Picture This: You’re driving down the interstate. The construction is never-ending and the traffic is forever-maddening. You’ve got different obligations in your life that demand your attention every day and between the podcast you’re trying to focus on, the meals you’re preparing for your family in your head, and the story your daughter is telling you from the backseat — you’ve got a lot going on.
And then, like a beacon of hope, you see it. A volcano appears before you and suddenly all you can think about is relaxing on the beach with a tropical beverage in your hand, planning which raft ride you’ll adventure on next…
I’m here to tell you this dream can be your reality at Universal’s water theme park, Volcano Bay, which reopened on February 27th!
The beauty of a visit to Universal’s Volcano Bay is that you really shouldn’t feel the need to plan TOO much. This is your chance to sit back and relax as the island vibes whisk your worries away. So, consider this less a guide to planning and more a good friend taking you by the metaphorical hand and guiding you through Volcano Bay with my tried-and-true tips and recommendations.
Where to Stay
If you are planning to include Volcano Bay in your vacation to Universal Orlando Resort, I cannot recommend enough staying at one of Universal’s hotels. You’ve got so many incredible options to choose from (and whichever you go with you’ll be avoiding sand getting in your car, which is the real dream here). Here are my thoughts to help you narrow it down a little…
- Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort | Staying at Cabana Bay is the number one best piece of advice I can give you for a visit to Volcano Bay. First off, Cabana Bay and Volcano Bay are incredibly close to each other — you can even book a standard room or family suite with a view of Volcano Bay. When you’re ready to get up and get going, you have access to a scenic walking path that will lead you right from Cabana Bay to the park. Plus, your whole experience at Cabana Bay will transport you to a 1950’s beachside resort with Volcano Bay in your backyard!
- Universal’s Aventura Hotel or Loews Sapphire Falls Resort | Both Universal’s Aventura Hotel and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort are also super close to Volcano Bay (you can even catch the volcano light up and erupt at night from Aventura’s rooftop bar, Bar 17 Bistro). They also have access to the walking path that leads right into Volcano Bay. EDITOR’S NOTE: These hotels are temporarily suspending operations. However, Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn & Suites are currently open. Details for the other hotels will be announced at a later time.
Another perk of staying at a Universal hotel is Early Park Admission into Volcano Bay, which will give you all the freedom in the world to pick the perfect beach chair, grab breakfast at Kohola Reef Restaurant & Social Club and relax, or get first dibs on your favorite ride before everyone else.
Before You Arrive
TapuTapu has totally changed the game of water theme park experiences! You’ll be given a wearable to use for the day upon arrival at Volcano Bay and can use it to make cashless purchases with TapTu Pay and for fun interactive experiences throughout the park.
The main way you’ll use your TapuTapu, though, is for the virtual line experience for the rides. Just head to the attraction you’re interested in, tap your TapuTapu, explore other areas of the park while you wait, and then your TapuTapu will vibrate to let you know when it’s time to return and ride.
Securing either a private cabana or premium seating is well worth it when I think of all the perks that come along with them. I can honestly tell you that every time I visit Volcano Bay for the day, I go ahead and get premium seating — I love the ease it adds. 13/10 recommend.
Keep an eye out around the park for maps of Volcano Bay and be sure to check your Official Universal Orlando Resort app for the map as well. You can even go ahead and peruse it some before you arrive, too. Volcano Bay is split into three different villages — Wave Village (where you enter into), Rainforest Village (near the back of the park), and River Village (to the right of the volcano). Plus there is the Volcano itself which has its own attractions! Each village has everything you’ll need — lockers, restrooms, beach chairs, restaurants, sunshine, etc.
The best option if you’re looking for quick transportation to Volcano Bay is staying at Cabana Bay, Sapphire Falls, or Aventura Hotel (helloooo walking path). There are also shuttles to Volcano Bay from the other Universal Orlando hotel properties. One of my favorite things about Universal Orlando Resort is how close everything is, so when we talk about shuttle rides, those shuttle rides are quick and easy.
If you are not staying at a Universal hotel, just drive yourself to the usual Universal Orlando parking garages and follow the signage for Volcano Bay parking. From there, you’ll be led to a quick shuttle to Volcano Bay.
TIP: Stay at a Universal hotel! Not only will you get Early Park Admission to Volcano Bay, but you’ll end up saving time and money by taking a shuttle to Volcano Bay rather than parking in the garage.
What to Bring
I definitely recommend bringing a towel (there are some available to rent, but for ease I’d say bring your own), wearing a swimsuit with some sort of cover-up, and wearing shoes that can get wet. Other than that, I’d say travel light with the same necessities you’d pack for a day at the beach — refillable water-bottle, sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, etc. Just remember whatever you bring needs to easily fit into a locker or be left behind at your beach chair when you ride the rides.
And don’t forget your face-covering!
What to start planning your trip to Universal’s Volcano Bay? Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your vacation planning started!