A Carefree Day at Volcano Bay

By Joyce Shulman September 12, 2017

When I was a kid, I would spend long summer weekends at my Aunt Wendy’s beach house. It was the kind of beach community where you woke up in the morning, put on a bathing suit, slathered yourself with sunscreen and spent the entire day playing in the water.

A day at Universal Orlando’s new Volcano Bay waterpark brought me back to those carefree summer days. Enter this expansive, Polynesian-themed water park to the sound of island music, grab your TapuTapu and spend the day exploring 18 different attractions.

First things first … what in the world is TapuTapu?

TapuTapu is a waterproof wearable bracelet that you will receive upon arrival. Once you connect it to a credit card, you will not need to run to find money for lunch or when the kids can’t go another moment without ice cream. Simply swipe your wrist to pay.

Nor will you need to wait in line for a must-do ride for 90 minutes. Instead, head to the ride’s entrance where you will find one of two messages. “Ride Now” means you can ride right then (with usually just a few minutes wait). Or, you will see a message telling you what time to come back. Simply touch your TapuTapu to hold your place in line, virtually. When it is your time to ride, your TapuTapu will buzz. But no need to panic, you will have a 60-minute window to get there.

Here are three tips to get the most out of your TapuTapu:

  • Download the Universal Orlando app and connect your credit card before you arrive. This will make it much easier to connect your TapuTapu when you arrive at the park and believe me, as soon as you walk through the entrance, you’ll be anxious to get playing. 
  • Write each person’s name on their park ticket. This way, if you lose a TapuTapu at any point during the day, it is much easier for the staff at the Courtesy Desk to replace it, otherwise, you will need your entire party with you so they can figure out which one was lost. 
  • You can only hold a spot on one virtual line at a time, so plan your not-to-be-missed rides strategically. The virtual line for some of the most popular rides can sometimes stretch to 90 minutes or more, so plan to join the queue before lunch, or before you enjoy time on Waturi Beach and in the wave pool, or at one of the parks two rivers. That way you’ll be playing -- or eating -- while you “wait.”

So What Are the Don’t Miss Rides at Volcano Bay?

Of course, my don’t miss rides might not be your don’t miss rides. For instance, my husband was not leaving Volcano Bay before he paid homage to the volcano god by falling through a drop door and plummeting 125 feet down the Ko’okiri Body Plunge.

My daughter’s not-to-be missed attraction is the Krakatau Aqua Coaster, which is best described as tube ride meets flume ride meets rollercoaster, and it is as much fun as all three of those things combined can be.

My son loves what he calls a “not-lazy lazy river” and Volcano Bay delivers with TeAwa The Fearless River, a “lazy” river complete with waterfalls, waves and even a rapid or two.

And me? I’m all about the family raft rides and Volcano Bay has several to choose from, including Puihi of the Maku and Honu of the Honu ika Moana.

But as the day wound down, we found ourselves simply enjoying an afternoon at the beach beside an expansive lagoon, with sand between our toes, the sun filtered through the palm trees and waterfalls spilling from a magnificent volcano in the distance.

We were tired, sun kissed and sandy, exactly the feeling I remember from those carefree summer days at my Aunt Wendy’s beach house. 

Where to Stay

While all of the Universal Orlando resorts are convenient and all provide free transportation, if Volcano Bay is a priority for your visit, there is no better place to stay than Cabana Bay.  This retro, 50s themed resort is adjacent to Volcano Bay: in fact, here was the view from my room:

In the morning, it is an easy stroll to the back gate of Volcano Bay. In the evening, if your kids have not had enough water, the resort’s pool, lazy river and nightly movies will keep your kids going, probably long past you.


The author received passes to Universal Orlando Resort to facilitate her review. All opinions are her own.