Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Universal's Volcano Bay is opening in less than a year, here's everything we know about it

Posted By on Tue, May 3, 2016 at 9:30 AM

click to enlarge PIC VIA UNIVERSAL ORLANDO
  • Pic via Universal Orlando
Volcano Bay, the new water park that Universal will open this coming spring, is installing water slides at this very moment, but there’s still a lot that we don’t know.

Specifics for the new park have been slim, but there are a few details that we do know. The most obvious is the highly visible volcano that is currently being constructed just to the west of I-4. Renderings released by Universal show the volcano as the central focus to the new highly immersive, South Pacific-themed water park. Erupting over a 100 ft. into the air throughout the day this volcano will be a more authentic version of Disney’s Mount Mayday.

The entire park is really a summary of the best designs, practices and rides from Central Florida water parks. Official renderings and unofficial details have Volcano Bay as the most landscaped and themed water park in the area, if not the country.

We don’t have a lot of specific details yet, but we can use the visible construction against the likeliest of rumors to craft what the park will be.
The official renderings show off the central wave pool that will be near the entrance of the park. A water slide coming out of the volcano will feature a clear acrylic tube that will whisk riders past the wave pool. Multiple slides with breakaway floors will be housed inside the volcano, as well. This multi-slide breakaway floor ride, one of the tallest of its kind, will be very similar the Ihu’s Breakaway Falls at Aquatica. Also likely to open inside the volcano will be a large slide similar to the Crush ‘N’ Gusher found at Typhoon Lagoon. Unlike the one at Typhoon Lagoon that uses water jets to push rafts up the inclines, the one at Volcano Bay is strongly rumored to be using the more technologically advanced linear induction motor hydro-magnetic style slides.

The renderings also show what is likely to be one of the two rumored lazy rivers the park will house. Again, in a similar fashion to Aquatica, the park will have a more casual river and faster, more intense river attraction. Based on current construction and likely rumors the more intense river attraction will go inside the volcano and past numerous slide-based attractions. It will include popular elements that the Aquatica rivers do not, such as large waves and rapids. A popular comparison seems to be The Current lazy river at Atlantis in the Bahamas.

With over a dozen different slide attractions from nearly a half a dozen different towers around the park, it will be nearly twice the size of Aquatica ride-wise. Some rumors point to Universal bringing over certain slides from Wet ‘n Wild, such as The Storm, but due to the extensive theming and color scheme, it’s likely that all or most of the slides at Volcano Bay will be original.

One of the most unique things about Volcano Bay will be the parking. Guests will park in the current Universal garages and take a shuttle to the water park. Once they unload they will enter through a lush garden area filled with waterfalls, fountains and Easter Island-style theming. Despite earlier rumors stating differently, there appears to be no type of lazy river entrance from Cabana Bay. Currently, a service road separates the water park from Cabana Bay.

Like most water parks, Volcano Bay will have cabanas for rent. The cabanas will have a tiki hut-style to them and will likely offer similar amenities as the ones found at the area water parks. Unlike in the other parks, and if the released rendering is to be believed, the cabanas at Volcano Bay will be much more visible with some looking to literally sit over top of guest areas.

The other traditional aspect of the park looks to be the kiddie area. While highly themed, it looks to be the usual mix of smaller slides, geysers and walkways. The kiddie area at Volcano Bay will keep the same level of theming as the rest of the water park.

Missing from the latest rumors are the large amounts of indoor, dark-ride style scenes that some Universal fans were hoping for. The majority of the rides at Volcano Bay look to be typical water slides. The good news is while the slides may look normal every major slide tower will have a raft lift meaning no more carrying your tube up the stairs as you wait in line. At least two of the attractions are rumored to be bringing new to the area raft-style rides with one of the rides possibly being the first of its kind in the world.

Another possible rumor points to Splash Mountain’s splash down as inspiration for how riders will exit some of the tube rides. What exactly that means, either water cannons like Splash Mountain or something, is still unclear.

Thematically the park will be closest to Typhoon Lagoon; which has a Caribbean theme with heavy amounts of rock work. Volcano Bay will be a fusion of Disney level theming with the lush landscaping of Aquatica. The park will continue this Easter Island/South Pacific theming with numerous interactive decorations, colorful buildings and lush landscaping. The park will be a showcase for Universal’s impressive rockwork talent (as witnessed by the new Kong attraction). Mixed with the rockwork will be fountains, small props and LED lighting.

Every indication points to the major story of this park being the sheer amount of rockwork that is going into it. From the 200 ft. tall volcano spewing water into the air to rocks covering every corner of the park, this will easily be the most highly themed, immersive water park ever to open in the region.

Oddly, many of the recent patents Universal filed regarding water park attractions, including the multi-directional wave pool and the articulated waterslides, look to not be a part of Volcano Bay. The park does seem to be designed to be open into the evenings so there’s still hope for the glowing sand patent that construction has helped confirm many of the rumors about the park but there are still many unknowns as well. Price, hours, food and beverage offerings and entertainment offerings are still unknown.

Also unknown is the exact opening date and how the new park will be integrated into the Annual Pass system. The next nine months should bring many surprises and confirmation on many rumors regarding what will soon be the area’s top water theme park. 

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