Neil is an Orlando and USA Expert with a vast knowledge of all things travel, thanks to jetting around the world before he joined Virgin Holidays three years ago. He loves talking through all the experiences that Orlando (and the world) has to offer.
His next trip will be an East Coast extravaganza with his family, stopping in New York City and Philadelphia along the way. No doubt he'll be heading back to Orlando for some more fun times soon, but we caught up with him after his most recent trip. Here's what he had to share about Universal’s Volcano Bay™.
We were lucky on our trip, since we stayed at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort. It’s right next door to Volcano Bay™ with a dedicated entrance that’ll take you right to the water park —definitely a great perk of staying at this on-site hotel. We were able to grab breakfast and get into the park comfortably, fully taking advantage of the Early Park Admission!
Krakatau™ Aqua Coaster
This definitely isn’t any old water park — Volcano Bay is full of some seriously great slides (we’ll get to that in a bit), but what makes it stand out is the aqua coaster! This is just brilliant! With Early Park Admission, the park was pretty quiet, so we went straight to Krakatau™ Aqua Coaster to kick off the day in style. It wasn’t long before we were all being seated four at a time in rafts to go shooting up and down this magnet-powered coaster, getting soaked with every splashdown. It’s great fun for all the family, but be aware that the ride can be weight restricted, so groups might get mixed in or split with others.
Like I said, the slides in this place are pretty sweet. There are slides for the little ones, like the ones found at Runamukka Reef
, and there are the beasts like Kala and Tai Nui Serpentine Slides™. You’ve even got your classic mat-racers too (Let no one tell you otherwise — I came first).
My personal favourite was the Ko’okiri Body Plunge™ — a 125ft vertical drop slide. Make sure you don’t eat beforehand (believe me)! There are nearly 300 steps to get up to the top—so not wheelchair friendly—and when you step into that pod at the summit and hear the drums beat… you’re only seconds away from the bottom. It’s an experience like no other and a real heart-in-throat moment!
To round the action off nicely, you’ve got Waturi Beach for some great sunbathing or some chilled out time with the waves (listen out for the horn). We spent a lot of time here and in the Kopiko Wai Winding River™ to soak up the sun and relax. Watch out for people using their TapuTapu™ bands to set off little jets of water, although it’s actually quite refreshing in the Florida heat.
I don’t want to say too much more, as there’s plenty of fun here to find out for yourself, but I’ll finish up with a few tips that’ll make your trip here the best it can be:
- Just like us, get there early. If you’re not staying at a Universal hotel, allow for extra time, as you’ll need to get to Universal CityWalk™ (to park) and then get the shuttle bus.
- Suntan lotion… and lots of it. Believe me, I looked like a cooked lobster while I made notes for this blog.
- The footpaths can get really hot, so stick to the wet areas. They have sprinklers running often, to keep the paths cool.
- Don’t leave if it rains… you’re wet already!
- Even when the ride is showing ‘Ride Now’, there can still be a 25-minute wait to get on the ride. Everyone who tapped in may be getting back to the ride at the same time.
I highly recommend renting a cabana, which can hold up to six people for $200. You get waiter service and your own TapuTapu totem, so if you want to check in for a ride you can tap in from the comfort of the cabana. For couples and small families, you can also pre-book some premium seating. It’ll give you two loungers with your own lockbox, great placement around the park and an adjustable shade canopy. You’ll also get an attendant to sort out any food and drink order for you too! I think they’re around 30 bucks and they can be pre-booked directly with Universal.
The park builds up quite the appetite, so I’d recommend picking up a dining plan ticket — $24 for a quick service meal, a drink and a snack. It’s worth it’s weight in gold when you look at the cost of everything separately.