Volcano Bay media day live blog

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Today’s the day! It’s been a long two years since Universal first announced Volcano Bay, its next-generation “water theme park,” but the Waturi people are finally opening their doors and welcoming specially-selected press into their paradise home starting this morning. Orlando Informer, of course, is among the invitees, and we’re going to live blog about our adventures and all the sights and sounds that await you at Volcano Bay. Hopefully, it should be enough to tide you over until you can experience all the many wonders yourself starting tomorrow.

So keep your eyes peeled on this space literally all day long – we’ll have news tidbits, photo and video updates, and our overall impressions of how truly advanced Universal’s first-ever built-from-the-ground-up water park is. And be sure to share your thoughts and questions in the comments section. (You can also join in on the social-media celebration at our Facebook community.)

While this will be the best spot to see our coverage, we will also be sharing details on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram channels. Note: on compatible browsers, the page will automatically refresh every minute to check for new updates.

Update #19: 4:30 pm

Well, the buses arrived again, taking all of us weary islanders back to our homes (or, at least, to our rooms at Sapphire Falls Resort). We had a fantastic time strolling around Volcano Bay today, taking in the rides, food, and overall theming – the park really is one of the most beautiful areas we’ve ever been to in our theme-park lives – and we’re happy to have had shared our adventures with you.

The little touches at Universal's Volcano Bay
The little touches at Universal’s Volcano Bay
Restrooms, showers, lockers sign at Universal's Volcano Bay
Even otherwise-mundane signs are given a loving touch at Universal’s Volcano Bay

But while our live blog is now complete, you should still keep your eyes peeled at the OI Blog later on tonight for one last Volcano Bay surprise…

Update #18: 4:07 pm

Tot Tiki Reef is a toddler’s dream come true (don’t worry – we won’t tell on you if you want to check out the splash cannon or the mini erupting water volcano for yourself, adults).

Tot Tiki Reef at Universal's Volcano Bay
Tot Tiki Reef at Universal’s Volcano Bay
More of Tot Tiki Reef at Universal's Volcano Bay
More of Tot Tiki Reef at Universal’s Volcano Bay

And before you ask, no, unfortunately, neither Tot Tiki Reef nor Runamukka Reef, the other children’s area, was open today for our media preview.

Update #17: 3:46 pm

And now for a quick photo tour of the mother of all Volcano Bay attractions: Krakatau Aqua Coaster.

Krakatau Aqua Coaster sign at Universal's Volcano Bay
Krakatau Aqua Coaster sign at Universal’s Volcano Bay
Krakatau Aqua Coaster's TapTu Ride point at Universal's Volcano Bay
Krakatau Aqua Coaster’s TapTu Ride point at Universal’s Volcano Bay
Krakatau Aqua Coaster's loading station at Universal's Volcano Bay
Krakatau Aqua Coaster’s loading station at Universal’s Volcano Bay
Krakatau Aqua Coaster track at Universal's Volcano Bay
Krakatau Aqua Coaster track at Universal’s Volcano Bay

Update #16: 3:36 pm

In keeping with the food theme, let’s hop on over to Whakawaiwai Eats, the main eatery at River Village. In addition to serving up pizzas, hot dogs, and some rather wicked mac ‘n cheese, this quick-service location is just as pretty as the rest of Volcano Bay.

Whakawaiwai Eats at Universal's Volcano Bay
Whakawaiwai Eats at Universal’s Volcano Bay
Whakawaiwai Eats's theming at Universal's Volcano Bay
Whakawaiwai Eats’s theming at Universal’s Volcano Bay
Whakawaiwai Eats menu at Universal's Volcano Bay
Whakawaiwai Eats menu at Universal’s Volcano Bay
Kunuku Cooler, Volcano Bay's exclusive Coke drink
Kunuku Cooler, Volcano Bay’s exclusive Coke drink

Update #15: 2:59 pm

You can’t go a whole day (or, even, just an hour) at Volcano Bay without trying some of its fantastically quirky food, can you? Neither can we – that’s why we stopped at Kohola Reef Restaurant and Social Club, the park’s main eatery, for a couple of scrumptious dishes.

Mango BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich at Universal's Volcano Bay
Mango BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich at Universal’s Volcano Bay
Jerked Mahi Sandwich at Universal's Volcano Bay
Jerked Mahi Sandwich at Universal’s Volcano Bay

That’s the Mango BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich up top, and the Jerked Mahi Sandwich (with some fancy mashed potatoes) and the already-world-famous Pineapple Upside Down Cake on the bottom.

What’s the verdict? Both selections are quite tasty, but that’s something that we already knew, thanks to our sneak peek at Volcano’s food offerings. We’ll have more in-depth thoughts on – and reactions to – the gastronomical delights soon.

Update #14: 2:22 pm

Is it trite to say that just walking around and soaking up the sights is like an attraction unto itself? Here’s a perfect – and perfectly random – example: the Honu ika Moana slides, which are two of the more fearsome of Volcano Bay’s offerings.

