Daisy’s (Not So) Best Week Ever, June 15, 2017: Volcano Bay

by on June 15, 2017 55 Comments

Filed under: Best Week Ever, Universal Orlando Resort, Volcano Bay

Hello, friends! I was surprised and delighted when Touring Plans asked me if I’d like to try out Volcano Bay and report on my experience. I’m a huge fan of water parks and had high hopes for the newest addition to Orlando. I normally try to keep everything positive in these posts, but I can’t be dishonest with my review. So let’s start off with my first “Not So” Best Week Ever.

Arriving to Volcano Bay as an offsite guest was painless. We quickly parked, hopped a shuttle, and were directed to the entrance. We had purchased our tickets online and in advance, they worked perfectly and we were in the park about ten minutes before park opening.

There’s much more to hear about my day at Volcano Bay. Click to read more! 🙂

EDIT: Many folks have suggested that I contact Universal and give them a chance to make right what you’re about to read. I’ve done that and have been offered… two free tickets to Volcano Bay. Please keep in mind the kind of customer service you can expect from Universal. Your mileage may vary, but this has been a rotten experience for us.

As we entered the park we were given our Tapu Tapu and I found it to be surprisingly comfortable on my wrist. It’s hard to believe something so big and clunky can feel like it isn’t even there. I found it to be more comfortable than my Apple Watch. We tried the first photo spot we passed by and liked the concept of these photo tikis. So far the park was lush and beautiful. I was delighted!

We encountered a rope up with Team Members only allowing early entry guests into the park. We saw that a sales desk for cabanas was available just past the rope and asked if we could purchase one for the day. They said only one of us could go to the sales desk… uh ok? I took photos of the scenery while my husband inquired about a cabana. A few minutes later the park opened and I was able to join him.

As I walked up a host was just joining us to walk us to our cabana. Which unfortunately turned into a grand tour of half the park. Our host finally admitted he didn’t know where our cabana was after walking us through several. He left us to wait while he found out. Eventually we made it to our home for the day. Amenities included: locker, refrigerator, towels, 12 bottles of water, food and drink service, and the ability to make Tapu Tapu reservations.

Also included was the welcome amenity featured below. There were issues with our cabana right from the beginning. The entrance faced a walkway and other guests kept wandering inside. With no exaggeration we explained the private cabana 25+ times before just permanently leaving the rope up across the doorway and hopping over it ourselves. With the rope up people just walked up and asked us about the cabana, cost, and where to purchase. There were curtains we could close on the other three sides, but not on the walkway facing side where we needed it. When we asked if they could do anything to block that side were were told that side had to stay open because they didn’t want people “getting busy” in the cabana.

While our amenities were all in working order, the cabana next to us wasn’t as lucky. They did not have a working station to make Tapu Tapu reservations. A host brought them to us and asked if it would be a problem for them to come into our cabana all day to use ours. Uh… ok? How could we say no? So we had another six folks in and out throughout the day because of Universal’s broken systems. That wasn’t the only thing poorly thought out, as there was no way to reach any service staff from the cabana. (no phone, not from the touch pad, nothing) Not really the premium service I was expecting. So how much would you pay for this?

Something else we didn’t appreciate, as a couple we were given a cabana facing the kids area. If we’d been told this in advance we wouldn’t have paid the premium. However, my husband described the scene as chaotic when he purchased. Someone literally had a sheet of paper marking what spots were still available. He was assured it was in a nice spot, so off we went. Have you thought about it? What would you pay for this level of service and location? Ready? It was $425! They’re lucky I wasn’t allowed to go with my hubby when he made that choice! 😉

I was irritated at the whole cabana experience, but shook it off. I was excited to go try the slides! First up on the list was Krakatau because I heard it would get a massive wait later in the day. As we walked up it was marked as “ride now” so we eagerly ran for the queue. We waited, and waited, and waited. After 30 minutes and still much more line to go we gave up. The ride was running, I’m not sure why the line was so incredibly long. Hot and frustrated we looked for something else to do and ended up taking a couple laps on the lazy river.

