Volcano Bay Review and Tips

 

Pricing:

Park Pass $80.00

Child $75.00 aged 3-9

Express Plus Pass $39.99

Florida resident Pass $70.00

Florida resident Child $65.00 aged 3-9

 

It isn’t Hawaii, but it is Hawaiian themed, the Universal Volcano Bay water park is a tropical experience filled with water rides for all ages. Everything has Hawaiian names such as Waturi Beach and Puka Uli Lagoon.  Of course, there are shows, food, and drinks that everyone can enjoy.

We visited Volcano Bay, recently, and here is a bit about our experience. If you are a person who loves to research, read everything before you go, and make a plan, then you can do this on their website that gives you the information you need to know. If you are like us, and just wing it, you will probably be a bit confused by it all, at first.

There was line for parking that is used for all three parks, Universal, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay. The parking is not in walking distance to Volcano Bay.  Parking was $35.00 for the day and, once through the line, we were directed to the parking garage that is just for Volcano Bay. We weren’t quite sure where to go after that so we followed the swarm of others and found ourselves in another line to go through security. Bags go through a machine like the airport and humans walk through a metal detector. The main things listed that you can’t bring are hard coolers and alcohol.

Once through security, we headed for the bus. It is a large double bus and they pack it full. When the doors open in front of the entrance to Volcano Bay, all the doors open so my advice is stand or seat near a door for a quicker exit off the crowded bus. Upon entrance everyone receives a Tapu tapu, which is a chunky, rubber watch item. You can set up your account before you go, or once you get in the park, and then you can go cashless the remainder of the day. The Tapu tapu is also how you get into the rides so everyone in your group must wear one.  The Universal App will walk you through setting up your account and it seems easy, but my watch didn’t work at first.  I asked three employees before finally going to Concierge and they were able to connect my watch to my account in seconds. Therefore, if you have any issue with your account, just go straight to the Concierge to get it corrected, as I wasted a lot of time asking random park workers.

We hadn’t eaten and we were running later than we wanted so our first stop was to one of the many eateries. There is a line, but you can use your app to order ahead. You can pick up your food at the mobile ordering line and drinks are in the machines where you need  a special cup. You can get the all day drink cup or the disposable ones for one drink. Hint: the bars give out free small water cups, so after our first soda fountain drink, we just grabbed free water the rest of the day. You can also bring your own water bottle and the bars will fill it for you for free.  We ordered the pulled pork and fries to share and it was way better than expected! It was fresh and delicious.  After eating, we used our now working Tapu Tapu and bought a locker for $20.00 to put up our shoes, towels, change of clothes and wallets/purses.

 I won’t go into every ride but two favorites were the Kratatua Aqua Coaster, which is a water slide that is like a roller coaster, and the Rapids, where you don a life vest and just let the water swish you through a winding river of rapids and waves. I cannot recommend enough that you spend the extra money on the express plus pass.  With this pass, you can walk right through to the ride without waiting. Without the pass, you will have to walk around to each ride and tap your watch to get a time to return to the ride. That is a LOT of walking and watching the time to get on a ride. We were able to go on every ride plus ride our favorite ride a second time. When we got off the Aqua Coaster we immediately tapped our watches for a second ride and the wait time was over 4 hours to get back in.

At one point, we thought it would be fun to have a tropical drink. At $15.00 a piece, this was our one extra treat for the day and it was delicious and refreshing. There were a number to choose from and they included fresh fruit and an umbrella to round out the Hawaiian Tropical experience.

If you have a large group, you might want to rent a cabana for the day. This will give you a home base and covered area for relaxing and ordering food and drinks. The park closes at 7pm but we ready to go by 6pm.  A quick change to dry clothes in the nicely clean restroom and we were able to hop on a bus and be back at our car in no time.

Like everywhere, there is a crowd, there are people who will just obliviously stand in your way and block areas, so maneuvering through people was one of the most difficult parts of the park. Due to the virtual way everyone gets in a line, the lines are short, so once your through the entrance to a ride you do not feel crowded. If you choose to not get the express pass, you can enjoy any one of the many pools, the lazy river, or the river rapids without a wait time. This way you can cool off in between rides.

