I hate theme parks, but I LOVED Volcano Bay!


Color me impressed Volcano Bay!

This summer we spent two weeks in the United States visiting family and friends. We went to Florida for a week and then Minnesota for a week. Our first stop was in Orlando and of course, we felt the pressure to do the theme park thing, even though the kids have been there before and we said we’d never do it again {insert eyeroll}. Even though I am not theme park fan, I was excited to see my husband’s family and spend some quality time with them and together we decided to do Universal Studios and Volcano Bay.

We chose Universal Studios because of the new Harry Potter ride and yes it was very impressive. The entire walk through Diagon Alley is great and of course, we got some buttered beer. But for what you pay, I just do not think there are enough rides at Universal and you have to buy BOTH the Universal and Islands of Adventure tickets to get to the other Harry Potter section, which I think is lame. But I am not going to spend time complaining about theme parks. What I am going to do is RAVE about how awesome Volcano Bay is!

Universal’s Volcano Bay

Volcano Bay is Universal’s latest water park and it is fantastic! I was super impressed, and sometimes I am hard to please. It’s not that I’m picky (honest!), it’s because I have traveled so much and seen a lot of stuff to compare it to including companies and brands who do things SO well. I also just have an eye for details and efficiencies – or inefficiencies ;).

Because we were staying at a Universal property we could enter Volcano Bay one hour before the official opening time. A shuttle bus took us to the park entrance from our hotel and, during the ride, a monitor told us about the park and our Tapu Tapu, the genius wristband that your entire family will wear while you are in the park.

Tapu Tapu Wristband

The Tapu Tapu is essentially a virtual line or similar to a fast pass (except everyone gets one), so when the lines for certain waterslides are long you can check into that ride by tapping your Tapu Tapu wristband and it will tell you when to come back. You can then go on other slides while you wait for your allotted time to go back and get on that ride. Your Tapu Tapu will give you timely reminders – 20 minutes, 10 minutes etc…

You can also connect a credit card to your family’s wristbands, so you do not have to carry any money, and older kids can buy themselves drinks, slushies, ice cream or whatever they want, no need to come back and find you! Not only that, the Tapu Tapu also collects all your families photos so at the end of the day you can buy whatever pictures you want – including ones of your kids on rides that they went on without you.

Food & Cabanas

The food at Volcano Bay is actually GOOD and you can find some healthy options. I ate a Quinoa Burger for lunch and for theme park food, it was great. They also have enough restaurants around the property for the demand of people (no waiting in insane lines) and the way you order and pick up your food was efficient as well. You can also rent cabanas for the day, which we were tempted to do as they looked really nice! 

Volcano Bay’s Roller Coaster Waterslide!

The main pool is a large wave pool and then around the park, there are all sorts of slides. Long and very steep scary slides, single slides, twisting slides and slides for the family to ride together on large rafts. There is a very nice toddler section with shallow pools, splash pads and smaller slides for younger children. Not only is there a large lazy river, but another river with rapids, we may have gone on this the most. It was so much fun to get pushed around and try to hang onto each other. The roller coaster waterslide was our families absolute favorite!!  Even though Hudson was so nervous about it, he loved it!! That was the first time I have seen a rollercoaster type waterslide.

Where we stayed…

Lowes Saphire Falls Resort

I was quickly reminded that I was back in America the second I entered the hotel lobby of the Lowes Saphire Falls Resort, it was ginormous! Coming back to the USA it always takes a few days for our senses to adjust ;). And well, especially when you land in Orlando first. After adjusting to the overall size of Lowes Saphire Falls and staying for three nights, I thought this was an excellent hotel. The rooms were very nice, the breakfast room looked like we were eating in a cafeteria of a palace with options galore. And taking the ferry over to Universal Studios and Universal City Walk was super convenient and fun. The pool area was very nice and it even had a sandy area, a small waterslide, a bonfire pit, and two bar areas. And the best part, staying here allows you one-hour early entrance into Volcano Bay, which was great for grabbing beach chairs and getting on some of the waterslides first.

Travel Note: If you stay at the other two Lowes properties (which are more expensive) Loews Portofino Bay and Lowes Royal Pacific Resort you get fast passes when you buy tickets for Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. So if you are certain you are going to both parks it may be worth considering one of those hotels.

But I say skip those and stay at Lowes Saphire Falls and just do Volcano Bay. Not only did the kids want to go back for one more day at Volcano Bay, but I did too!

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