Is Universal’s Volcano Bay Worth Visiting?

Volcano Bay is the only water park that is part of Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. The park opened in 2016 to rave reviews.

Universal’s Volcano Bay is worth visiting if you are staying at the Universal Studios Resort in Orlando or nearby. However, if you’re staying at Walt Disney World or are more than 15 miles away, then a trip to Volcano Bay isn’t likely to be worth the cost or hassle unless you love water parks.

Alternatively, I would recommend visiting one of the two Disney water parks, Discovery Cove or Aquatica. These may be more affordable, closer to your accommodation or included as part of your ticket package.

Is Volcano Bay Suitable For Toddlers?

Volcano Bay is very family-friendly. However, much like the other two Universal parks, some areas are more suited to younger children and toddlers than others.

This area, referred to as ‘Tot Tiki Reef’, is signposted around the park and on maps. While there is no designated seating in that area, you can find two sections nearby on either side of the Honu Ika Moana ride.

There is also an area, “Runamukka Reef’ where you’ll find a mini playground built with small water slides, geysers and fountains for little ones to play in. Nearby you will find the Honu Ika Moana ride and Whakiwaiwai eats in the River Village area located to the right of the entrance.

Each section of Universal’s Volcano Bay has a trained lifeguard to watch guests in the vicinity, helping those injured or in potential danger, while also ensuring guests stick to the park’s rules for the safety of others.

Near the entrance of Volcano Bay, you’ll find complimentary life vests in several sizes that you can use during your stay at the park.

Is Volcano Bay Open Year Round?

Volcano Bay is open year-round, so no matter if you are visiting in the offseason or at peak times, you will find a welcome sunbed and thrilling water rides.

For more up to date hours at different times within the year, you should check the Universal Studios Orlando website for current opening times and schedules for each of the three parks.

There may be the odd day which Volcano Bay may close due to very cold days in Winter, but these are few and far between.

Does Volcano Bay Have A Heated Pool?

As Volcano Bay is open year-round, staff may choose to heat the water within the park. However, there’s no dedicated swimming pool at the park that’s heated year-round.

Instead, the water in all swimming pools is set to be at the optimal body temperature.

Do You Need To Know How To Swim At Volcano Bay?

There are many areas in which non-swimmers or not strong/confident swimmers can go and enjoy the park as much as everyone else.

There may be some limitations in places such as deep pools and specific slides that may not be suitable for those who cannot swim, but there are many other areas such as the main swimming pool, lazy river and more that you can go in.

Suppose you wish to have added support while in any of the pools or lazy rivers, in which case you can use a life vest that fits over your body and keeps your body afloat even if you get a little swept away. Again, these come in a variety of sizes, from small children up to adult sizes.

How Long Do You Spend At Volcano Bay?

While there is plenty to do at Volcano Bay, you don’t need to spend more than one day at the park.

You can head to the park early to get a good spot to relax and sunbathe and head off to one of the four dining spots for lunch, and you can even spread out the day to last until the afternoon/evening and have a light bite before heading back to your hotel and out for dinner.

Things To Do At Volcano Bay

Volcano Bay has plenty to offer pretty much any guest walking through the tiki torch entrance from rides, rivers and adventure. The park itself is built around the amazingly lifelike Volcano that doesn’t erupt smoke and lava but water tricking down the side cascading into the pools below.

The park’s main feature is also home to the main thrill ride, Kala and Ta Nui Serpentine Body Slides, a high thrill ride that plunges you down a clear tube from the top of the Volcano to the bottom in a matter of seconds.

There are 20 rides, slides and attractions at Volcano Bay. These range from high thrills to gentle streams, which are perfect for every member of the family to enjoy.

There is also a range of up to four dining areas; Kohola Reef Restaurant & Social Club, Whakawaiwai Eats, Bambu and The Feasting Frog. There is also the choice of 2 bar areas’ Dancing Dragons Boat bar’ and ‘Kunuju Boat Bar’ if you fancy a drink.

You can sunbathe on one of the free sun loungers provided, take a ride on the gentle lazy river Kopiko Wai Winding River or up the adventure on the high thrill slides.

There are other activities that anyone can enjoy at Volcano Bay, such as using your Tapu Tapu to set blasts of water into the people down below in the lazy river or even do a spot of shopping for a new swimsuit or sun hat.

Is There A Wave Pool At Volcano Bay?

A giant wave pool at the centre of Volcano Bay offers nine different waves that vary in size and intensity. There’s no pattern to the format of the waves, and instead, they occur at random.

Before the pool starts to churn waves, swimmers will hear drum music from the artificial Volcano. The moment is always exciting, and typically kids in the pools begin to dance while waiting for the waves.

While there’s no significant danger to the wave pool, you will need to know how to swim at a basic level. If you don’t know how to swim or are under 48″, you’ll be asked to wear a life vest.

The drumming announcement that the waves will begin is a great way to know when to prepare yourself for some action – or in some cases, to leave the pool to avoid the waves. Then, as the dumbs continue to toll, you will notice swimmers turning toward the Krakatau.

