Volcano Bay is one of three amazing theme parks that make up Universal Orlando Resort in Florida, and 2021 mark its marks the park’s fourth birthday! To celebrate, we thought we would show you the best way to enjoy one full day in the park. With so much to discover, planning your day at Volcano Bay can be daunting, but don’t worry: I’ve got a handy hour-by-hour guide to help you map out your adventure.
Make sure you arrive early: Volcano Bay’s within walking distance of some Universal hotels, but free shuttles run every 10-15 minutes from the others. If you’re staying at any Universal hotel, you’ll also get an extra hour in the park before the general opening. I’d head towards the back of the park first, where the rides are at their most quiet early in the morning. Staying off-site? Go to the main car park or taxi drop-off: from here, a special Volcano Bay shuttle will whisk you to the action.
You’ll pick up a clever TapuTapu wristband when you arrive. They’re free for the day, and this is your key to unlocking all the fun the park has to offer. All of the rides here use ‘Virtual Lines’, which means rather than standing around in the sun, you simply tap in at the entrance to an attraction using your wristband, and just like that you’ve joined the virtual queue. You’re then free to explore, relax, swim, eat or shop whilst you wait; saving you precious time. Your TapuTapu will let you know when it’s time to return and ride!
Those in the know should head towards the back of the park to an area called the Rainforest Village. Here, you’ll find lockers and changing facilities which are much quieter in the morning than those at the front of the park. Grab a return time for one of the bigger attractions before getting changed to make the most of your time; I’d suggest Honu ika Moana (seen above!).
Your day has got off to an amazing start, and now things are going to get even better. There are 19 uniquely incredible attractions here, and you won’t want to miss any of them. One of your first stops should be the OhYah and OhNo drop slides, where you’ll travel around rocky cliffs before dropping 4-6ft directly into the plunge pool below. Keep an eye out for attractions that display a ‘ride now’ sign, which means the queue is quiet. Use this opportunity to hop on Krakatau Aqua Coaster earlier in the day, as you shouldn’t have to wait for long. There’s also Ko’okiri Body Plunge, which drops you 125ft straight through the volcano!
There’s plenty for little ones to enjoy too, or if big rides simply aren’t your thing. Explore entire areas of the park which have been designed with kids in mind, like Runnamukka Reef, a whimsical bamboo playground filled with bubbling geysers, water guns, slides and plenty of shade. Then, there’s Tot Tiki Reef, where fountains, splash pads and a tot-sized volcano create the perfect space for toddlers.
Before sitting down to eat, tap in at another attraction to join the virtual queue. This way you’ll have a shorter wait once you’re done with lunch; you’ll save some time and it’ll help you get the most from your day. By now, you’ve probably worked up an appetite, so it’s time to grab some lunch. Volcano Bay has three distinct areas, each with plenty to choose from, so you won’t have far to go wherever you are.
In the Wave Village, check out the Kohola Reef Restaurant and Social Club for BBQ meats, seafood, burgers and salads. In the River Village, Whakawaiwai Eats serves up delicious longboard pizzas, hot dogs and more; apparently the jerk shrimp mac & cheese is a must-try! If you’re in a hurry, Bambu, tucked back in the Rainforest Village, offers hot sandwiches, burgers, and grab ‘n’ go salads: or why not head to The Feasting Frog for tempting tacos?
Enjoy some downtime away from the white-knuckle thrills at Waturi Beach, found at the foot of the 200ft volcano. There’s almost 90,000sq foot of powdery sand to sink your toes into; need to cool off? Just to the right of the gigantic wave pool is a far calmer spot called The Reef.
How do you like your lazy rivers? Volcano Bay has two to choose from! TeAwa the Fearless River is fast-moving and rapid-like, but to really unwind, head to Kopiko Wai Winding River where you can grab a ring and float peacefully along.
Later in the day, the queues will begin to quiet down, so use this chance to hop on any rides you haven’t been on, or re-visit your favourites before you hit the shops. Your day at Volcano Bay will be one you’ll want to remember, so make sure you stop by the Waturi Marketplace for a souvenir. From cool clothes to collectibles and branded attraction merchandise, you’ll be able to shop with ease thanks to your TapuTapu wristband. And, if you’re staying at a Universal hotel, you can have your new buys delivered straight back to your hotel room: what better excuse to shop ‘til you drop!?