Volcano Bay - Good or Bad?

There seem to be a lot of mixed and negative reviews of Volcano Bay. What I seem to be hearing is that the various slides are great, but crowd control and wait times make for an overall unpleasant day. Anyone here actually been and care to share their experiences?

I am sure people who have been will chime in, but I can tell you that on chat, people who have been going have been reporting it is a good experience if you are there a bit before RD. They have said you can ride almost everything in the first three hours the park is open, as long as you are there in time for RD, and then leave when it starts getting crazy. It sounds like once the crowds really start pouring in, the wait times jump and it’s no longer a fun experience.

Have you checked any youtube videos? There are several vloggers out there who have posted their experiences.

Volcano bay video

We were in orlando in July with a day planned at volcano bay.

There were way too many negative and horrific reviews re waiting and over crowding for me to risk taking the family there

I wouldn’t risk it myself based on current reviews

I’m amazed Universal havent taken steps to improve what’s happening there tbh

My family enjoyed Volcano Bay. We were there Monday, June 19th about a month after they opened. Party consisted of adults: my parents (60&61 yo), sister (23), boyfriend (30) and me (31). We expected operational issues going in as I had been obsessively following the opening. The park exceeded our expectations. We all have had much more stressful days at Disney than at VB. We actually went to WDW after Universal and AK at night was really stressful for my mom. Shoulder-to-shoulder crowds bother us more than wait times.

Everybody had fun, we did all major attractions between 10:30 am and 6:30 pm which includes a nice lunch and the park temporarily shutting down for a thunderstorm between 2 and 4 pm. We did have single use Express (unlimited was sold out when it was purchased). We didn’t link our Express pass to our admissions until the afternoon. The lines were okay when we first arrived and I wanted to keep it for when they were all over 2 hours in the afternoon. However, the weather stayed surprisingly cool and cloudy after the thunderstorm and many people left. I don’t think we would have needed Express if we had been able to arrive for opening (9 am).

We had a cabana reservation (made back in April). The cabana was great during the storm and for having lunch, but we didn’t use it much besides that. There is a TapuTapu kiosk in the cabanas that you can use to join lines, but we only used it for our first ride on the aqua coaster. It didn’t make sense to keep walking back to the cabana when you are on the other side of the park and can just as easily walk to the slide’s TapuTapu point. The kiosk in the cabana would be more useful for ordering food, but you couldn’t make orders from it.

Attractions completed:

  • Aqua coaster (virtual queue 60 minutes, maybe less, walked on ride)

  • Taniwha Tubes (2 or 3 times) - Ride Now, 5-10 minute wait in physical line only

  • Join body plunge line - 180 minutes virtual queue

  • Take a loop on lazy river

  • Punga Racers - used express to join physical queue immediately, waited 5-10 minutes. they weren’t loading all the slides when we were in line (there are multiple slides for the attraction)

  • Ohyah - used express to join physical queue immediately, waited longer on this one maybe 15 min

  • Lunch

  • thunderstorm - all attractions close

  • Attractions reopen around 4 pm ish, about 15 minutes after the re-opening, body plunge is Ride Now

  • Body plunge physical queue - long wait on stairs, probably 25-30 minutes

  • Aqua coaster again - use Express this time to join physical queue immediately, wait 15-20 min

  • Try to get in line for Honu (the big blue raft ride), but physical queue is backed up

  • Ride both Maku and Puihi (orange and green raft slides, I don’t remember which is which) - use Exp to immediately join physical queue, the physical wait was 5-10 minutes for each

  • Serpentine body slides - these are both in Ride Now mode (none of the trapdoor slides take Exp), physical wait is long, probably 25-30 minutes. Both the green and blue slides have the same line, but the slides are slightly different and there ends up being confusion when you get close to the top. This needs to be more organized so that people can select the slide they want to ride at the bottom of the stairs.

  • Back to Honu - enter physical queue using Exp, wait is 15-20 minutes

  • Ohno slide - use Exp to immediately enter physical queue, wait 10 minutes

  • Get in the virtual queue for the aqua coaster (30 minute wait, 20 min virtual + 10 min physical)

  • Do a couple of loops on the wild river (it is basically empty at this point). TapuTapus were at Ride Now after loop one, but we were having fun so stayed for another loop.

  • Get in Aqua coaster line, but it isn’t moving very quickly and we are kind of cold and getting hungry (it was unseasonably cool and breezy, not really good water park weather) so we decide to bail.

A few more observations. We walked on the aqua coaster the first time after our TapuTapus went off. There are 2 lines; you are told which line to go in based on the # in your party. They must have messed up the loading because our line was a walk-on and the other line was not moving. People from the other line were complaining and there were employees with walkie talkies trying to figure out what happened. The 2nd time we rode, both lines were moving at the same pace. We waited for 15-20 minutes that time.
It was really difficult to find the entrance to the wild river. We were looking for it earlier in the day and ended up on the lazy river because we couldn’t find it. I was told that the wild river entrance is 'on Hammerhead Beach" and it is, but Hammer Head Beach, but there are no signs to HHB and there is no shark statue or any obvious marking on the beach (there are sandy beaches all over the park) and the river entrance is at the back.

Universal definitely made poor operations decisions with respect to Volcano Bay. I was very surprised that they were selling Express Passes for opening day. You have a park that relies completely on a virtual queue system and you sell passes that allow people to just enter the physical queue? That is clearly going to wreck havoc on the system. Plus, they didn’t even test the virtual queue system before opening the park. Not a single soft opening for AP holders or FL residents or something. You need to test the system on real people. Universal marketed the park as having “no lines” which may have led some people to think this meant “no waiting.” It also marketed VB so heavily that of course, people are rushing to visit the park. But the park can’t handle huge crowds. Water parks have some of the longest lines because slides have such low capacities. Water Country USA has some cool tube ride that was in the dark and had Christmas lights. It was very popular so it had a 2 hour wait. Summit Plummet peak wait time is 2 hours in the summer. My sister and I only rode it in 2007 because we jumped in the line right before the park closed (and we still waited at least 30 minutes). The body plunge at VB is basically SP, but with an even lower capacity because of the trapdoor send off which is more complicated and takes longer. The serpentine body slides take even longer than the body plunge to ride and have the same trapdoor sendoff. Ohno/Ohyah can take one slider each; those slides take awhile to clear because the person is dropped into an 8 ft pool and needs to resurface and swim to the ladder. The water parks that my bf grew up going to in Wisconsin had crowded wave pools and lines. I like the virtual line system. I don’t want to stand in a 3 hour line ever. The single rider slides (trapdoor slides and drop slides) should have virtual queues. They need more “people-eating” attractions like the Taniwha Tubes where the line is continuously moving.


I agree about Universal messing up here

I was so excited reading about the no queue concept. On paper it sounds amazing. But in reality they’ve got by far the longest queue anywhere now and it means the lazy rivers are also rammed full of people waiting in their virtual queue

The thing that annoys me more than anything though is the virtual queue doesn’t even elimiiate the queue when it is time to ride. Instead it just sends you to a ride where you STILL have to physically queue 25 to 30 minutes

So it a gimmick going badly badly wrong