Within sixty seconds, gentle waves will begin to appear. During the active wave time frame, wave onset can be dynamic and sudden.

While this wave pool is shallow with a maximum depth of 6 feet, the exact depth varies in different areas of the wave pool from 0 to 6 ft (0–1.8 meters). The change in depth is gradual but worth noting, especially for non-confident swimmers.

How Much Is A Day Ticket For Volcano Bay?

A one day ticket to Volcano Bay starts from $80 per person.

How To Buy Tickets For Volcano Bay

You can buy tickets for Volcano Bay or all three Universal Studios parks on the Universal Studios Orlando website. There you will find the most up to date information on opening times and ticket deals.

Alternatively, you can buy tickets from AttractionTix, which can save you money or enable you to get a better deal on three park tickets.

Unsure whether you’d like to visit Volcano Bay during your trip? In that case, you can wait until you arrive at Universal Studios and then upgrade your ticket at Guest Services provided that there is availability.

How Much Is Parking At Volcano Bay?

Unfortunately, there is no direct parking lot for Volcano Bay. Instead, parking for all three Universal parks is at the same area at CityWalk. Parking ranges from $20 to $30 for prime parking, with RV parking for $22 per day.

You can then follow the signs for Volcano Bay from the parking garage to the bus stop before taking the free shuttle to the park. This shuttle is open to all guests visiting Universal’s Volcano Bay.

The shuttle runs every 15 minutes from 7am until 8pm, when the park closes for the night, although it’s worth noting that wait times for the shuttle bus can be higher during peak times (between 9am and 10.30am and 3pm and 5.30pm)

Is There A Free Shuttle From Universal Studios To Volcano Bay?

Whether you are staying at one of the on-site hotels or nearby with a free shuttle, you can get back and forth to Volcano Bay by using the free shuttle provided by Universal Studios.

Whether driving to the parks or using a shuttle service, all cars park at the CityWalk parking garage and use the free shuttle to Volcano Bay.

The shuttle will take you from the main car park area at Universal Studios/ CityWalk to Volcano Bay. There is a bus stop to wait at for the shuttle.

Staying On-Site At Universal Studios Orlando

Staying on-site at Universal Studios has many advantages, one of which saves on transport to and from the parks. However, if you are driving and parking your car at the hotel, you still have to pay to park each day.

We stayed at the Loews Sapphire Falls hotel during our most recent visit to Universal Studios Resort in Orlando. Being an on-site hotel, there’s a complimentary shuttle around the resort and a water taxi to City Walk.

As such, the extra cost of the hotel could be offset by the potential cost of Ubers, Lyfts, parking etc.

Staying Off-Site

Suppose you’re staying outside of the Universal Studios Resort and driving to the parks. In that case, you might want to look at some of the alternative water parks available to save you travelling more than 30 or 40 minutes each way to and from the water park.

Especially since getting from the car park to the entrance of Volcano Bay can take upwards of one hour during busy periods.

However, if you’re staying at one of the hotels within walking distance to Universal Studios, Orlando, Volcano Bay will be your closest water park and, therefore, likely one of the best ones for you to visit during your stay.

Staying At Disney World

If you are using Disney as your base and spending more of your time there but using one or two of your days to visit Universal Studios, I would say adding a day to spend at Volcano Bay probably isn’t worth it.

Especially if you’ve bought a pass to gain entry into all six Walt Disney World parks, including the two water parks or are staying on-site at a Disney World Resort hotel.

Walt Disney World has a shuttle bus system that connects all hotels within the resort to all six of the different theme parks and water parks, making the stress of getting to the water park non-existent compared to Volcano Bay.

By skipping Volcano Bay and favouring the Walt Disney World water parks, you’ll save money, too, as Volcano Bay tickets start at $80 per person.

The Rides At Volcano Bay

One thing that makes Volcano Bay stand out is the rides. They are new and exciting and are great for older children and adults. There are 20 waterslides in total and vary in size and style, from those who love adventure to those who are more cautious.

Much like the other two theme parks at Universal Studios, the rides at Volcano Bay are more suited to older children and young adults. The rides are fast, thrilling and adventurous, which is perfect for keeping teens happy and active.

With this in mind, if you have teenagers and want to visit a water park, this is probably the best one for you, while Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon at Disney World are for younger children and toddlers.

Is Volcano Bay Worth Visiting?

With all this information in mind, I would say that Volcano Bay is worth visiting if;

  • You are staying on-site at Universal Studios Orlando and wish to have a day at a water park.
  • You have older children / teens as the rides and attractions are better suited to them than younger childre

However, Volcano Bay may be worth a miss if;

  • You’ve already got a Walt Disney World six park ticket as this gets you entry into the two Walt Disney World water parks.
  • You’re staying more than 30 minutes drive from Universal Studios Resort as the total time to get to the water park (including parking the car at City Walk and taking the shuttle) will likely be in excess of one and a half hours each way.
  • You’re a young family, as only 30% or so of the rides will be suitable for children and toddlers

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