Welcome to a special edition of Dateline Universal Orlando. We were lucky enough to be invited to a preview of Volcano Bay, Universal’s brand new water theme park, yesterday. It grand opens to the public today, May 25th, and is a glimpse into the future of the resort, which now boasts three parks! We have about 140 photos to share with you, let’s dive in!

Every guest heading to the park from the main parking garage gets dropped off via shuttle. They then will walk through this themed tunnel (under traffic!) to the Volcano Bay entrance.

The escalator takes you right up the to entrance. There is also an accessible ramp.

Volcano Bay.
Little water features under each letter.
Universal’s PR team welcomed us to the event.
Thierry Coup (the Senior VP of Universal Creative) was there as well! He’s absolutely brilliant.
Universal Creative welcomes us to their latest project.
Team Member outfits.
Additional ticket sales at the entrance for those who haven’t managed to get them before this point.

If you are into Tiki things, this park is for you!

Height requirement sign outside the entrance.
These little guys are what turnstiles look like in 2017.

Upon entering, your ticket gets linked to one of these guys, called a TapuTapu. It is basically your way to do everything in the park, which we’ll get into in a little bit.

This little box has a camera inside. All you have to do it hold your TapuTapu near the reader and it links to your ticket. You can then purchase the photo later on.
The approach to Krakatau, the large centerpiece volcano, is very similar to the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom. You turn a corner and go up a slight incline, and there it is. The reveal is stunning.
You can rent out cabanas for a more private experience.
Waturi Marketplace is the main gift location.
The views are nothing short of impressive.
Lots of life vests throughout the park.
Also, LOTS of beach chairs all over.
Like, a ton of beach chairs.
The waterfalls are quite beautiful.

This is the exit point of the Ko’okiri Body Plunge, a 125 foot drop at a 70 degree angle.

Awesome signage.
Dancing Dragons is the bar closest to the wave pool.
This is the first of several restaurants in the park, Kohola Reef.

There are at least four different places to get lockers while inside Volcano Bay. If you link a credit card to your ticket, just use TapuTapu to purchase and open your locker!

There are details everywhere in this park!

Notice the lift in the center. It carries tubes up the slides so you don’t have to!
There is a new berry flavored version of Dippin Dots here.
Tot Tiki Reef is the kids play area.

Very colorful.
Love these frog lights on the bridges!
One of TWO lazy rivers in the park.
Whakawaiwai Eats is the second restaurant we encountered.

Krakatau Aqua Coaster is the crown jewel of the park. It is a long ride that is intense, but a ton of fun. It’s also much longer than we expected it to be.
TapuTapu touch points. If there is a wait, you hold your TapuTapu to it, and it tells you when to come back so you won’t need to wait forever in a long line!

More tube slides.
Tikis greet you at the end of your journey.
The last drop of the Aqua Coaster. You do get some airtime here!
Kunuku is the bar closest to the back of the park.

The backside of the volcano isn’t quite as pretty as the front. Let’s call this the functional side of the mountain.
These are the Punga Racers, the mat based slides.

The second of the two lazy rivers, this one is more intense! You can see the turbulence in the water.
More family sized tube slides.

Bambu is where I had lunch. Had a burger that was better than most counter service offerings I’ve had at Universal, save for the two Potter restaurants.

These are the drop slides, named Ohyah and Ohno. They are called that since at the end, they drop anywhere from four to six feet into a 10 foot deep pool.
Awesome details of Krakatau.

Some of the merchandise available in the park.
Yeti style tumblers.
You can slip your phone into one of these and not worry about taking a trip to the Genius Bar the next day!
TapuTapu touch point telling me there is a 20 minute wait for this slide. But, I don’t queue up for 20 minutes. I could go sit in a chair, or float in the lazy river!
These tikis are triggered by TapuTapu at the totem in the center of the pool.
One of the cabanas available to rent for the day.

The cabanas are basic, but private.

On a busy day, these would be most welcome.
Cabana with a view! Sign me up.
Can’t get enough of these views. And look at the size of this pool.

Inside Waturi Marketplace. Did Joe Rohde consult on this project? It feels so Animal Kingdom meets Aulani.

I believe every single ride entrance has six TapuTapu points, as well as racks for sandals and shirts.

The intense lazy river is named TeAwa – The Fearless River.

The exit to Kala and Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides. Once the vegetation grows in fully, many of these slides will practically disappear.
These are two slides located at the top of the volcano, next to the Ko’okiri Body Plunge. I rode both of them, and they are quite intense. You are in a glass tube, and then the floor drops out from underneath you and you FLY through the volcano until you splash down at ground level. Note – there are MANY stairs to get to the top, and it is not for the faint at heart.

Details inside the Dancing Dragons bar.

This is what the TapuTapu touch points look like up close.
Details at the entrance to TeAwa.
These adult beverages come in a souvenir glass.

One of the smaller, and less expensive cabanas for rent. These aren’t exactly private, but will fit more budgets.

Cabanas right near Krakatau.

The Today show is in town, and they get their own cabana.
The entrance of the lazy river into Stargazer’s Cavern, they were still working on this one.

One of the family sized rafts ends its run.

Big warnings for the Body Plunge.
This pool is called The Reef, and is a place where you can get the best view of those brave enough to experience the Body Plunge.
Time to head out!

Wow, that’s a lot to cover! And, because my camera is not waterproof, I wasn’t even able to take you on any of the slides or into the volcano itself. This photo report is really just a tease.

Universal’s Volcano Bay is being billed by Universal as their third “theme park.” But let’s be clear, it is still a water park at heart. But it definitely has a theme, and also a heart and soul, which is something many water parks lack. Between the addition of this new park and the three newest hotels (Cabana Bay, Sapphire Falls, and the under construction Aventura), Universal Orlando feels more like a resort than ever before. This park also adds crazy value to staying at Cabana Bay, as it is walking distance away. TapuTapu was VERY easy to use and seems like a solid way to tie things together, and is possibly a hint at what is to come for the entire Universal Orlando Resort.

So, what didn’t we like? Well, there are a few spots in the park where you can see an I-4 off-ramp and Turkey Lake Road, which kind of pulls you out of the theme. There are a lot of slides, which is a huge plus, but for those who aren’t into that sort of thing, you basically have a wave pool, two lazy rivers, and some wading areas. Also, some of the slides are weight restricted, and they had scales at the entrance to make sure people could ride. There also isn’t a lot of shade at the current moment, so it is going to be very, very warm inside the park come summer. The only places I found air conditioning were the restrooms and the gift shop at the front of the park.

A few tips for those of you who are suffering from tiki envy and ready to make a beeline to Volcano Bay. Set up a Universal account at home, through their app, BEFORE your trip to save you time! You can link your ticket to it, and also add a credit card if you want to use TapuTapu to pay for things. And that’s a great idea because then you won’t need to carry a wallet around with you all day or risk losing a credit card in the wave pool. Second, invest in some good flip-flops, as you’ll be doing a ton of walking, and there are places to leave them that are watched by Team Members at the entrance to every attraction. Third, if you aren’t staying at a Universal Orlando resort, get there early. You’ll have to park at the main parking garage, go through security, and then get on a shuttle to the park. From there, you’ll be almost into the park. So, the earlier you arrive, the better. Also, don’t miss the Krakatau Aqua Coaster, as it was the star of the show for me, and was probably the coolest water park attraction I’ve ever been on.

So, what do you all think? Will you attend Volcano Bay? How does this stack up to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure as a third park for this resort? Let us know in the comments below.

Mahalo, a hui hou – Thanks for reading!

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