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Tips for a Perfect Day at Universal’s Volcano Bay

Volcano Bay is a must visit at  Universal Orlando Resort, and it’s a water park like no other. To help you get the most from your visit, we’ve compiled our best Volcano Bay tips for a perfect day!

Water park volcano with cascading waterfalls and lots of people in a pool.

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Top Tips for Volcano Bay: Frequently Asked Questions

With a location central to Universal’s hotels and theme parks, it’s a no-brainer to add Volcano Bay to any trip to Orlando. Kids will love it, and adults will be pleasantly surprised by the cleanliness, efficiency, and amount of fun to be had at this amazing water theme park. 

But there are several things you need to know in order to have your best day ever at Volcano Bay!

1. Can I reserve cabanas at Volcano Bay?

We learned several things as a result of not being prepared. First and foremost, if you are traveling with kids, consider reserving your seats ahead of time.

There are lounge chairs at the water park, but they fill up quickly and do not offer any amenities. If you call ahead, you can reserve either premium seating or one of the cabanas at Volcano Bay.

Volcano Bay premium seating comes with two lounge chairs, an umbrella, and a built-in storage lockbox for a minimal cost. The added benefit is an attendant who takes care of any food or drink orders. Unfortunately, we didn’t know this ahead of time and had to make do with whatever seats that were available, which sadly had no lock box or food service.

Volcano Bay cabanas are available as single cabanas for up to 6 people or family suites for up to 16 people.  

Sometimes the premium seating will be available if you arrive first thing in the morning, but why risk it? Call ahead and book the premium seating for your family. For cabanas, be sure to book with plenty of advance notice, especially during the busy summer months.

Polynesian-themed cabanas and water play area at Volcano Bay water park.
The family cabanas near OhYah and OhNo waterslides offer a lot of privacy and a great view of the play area.

2. How long should I plan to be at Volcano Bay?

Volcano Bay is open 365 days a year. During the cooler months, the park opens at 10 a.m. and during the summer it opens at 9:00 a.m.

If you’re staying on property, take advantage of the shuttle to Volcano Bay and Early Park Admission, which allows you to head to the park an hour before everyone else. I know it seems like a crazy time to go to a water park. Trust us, it’s not.

People start arriving as soon as possible to enjoy every square inch of Volcano Bay. It is especially important to arrive early if you haven’t made a seat reservation to ensure you can have chairs under an umbrella.

Also, it is not very crowded in the morning, so the lines at the rides are not as long. With 18 water attractions, there’s plenty to explore at Volcano Bay, so pace yourselves, and enjoy.

Kids walking through the entrance to Volcano Bay.
Get there early, you won’t regret it!

3. What is a TapuTapu?

TapuTapu is Universal Volcano Bay’s waterproof wristband you receive upon admission.  This little device can do amazing things like open lockers, pay for your meals (you need to set this up in advance on the Universal Orlando app), and save your place in a ride’s virtual line.

When you find a water slide you want to try, simply scan your TapuTapu against the monitor and it will tell you when to come back for your turn. This allows you to head off and experience the rest of the water park while you wait. The device vibrates when it’s time for you to return.

We found that sometimes it would say the wait would be 60 minutes, but it would end up being closer to 40, so you never know. You can only select one ride at a time, but that’s not an issue since there’s plenty to entertain the kids while they wait.

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Know that Universal’s Express Pass does not work for Volcano Bay, but you won’t need it with this. Just remember to turn in the wristband at the end of the day.

Here’s a video to explain how TapuTapu works:

YouTube video

4. What should I bring to Volcano Bay?

Bring your own towels! Volcano Bay towels are available for rent, but why incur the extra cost? 

You’ll also want to pack the traditional beach gear: cover-ups, sunglasses, camera (you can’t bring it on the ride, but you can take it on the lazy river), and plenty of sunscreen.

You’re also allowed to bring in pre-packaged food (though no coolers or alcohol), and if you have a refillable cup from one of the other Universal parks, be sure to bring that along to save some money on drinks.

Leave the inflatable rafts and life vests at home – Volcano Bay provides them for you.

5. Where do you store your belongings at Volcano Bay?

There are plenty of storage lockers throughout the water park. There’s a daily rental fee, but you can use your TapuTapu to get in and out as needed. There is also a storage lock box available if you get premium seating or a cabana.

You can’t have any loose articles on the rides, so either put it away or have someone at your seat all day watching your belongings.

Also, you can wear your flip flops around Volcano Bay and I highly recommend this. There are flip flop cubbies near every ride, which are very convenient.

6. What happens if I have a lost kid at Volcano Bay?

I would highly recommend setting a meeting place with your kids and checking in often. Try and find a spot to set up that is away from the crowds, because if you’re in the middle of the main beach, it can be hard for kids to spot you.

If you do lose a kid (yes, this happened to us), head to the concierge stand. They can tell you where and when your child last used their TapuTapu to assist in your search.

Tips for Volcano Bay Rides

First, let’s talk height requirements. If you’re over 48″ tall, you can go on everything at Volcano Bay. However, you can not go in the younger child area (it’s for the little ones only). 

Some Volcano Bay slides require riders between 42” and 48″ to ride with a supervising companion. Expect to wear a life vest on the lazy rivers at all times per Volcano Bay regulations.

Twisting water slides.
Taniwha Tubes twist and turn, and tiki statues spray unsuspecting guests with water.

Volcano Bay Attractions for Toddlers and Young Children

If you have little ones, never fear, there’s plenty to do. There are two separate areas for younger children, Tot Tiki Reef and Runamukka Reef. These offer splash areas, their own water slides, water blasters, and dumping water buckets.

