Volcano Bay in Orlando, Florida
Just a few years, Universal purchased the former popular water park called, Wet N' Wild, in Orlando, Florida. The park then, as it is now, was popular but much cheaper. After considerable renovation, Universal turned it into Volcano Bay, a true tropical-like island of water adventure. With so many theme parks in Orlando, this is just another one many attend and will pay dearly for it.
The visitor truly feels like they have entered a Tahiti-like island, with its tall mountain with a waterfall and numerous water pools. There is even a large sandy beach with waves. Yet, you are not anywhere near a real ocean.
Paradise can be expensive. Welcome to the machine. One's experience here depends on many things, but there are universal complaints and praise from hundreds. A single day ticket does vary but usually is around $70 per person. Parking is pricey, over $20, all day. The cheapest food is $11 (chicken and fries), with an average of around $15 with a drink, depending on what you buy. Of course, you can rent chairs with canopy or a whole cabana, all at extra cost. If you need a small locker, it is $8, larger ones are more. Those are the basic costs.
The one feature the park has is one that most other theme parks will adopt. It allows patrons to avoid waiting in line. What is Tapu? It's a free wristband that looks like a watch that every guest receives. You can use it to buy food (negating the need to carry cash that gets wet or running to the locker) or other items. But the best part is it helps you to stand in a VIRTUAL LINE. Instead of getting in line, sign up at the ride's kiosk with the device. It will then tell you how many minutes you need to wait until you need to get in line. This freedom allows you to do anything else as you wait for your ride. When the watch indicates, "Ride Now", you go to that ride and get in line. Usually, you just wait 15 or so minutes until you board the ride. If you choose to ignore it, do so. The Tapu is waterproof but can easily fall off. The only concern is how secure is your credit card information in the Volcano Bay computer system and if the Tapu is lost, can the finder use your CC data for purchases? That is unclear.
- Arrive when it opens, not at mid-day or after. The park closes when capacity is reached. Arriving early ensures that the wait time is very little for rides. It will allow you to do the best rides numerous times before crowds arrive.
- Wear water shoes and water shirt for feet and body protection from scrapes and sun. Water shoes are allowed on rides and by afternoon, the pavement is too hot for bare feet.
- On the day you are going, verify that the weather will be thunderstorm free. Like many waterparks, the rides will stop if the weather turns bad with thunder and lightning. In the Orlando area, these are a near daily occurrence in the summer months in the afternoon. Also, find out if any rides are not open. The Aqua coaster has been closed without warnings due to issues.
- Don't lose your Tapu wrist watch!
- Use the Universal website ahead of time to connect your credit card, set a spending limit, and choose a passcode, allowing you to use their free complimentary TapuTapu bands to purchase food and items in the water park. This way, you can leave your money and wallet elsewhere.
- Avoid weekends and holidays. Try middle of the week.
- Take a towel and do not wear necklaces or lanyards. If you wear glasses, leave them in a locker or hold them tight on a ride.
- Although the Tapu attempts to allow you to stand in a virtual line, what seems to happen is that even when the message "ride now" displays, the line you are standing in can still be another 30+ minutes. So, it does not really solve the problem because it is simply inundated with users wanting the same ride. You may only be able to get on 5-6 rides in your 5 hr. stay there.