Once we emerged from the lazy river we realized all the wait times had ballooned to 40+ minutes while we were relaxing. We scanned our bands for the first slide we passed in an effort to ride something and went on checking out the park. When our Tapu Tapu buzzed we had no idea where we were going. Asking Team Members didn’t really help and the slide name was difficult to pronounce. We just picked a direction and walked until we found a directional sign. When we arrived to the ride, we figured out something even more confusing. While there is a single name (Honu Ika Moana) for the below attraction, there are two slides. There were lines stretching out in all directions, we weren’t sure which one to get in. Luckily we guessed right and got our first ride of the day! It was a perfectly fun slide. But Tapu Tapu made everything more stressful. I’ve never actually waited 40+ minutes for anything in a water park. Is it really helping?

Now, I’ve said a lot of negative things. I have to also give credit, Volcana Bay is a beautiful park. I had lots of time to appreciate it while we were waiting around for our Tapu Tapu times to come available! 😉

Below is a photo of the lazy river (Kopiko Wai Winding River), but they also have a not so lazy river (TeAwa The Fearless River). The fearless river has sections of six foot waves and was the thing I was most looking forward to in the park. Unfortunately, the waves were not working on the day we visited which was a huge let down. They also were only letting very few tubes on the lazy river. We were instructed to swim and find a tube even though there were several available in visible storage. We made it a full lap without getting a tube. I’m not sure why they wouldn’t add more? Things you could see along the banks of the lazy river included: wheelbarrows, bags of cement, and tarps. I was shocked the things that were left in clear view.

While we didn’t get to ride Taniwha Tubes it took a photo of the pretty entrance. The park really is stunning. I’ll be excited to head back in a year or two once they work out all the kinks.

We scanned for another Tapu Tapu, again not really sure what we were getting and walked around a while. The photo tikis are placed in such pretty spots. We didn’t end up taking a photo here until much later in the day when we looked pretty sad and defeated!

When our wrists buzzed we headed for Maku Puihi, which again was two different slides. I was concerned, because the yellow slide looked fun, but I wasn’t sure I was up for the green one. Again, dumb luck prevailed and we were on the yellow slide. It was my favorite of the day! I was surveyed at the exit and I told them I couldn’t keep any of the attraction names straight. They were so confusing. There was also slimy, gross, wet sand everywhere! How can there be grimey sand up five flights of stairs? I don’t think they’ve been cleaned since opening!

At this point we took in some of the sights as we strolled back to the cabana for lunch.  Once there we waited about 20 minutes for someone to come by before I gave up and walked to the nearest guest services booth. There I was asked if I knew my servers name or could at least describe her. Really? If I didn’t pay attention then I should just go back to the cabana and sit on my hands? It isn’t like they’d checked on us often. It could have been an hour before we saw anyone. Once we decided who my servers was I was told they’d look for her. So I went back and waited. At least the place is pretty! 😀

By this point it was roughly 1pm and we realized with many wait times over 100 minutes and rain rolling in we didn’t have much more time. We used our Tapu Tapus to each get a return time for different slides, so my husband could use them both. We ordered lunch and he was able to eat before heading for the rides. He chose the Ohyeah and Ohno drop slides which ended up breaking later while he was in line, leading the two rides to take about 45 minutes to experience.

When we were finally able to order food everything was quite good. I’ll detail the meal and the rest of the afternoon over the next few photos. Below is the Strawberry Ginger Lift in a souvenir glass. It was tasty! Since storm clouds were rolling in we decided to break the one hour rule and go swimming in the wave pool. Before leaving our cabana we grabbed a return time for Krakatau, for 145 minutes later. We held our breath we’d still get to try it.

Below is the coconut curry shrimp I ordered. It was surprisingly good, even for theme park food. I would order this again at a sit down restaurant. While I was impressed with this dish, we weren’t wowed by the wave pool. The second we stepped in the water we both looked at each other with disgusted faces. The water was so warm it… didn’t feel like a pool. We didn’t have long to see if we liked it, though. The skies opened up and rain started pouring down. We bolted back to our cabana.

Below is the hamburger my husband ordered. Again, he was impressed. I tried a bite and agreed it was good enough that I’d be pleased if I’d ordered it at a sit down restaurant. That’s pretty amazing for water park food! We made it back to our cabana, toweled off, and snuggled while we enjoyed watching the storm. This could have been really nice, except a group of lifeguards chose to occupy the cabana next to our and loud is an understatement. At least they looked appropriately horrified when they realized we’d been next to them listening after the storm passed.