Honu ika Moana at Universal's Volcano Bay
Honu ika Moana at Universal’s Volcano Bay

Find out more about the paired slides here and here, and keep your eyes peeled for some special on-ride footage we’re busy putting together behind the scenes (no, not of these two beauties, unfortunately).

Update #13: 1:59 pm

In many ways, private cabanas are at the heart of the Volcano Bay experience – that we’ve known for a long time. What we didn’t quite know was just how beautiful the home-away-from-homes really are.

You’ll be made to feel welcome right from the very first moment you lay your eyes on your cabana: a hardy “kia ora” greeting is written on a sign out front. Inside waits your complimentary basket of fruits (and giant sugar cookies!) and a menu that offers an exclusive lineup of dishes for you and your party (don’t worry – if you’d really rather have a particular item from Kohola Reef Restaurant and Social Club or any of the other venues scattered throughout the park, your private concierge can arrange that for you).

Welcome sign to your cabana at Universal's Volcano Bay
Welcome sign to your cabana at Universal’s Volcano Bay
Welcome basket to your cabana at Universal's Volcano Bay
Welcome basket to your cabana at Universal’s Volcano Bay
Inside your cabana at Universal's Volcano Bay
Inside your cabana at Universal’s Volcano Bay
Cabana menu at Universal's Volcano Bay
Cabana menu at Universal’s Volcano Bay

The biggest draw of renting a private cabana, however, is the guest experience transformation (GET) tablet, which serves as your personal TapuTu Ride point – here, you can make, cancel, or otherwise alter your ride reservations for any of the watery attractions found inside Volcano Bay.

Cabana GET tablet at Universal's Volcano Bay
Cabana GET tablet at Universal’s Volcano Bay

Universal has confirmed with us that there will be a total of 51 cabanas, which includes 10 tower units and two standalone family domiciles.

For more information, please see our complete insider’s guide to renting cabanas and Premium Seating.

Update #12: 1:27 pm

Lockers at Volcano Bay will be situated in four different locations all throughout the park and will be accessible via your TapuTapu wearable – just tap it, and your storage unit will open.

Locker prices are $15.00 for large-sized ones, $12.00 for medium, and $8.00 for small.

Lockers at Universal's Volcano Bay
Lockers at Universal’s Volcano Bay
Front of a locker at Universal's Volcano Bay
TapuTapu access point for Universal’s Volcano Bay lockers
Locker sign at Universal's Volcano Bay
Locker sign at Universal’s Volcano Bay

And now for some fine print that our readers have been asking for: lockers can be reopened multiple times in one day, and up to four TapuTapus can be linked to the same storage unit.

Update #11: 12:50 pm

In case you missed the big news from yesterday, Universal is already warning us that Volcano Bay can – and probably will – reach capacity this weekend.

What does this mean for you? Firstly, it may not be possible for a large number of average guests to slide in during opening day (that’s tomorrow, Thursday, May 25), as there will be a whole slew of annual passholders already in the park as part of the special opening ceremonies that will be held at 8:30 am, and we’re unsure how many of them will be sticking around for the next hour-and-a-half, when Volcano Bay opens its doors to everyone else.

Secondly, it means that you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled to social media (you can find our Facebook and Twitter channels here and here, respectively) for up-to-the-minute announcements regarding crowd levels reaching capacity. It’s our educated guess that it will happen this weekend – a lot.

It’s going to be a rough couple of days, Waturi fans. But, hey – at least it beats standing in six-hour lines, as happened with the grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley three years ago.

Update #10: 12:22 pm

We’ve been busy making our way around Volcano Bay, recording as many photos and videos and as much general info as we can before mother nature might try and chase us out of the park.

Oh, yeah – we’ve also been setting up our very first livestream from the water theme park! Be sure to join us at our Facebook page at 12:35 pm EDT. Bring your questions and excitement.

Update #9: 11:45 am

Welcome to Waturi Beach, home of a massive, football-field-sized wave pool, Premium Seating, and, of course, some pretty impressive views of the titular volcano.

Welcome to Waturi Beach at Universal's Volcano Bay
Welcome to Waturi Beach at Universal’s Volcano Bay
Premium Seating at Universal's Volcano Bay
Premium Seating at Universal’s Volcano Bay
Premium Seating sign at Universal's Volcano Bay
Premium Seating sign at Universal’s Volcano Bay
The view of Kraktau from Waturi Beach at Universal's Volcano Bay
The view of Kraktau from Waturi Beach at Universal’s Volcano Bay

Update #8: 11:32 am

Volcano Bay’s entranceway is lush, immersive, and beautiful – especially as you take your first step into the park proper and are awarded with your first view of Krakatau.

Entrance theming at Universal's Volcano Bay
Entrance theming at Universal’s Volcano Bay
First aid sign at Universal's Volcano Bay
First aid sign at Universal’s Volcano Bay
First view of Krakatau at Universal's Volcano Bay
First view of Krakatau at Universal’s Volcano Bay

Update #7: 11:16 am

We’ve received our very own TapuTapu, and we’ve lovingly took pictures of it.

