This blog is a big departure for me since I usually write about animals, but recently my family and I went to Orlando and visited Universal Volcano Bay water park. The experience was so noteworthy that I want to share with you what I wish I had known before I went.
1. This is a brand new park. There are many bugs and hitches and things that must be improved. Thr park is still in “beta” mode so although you will pay full price, do not expect a full polished experience consistent with the usual Universal experience. We were not prepared for the lack of a “Universal” class experience and expected the same quality we got from the other parks. The day was a disappointment to us because we were not prepared. Hopefully, you will be prepared after you read this blog. The park reaches capacity very soon after opening also, so GO EARLY.
2. Take towels! The concierge at our hotel told us we did not need to bring towels because the park rented them, The rental towels were almost $5 a piece, but because the concierge (also a Universal employee) advised us not to take any, we didn’t. Sadly, they were completely out of rental towels by 20 minutes after the park opened, so we had to buy them in the gift shop. They were….wait for it….$25 a piece!!! Moral of this story- take your towels from the hotel no matter what they tell you. Do make sure that you don’t lose them though because a lost hotel towel is $25 also, but you won’t have anything to show for it.
3. Frame your expectations. We got to ride 2 rides each in our day at Volcano Bay and we waited a lot. We thought the Tapu Tapu wristband would allow us to optimize our wait time, but this is not the case. You cannot queue up all the slides and rides you want and then proceed through them as they become free. You can only queue up for one ride at a time, so if you wait for 3 hours for one ride, you then check into the next and wait again.
4. It is not a family experience. You must defend and protect your chair and/or umbrella (assuming you get one- there seem to be too few) so one member of your party has to stay with them. Also, when you queue your Tapu Tapu wristband and your other family members do so immediately after, your times can be different when you can return to get in line. Oh and don’t think that when your wristband tells you to return, it is time to ride. When it tells you to return, it merely means that you can come and stand in line for the ride.
5. Take a cooler of drinks and snacks. We did not do this, figuring that the cooler was heavy and bulky, but we really wished we had. The food in Volcano Bay was expensive, but we expected that. What we did not expect was that there were so few restaurants and they had LONG lines at then from the moment they opened (which was at 10 am). Also, very importantly, the park reaches capacity and no one can enter, so you will not be able to go back to your hotel to get anything that you need. If you do, you might not be able to get back in.
If you heed my advice and expect a new park type experience (even though the ticket isn’t discounted), take towels with a cooler full of snacks and drinks and you don’t mind experiencing the rides separately from your party, then you will be much better able to enjoy the park, which is very pretty. I hope that they are able to work out the bugs soon. You might be best served to save your money this year and give them until next year to sort it all out. Universal is a class act and I am sure that they will find a way to make this experience more in par with the other experiences. Happy vacationing!
I will return to my regularly scheduled animal topics after this brief public service announcement. 🙂