular chicken strips and french fries. (Don’t worry. Your kiddos can order those too!)
Some of the best items are the pizza flatbreads that are served at most quick-service locations. The flatbreads are fairly large and can easily be shared with two people. You can also get items like juicy burgers topped with onion straws at Bambu or a pulled pork sandwich from Kohola Reef. Over at The Feasting Frog, you can pick up some tacos from the to-go window.
There are full-service bars at Volcano Bay that are stocked with standard alcohols and mixers. You can choose to order your favorite mixed drink or choose from the beers on tap. Dancing Dragons and Kunuku Boat Bar are the places you’ll find the most options.
There is a menu full of specialty cocktails that come with an included souvenir cup! The most popular drink is Vol’s Fire Punch which is a mix of rum, falernum, Sprite, and grenandine. You can also try one of their spiked slushes with flavors like Pina Colada or Berry Blast.
Can you bring food and drink inside Volcano Bay?
Yes, you can bring food inside of Volcano Bay as long as it does not require heating or refrigeration. You have the option to bring a small soft-sided cooler that is 8.5” x 6” x 6” or smaller. You cannot bring hard-sided coolers, alcohol, or glass containers.
Bringing in some small snacks is a great idea for Volcano Bay. You can stow them in your locker so you can stay nourished throughout the day. I also advise purchasing some electrolytes for your water. It’s very easy to become dehydrated at the water parks!
When should I visit Volcano Bay?
From my experience, the best time to visit Volcano Bay is between September to October. The weather is still fairly nice and the summer crowds have died down a bit. This is also when the Halloween Horror Nights event is happening. You can get spooked by ghouls at Universal Studios then cool off in the wave pool!
Much like all theme parks, the best times to visit depend on crowds and weather. Some people assume summer is the best time to visit a water park. It’s actually a really inconvenient time to come to Volcano Bay. The summer crowds are crazy and the weather is crazier. The summer heat can be unbearable and you’ll experience thunderstorms that shut down many of the rides. The heat will easily drain you unless you plan to submerge yourself in the pool all day.
Do you need to bring a towel and other items to Volcano Bay?
Towels cost about $6 to rent so I advise bringing your own to the water park. You can also wear water shoes around the park as long as you take them off before riding an attraction. There are a few gift shops located in Volcano Bay that have towels, sunscreen, shoes, and more items for sale. You should plan to bring all your necessities with you so you don’t end up paying a hefty price!
Shoes, clothing, food, and other important stuff can be put into a locker that you will rent for the entire day. The lockers are located in the Rainforest Village, River Village, and Wave Village. There are three different locker sizes available: mini ($9), regular ($13), and family size ($16). I absolutely advise renting a locker for high-value items.
Universal takes care of their guests but I wouldn’t trust leaving your costly items on a lounge chair. Things can and will walk away or get lost!
What’s TapuTapu and how do I use it?
TapuTapu is an electronic wristband that is loaned to every guest when they enter Volcano Bay. The wristband is mainly used to enter virtual lines at the attractions. You will simply tap the band on the ride kiosk and it will notify you when it’s your turn to stand in line. This allows you to enjoy the water park while you’re waiting for your return time.
You can also link credit cards to your wristband so you can leave your purses and wallets in the lockers. You’ll do this by adding a card to your “wallet” that appears on the Universal app. Members of your group can access this card if you link them to your account and you can set spending limitations too!
Other features include locker access (as opposed to actual keys) and weather notifications if a storm rolls into Orlando. It’s a pretty cool device that’s waterproof and made for guest convenience.
Is Volcano Bay worth it?
Oh boy, here we go! The easiest way to answer this depends on your priorities and how much time you have for your vacation. Do you only have a day or two to visit Universal Orlando? Are you neutral about water parks? I might say skip Volcano Bay if this is the case. Spend your time exploring Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure where the main attractions are located. You won’t want to miss a thing from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter or lose your chance of riding the Hulk roller coaster!
Does your group love water parks? Do you have a day to spare? Then, yes, Volcano Bay is worth a visit. This place is one of the best-themed water parks with some of the best rides in Orlando. It’s basically a tropical paradise with some thrilling tube rides. Waturi Beach gives a lovely view of the detailed volcano and it’s a great place to relax, drink, or play. I’m not a huge fan of water parks and I love this place. It’s an absolute blast for almost any age range and a great addition to your vacation!
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