Volcano Bay Tips for First-Time Visitors

Jill Robbins Avatar

Volcano Bay is Universal Orlando Resort's Water Park. Read about how the Tapu Tapu wristband enhances your experience
Tapu Tapu, the wearable wristband at Volcano Bay Water Theme Park, can do a lot of different things to enhance your visit. Photo credit: Universal Orlando Resort

My family loves a good waterpark and we’ve been to a lot of them. The tropical-themed Volcano Bay, Universal Orlando Resort’s epic water park, is my favorite. It’s beautifully landscaped (which the kids don’t care about but I do), and thrilling yet relaxing. Basically, all the things you want a water park to be.

However, it’s a popular water park. On busy days, Volcano Bay reaches capacity by mid-morning. So how do you make sure you get in? It’s best to buy tickets in advance. Plus, you’ll get a better price that way. The resort’s best value is the 3-Park Explorer Ticket.

Here are all the Volcano Bay tips you need to know before you go.

Read more: Complete Vacation Planning Guide for Universal Orlando Resort

Entrance to Volcano Bay waterpark at Universal Studios in Florida
Volcano Bay is a water park theme park like no other. You’ll know it as soon as you arrive. Photo credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Volcano Bay Tips: Before you Go

You can call Universal Orlando Resort’s capacity hotline at 407-817-8317 for the latest updates. The resort also posts updates on social media.

Read More: Which are the best hotels near Universal Studios Orlando?

You can use the waterproof Tapu Tapu, Volcano Bay’s in-park reservation system, to reserve your place in line for popular attractions, and then swim or float until it’s time for your ride. Photo credit: Universal Orlando Resort

1. Arrive Early

Volcano Bay typically opens at 10 a.m. Please note that hours vary by month. Check before you go. Volcano Bay is a relatively new and very popular attraction. Purchasing your ticket and planning your day isn’t going to do you much good if you can’t get into the park because it is already at capacity.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Guests at Universal Orlando Resort Hotels get early entry into Volcano Bay. 

2. Set Up Cashless Payment

You’ll need to download the Universal Orlando App and connect your credit card. Once you’ve done that, you won’t have to worry about cash or credit cards. You can use your Tapu Tapu wearable wrist band (more about that in a minute) to pay for food and drinks, merchandise in the park, locker and towel rental and more.

This is super easy to set up. I loved not having to worry about keeping track of cash or credit cards. The last place you want to lose your credit card is in a moving body of water.

3. Reserve Seating in Advance

There is plenty of seating at Volcano Bay but most is in the full sun. If you’re interested in reserving premium seating or a cabana (big splurge but so fun!), contact the park as early as you can.

Premium seating is a lounge chair with a canopy and an attached safe. A cabana is much more luxurious and private and comes with a ton of amenities, including some snacks and your own personal server.

You can inquire about seating availability at one of the concierge huts on the day of your visit. You might get lucky. But, if you want a guaranteed shady spot, reserve before you go.

Private cabanas need to be reserved early and other Volcano Bay tips
Double decker private cabanas overlooking the beach, surrounded by lots of seats in the full sun. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

4. Get Seats and Lockers Early

If you’re not planning to pay for premium/reserved seating, get your lockers and stake out your seats as soon as you arrive.

Do not pass go. Do not stop to look at all the things. Everything will be there after you get a locker and find someplace to sit. But maybe not vice-versa.

5. Research

You will have fun at Volcano Bay, no matter what. It’s that kind of place. But your visit will be so much more awesome if you take a little time to do some research beforehand.

Scope out the height requirements, menus and, most of all, read up on how Tapu Tapu works.

Tapu Tapu is Volcano Bay’s wearable wrist band that acts as your locker key, your cash and holds your place in line. Yes, really!

6. One of the Most Important Volcano Bay Tips: Make a Plan for Riding and Sliding

Use the Universal Orlando Resort app to familiarize yourself with the lay of the land before you visit. Decide if your family is going to stay together as a group or if you’re going to split up. What are the check-in expectations going to be?

Volcano Bay is NOW OPEN at Universal Orlando Resort. This one of a kind water theme park will blow away any old notions you had about water parks.
The kids play area at Volcano Bay. Photo credit: Jenn Greene

6. One of the Most Important Volcano Bay Tips: Make a Plan for Riding and Sliding

Use the Universal Orlando Resort app to familiarize yourself with the lay of the land before you visit. Decide if your family is going to stay together as a group or if you’re going to split up. What are the check-in expectations going to be?

Pick your must-dos ahead of time and ride those first thing in the morning. The Krakatau Aqua Coaster is the most popular ride, so if that appeals to you, you’ll want to ride that first.

The thing I like most about Volcano Bay is how it has virtual lines set up. You can reserve your place in a virtual line – just tap in with your Tapu Tapu and your wearable will display the estimated wait time. Relax in your lounger or go enjoy another attraction while you wait to be notified you can ride. You can get in line for attractions that don’t have a wait time or you can enjoy one of the pools. You can also float in the winding river and the fearless river, as neither one of those require you to tap in to get a wait time.

