Is Universal’s Volcano Bay Worth Visiting?

A Sunrise in Volcano Bay Waturi Beach at Universal Studios Orlando

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 on-site, nearby or if you are spending more than 3 days at Universal Studios Resort. If you are primarily 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.

Alternatively, I would recommend visiting one of the two Disney water parks, Discovery Cove or Aquatica as 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 extremely family-friendly much like the other two Universal parks there are areas that are designed for younger children and toddlers.

This area which is referred to as ‘Tot Tiki Reef’ is clearly signposted around the park and on the maps. While there is no designated seating at that area you can find 2 sections nearby at 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 has a trained lifeguard to keep watch over guests in the vicinity. There are also patches and areas that are sand-based at the wave pool at the base of the Volcano and at the start of the lazy river perfect for little ones to play in the sand.

There is also a variety of sizes of life vests which you can use to give your child a little extra care especially in the pool areas.

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?

Due to Volcano Bay being open all year round it heats the water within the pools, rides and slides to keep your body temperature just right.

While there is no specific information about the water within summer, it is clear that the water and pools are heated during the winter months. All pools and water areas are heated at Volcano Bay so you can use all the rides, slides and pools as you would in the summer months.

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

The beauty of visiting Volcano Bay is that you don’t need to know how to swim to visit. 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 certain 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.

If you wish to have an added support while in any of the pools or lazy river you can use a life vest which fits over your body and keeps your body afloat even if you get a little swept away. These come in a variety of sizes from small children up to adult sizes.

How Long Do You Spend At Volcano Bay?

With so much to do and see you might be conflicted as to how long to spend at Volcano Bay. While there is plenty to do and keep everyone entertained you don’t need to spend more than one day there.

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 though 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 main feature of the park is also home to the main thrill ride ‘Kala and Ta Nui Serpentine Body Slides’ which is a high thrill ride which plunges you down a clear tube from the top of the Volcano to the bottom in a matter of seconds. This alone is a prime attraction in the park itself.

There are 20 rides, slice and attractions at Volcano Bay and 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 is also the wave pool located within Wave Village at the base of the Volcano directly in front of the entrance.

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?

Just like the name suggests, the pool can produce waves to make your experience more dynamic. There are around 9 different kinds of waves and they can vary in size and intensity and occur at random. On top of it all, the whole announced experience is something completely unique which adds to the adventurous atmosphere. 

Before the pool starts to churn waves the swimmers will hear drum music from the artificial Volcano. The moment is always exciting and typically people and kids in the pools start to dance as they are waiting for the waves. The excitement will grow as everyone around you curiously wait for what’s about to happen.

While there’s no major 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″ then you’ll be asked to wear a life vest.

The wave pool at Volcano Bay will alert all the swimmers prior to releasing a set of waves. If you are swimming this is a great way to know when to prepare yourself for some action. as the bell tolls, you will notice swimmers turning toward the Krakatau as an intensifying drum tune plays in the background. 

Then, the gentle waves will begin to appear making the swimmers feel like they are in a real ocean. The rhythmic drumming sound is a great reminder for the parents that the water movement is about to start. During the active wave time frame, wave onset can be dynamic and sudden.

This wave pool is on the shallow side, as its depth doesn’t go deeper than 6 feet. As a matter of fact, the depth is gradual and it will vary in different areas of the pool from 0 to 6 ft (0–1.8 meters). However, all children swimming at Waturi Beach who are shorter than 48″ (122cm) will have to wear a life jacket. 

The Volcano Bay water park has heated water and even when the weather is a bit cooler, swimmers can have fun. The water is heated to over 80°F in all pools and other attractions.

How Much Is A Day Ticket For Volcano Bay?

There area number of deals that happen over the course of the year for ticket bundles for Universal Studios Orlando which vary from 2 park tickets to 3 park 3 day tickets. To understand if Volcano Bay is worth visiting is to work out the base price for a one day ticket.

That way if you are staying on site, off site or over at Disney you can work out whether the added cost is worth it for you or you would rather go to one of the Disney water parks or Orlando alternatives.

A one day ticket to Volcano Bay starts from $80 per person, this does not include food, drinks or any added luxuries such as towels or lockers. You can often find deals with Universal Studios Orlando themselves on multiple park tickets to allow you to get Volcano Bay at a better price.