Getting our TapuTapu at Universal's Volcano Bay
Getting our TapuTapu at Universal’s Volcano Bay
TapuTapu front view at Universal's Volcano Bay
TapuTapu front view at Universal’s Volcano Bay
TapuTapu side view at Universal's Volcano Bay
TapuTapu side view at Universal’s Volcano Bay
TapuTapu from the other side at Universal's Volcano Bay
TapuTapu from the other side at Universal’s Volcano Bay

Expect to get yours as you make your way out of the entranceway (more on which in just a little bit).

Update #6: 10:53 am

And here’s the front gate, in all its glory:

Universal's Volcano Bay front gate
Universal’s Volcano Bay front gate

And just because we tend to tilt towards the obsessive-compulsive, here’s a video of what it feels like walking into Volcano Bay for the very first time:

Update #5: 10:38 am

What’s the first thing you see after getting off the bus at Volcano Bay? A bridge that takes you to your island paradise.

Universal's Volcano Bay entry bridge
Universal’s Volcano Bay entry bridge

This is followed by an escalator and a long walkway to the front gate, both of which are very themed and very beautiful.

Universal's Volcano Bay escalator near the entrance
Universal’s Volcano Bay escalator near the entrance
Universal's Volcano Bay walkway to the entrance
Universal’s Volcano Bay walkway to the entrance

The (watery) adventure begins!

Update #4: 10:26 am

We’re loading on the bus that will take us over to Volcano Bay! In the meantime, we’d like to share with you some of our must-read materials about the water theme park – think of it as a primer for your days of aquatic adventure as well as a good way to pass the time while waiting alongside us for the festivities to kick off.

What’s with Volcano Bay’s tickets? Our complete guide

How do you rent a cabana, and just what is Premium Seating?

How to use TapuTapu to make the most of your day

Update #3: 9:27 am

Universal has just let us know that we’ll have the opportunity today to ride – and be filmed on – three of the bigger attractions located in Rainforest Village: Taniwha Tubes, Maku Round Raft Ride, and Puihi Round Raft Ride.

Maku Puihi Round Raft Rides logo at Universal's Volcano Bay
Maku Puihi Round Raft Rides logo at Universal’s Volcano Bay

Read up on these fun slides for now, and look forward to our in-depth coverage a little bit later on today.

Update #2: 9:02 am

Universal has been nice enough to finally give us a detailed map of Volcano Bay, replete with the location of (almost all of) its attractions and, even better for those of us who can’t read their names (*cough*Taylor*cough*), a pronunciation guide.

Map of Universal's Volcano Bay
Map of Universal’s Volcano Bay

(Yes, we know the company updated the map in its official Universal Orlando app earlier this week, but this is far higher quality and scratches that desperate cartographical itch that we’ve been suffering from over these past few months.)

Update #1: 4:00 pm (May 23)

Yes, we’re a few hours early with our live blog, but we wanted to make sure everyone was able to find their way here, bookmark the page, and kick their feet up and relax until tomorrow’s all-out hectic day. We expect our live coverage to begin at about 9:45 AM EDT (Wednesday, May 24).

Since you’re here, why don’t you do some light reading? We’ve had a ton of great Volcano Bay-centric content up recently:

Did you hear about Volcano Bay’s planned five-acre expansion?

More TapuTapu functionality revealed

Go buy yourself some Volcano Bay merch, why don’t ya?

Learn everything there is to know about Volcano Bay in our Universal Center, including insider’s guides on how to purchase tickets, rent cabanas, and use your new Tapu Tapu wearable.

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Todd McCarver
Todd McCarver
May 24, 2017 9:34 am

This is cool you guys are doing this! I have a question, where is Cabana Bay new towers in relation to the map, I’m thinking it’s on the lower right hand side, where is slopes toward the entrance…

Taylor Strickland
Admin
Taylor Strickland
May 30, 2017 3:26 pm
Reply to  Todd McCarver

They’re on the bottom right if they were on the map.

Drew C
Drew C
May 24, 2017 10:35 am

Is a breakdown of height restrictions something OI will publish or has published (I haven’t found it). Already enjoying the live blog coverage from the site!!

Lori
Lori
May 24, 2017 11:12 am

Can you walk in from Cabana Bay?

Jill
Jill
May 24, 2017 11:31 am

Good morning!!! In one of the pictures of the TapuTapu, it looked like they are going to come in other colors, like orange and lime…. is that correct, or is it only available in blue? Have fun and we look forward to seeing everything!!!

Taylor Strickland
Admin
Taylor Strickland
May 27, 2017 10:35 pm
Reply to  Jill

They come in multiple colors, including yellow, orange, and blue.

Jill
Jill
May 28, 2017 11:48 am

thank you Taylor !!!

About Marc N. Kleinhenz

Marc N. Kleinhenz’s first dream in life was to be an astronaut. His second was an Imagineer. While neither completely worked out, he's now the editor of Orlando Informer, along with being its podcast co-host. He’s also written for 32 other sites (including Screen Rant, IGN, The Escapist, and California Informer [OI's sister site]), has had his fiction featured in several publications, and has even taught English in Japan. Imagineering school won’t be too far behind.