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Volcano Bay Water Theme Park - Universal Studios Orlando


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Have things settled in at Volcano Bay now? Have the crowds and all the crazy "you have nothing to do for 4 hours because you can't ride a slide without a reservation" been solved by reduced crowds, better operations, etcetera?

 

Asking as the early returns from the opening season last year (as documented on this forum and others) sounded completely horrible.

 

A couple more recent notes from folks sounded somewhat more rational.

 

Asking as we are planning a family trip in October to Orlando and debating sticking to the Disney waterparks versus making a point to visit the new/shiny on one day.

 

Very much appreciate any feedback and advice.

 

Thanks!

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We went to the park this February, and although I had read the trip advisor reviews, we tried to go with an open mind.

 

We spoke to quite afew staff members on the day, and they admitted to us that Universal was trying to iron out the problems, and were aware that the roll out of Tapu Tapu in particular had not been a success. They had implemented solutions like not having any fast pass options, limiting park capacity on peak days and also trying to allow more "ride now" options on the water slides.

 

Our take at the time (on a medium density crowd day) was the park wasn't too bad, but still had a lot of room for improvement.

 

The pros (for us) were the rides are excellent, The cabanas (if you rent one) were very convenient and make the day feel a lot smoother and more relaxed, the food was good and didn't seem to be the horror stories I had read online, staff were of the universal "high standard" variety, again not what people were saying online, they were a credit to the Universal park name. Theming of the park was excellent, and the volcano is pretty spectacular and had a volcano "god" interaction that seemed to have been missed by a lot of reviewers but turned out to be good fun for my son.

Adding a credit card to the Tapu Tapu band was also a good piece of advice I received, and it worked with no problems.

 

The cons.

 

Tapu Tapu still "sketchy" at best. It works fine when the park isn't busy, but when it fills up, the complaints you read online are justified. We were there on a day when 2 slides were on maintenance, and the Krakatoa ride kept breaking down. 3 rides going "tec" meant the line ups got super long, and Tapu Tapu just can't keep up. I also agree with online commenters that waiting to ride for an hour to then join another line when your time arrives is slightly misleading!

The design of the bracelets is "poor". Mine came off twice, I had guest services "check" the fastening when I did it the first time as I thought I had done something wrong. It wasn't me, it came off again on the drop pod speed slide.

The lazy river and wave pool are both OK, but I wouldn't rank them above Aquatica (Roa Rapids) or Typhoon Lagoon. The advertising of spending time in these while you wait for your ride is fine in principal, but not if this is what you end up doing ALL day.

 

The park is definitely worth visiting if you know it won't be a BUSY day. There is scope for it to be a park that is comparable to Disney or Aquatica, "if" they manage to figure out how to make Tapu Tapu completely fool proof and also take away the idea of only waiting in one line at a time (when the park is busy).

The rides are good (compared to Disney and Aquatica), the theming is nice and the staff are friendly. They just messed up on the "queue" system.

 

We didn't think it was a wasted day, and were able to provide some feedback to customer service at the end of the day (we took part in a survey).

I have recommended the park to to others, even with the bad reviews. My advice has always been....."less busy" day if you can pick it, rent a cabana if you can spare the expense, stay onsite at Universal as the extra hour really did make a difference here!, keep a look out for the "ride nows" around the park as UNiversal is trying to put more of these into the system so that people don't feel like they are being constrained by the "one ride at a time" limit.

 

Hope this helps.

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Man, I really want to go to Volcano Bay, my daughter loves water parks and is begging me to take her, but reading that just sounds exhausting. Thanks for the open and honest take on the place, and I'm sure I'd still manage to have a good time but reading countless versions of that same review just make want to continue avoiding it.

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Hope this helps.

 

I really appreciate the feedback - I need to check the "crowd calendars" for early October before we make decisions... I think we have an option of staying at one of the Universal Hotels (spousal convention is the occasion) so the early entry option may play a role too.

 

Basically we have been pretty spoiled by off season Disney waterparks the last few years - with very low crowds and short (zero) lines for slides that all the hullabaloo about Volcano Bay seemed... exhausting?

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think we have an option of staying at one of the Universal Hotels (spousal convention is the occasion) so the early entry option may play a role too.

 

We were staying at Portofino bay, which is the furthest hotel from the park. The shuttle bus still worked well though, and the early hour was worth it (the Krakatoa ride was walk on at this stage and I have to admit was good fun).

My understanding is that "Cabanas" and "Sapphire Falls" are the two closest hotels to Volcano bay (please someone correct me if I am wrong), and that Cabanas backs right into the park itself. Most of the positive reviews on trip advisor come from people staying here.

 

Basically we have been pretty spoiled by off season Disney waterparks the last few years - with very low crowds and short (zero) lines for slides that all the hullabaloo about Volcano Bay seemed... exhausting?

 

I don't disagree, and we have taken full advantage of the two Disney waterparks and Aquatica on our annual February trips to Florida (always warmer than it is in Toronto!) as crowd levels are low, and the parks are fun.

If you are a "fan" of waterparks though, then it is worth going to Volcano bay just to compare for yourself, as there are some things there that are better (in my opinion) than the other parks. I would definitely rank "Krakatoa" as one of the more fun slides we have done, the drop pods are all high quality, the raft slides are all comparable to Disney and the theming is top notch (the volcano is a nice walk through, and if you have young children has some "fantasy" elements).

"Tapu Tapu" is the one unknown at the moment for anyone planning a visit, but hopefully, with planning (and early entry) you will get the best of the park.

 

Worst case scenario, it sucks...and you then will know for sure that it sucks!

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  • 1 year later...

^Florida residents usually get $5-$10 off single one day Volcano Bay tickets. Other than that you're going to have to pay that price or sit through a time share presentation if you want cheaper tickets. They're really pushing the '3 park' multi-day tickets and pricing the one park, one day tickets stupid.

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  • 2 weeks later...
^Florida residents usually get $5-$10 off single one day Volcano Bay tickets. Other than that you're going to have to pay that price or sit through a time share presentation if you want cheaper tickets. They're really pushing the '3 park' multi-day tickets and pricing the one park, one day tickets stupid.

 

Okay thank you. I was planning a trip to Disney in a few months but was going to spend the last day at a water park. Disney’s water parks don’t look like a good value for the price given how small they seem. I don’t plan on spending any time at universal this trip. I’ll have to chose between $80 for volcano bay or about half that for Aquatica. Right now Aquatica seems like a better deal for the price.

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