Below is the last item we ordered, a flatbread. We both agreed this was gross and threw away most of it. Enough said! 😉 After the storm passed our Tapu Tapu was still not working. We asked our server about it when she brought our check and she explained they all shut off in the rain and we had to walk to guest services to have it reset. We were frustrated there was no way to handle this for cabana guests, but were getting used to it so we hiked to guest services. When we returned to our cabana our server told us there was a problem with the Universal system and while she could charge our bill to our card, it wasn’t allowing her to include her tip. We asked where the nearest ATM was and there’s only one… outside the front gates of the park. So, another walk to go get cash. At that point we tipped our server and gave up for the day. The weather looked like rides could shut down again any minute and we’d had enough. However, our server was the best thing about our experience so we wanted to be sure she was properly compensated.

With heads hung, we left Volcano Bay defeated. Of course, we could have done more research in advance but I surprised my husband with the tickets. I’ve never had to prepare for a water park visit. I just expected it all to be a little easier. We’ve visited all other local theme parks on days they’ve hit capacity and navigated with no trouble. I found the Tapu Tapu only complicated things, and I’m a person that has navigated airports and theme parks all over the world. We’ll see how the technology side of the park shapes up. I hope they get the kinks worked out in the coming months because the park is stunning. I’d love to be able to enjoy this park. (When I try again… in many, many, many months)

That’s it for this time. Thanks for joining me this week! Have you tried Volcano Bay? What did you think? Was I expecting too much as a cabana guest? Please let me know if you have requests next time around. Until then – I hope you’re having the best week ever.

Posted on June 15, 2017

55 Responses to “Daisy’s (Not So) Best Week Ever, June 15, 2017: Volcano Bay”

  • Goodness, thanks for the information! We leave tomorrow with 5 day Universal tickets and were hoping to get in one or two days at Volcano Bay. We’ll just rent lockers I guess but the forecast is for rain just about every day. 🙁

    • by Daisy Lauren on June 15, 2017, at 9:40 am EDT

      Hi Holly! I hope you have a great trip. 🙂 The rain isn’t such a bad thing. It helps keep the temperatures a little more reasonable this time of year. The water park only closes if there is lightning. I really love the Universal parks. We don’t go often because my hubby and I get motion sickness on different types of rides, so we end up not riding much together at Universal. But the parks are beautiful and immersive! I really hope my experience at Volcano Bay was a fluke. Let us know what you think! 😀

  • Hi Daisy, seems like the park really was a miss. Did you take any time to let guest services know of your situation and the disappointment you felt? This is from the cabana, to the service, to broken attractions after less than a month of operations? If not, you should at least send them an email about it now. While you aren’t necessarily looking for compensation, at least they’ll know they need to do better for future guests. For the amount of time you spent in the park, it doesn’t seem like you got to do a whole lot.

    • by Daisy Lauren on June 15, 2017, at 11:01 am EDT

      Hi Mike! We didn’t stop in guest services. Honestly, at that point in the day I didn’t feel like we could be pleasant. We’re not easily frustrated, but it was one miss after another. You’re right. I should put together some constructive feedback now. Maybe they would do something for us. Honestly – even thinking about it now I get upset! The weather wasn’t their fault.. but everything else could be improved. Thanks for commenting!

  • What a terrible experience. If I was paying that much for a cabana I would be very upset. Just curious if you have your constructive feedback to universal.

    • by Daisy Lauren on June 15, 2017, at 11:02 am EDT

      Hi Alecia! I need to pull together constructive feedback and submit. Maybe if I’d given them a chance to correct things I wouldn’t still feel so ripped off! 😉 Thanks for commenting!

  • A friend visiting two days ago had a very similar experience. She was very disappointed in the Tapu Tapu and extremely long waits with all the down time in between and nowhere to go.

    • by Daisy Lauren on June 15, 2017, at 11:03 am EDT

      Hi Susan! That makes me sad. I was hoping that it was just us, but glad I was able to get an honest review out to people. Did your friend let guest services know she was disappointed? I’m just curious. 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  • I don’t get it… it’s raining, but they have to close a *water*park? And why wouldn’t the Tapu Tapu work? You had put in a reservation, so it should still be valid once the rain ahd passed.

