It’s completely do-able, with a long day, to ride every slide, tube, river and wave of Universal Volcano Bay. But the sun and the water and the waits can drive any thrill seeking family to run for hotel shade and A/C. When my family went my teens didn’t want to stay past the dinner hour –of course they were dying to have more chocolate almond bread at Toothsome and then nap at the Sapphire Falls Resort. We enjoyed the best of the park in our day there and I wanna tell you which rides you won’t want to miss for your family time.
1.Krakatau Aqua Coaster (kra-ka-TAU)
I am not messing around here at the beginning. This is by far the most amazing family ride you will ever do at a water park. We have done water roller coasters before, but never–NEVER–has the water roller coaster gone higher than it’s starting point. This one takes you not only up and down in your water raft, but it takes you above your start point. Now if you are like my husband and son when I tell you the whole process of lifting the raft uphill is completed by magnets, you will be completely amazed. The magnets make the ride smooth. The raft floats even in the uphills. This coaster will blow your mind. And do it this ride FIRST! I am not joking. The wait will reach between 150 and 200 minutes midday. So arrive early and head straight for the best family ride at Volcano Bay.
The full name of this ride is Honu ika Moana, but that is the name of two different raft rides. And this is an important detail, because you have to get in virtual line for each ride separately, so you want to know which one you want. You want Honu, the Turtle –now here’s the messed up part, it’s the blue colored tube ride. I realize that making the The Turtle green on the outside would have made more sense, but that just isn’t the case. You want the blue tube ride names Honu, The Turtle.
You can ride in a raft with up to 5 people down. The Turtle (seriously don’t get that name) goes fast and hits 2 major half pipes for you. You will go high and then drop back into the chute, TWICE. It’s beyond stomach dropping. You don’t really get very wet while on this ride. My daughter came out with dry hair, but that doesn’t change the fact the family goes together and has a great time together. Be warned, the heaviest person usually ends up going down backwards (sorry dad) at the request of the lifeguards.
Again this is actually called Maku Puihi, but you want Puihi and that matters when you get in the virtual line (I made a request to not have rides separate when they are the same entrance so let’s hope Universal’s VOlcano Bay took my comment card to heart). Puihi will take up to 6 people at a time (so make friends if your family is half that). This ride immediate drops the whole family raft down a plunge that feels soooo much bigger than it is. But the tickles your will get in the pit of your stomach last through the remaining turns and twist until you make it to the splash pool.
Technically this isn’t a group family ride, but you can all go down simultaneously. This is a mat slide, that means you pick up a foam mat (thankfully at the top of the slide)to ride on. Now like I said you aren’t all on the same raft, this is a single person slide. But the lifeguards are great about letting people race each other down in groups (hence the name Punga Racers). And just so you get my tips to beating the family down (a) get in the start position and let the lifeguard tell you all when to go (b) start farther a head than you think you should, the mats stick to the start area and it’s not so easy to jump out of the chute. (c) keep the nose of the mat down while going down then lift it up as you enter the final zone (d) be sure to smack talk your teenagers, cause you will beat them.
5.TeAwha Fearless River
Again this isn’t technically a family ride since everyone has to be in their own tubes. But the fearless river isn’t your average lazy river. First off it goes faster. When I dropped out of my tube I almost got ran over by the people behind me, it’s harder to keep up than you think. Second it has rapids. Ok these aren’t class IV on the Colorado or anything, But still there are bumps and waves and you can link together creating a family island to navigate it. A great way to kill time while you wait to do the Volcano Bay Aqua Coaster again.
There are other rides you will love alone like the Serpentine Body Slides, the Body Plunge and the Ohnoo drop slides, but if you want to have family time at Universals Volcano Bay, make everyone join mom on these 5 rides for a great time together.
If you want to low down on all the rides at Volcano Bay check out Universal Orlando’s Fact Sheet for rides and info.