Overall, it was a great and yet exhausting experience but I highly recommend it. We have visited the other water parks in Orlando and we think this one is  the best and offers the most unique experience.

If you want t a Hawaiian experience without the travel- remember Celebrate States is offering the Hawaiian box this summer. Just visit us at www.celebratestates.com to get yours today!

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Five Surprising Misconceptions about the State of Florida

We all know that there are “stereotypes” of what is like to visit and reside in different states in the U.S. . From Jersey Shore to Baywatch, from Fargo to Miami Vice, the media portrays different states, usually, in one light. Growing up in the Southeastern U.S., I always had a viewpoint of the Northeast that was clouded by what I saw on television and the movies. All New Yorkers are rude, New Jersey is just a state filled with polluting factories, Maine is always cold. As a traveling adult, I was pleasantly surprised that none of these are true. I have met some of the nicest people in New York, New Jersey is actually very beautiful and you can’t beat the weather of a Maine Summer. So, what about Florida? There are some widely thought misconceptions about this wonderful state that I find a large number of people still believe.


1. Florida is all “seniors” or “old people”.


While there are some areas of Florida where the senior crowd congregates, the majority of Florida is made up of working families just like any other state. Just look at the school districts, as an example. Florida has five of the top ten most populated school districts in the U.S.. Plus, a number of others in the top twenty. This is hardly a sign that Florida is only a place where people go when they retire. In any Florida city or town, families with children are a large part of the Florida landscape and economy.


2. Orlando is just a city full of Disney tourists.


You might have to sit down for this one. Disney World is actually in Kissimmee, Florida, and not Orlando. While many resorts that shuttle to Disney are located in the city of Orlando, Walt Disney World, itself, is in Kissimmee, FL. There are many parts of Orlando, FL where you hardly ever see, or even think of, the Disney tourist crowd. You can literally live in Orlando and forget that Disney even exists.


3. Take away the beaches and theme parks and there is nothing left in Florida.


Florida beaches are some of the most gorgeous beaches in the nation, and possibly, the world. The clear blue water in Clearwater/St. Pete area, the white sandy beaches of Destin and the rolling waves Cocoa Beach, make this the top attraction for visiting Florida. Strip that away and what is left? Florida has over 700 springs you can visit, swim in, see manatees, and go tubing. There are many large Universities where students from all over the world attend, Florida State University in Tallahassee, University of Florida in Gainesville, and University of Central Florida in Orlando are some of the most well know. Of course, you can’t leave out University of Miami in our illustrious list of Universities. I could also write about all of the great state colleges as well.


4. There are no mountains in Florida.


While people from mountainous states might laugh at our mountain, we do have on beautiful mountain in Florida, Mt. Dora. The town of Mt. Dora has that quaint vibe of a New England town. Built around a lake, you can take boat rides, visit small, local shops and restaurants and go hiking.


5. It is ALWAYS hot in Florida.


Much to my chagrin, I moved to Florida searching for an endless summer. What I found was extreme temperatures. It is blazing hot for about seven months of the year. So hot that you sweat outside at midnight. So hot that opening your front door feels like opening an oven set on broil. Then you have one week of fall and then five months where the weather is so psychotic you want to see if mother nature will take a valium. People from the Northeast laugh at the definition of cold that Floridians have, but after living in above 90’s temps for seven months, anything below 65 will feel cold. Beyond that, we have bouts of cold fronts where the weather drops into the thirties and forties. No, we don’t get snowstorms, but we get cold snaps that will make you think twice about that fun day at the theme parks you were planning. I also saw ice on my windshield once.


Florida is a beautiful state with many attractions, beautiful beaches, amazing springs, one mountain, and great k-12 schools and Universities for kids to attend. Most areas in Florida are jam- packed with families doing all the regular things families do across the nation. When planning your travel, look for options outside of the “typical’ activities Florida is known for and you will find many! We hope to see you soon!




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