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Universal's New Water Theme Park
Last updated: December 2, 2023
Volcano Bay looks like an upscale resort in the South Pacific, with lush palm trees, thatched roofs, and tiki carvings. It’s beautifully landscaped and contains many of the small details and exciting rides that you’d expect from Universal’s theme park designers. The one thing that isn’t small is the volcano itself – Krakatau. At 200 feet tall, it looms over the park during the day and dazzles with color at night. Most of the park’s water slides are in and around the volcano. The Krakatau Aqua Coaster is a roller coaster inside a water park, featuring 4-person in-line rafts that go up, down, and all around the volcano. And TeAwa the Fearless River might be the best whitewater rapids ride in the country. Most of Volcano Bay’s slides have a height requirement of at least 42 inches, which most kids between the ages of 4 and 6 will meet. Families with smaller children have several options: the Kopiko Wai Winding River is the park’s lazy river, passing through the volcano’s hidden caves and around the park. And the Puka Uli Lagoon and Tot Tiki Reef are splash areas for smaller kids.
Most of Volcano Bay’s slides are hidden from your view as you enter the park. Attractions range from mild, family-friendly raft rides (all, thankfully, with convenient conveyor belts that carry your raft uphill for you), to intense drop slides from the volcano’s 20-story summit. Check the warnings before you make that hike.
Puka Uli Lagoon – A shallow pool near the Ohyah and Ohno Drop Slides, framed by towering tikis and windmill-like contraptions that spray water.
Runamukka Reef – A three-story water playground for older children inspired by a coral reef, with twisting slides, sprinklers, and more. Adults will want to play, too.
Tot Tiki Reef – A small splash pad with spraying Maori fountains, tiny slides, and a kid-sized volcano.
Honu and Ika Moana Slides – Two slides start at the same tower and quickly become different experiences. Ika Moana is more gentle, while Honu has vertical hang time.
Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides – Two riders at a time get dropped through a trap door, down a 124-foot body slide.
Ko’okiri Body Plunge – A 125-foot slide that starts with a 70-degree-angle drop from a trap door. It’s 200 steps to the top, so your heart will already be pounding.
Krakatau Aqua Coaster – You’re in a canoe that’s launched uphill and downhill as you twist and turn around the volcano’s interior. Long and thrilling, with “air time” like a real coaster.
Maku Round Raft Ride – The six-person Maku round raft plunges riders through bowl-like formations that are surrounded by erupting geysers before ending in a pool. It sounds better than it is.
Ohyah and Ohno Drop Slides – Two short but intense twisting slides launch guests 4 and 6 feet above the water at the end, clearing your sinuses.
Puihi Round Raft Ride – Maku’s mate, Puihi, is the far more frightening slide of the pair: a six-person raft launches down a dark, winding tunnel before shooting up a banked curve.
Punga Racers – Guests go feet-first down enclosed body slides across four lanes. The inside tubes feel faster, while the outside tubes are curvier.
Taniwha Tubes: Tonga & Raki – Four intertwined two-passenger raft slides. One tower sports four Easter Island–inspired waterslides with rafts for single or double riders, who sit single file, bobsled-style.
TeAwa the Fearless River – Hang ten in your mandatory life vests amid roaring whitewater rapids as you surf beneath the slides inside Krakatau.
The Reef – A leisure pool with calm waters and its own waterfall. Good for everyone, and has a nice view of the Ko’okiri Body Plunge.
Vol’s Caverns – An interactive walk-through of the caverns concealed inside the volcano.
Kopiko Wai Winding River – This gentle lazy river passes through the water park’s landscape and into the volcano’s hidden caves.
Waturi Beach – The central swimming pool at Volcano Bay, fed by waterfalls cascading off the volcano. The great thing about Waturi Beach is that its wave machine is capable of making several different kinds of waves. A sign above the pool tells you what’s coming next.
Volcano Bay has four counter-service restaurants, several food carts, and two pretty good bars. For food, try the Bambu Jungle Kitchen, serving burgers, chicken sandwiches, tenders, and salads; maybe because the food is simple, it’s the highest-rated restaurant in the park. The other highly-rated restaurant in the park is the Kohola Reef Restaurant & Social Club. Kohola serves breakfast sandwiches and breakfast pizza in the morning, and Hawaiian ribs, burgers, fish, and pork for lunch. There’s also salad and sushi if you’re looking for something lighter. We’d be remiss if we didn’t call out the Dancing Dragons Boat Bar, which serves cocktails and beers. Year-in and year-out it’s among the highest-rated places in the park. The park’s other bar, Kunuki Boat Bar, is rated above average as well. We’re guessing it’s not the water.
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