- June 28th, 2019, 6:02 pm
I’m a waterpark guy. No I don’t count my waterslides or anything, I just don’t think people in this community give waterparks the credit they deserve. After seeing the initial concept art for Volcano Bay as it was released a few years ago, I was really excited about the idea of eventually getting back out to Orlando to pay a visit. Since we were already checking out Universal’s dry parks, it made sense to go to Volcano bay as well.
Located a good distance from the other two parks, Volcano Bay requires a shuttle from the main parking garages to get to. The seclusion works in the park’s favor though, as it really helps immerse you in the “island wilderness” feel of the park. That is of course if you ignore Interstate 4 which sits, in some cases, right under some of the slides to the side of the park. Regardless, my first impressions of this place were great and would only continue to get better as we found some chairs with this beautiful view.
This picture does not do the volcano justice, it is massive and truly a sight to behold. The rock work is beautifully done, but at this point I have almost come to expect such perfection from Universal. It may be hard to see from this picture, but the Volcano actually houses a few slides, including a drop box slide which takes you down the volcano and through one of the wading pools below. This was my first slide of the day and certainly a great way to kick the day off. Just walking up to the top is a trek of its own, with over 200 stairs necessary to get there. The view from the top is as breathtaking as it is terrifying, but the slide gives you no time to be scared. Just as soon as the floor drops out from beneath you, you’re in the catch pool coming up for breath. Sure I probably inhaled three gallons of water on my way down, but I would definitely ride it again if I were to ever come back to Volcano Bay in the future.
I would have ridden it again in the same day, but crowds were really beginning to pile up and Volcano Bay has a rather interesting way of operating its queue lines. When entering the park, you are given a sort of wrist watch, dubbed a “TapuTapu” by the park, which allows you to get into rides. At the start of every line for each slide is a podium for you to scan your TapuTapu. If the line is not too long, you are granted access to hop in line right away. However, for the more popular slides, you will be given a set time to return to that particular slide. While it sounds great on paper, you can only reserve a spot for one slide at a time, and the waits can get up to two hours for one slide as was the case today. I understand that Universal’s options were limited, as they could either construct massive queue lines for their slides, taking up valuable real estate. Or instead just make everybody wear some wrist watches. There really wasn’t a good option, but it does become a nuisance when you cannot ride anything and instead have to wait one reservation at a time to do anything.
Speaking of reserving slides, these two would be our first experiences using our TapuTapus. Fortunately for us, the waits were less than fifteen minutes for both. The green slide is a traditional family-style raft slide with a few dips throughout the course. The blue one to the right however is a totally different story. Imagine taking Surfer’s Swell, adding a second turn, and amping it up to eleven. As a result you end up with this gigantic beast. A complete blast of a water slide that really gets the adrenaline going. I love the mist effects that the park has spraying at the top of each of the curls, really gives the slide an ominous feel to build up anticipation while in line.
Krakatau is Volcano Bay’s water coaster and man is it a good one. This is the fourth one of these I’ve been fortunate enough to ride and it may just be the best. Mammoth and Wildebeast are great and all, but getting to be thrusted over the hills of a water coaster whilst traveling through a volcano gives Krakatau the edge for me. The ride time is very good and lengthy as well. My biggest complaint about River Rush at Dollywood’s Splash Country is just how short the ride is. Right as it gets you going, you reach the end of the ride leaving you wanting more. Krakatau keeps on going and right as you think it’s all over, you go down yet another drop. Great slide for sure, but there were still many more left to do.
The Ohyah and Ohno slides are the hidden gems of this place. From a distance you would easily pass them off as slow, boring body slides. But what you can’t see from far away is that they end six feet above a ten foot deep swimming pool. Short as they may be, that fall into the pool will always catch you by surprise.
The rest of the day was spent riding whatever slides we could without having to make two hour reservations. Volcano Bay is a great park, but the newness of it all is still showing as there are definitely some kinks to be worked out with the park’s “TapuTapu” wait time system. Also it being new is a major factor in so many people flocking here at once. Maybe after the years go by it will start to cool down, but for now it can feel like a mess at times. Overall I did really enjoy my time here. Volcano Bay is lightyears ahead of any other water park that I have been to as far as theming is concerned. Universal did great here in terms of rides and storytelling, all they have left now is to work out the remaining technical kinks. But with time I’m sure that it will all work out.
That’s all for today and as usual, thank you for reading!
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