Last week the Universal Orlando resort opened its newest park – Volcano Bay, a water theme park. Mouse Fan Travel was on hand for the grand opening celebrations, and wow, are we impressed! We got a first hand look at all of the details in this new park, and we can’t wait to share them with you!
To kick off the festivities we were given an exclusive look at the brand new Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon attraction, located at Universal Studios. This attraction is changing the way we all experience a ride – NO LINES! You simply download the Universal Orlando app to your smart phone, select the time you’d like to ride, and return to the attraction entrance (cleverly disguised as NBC’s famous headquarters in New York, 30 Rock) at your selected time. Once you arrive you’ll be given a color ticket. Then, go and explore the lobby! Once you hear those NBC chimes and the lobby turns the color of your ticket, head upstairs! That’s where the real fun happens. Feel free to lounge on couches (complete with charging stations!), play interactive games, take a selfie with Hashtag the Panda, or our personal favorite, take in a show by the Ragtime Gals, the hilarious barbershop quintet from the Tonight Show. You don’t even realize you’re actually waiting for the attraction, and before you know it the room turns the color of your ticket and you’re off to ride. It’s revolutionary! We loved the ride and couldn’t stop laughing, and we were able to speak with Jason Surrell, Creative Director for the attraction and Neil Engle, Creative Producer of the attraction. They gave us some insight into the creating of the line-less queue. This is the future of the theme park!
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But the real reason we were there was to experience Volcano Bay, and experience we did, with an entire day in the park before it opened. We were blown away by the level of detail placed on this park. It starts as soon as you enter, with playful fountains greeting you at the entrance. And if you listen closely to the tiki statues all around you, you might be surprised!
At the turnstiles you’ll pick up your wearable Tapu Tapu – your key to unlocking Volcano Bay. With this wearable you’ll be able to have virtual line access (again, no waiting in lines! Just walk up to an attraction, tap your band, and you’re off to enjoy the rest of the park. Tapu Tapu will remind you when it’s time for your ride.), rent lockers, find Tapu Tapu Play experiences around the parks, 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. Plus, you’ll be able to pay for all your purchases with Tapu Tapu and take advantage of Tapu Tapu Snap, interactive photo opportunities throughout the park!
After you enter through the turnstiles you walk through a tropical jungle and out into the park. Your first view of the park will take your breath away. Below you you’ll see the impressive 200 foot volcano, Krakatau, looming over the gorgeous beach and wave pool. The sand and water are so welcoming, you’ll want to spend your entire day lounging there. You’ll feel as if you’re on a Caribbean island, not in the middle of Orlando. If you want to further your experience, consider renting a cabana for the day. There are standard cabanas, as well as the ultra luxurious 2 story cabanas – the only cabanas we’ve ever seen with a ‘view’!
The rides at Volcano Bay are equally impressive. Ranging from overly adventurous (the Ko’okiri Body Plunge drops you 125 feet down the front of the volcano and out into a glass tube that swimmers can swim over as you’re falling), to the awesome (Krakatau Water Coaster uses magnets to bring you up and down major drops – just like a ‘real’ roller coaster), to the relaxing (Kopiko Wai Winding River is the ultimate in lazy rivers, winding you around the park and through caves. But the best part? You’ll sit in inflatable arm chairs instead of inner tubes!). There are so many thrilling rides we couldn’t get enough, but there is an entire village dedicated to the little ones, too, so they are certainly not left out. Plus, everyone can enjoy the Waturi Beach – golden sands, calm waters, and every so often waves will come through the pool. But the ultimate feature of Volcano Bay is you don’t ever need to carry a tube around the park – they do that for you! Simply head to your ride of choice and there will be a tube waiting for you at the top!
But let’s talk about the food for a moment, because it is fantastic! We sampled 5 different dishes and were blown away by it all. It’s not your standard theme park food. There is a blackened mahi mahi sandwich that was delightful, as well as a Hawaiian Pizza and coconut fried chicken that wasn’t greasy at all. But our favorite was the coconut chicken curry – we’d go back just to eat that! And don’t forget to stop by Dancing Dragons on the beach for a cocktail (or two!). They have a rainbow of different tropical cocktails, and there is also a special beer that was created just for Volcano Bay!
We were so impressed with our time at Volcano Bay that we didn’t want it to end. In fact, we’re already planning our next trip back and what rides we’ll be going on!
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