Volcano Bay Water Theme Park - Universal Studios Orlando

P. 1 - Volcano Bay Media Day and Grand Opening TR
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Volcano Bay Water Theme Park - Universal Studios Orlando

Postby disneyfan1313 » Sat May 27, 2017 10:01 am

This week, TPR was invited to join in the festivities of the Volcano Bay media day and grand opening event at Universal Studios Orlando! We have a TON of pictures to share with you and our thoughts on the park will be interspersed with the pictures throughout the trip report.

Spanning 25 fully immersive acres and featuring something for everyone – from perfected relaxation to incredible thrills – Volcano Bay is unlike any other water park in world. It offers an immersive environment filled with unbelievable detail and innovative technology to enhance fun and remove hassles. Volcano Bay features:
More than 30 experiences including 18 unique attractions such as a multi-directional wave pool with sandy beaches, a peaceful winding river, twisting multi-rider raft rides, speeding body slides that drop from the top of the volcano into the waters below and more.
The TapuTapu wearable – included with guest admission and specifically designed for use within Universal’s Volcano Bay. Features of TapuTapu include:
Virtual Line Access: TapuTapu allows guests to virtually wait in line for rides while enjoying other areas of the park. Their wearable will simply alert them when it’s time for their ride.
TapTu Play: Guests can enjoy many TapTu Play experiences throughout the park - like controlling streams of water spurting from whales in Tot Tiki Reef, shooting water cannons at guests snaking down Kopiko Wai Winding River, illuminating images in the volcano’s hidden caves and more.
TapTu Pay: Guests can make purchases throughout the entire park with their TapuTapu wearable, eliminating the need to carry cash, credit cards or a wallet throughout the park.
TapTu Snap/My Universal Photo Access: Guests can take advantage of special interactive photo opportunities and selfie-spots throughout the park as well as photo opportunities on Volcano Bay’s attractions. Their wearable will automatically link those photos to their account so that guests can view, share and purchase them at their convenience.
fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo Access: After renting their fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo, guests will be able to access them with a touch of their TapuTapu wearable.
Beautifully-themed dining locations featuring more than 60 delicious, South Pacific-inspired dishes – ranging from jerk mahi sandwiches to fresh island chicken salad to decadent chocolate pineapple upside down cake.
For more information about Universal’s Volcano Bay, visit http://www.universalorlando.com.





First things first - the park is BEAUTIFUL! Lush and tropical horticulture everywhere you turn with some very unique tropical plants as well. The park also has a GREAT selection of water slides that run through the full list of what you would expect in a world class water park. The food is also phenomenal - you will see in the report how they have a better selection and quality of food than you will find in many non-Orlando theme parks!

On the flip side, they have work to do with the TapuTapu virtual wait system. Think of it like Fastpass - you can reserve ONE "basic" slide and possibly the water coaster. The basic slides have had waits in excess of 60-90 minutes and the water coaster has been in the 200-300 minute range. Here is where the downside comes in - while you are waiting for those, you can't do ANY other slide. You can experience the wave pool, lazy rivers or lounge on the beach. Then once your time comes up, you still have a wait (usually to the bottom of the slide tower - 30 minutes or so) before you can ride. That is leading to some frustration with their guests and will need to be tweaked as their operation continues. They are also having some normal grand opening jitters with efficiency and continual downtimes which hopefully will get tweaked over the coming weeks.

I'm looking forward to returning when some of these bugs are worked out and the park is a little less crowded. It is a GREAT "hang out" kind of water park. I didn't notice a shortage of chairs of beach space and the cabanas (for an upcharge) are beautiful. Express Pass is available but it doesn't bypass the line at the slide, just the virtual wait.

Anyways - on to the photos! Please feel free to ask questions about our experiences!
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OMG! I *LOVE* themed USB drives. How cute is this tiki one? This really shows the care that went into branding this park.
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We are checked in and ready to go!
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To get to Volcano Bay you must park in the main Universal Orlando parking structure. A shuttle bus is then provided to the drop off point.
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Where you walk underground?!!?!? In Florida!?! This is already starting to be an adventure!
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It is time to take the tunnel! This is feeling very Indiana Jones-esque.
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Hello tiki gods! Don't let this tunnel collapse!
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We made it!
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I really like this entrance plaza. Lots of room and a cool photo op.
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And I love the fountains at the entrance signs. You can get wet before you even buy your tickets!
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This big boat will be the ticket sales location if you don't buy them in advance or in the parking garage.
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I AM HUNGRY TIKI GOD! GIVE ME YOUR PLANTS!
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Height requirement signs for those interested!
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At the entrance the Universal Team Member will scan your ticket, your fingerprint and issue you your TapuTapu.
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It uses RFID technology to link it to you.
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And this is the first view of the volcano.. HOLY CRAP that is beautiful!
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Mandatory selfie time!
Last edited by disneyfan1313 on Sat May 27, 2017 11:16 am.
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Re: Volcano Bay Water Theme Park - Universal Studios Orlando