    It sounds like you had 3 or 4 rides plus lunch. Was that worth the cost of tickets and teh cabana, even if the cabana had not had issues?

    • by Daisy Lauren on June 15, 2017, at 2:53 pm EDT

      Hi Helen! Well, there was lightning so I understand having to get out of the water for safety reasons. The Tapu Tapu all shut down for a storm and the system has to be reset – so you lose your spot in line. 🙁

      It wasn’t worth half what we paid. It seems like they’re still figuring everything out, but charging a premium while they do it.

  • by Frozen Norwegians on June 15, 2017, at 2:50 pm EDT

    Thank you so much for the honest and very informative review, Daisy! Very well written, as always 🙂 But it was so sad to read. I have been really excited to go to this new water park, and it looks beautiful, but the level of service they you experienced…! How is it possible..? We are not going until October 2018, so hopefully Volcano Bay has gotten its act together by then. But this is not very promising 🙁

    • by Daisy Lauren on June 15, 2017, at 2:55 pm EDT

      Howdy! I really wish we’d had a better day. 🙁 It was shockingly bad. I had been so excited! Bouncing around the house with a cheshire cat smile waiting to surprise my hubby.. I never expected what we encountered. I’m sure it will be much better by the time you visit! They have to get it figured out by then! 🙂

  • Oh Daisy I’m so sorry! What a frustrating day – especially when you pay extra to get a cabana! You would think that even through the opening day “glitches” the Team Members would step up their customer service for that level of day guest. I admire you for not losing it on guest services. Thank you for your honest review 🙂

    • by Daisy Lauren on June 15, 2017, at 4:12 pm EDT

      Hi Belinda! I’m happy I could share the park with you guys. It was hard to share something so negative. Thanks for reading and commenting anyway! 😀

      • It’s ok to be honest, I just feel bad that you had such an annoying day! Hopefully you can go back for a “re-do” soon 🙂

        In other news: I loved the bit that you are a fellow Apple Watch wearer 🙂 My appreciation for Apple devices grew a bunch after acquiring “the precious” ha!! Now that was a rabbit trail but I couldn’t help myself 😉

  • Suddenly I feel much better about sticking with Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon for our July trip. We’ll visit Volcano Bay next trip, give them some time to iron things out. What a day!

    • by Daisy Lauren on June 15, 2017, at 4:13 pm EDT

      Hi Lisa! I wouldn’t feel bad at all. I’ve always had great days at those two parks and Aquatica. I hope you have a great trip! 🙂

  • Thanks for your honest review. It’s disappointing to see so many aspects of your visit fall far short of expectations, especially when you paid a premium price.

    You don’t need to spend a lot of time formulating your feedback to Universal – just send them a link to your report here.

    • by Daisy Lauren on June 16, 2017, at 9:08 am EDT

      Hi Nancy! Thanks for reading and commenting. You’re right – maybe I’ll send them a link. 🙂

    • I agree, just send them a link; your review is thorough and honestly, pretty generous given the circumstances! As a fan of your articles here, I know your disposition is to find the silver lining in all you can, so this review is really saying something. I’ve only recently come to understand that there are no standby queues for the slides, which is a major oversight. It’s a shame, because I was really looking forward to this park, but I won’t waste the time or money if they don’t make some major improvements to park operations. You’re also way nicer than me I think, because no way would I not be vocal very quickly about the cabana situation (not in a nasty way, but they need to know some things are simply unacceptable).

  • We visited on June 3, 7, and 9. We had some frustrating times as well as some great times. But the wave pool was so cold that it was hard to stay in for very long. I am so surprised it heated up in such a short period of time. My best advice is to go early!

    • by Daisy Lauren on June 16, 2017, at 9:10 am EDT

      Hi Charisse! I feel like I should have gone for a few hours over multiple days. It seems a little better in small doses. 😉 I’m glad you guys enjoyed it.

  • Sorry to hear it wasn’t so great. Unfortunately, this is about what I am hearing. We faired a bit better on opening weekend, but I went in with lower expectations, had premium seating, and unlimited express pass. We will be back in late July. I think next summer it’s going to be an awesome place though. At least it’s pretty and the food and drinks are pretty much really good. Try the shrimp mac n cheese next time. It definitely requires patience right now.