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 3 park ticket.

If you aren’t sure you would want to visit the park until you are at Universal Studios you can upgrade your ticket at guest services or buy a ticket at the gate.

How Much Is Parking At Volcano Bay?

Unfortunately, there is no direct parking lot for Volcano Bay. Parking for all three Universal parks is located in the same area at CityWalk. Parking ranges from $20 a day per car to $30 for prime parking, you can also find RV parking for $22 per day.

From the parking garage, you can then follow the signs for Volcano Bay where you will wait by a bus stop and use the free shuttle to the park. This shuttle is open to all guests visiting Universal’s Volcano Bay.

The shuttle runs from 7 am until 8 pm when the park closes for the night. It is expected to arrive every 15 – 20 minutes to keep a steady rotation for guests to leave and come as they are ready.

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 you are driving to the parks of using a shuttle service all cars are to park at 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 different advantages, one of which is saving on transport to and from the parks. If you are driving and parking your car at the hotel you still have to pay to park each day so bear this in mind when booking.

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort Waterfall experience

When we stayed at Loews Sapphire Falls we found that getting the free shuttle and water taxi saved us quite a lot of money on transportation as we didn’t need to drive or get Ubers or Lyfts to and from the parks. As the shuttle and water taxi are included you can use it as much as you like during your stay.

If you plan to book to stay on-site you can often get great deals on your tickets and find that Volcano Bay is part of the package. We also found that due to spending 5 days at Universal Studios we could use one of those as a more relaxing day at Volcano Bay before going to another park the day after.

Staying Off-Site

If you choose to stay off-site and are either driving into the parks, using the hotel shuttle or using Lyft or Uber you might want to look at which water parks are closer to you and if your hotel shuttle goes to that specific park.

If you have are looking at staying off-site but at one of the hotels within walking distance to Universal Studios Orlando, you might want to look at adding Volcano Bay to your ticket package. You can find a number of deals across the year that allows you to get Volcano Bay included or at a more reasonable rate.

You can then take advantage of Universal’s Volcano Bay on one of the days you are not visiting Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure. I would only suggest doing this if you are planning on staying 3-5 days near Universal Studios in which you can allocate a day to Volcano Bay.

I would primarily say that Volcano Bay is worth visiting if you are staying nearby to Universal Studios as it is easier to get there and also gives you a better chance of getting there at a good time to get a good spot.

Also if you are primarily visiting Orlando for Universal I would choose Volcano Bay as your water park choice as you will be making most of your trips to that area or Orlando.

Staying At Disney World

Much like staying on-site at Universal, there are a whole host of amazing hotels and resort at Disney World. If you are looking to stay on site you may purchase your tickets to the park along with your accommodation, these often include entry to all 6 parks including the 2 water parks.

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

2018 Orlando Crowd Calendar - Walt Disney World

There are a number of great benefits to staying on-site at a Disney resort, one of which is the easy shuttle service which goes to each of the parks. You can either get a shuttle straight from your resort/hotel to the water parks at Disney or simply hop on a shuttle to one of the main four parks or Disney Springs and transfer to a shuttle for a water park there.

Using the shuttle services at Disney is free for all guests whether you are staying on-site or not. This cuts down on cost significantly as you don’t have to pay for parking. It is also much closer to your hotel/resort so once you are done at the water park you can simple hop on a bus and head back.

You will also save money on tickets as tickets to Volcano Bay start at $80 per person for one day, this quite a high added costs on top of your trip to the other two Universal parks and your vacation to Disney World.

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 range in size and style for those who love adventure to those who are more cautious.

The rides at Volcano Bay much like the other two theme parks at Universal Studios are aimed towards a older audience and teen years. 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 better catered to 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. Also if you are spending more than 2 days visiting Universal Studios and wish to spend on of the extra days doing something a little different.

I would also say that Volcano Bay is worth visiting if you are a family of older children and teens as you may find that the rides and attractions much like the other two Universal Studios parks are better suited to older children.

Alternatively, if you are primarily visiting Disney World and staying within the area of Disney I would say that a visit to Volcano Bay is not worth it.

This can also apply to those who have a full park admission ticket to all 6 Disney World parks including the 2 water parks. As you already have access to these water parks it would be an extra unnecessary cost to then get admission to Volcano Bay.

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