We rode our must-dos first and worked our way through all the ride our kids were tall enough to ride. After that, we re-rode our favorites. By lunchtime, the Krakatau Water Coaster had a three-hour wait. Yikes, right? We tapped in for that, had a leisurely lunch and a rest while we waited in the virtual line.

Read More: Why you should (almost) never buy a Universal Studios Express Pass online

One of our other great Volcano Bay tips is to make sure you pack your essential items. Photo credit: DeeMPhotography via Shutterstock

7. Don’t Forget to Pack Essentials

Make sure you have plenty of sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and a waterproof case for your phone. If you forget something, you can purchase it in the park…at theme park prices, of course.

Volcano Bay charges a towel fee, so bring your own if you can. If you’re staying at one of the Universal Orlando Resort hotels, you’re prohibited from taking your hotel room towels to Volcano Bay.

This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me since the pools at the resort hotels offer free towel service. This is one thing I hope they change in the future. If you’re traveling by air, beach towels for everyone will take up some space in your luggage, so plan for that. Or, plan to buy towels to use at the resort and take home as souvenirs.

8. Volcano Bay Tip: Don’t Let the Rain Drive You Away

If it starts raining, don’t immediately scurry for the exit. It rains almost daily in central Florida, especially in summer. Try to wait it out. If you leave, you’re not guaranteed to get back in.

Remember the capacity limits we talked about earlier. There’s no “save my place in line” for someone who leaves and comes back the same day. Your ticket will permit it, but park capacity may not.

9. Stay Late

Volcano Bay after dark is pretty neat. The volcano (Krakatau Mountain) lights up and changes colors. This is definitely worth sticking around for if you have the energy. Hours vary so be sure to check the website.

10. Taking Younger Kids to Volcano Bay? Know these things beforehand

If your kids are at least 48 inches, they can enjoy all the attractions at Volcano Bay. Kids who are at least 42 inches can enjoy most of the attractions. Other than the designated areas that cater to little kids and the Kopiko Wai Winding River (lazy river) you have to be at least 42 inches to participate.

If you’ve got little kids in your group, Volcano Bay hasn’t forgotten about you. Runamukka Reef is for guests under 54 inches only and Tot Tikki Reef (don’t you just love these names?) is for guests under 48 inches only.  These two areas allow your smaller kids to play and have an awesome water park experience without getting too close to older, bigger kids whose splashing might be too rough or intense. They even have slides that are just the right size for littles.

Volcano Bay Map
If you have small children, you’ll be spending most of your time in the River Village area. Photo credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Also, guests under 48 inches must wear a life jacket and/or be accompanied by an adult on various attractions. You can see the breakdown here. Even if you are confident in your child’s ability to swim, the life jacket rules are based on weight and are strictly enforced by the lifeguards.

If you have a mix of big kids and little kids, Volcano Bay has something for everyone. However, if your kids are all younger or all under 42 inches, you might consider saving this water park until they are older. If you move forward with plans to go, think about what ride swapping strategies you might employ. The Tapu Tapu system helps keep your wait in a physical line to a minimum.

You’ll have fun no matter what but this isn’t an inexpensive water park and to pay the admission fee and not be able to take full advantage of all of the slides and thrills may not make sense for you.

You also may want to consider wearing your little one’s Tapu Tapu wristband. If you let your child wear their own, make sure you check frequently to make sure they still have it.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What is the best time to visit Volcano Bay?

A: It’s best to visit on a weekday, as weekends tend to be busier. Also, try to arrive early in the morning to beat the crowds.

Q: Is there a height requirement for the rides?

A: Yes, there are height requirements for some of the rides. You can check the requirements on the Volcano Bay website before your visit.

Q: Can I bring my own food and drinks into the park?

A: No, outside food and drinks are not allowed in the park. However, there are plenty of dining options available inside the park.

Q: Are there lockers available for rent?

A: Yes, there are lockers available for rent at various locations throughout the park. Prices range from $10-$15 depending on the size of the locker.

Q: What should I bring with me to the park?

A: Be sure to bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun. You may also want to bring a change of clothes and a towel.

Q: Can I use my Universal Orlando Resort annual pass to visit Volcano Bay?

A: Yes, if you have a Universal Orlando Resort annual pass that includes Volcano Bay, you can use it to enter the park.

Jill Robbins Avatar
Jill Robbins is a freelance writer covering lifestyle, travel, health, and commerce. Her writing has appeared in SheKnows, HuffPost, Tripsavvy, Insider, AARP, and other publications. Jill lives in San Antonio with her husband and two youngest kids, although she’s usually somewhere else. You can find out what Jill is up to by reading her blog, Ripped Jeans and Bifocals.
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