    • by Daisy Lauren on June 16, 2017, at 9:17 am EDT

      Hi Sonia – I wonder if express pass was even offered the day we went? We didn’t see anyone using it. It was marked as sold out? How did they mark it for you? Was it on your Tapu Tapu or a wristband or something? I’m just curious. I’m really glad you had a great day! 🙂

      • We bought it in advance, a couple of weeks before we went. It was put onto our Tapu Tapu at the concierge hut, where you purchase the cabanas. This hasn’t worked for some people though. Not too long after opening weekend, they stopped selling it period. I think too many people complained, because there were still long lines with it, like the line you had for Krakatau when it said “Ride Now”. We had some that were really long and some that were short, so it was a toss up. I don’t think they have started selling it again, but they are honoring previously purchased one.

        • by Daisy Lauren on June 16, 2017, at 11:20 am EDT

          Ah, that makes sense. At least they are listening and trying to fix a system that isn’t working for people. Thanks for responding! 🙂

  • It does sound like the mark has teething issues, soft openings should have happened really!

    The Loud TM thing is not solely a UOR issue, I’ve often seen off duty Disney CMs making a nuisance of themselves at Disney Springs after it closes – once a group of girls were laughing away trying to close the door of a lift before my wife and I got in it. It didn’t work and they hastily hid their name badges before running off to the CM Lot.

    • by Daisy Lauren on June 16, 2017, at 9:20 am EDT

      Hi Jon – I totally agree. If they were offering even slight discounts it would help.. but to pay a premium and deal with it is painful.

      And you’re right! It isn’t at all a Universal thing. 😀

    • I agree with the loud TM/CM comment. My husband and I were disembarking the Fantasy on our Castaway Cay day and there was a group of CM’s gathered talking rather loudly off to one side. One of them dropped a rather unsavory word and I looked their way – the horrified looks on the faces were almost comical. That group scattered rather quickly….probably not uttering a word to each other the rest of the day. Yikes! Ha!

  • Thanks for the review! We are leaving tomorrow to go to Universal and this helped solidify my decision to avoid Volcano Bay on this trip. We will be back later this year and next spring, so hopefully it will be better by then.

    • by Daisy Lauren on June 16, 2017, at 9:23 am EDT

      Hi Sandy! I hate to do that.. I really wish I could say more good things about the park. But I think you’re making the right call. Enjoy your time at Universal!! I love their parks! 😀

  • Wow! That sounds terrible. I was hoping all the negative trip advisor and yelp reviews were just a small portion of the actual experiences people were having. Was planning on going to this water park in September when we are in town. I think we will hold off this year, and go to Typhoon Lagoon instead. Thanks for the in depth review!

  • by Daisy Lauren on June 16, 2017, at 9:26 am EDT

    Hi Mike – I thought the same thing!! LOL I think you’re doing the right thing waiting. I’ve always had a good day at Typhoon Lagoon. 😀

  • Daisy, I too have been to Volcano Bay…

    While I didn’t have nearly as negative experience as you did, I did notice some of the issues you did.

    I agree with you that the naming of the attractions is very confusing. We didn’t always know what attractions we were queuing for via TapuTapu, but we did always ask the Team Member who was helping with TapuTapu and they would help us. I think they should have a color description under each attraction’s name, at least on the TapuTapu screen, so that way you have somewhat of an idea. (For example, we constantly called the large blue slide, Big Blue the whole time.)

    I didn’t do any real research before I got to the park (I couldn’t really as I was there on the second day of operations) but after a few laps around, I figured out where a majority of the things were, though I do think they may need a few “You are Here” maps up to help with the process. Especially because I don’t think most will take laps to begin with. (I was doing laps so I could take photos!)

    We too had a cabana and ours was clearly not ready on the second day. (Ours was on the second story, so we didn’t have problems with Guests wandering into our cabana, but we did back up to the highway…with no curtain or music to drown out the cars or the construction crews who were clearly still trying to work on the park. Also, the TapuTapu in the cabana didn’t work, nor did our safe.) We did not have the problem you did though about not knowing who our server was. Actually we had very attentive staff, though that’s likely because we were upset with our cabana and voiced our thoughts immediately and frequently. They did end up comping us our cabana due to our issues and the fact that it was clearly not ready for Guests.