Kids will love running around and there are plenty of spots where parents can relax with a good view of the play area.

Little ones might also enjoy finding the TapuTapu  water cannons around the park that shoot water at unsuspecting guests when the kids tap their band to the sensor. Everyone will get a good laugh from these spots.

Splash pad area for young kids at water park.
The play areas for younger kids are amazing!

Best Volcano Bay Rides for Older Kids and Adults

The main attraction of the park is the Krakatau Volcano. It is the centerpiece of the waterpark, rising majestically 200 feet in the sky. Along the back side of the volcano are several waterslides and the Krakatau aqua coaster.

The aqua coaster involves riding in a four person canoe, through twists and turns, before dropping through a waterfall into the pool below. The waterslides, Ko’kiri Body Plunge and Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides, are best for older children and adults as they have drop doors and can be pretty intense.

On Punga Racers, kids (and adults) compete as they race on mats through four different slides to see who comes out the winner at the end (some older elementary children might be ok with this).

Don’t miss Maku Puihi raft ride or the Honu raft ride, where you spin around with others in a large round raft as you ride the waves and enjoy the drops on the slide. Our kids also liked the Ohyah and the Ohno drop slides (waits were a bit shorter) as well, and these are good for elementary age and above.

Boy dropping out of water slide into the pool.
The drop at the end of the Ohyah and the Ohno might surprise them!

There are several other slides throughout the park, so give your family plenty of time to explore. Just be sure to touch your TapuTapu to the screen when you find one you like. 

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While waiting for your turn in the virtual line, be sure to make the most of the rest of the park. Our kids loved TeAwa the Fearless River with fast moving currents instead of the slower Kopiko Wai winding river, which is all about relaxation.

Kids floating in lazy river at Volcano Bay water park.
Kids can’t get enough of the two “lazy” rivers! Just remember, one has rapids!

They also loved playing at the foot of the volcano at Waturi Beach, a giant lagoon that offers a wave pool and swimming for all ages. When the bell rings out, that’s when the waves come, and the excitement begins. My kids spent hours just hanging out on the beach.

What are the food options at Volcano Bay?

The  Volcano Bay food options are surprisingly good. Kohola Reef has coconut crusted fried chicken, mango BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, and longboard pizzas.

We tried The Feasting Frog and enjoyed some tacos and plantain chips. Others in our group ate at Whakawaiwai Eats and enjoyed the jerk shrimp mac and cheese, Hawaiian pizza, and Tropical Baby Greens.

For those looking for traditional foods, head to Bambu for a hamburger, chicken tenders, or pretzel dog. There are several bars around Volcano Bay for adult beverages and kiosks throughout Volcano Bay with drinks and snacks.

Water park guests looking at food menu.
There are plenty of food options at Volcano Bay.

Orlando Resort Hotels Near Volcano Bay

If you’re looking for a Volcano Bay hotel, Universal’s Aventura Hotel is the closest to Volcano Bay. A dedicated walking path from Aventura takes you straight to Volcano Bay. The modern hotel offers views of all three Universal Orlando Resort theme parks!

Cabana Bay is the next closest hotel, and Loews Sapphire Falls is the third closest. 

If you’re not staying on property, parking will be at the Universal Transportation hub near CityWalk. You’ll need to park your car and wait for a shuttle to Volcano Bay.

If you plan on visiting Islands of Adventure or Universal Studios Florida, we would highly recommend investing in a multi-park ticket to save some money. 

Also, if you stay at Loews Portofino Bay, Hard Rock or Loews Royal Pacific, you’ll automatically receive a Universal Express Unlimited pass per person. Something definitely worth considering if you’re visiting the parks at a busy time.

Volcano Bay is hands-down the best water theme park we’ve visited. We loved every minute, and we’re sure you will too.

If you’re looking for other Universal ideas, don’t miss our post: What to Do at Universal with Teens or our review of Cabana Bay.

Travel Tips
Book Your Flights
You can find discounted fares using sites like Momondo or Skyscanner. If you want to keep an eye on discount fares, we suggest signing up for Scott’s Cheap Flights, a daily newsletter with flight sales around the world.

If you travel frequently, consider investing in a Priority Pass for airport lounge access. It’s nice to have a space where you can relax before your flight.

Book Your Accommodation

We regularly use Hotels.com and Expedia.com to find lodging when we travel. It’s a great way to compare vacation rentals, hotels, and resorts.

If your family knows they want to stay in a vacation rental, we recommend looking at VRBO and Plum Guide.

Book Your Transportation

For rental car agencies, try Rentalcars.com. We tend to use Hertz simply for the quality of service.

Book Your Tours and Travel Photos

We regularly used companies like Viator and GetYourGuide to book tours when we travel. Both have great communication and a large variety of activities that work for all ages.

If you’re visiting a city with multiple attractions, be sure to check out a discount pass, such as CityPASS or Go City. Tiqets is another place to purchase tickets for attractions.

Context Travel is another option and they offer more educational based activities. The former teacher in me loves their tours.

One of our favorite things to do annually is take photos with Flytographer. They have photographers around the world and we’ve used them on four separate occasions. This is our favorite travel souvenir.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

With the state of travel these days, it’s important to have some type of travel insurance to cover any unforeseen accidents, illnesses, threat or cancellations. We always travel with insurance and would recommend SquareMouth, Travelex, or Medjet as good options. And if you want to compare different insurance options, use Travel Insurance Master to find the best policy for your group.