For months, those stuck on I4 have had something else to look at near the Universal area of Orlando. Universal is pushing to become the most innovative theme park in the area. To do so they have scraped the former Wet n’ Wild water park. This was done to create something more akin to Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon.
The newest addition to Universal’s family of local parks is, of course, Volcano Bay. The branding is an effort to breathe new life into their more budget friendly hotel option Cabana Bay. However Universal isn’t holding back on their newest addition.
Just What is “Volcano Bay”?
Volcano Bay is Universal’s first big push into the water park game. Although they had purchased local favorite Wet n’ Wild, it just wasn’t enough. Wet n’ Wild, despite being a popular local attraction offering, just simply didn’t have enough space or things to do. This problem is corrected, and then some. Volcano Bay covers over 50 acres and has about every type of water attraction that you can think of. These attractions range from water coasters to a lazy river.
As Universal has been doing since the creation of Islands of Adventure, there’s an entire back story/mythos. The story surrounds the fire god Krakatau (the volcano at the center) and his daughter Tai Nui. And if you’re wondering why launch the park now, it probably has a lot to do with rival Disney. The rival recently released the film Moana, which also has a strong Pacific Island vibe.
How Does it Differ From Other Parks?
This is Universal Orlando’s first real water park offering, and it’s a little surprising that they haven’t launched one before. This is especially true considering that two of Islands of Adventure’s Rides generally leave guests drenched; the Jurassic Park River Adventure and Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls. However, Universal has apparently been expanding its brand, and this is a great new addition.
Volcano Bay features its centerpiece, the 200-foot volcano Krakatau which will have some form of unique attraction within. This is the typical theme park air of mystery that area residents have come to expect. And anyone who has been caught in rush hour the past several months has seen tubes installed within the base. Even still, Universal has never been one to shy away from creating a “wow” factor with new attractions, even if their vast majority of newer rides have been 3D simulators.
Different Park Areas
The park features four distinct areas, each one corresponding to a different type of park experience. This actually seems like an intelligent move, as most water parks simply settle for a jumble of rides eating up the central part of their guest areas.
Krakatau will be the part of the park that features the more thrilling and faster rides. Guests can enjoy high-speed water coasters, plunge-style water slides, waterfall drops, body slides, racing-style rides, and other more exciting offerings.
The Wave Village, unlike the more thrill-heavy rides, is where guests can relax, work on their tan, and enjoy the wave pools. Unlike Typhoon Lagoon, which features one massive wave pool that can be rough for smaller guests, Volcano Bay features both a main wave pool as well as a separate calmer wave pool. This really is an original choice and more than likely one that more families are going to side with over Disney’s offerings.
The River Village will be the more “kiddie” area, as well as the part that has the lazy river. However, despite having children and toddler areas, the lazy river will pass through Krakatau, which is refreshing. It seems we’ve almost reached that point where big theme parks make you choose between being a good parent and experiencing the entire park.
Finally, the Rainforest Village has a combination of thrill and relaxation rides. This is probably going to be the busiest area of the park, as it has something for everyone. Whereas the other areas have dedicated ride types, this seems to be the “fun for the whole family” area with thrill rides, pools, and rivers.
The Final Details
Despite this massive undertaking, Volcano Bay is going to open with just 18 attractions. While this may seem like plenty to see and do, and likely with the huge crowds this will be more than enough, it is surprising considering just how many offerings the other Universal Parks have. It is important to note that Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon only has eleven attractions, so guests will still have more to enjoy than their rival.
As of right now, Volcano Bay is going to run you $67 for an adult ticket. Annual pass holders, who are always the most outspoken over the smallest inconveniences, have been quick to point out that passes are going to need to be upgraded to include the park. But considering the original price included the old parks, it does make sense that the newer price would reflect an additional park offering.
Finally, one new aspect that can’t be ignored is Universal’s shot at rivaling Disney’s Magic Band. Volcano Bay will offer guests a waterproof wearable, called Taputapu, which will provide a virtual wait, a lá My Magic+/FastPass+ at Disney. And considering how one of the main focuses of Volcano Bay is a relaxing day in the water, this is the perfect opportunity to offer it. Considering all of the major theme parks are trying new ways to cut out waiting in lines entirely, Taputapu comes as no surprise.
Chances are, just as Disney did if Taputapu goes well Universal will more than likely expand its use to include hotel room card information, as well as allow its utilization in the other two parks.