    While we did have extreme waits that day, which seems to be most people’s complaint about the park, we really did manage to do a lot. I’m not sure if it’s because we were staying onsite and had a jump on a lot of people. We got to the park well before park opening due to a miscommunication and were able to enter early because we were onsite Guests.

    We rode the water coaster twice thanks to the ability to hold a TapuTapu reservation for both that and another attraction (which I’ve learned the ability to do so now is no longer an option.) We rode many of the attractions and while we were waiting for our TapuTapu times to come up, we did both lazy rivers, got in the wave pool and were mesmerized watching those who were brave enough to do the large drop slide shoot through the tube past us. During our TapuTapu breaks, we were able to grab and eat lunch, as well as just relax with a book and take a nap. Which, I have to admit, was nice.

    We too came across many, many down times for attractions. I honestly think a lot of the down times are coming from mechanical issues related to the conveyor belts bringing up the tubes stopping working. That’s what it always seemed to be, but of course, that’s just a guess.

    We were there the whole day from open to close and still managed to have a good time. Were there issues, of course there were, but we were able to work around them and have fun.

    I know there are growing pains and I really think the park should have had a test and adjust period. Unfortunately, due to the arms race going on between them and Disney, it was a YOU WILL OPEN THIS WEEKEND moment, no matter what. Which in hindsight, may have been a faulty idea. And I hope that Universal learns from this.

    I too agree that it will probably be at least 6 months to a year before the park is working the way they really need it to, due to both continued construction and technology issues. However, with that being said, when the park does work out the bugs, I think it will be a lovely park to go to. But I agree that it needs some time to get there. I for one though will be back at some point, once it gets to a more finished state.

    • by Daisy Lauren on June 16, 2017, at 11:33 am EDT

      Hey Rikki!!! Sounds like you should do a post! 🙂

      It sounds like I should have complained in the park. I would have a different point of view if they’d refunded our cabana (our music didn’t work either). Did you find a manager? We had two different “hosts” come by, but anything we asked for they couldn’t do. (Even something as simple as clearing plates) I never saw anyone that looked like a manager all day. I kept thinking someone would at least ask if we were happy.

      I was stopped for a survey on the way out of the park and was very clear about my experience and they didn’t offer me any help. I also felt bad because the staff just looked beaten. It wasn’t their fault so I didn’t want to fuss at them.

      I’m glad you enjoyed it and I agree! I think I’ll be back once I can think about the place without getting angry. 😉 It really is a pretty park. It just needs some time.

      • Haha! I thought about that as I was typing all this out. I was like “This is totally a post in its own right!” 😉

        We just continually complained to our hosts throughout the whole morning. That’s what ended up prompting the manager over. We were nice throughout the whole process, but clearly voiced that we were unhappy with our cabana experience. Our team members who helped us in our cabana were on top of everything though. So I’m sad to learn that yours weren’t.

        I feel bad for the Team Members. They were so excited that second day and with all the issues, I can understand how they could quickly have gotten beaten down. They clearly are getting a number of complaints, which are warrented, but will (I assume) be ironed out as time goes on.

        It’s new, with new technology, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt. I knew I would essentially be a beta tester and I think that that’s how people need to go into the experience for the first 6 months are so. Which is unfortunate because the park is running as though it’s not in beta mode (price wise…) though clearly that’s not something they are sharing with Guests…nor would I expect them to. It is a business after all and they are in heavy competition with The Mouse.

        For those who are planning trips to Volcano Bay, my best advice is to know this really isn’t your average water park. Get there early, stay through the day and bring a good book. There will be downtime while you are waiting, but to me, that was part of the charm. I enjoyed actually sitting down with a book, something, truthfully I haven’t done in months….or longer. Try to enjoy the waiting periods. Ride the lazy rivers, go in the wave pool. Cause you will be waiting for the big slides. Just not in a physical line, typically. 🙂 Oh and just know you WILL NOT be able to ride everything. Heck, I think even if the park didn’t have TapuTapu and you just waited in regular lines, you wouldn’t be able to ride everything. At least with TapuTapu, I didn’t have to physically stand in a 200 minute line. 😉

        • by Daisy Lauren on June 16, 2017, at 11:52 am EDT

          I think that’s the difference. We had a host walk us over then we never saw him again. We met our server, then didn’t see her again until I went to find her. (Given – our server was FANTASTIC and she did a great job once we needed her). In the afternoon we had a host walk by twice, but did nothing. We were confused what the host even did?