Postby disneyfan1313 » Sat May 27, 2017 10:11 am

Part TWO!
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fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo are plentiful throughout the park and use your TapuTapu to unlock.
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Simply tap, pay the $12 or $15 depending on size and you have a fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo for the day!
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Even the changing rooms are VERY nice with private rooms.
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Time to check out some slides! These are the "normal" tube slides. Lots of fun!
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Wheeeeee!
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Gotta check out the water coaster next! KRAKATAU! What cool themed vehicles!
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NOTED!
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The coolest part of the water coaster is going INTO the volcano. Unfortunately there isn't theming inside, but it is cool to see!
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There are lots of airtime opportunities on this.
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It is a LONG ride!
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All the slide areas have great theming at pool and ground level.
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These stations are set up at every slide entrance point.
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You tap your TapuTapu band and you will get a return time loaded onto it. These waits have been hovering in the 60-250 minute range since opening.
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The TapuTapu band was surprisingly comfortable and secure.
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You can also use it at two "selfie spots"!
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Scan your TapuTapu and the tiki statue will take your picture and you can view and purchase it later!
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Time for a snack...how about Volcano Bay exclusive Dippin Dots!
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Re: Volcano Bay Water Theme Park - Universal Studios Orlando

Postby disneyfan1313 » Sat May 27, 2017 10:19 am

Part 3!
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Volcano Bay has some amazing bars and drinks - not surprising for a Universal Studios park! This watermelon drink was to die for!
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Even Moana has a slide here! ;)
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The large raft rides were GREAT! Lots of thrills!
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Stacey is getting nervous...
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This is her OMFG face!
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OK - now she is having fun again... :)
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Can't wait to try these again when all the water effects are working.
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You really work up an appetite at water parks... time for lunch!
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The menu is extensive and tasty at each location.
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OMG! BBQ! I know what I am getting.
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No joke - these were some of the best ribs I have EVER had. And the chocolate pineapple cake is worth going out of your way to get.
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They are also doing these grab and go options at each location. Perfect for a water park.
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Too many choices!
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I had a burger the next day and it was great also.
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Cabanas are hugely popular at water parks around the world and Volcano Bay was built with this in mind.
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Two story ones are a great idea, you can choose if you want the top or bottom or you can rent both with a large party!
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The slides at the front of the mountain are integrated so well to the rock structure!
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Each slide has a check in point at the entrance where they will scan your TapuTapu.
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Re: Volcano Bay Water Theme Park - Universal Studios Orlando

Postby disneyfan1313 » Sat May 27, 2017 10:27 am

Part 4!
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Almost every view in Volcano Bay at ground level is lush and tropical!
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I haven't ridden one of these slides since River Country closed!
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Of course if you are brave, you can DROP all the way from the top of the volcano!
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PLENTY of seating on beach chairs throughout the park. It didn't seem to be an issue getting a spot either day.
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Even the bridges are themed!
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There are also a couple of large themed bars with plenty of shaded space to hang out.
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Both themed to boats! These are proving to be popular already!
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TOO MANY GOOD CHOICES!!!
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Everything we tried was DELICIOUS!
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Each slide also has a nicely themed sign.
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They were still working on some paths, but this will eventually take you through the volcano.
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You really can't get enough photos of this!
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The wave pool is generous in size with a good size beach to match. Even on capacity days it shouldn't feel too crowded.
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The new tower at Cabana Bay Resort overlooks the park - that would be a cool room to have!
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Time to wrap up Media day with a yummy Waturi Swirl ice cream!
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As you leave you must drop your TapuTapu in the provided box. It then deactivates.
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We return a few hours later for the grand opening VIP event. This was supposed to be in the park, but Mother Nature had other ideas!
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Creating a sand castle logo in real time!
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...and carving a tiki statue with a chainsaw!
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Re: Volcano Bay Water Theme Park - Universal Studios Orlando