          I think we’re different in that I don’t want to go to a water park to sit around. I want to go and do! I was just disappointed there wasn’t a better flow.

          • I’m typically not the type to sit around at a theme (or water) park either. I am much more of a go-go-go girl. But once I accepted how things were gonna go and that this really was a new type of experience, I ended up enjoying my time better. Though I agree that the flow is a little (ok…maybe a lot) off.

  • So I have a 2nd floor Cabana and EP booked for July 2nd, and now I’m getting worried.
    Sounds like, I should either cancel and just skip Volcano Bay entirely (will be at Universal for 4 1/2 days). Or if I do want to experience Volcano Bay, I should definitely keep the Cabana and EB, as it sounds like the experience would be even more miserable without them.

    It’s a shame. The park looks absolutely stunning. But from the moment I read about it, the Tapu Tapu thing didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

    Well, maybe things will be a little smoother in 2+ weeks….

    • by Daisy Lauren on June 16, 2017, at 11:58 am EDT

      Hi Adam – I don’t know how much they charged you for the cabana. But if it’s north of $159, personally I’d cancel. I don’t think the cabana is worth much more than that.

      It’s up to you if you think Volcano Bay is worth a visit.. just know that you’ll spend lots of time sitting around. If you like taking time to unwind you might love it? I’m just one opinion. 🙂 But I really try to be fair… and it isn’t often I don’t enjoy just about anything. Volcano Bay left a really bad taste in my mouth. It’s tough to recommend. 🙁

      • I have over 4 days there… so I have plenty of time to “waste”..
        I feel I’d regret not getting to experience this “new park”.. but sounds like I might regret spending a day there even more.
        Spent $499 on the cabana (with 6 people using it) — 2nd floor, July 4th weekend. I do think the Cabana would still be worthwhile if we go, for space away from the crowds.. and 2 members of our party really just want to sit in the shade for the day.

        After spending all that on a cabana, I was hoping it would be a nice place to spend an entire day. Do rides at a leisurely pace. But there is a difference between leisurely and aggravatingly slow. We will have the EP, which should help..

        So I’m thinking we will still go… I was planning on arriving at my own pace since we already had the cabana reserved. Now, I’m thinking we should do early early onsite arrival. With the plan to just stay until lunch time.. depending on the aggravation level.

        • by Daisy Lauren on June 16, 2017, at 12:24 pm EDT

          I’ll be really interested to hear how your experience goes. I hope you have an awesome time! 🙂

  • So the “best” part about your experience was your server, who you could hardly ever find, who didn’t come by regularly to check on you, and you still felt she should be “properly compensated”? . If I had paid that for a Cabana, there is *no* way I would have:

    1) Put up with another family randomly rumbling through my space.
    2) Had to answer questions of passers by and deal with THEM rambling into my space.
    3) Waited more than 5 minutes for a server to take an order.
    4) Put up with anything not working in the cabana.

    Any one of those issues, I would have insisted on a partial refund. All of them, I would have insisted on a full refund. You’re way too nice.

    • yeah, I mean, the fact that you had to go to the front of the park just to get cash out to tip is crazy to me. It shouldn’t be your responsibility to make sure their credit card machines are working correctly.

      • by Daisy Lauren on June 16, 2017, at 2:14 pm EDT

        I felt terrible for our server. She had multiple cabanas to service that weren’t even close to each other. Plus, with no way to reach her she had no idea who was needing her attention. Technology not working wasn’t her fault. She really tried. But you guys are right. I wrote a long letter to Universal. We’ll see if they care enough to do anything. I appreciate the support. I thought I was going to get hate on this for being entitled.

        • You paid $450 extra to have a “premium” experience. I’m this case you actually are entitled, you’re paying for it!!

          • by Daisy Lauren on June 22, 2017, at 12:55 pm EDT

            Haha, Mike. Well you’ll be interested to know that after contacting them all I was offered was 2 tickets to Volcano Bay. Shockingly bad service.. it really puts me off of all Universal parks.

  • We visited Volcano Bay on May 30th and 31st, the fourth and fifth day that it had opened to the public. We were on a four day Universal vacation and my boys love water parks more than regular theme parks so we had to try it. Day one was the first Tuesday it was open. Since we were staying on site, we were able to go in an hour before the park officially opened. That alone helped us ride several rides before it got busy including the water coaster. Even though the water coaster said ride now, we waited a long time to ride it since they can only load two coasters at a time. We did not rent a cabana and spent most of our wait times either in the lazy river or what we called the un-lazy river. We had a pretty good day the first day we went but by lunch time, almost all the tapu wait times were over 100 minutes. While the tapu seems a good idea, it frustrated us. We decided to leave and come back the next day.

    Day two was a disaster. We got there early again, but only two slides in the entire park were up and running. We went from slide to slide only to be told that it was down. Once we had made one entire loop around the park and only found two slides open, we decided to find a customer service counter to ask about it. By the time we found one, they told us that now all but two attractions were open and offered to give us a ride now on any attraction. We went and rode one of the family tube rides and tried to go back to one of the rivers only to find out that it was down. We decided to go back to the tube slides only to find that it had just went down as well. We rode very few things that day as more were down than up as the park continued to get more and more crowded. It was our last day at Universal and we were trying to make the most of it, but as we continued to encounter one down attraction after another, we finally decided to leave at 1pm. My husband stopped at customer service on the way out (near the ticketing center) and complained. He said they took down all of his concerns and complaints and gave him a $50 Universal gift card as compensation.

    I understand that it is a brand new park and they have a lot of kinks to work out. I do feel like they listened to my husband and do want to improve. I think eventually, this may be a great water park, but it is not there yet. What I hated the most was the wet sand EVERYWHERE! It was like walking on rough sand paper all day and it tore our feet up. We tried water shoes, but the sand would find ways into the shoes with the same result. If they have to have sand, I wish they would leave it just at the wave pool so you could at least get away from it if you want to. So we had one good day and one bad day at Volcano Bay. We may return once they get all their kinks out.

    • by Daisy Lauren on June 22, 2017, at 8:33 am EDT

      Oh Amanda… I think I had a day like your second day. 🙁 It helps to know it wasn’t just me. I feel like if I had an annual pass and could come and go I wouldn’t be so hard on the place. But knowing that you could just get no value from a day is tough.

      I agree on the sand. I couldn’t believe the places sand got to!! It was unreal. And it was SO grimey looking. Ewwww!

  • by Tammy Wells-Putz on June 21, 2017, at 9:18 pm EDT

    Hi Daisy, Thanks so much for your post. As I was reading, I was so hoping you would have had a wonderful 1st experience. Your post is very detailed and informative; really appreciate all your input. I hope Universal have since compensated you in some way for your no good, very bad day! My family have a package to Universal for August 16th -19th, and were planning on visiting Volcano Bay on the 16th. Based on the vast majority of negative reviews, I called Universal to cancel the Volcano Bay portion of the package. Universal tried to convince me to leave it intact and have shared that the schools in Florida will be back in session by the time of our visit, the crowds will have diminished including the enthusiasm to try a new water park. They shared the issues of long waits should be somewhat resolved and that at that time of the year, we should have a better experience. That’s said, I’m still on the fence…leaning strongly still towards canceling. Would you mind weighing in on Universal’s input? I have a 15 year old son whom I taking to Universal for the first time (family of 3), and trying to avoid major disappointments. Thanks in advance!

    • by Daisy Lauren on June 22, 2017, at 8:29 am EDT

      Hi Tammy! I’m sorry for the delay. I’ve been on a business trip this week. Honestly, it’s a really bad time for my opinion. I wrote Universal to give them a chance to correct this and their answer was to offer me two tickets to Volcano Bay. I’m just disgusted with their customer service. 🙁 So my opinion on Universal this morning is they are great when things so well.. but you can’t depend on them if anything goes wrong. I hope this helps. I want you to have an amazing trip!! 🙂