Postby disneyfan1313 » Sat May 27, 2017 10:37 am

Part 5!
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We even got to meet some of the "residents" of Volcano Bay!
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You could even get a hat made out of palm fronds.
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Universal does impressive displays at their events. The one for the sushi table had a fish ice carving and a huge real fish!
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Giant roast pig for the pork sliders!
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Huge volcano made of chocolate for the deserts!
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Their events team does a really great job!
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Musical guests included an authentic Hawaiian "swing" band.
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I AM GIANT ICE TIKI!!
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We also enjoyed music from an award winning folk duo from New Zealand.
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OMG! This guy was crawling around surprising people!
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The highlight of the night was the authentic tribal group that Universal flew in from New Zealand from the opening.
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They had an intense performance that felt like it was out of a movie!
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This guy will haunt your nightmares!
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Heading out to see the sand art is complete!
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And so is the tiki statue! How cool!
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We are back bright and early for the grand opening ceremony. We get to be some of the first to ride in the new Volcano Bay busses!
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Wow! Even with a slightly overcast sky it is incredibly beautiful!
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The Today Show was filming throughout the morning.
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The drummers from last night are set up and ready to go!
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Re: Volcano Bay Water Theme Park - Universal Studios Orlando

Postby disneyfan1313 » Sat May 27, 2017 10:51 am

Part 6!
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The opening ceremony was authentically Polynesian - including the blowing of the conch shell!
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HASHTAG THE PANDA SPOTTING!
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Huge crowd of media from throughout the world and invited VIP guests!
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All these talented performers made the opening very special.
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Oh no! It is the scary tongue guy again!
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This is probably the only time you will see canoes in the wave pool!
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Volcano Bay is officially open!
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I can't lie - I really want to stay in one of those rooms in the new Cabana Bay tower and watch the park overnight!
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After a quick break we are back to see what the park is like with guests!
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OMG! It is busy! The entrance process is slowed down by the TapuTapu issuing.
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Fun trivia - this means Wet Wild - an homage to the old park!
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Splash down time! Can't wait to ride!
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Time to check out the kids area.
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The kids area is really nicely themed and opened up around 1pm on opening day.
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Lots of interactive elements and bright colors!
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WOAH! It is a little busier today!
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WAY busier. As of now, this doesn't get you right on. You will still have to wait in the normal slide line of 30 minutes once your time is up.
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You can see the lines going down the slide tower.
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Those are folks who already waited in the "virtual line".
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Re: Volcano Bay Water Theme Park - Universal Studios Orlando

Postby disneyfan1313 » Sat May 27, 2017 10:58 am

Part 7!
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One of the lazy rivers was not ready for opening... you can tell. ;)
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Mr. Frog says "clean up my water please!".
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The other lazy river however was ready for fun!
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Lots of good views, but a tube is required!
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You even go through the volcano!
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The water and mist effects were not working yet, but I am sure that will add to the experience!
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Mr Frog says "I like this clean water better!".
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A tube is required for everyone in the river and you must stay on it at all times.
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I finally reached my virtual wait time for the Aqua Coaster! Unfortunately I still had another 40 minutes in line.
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It is fun to watch while you wait!
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It is deceptively long because of how it winds into the volcano!
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Woah! The lines keep getting longer!
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Unfortunately downtimes kept plaguing the attractions - many almost constantly.
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I love the tiki god with starfish boobs!
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The merchandise stores are very nicely themed with large selections of interesting products.
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This one you have to walk through to get to the other side of the park... smart!
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Re: Volcano Bay Water Theme Park - Universal Studios Orlando

Postby Henry M » Sat May 27, 2017 11:00 am

Great report! Shame about the virtual queue not working. It looks like a great idea for a water park, and I guess the issues are just due to getting used to operations.
Note to self: don't be stupid...

Current top coaster = Expedition GeForce.

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Re: Volcano Bay Water Theme Park - Universal Studios Orlando

Postby disneyfan1313 » Sat May 27, 2017 11:08 am

Part 8!
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They have a ton of great merchandise! Love the angry tiki shirt!
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Things for everyone in your family!
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The park also is having some challenges with guests crowding around return points - similar to what WDW used to experience with Fastpass.
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The park didn't reach capacity on opening day, but many parts felt very crowded since guests had nothing to do.
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Yowsers! It keeps going up and up!
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And by 3pm, if you hadn't reserved your time for the Aqua Coaster, you were out of luck for the day.
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Good thing I had min reserved, although I ended up deciding to leave before that time since I couldn't do anything else.
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You can see the slide lines going up the volcano stairs.
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It is very nice to not have to carry your raft up any slide!
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They hadn't nailed down their GoPro policy by opening day, some slide operators would let you, some wouldn't. They will need to figure this out soon!
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Re: Volcano Bay Water Theme Park - Universal Studios Orlando

Postby disneyfan1313 » Sat May 27, 2017 11:14 am

Part 9!
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Pathways in some parts of the park felt fine, others overly crowded.
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Horticulture is insanely beautiful!
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The theming is really fun and detailed throughout the park.
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It is really tough to not get a good photo with the volcano in the background!
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I am looking forward to coming back and visiting the park at night. See you soon Volcano Bay!
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