The Puihi is just one of many exhilarating rides at Universal’s new water theme park Volcano Bay. 

The whole park is set on a Pacific island which tells the story of the Waturi and their legends. 

As we enter, we are given a cheery “Kia ora” (be well) welcome from the islanders and greeted by the towering 200ft Krakatau volcano. 

Dominating the skyline with its waterfalls thundering down into Waturi beach, it is the centrepiece from which all the 18 main park attractions radiate. Every now and then it erupts and sends out smoke and bursts of water. 

The whole park has a very tropical feel with carvings of mystical creatures peeking out from between the lush palm trees and ferns. 

As you wander through it’s easy to get caught up in its magic, forgetting the real world exists. 

Universal Volcano Bay water park Orlando USUNIVERSAL ORLANDO

The 200ft Krakatau structure at Volcano Bay

As you wander through it’s easy to get caught up in its magic, forgetting the real world exists

The experience bears no relation to the theme parks of my childhood, constant queuing and the inevitable climb up the stairs carrying your cumbersome raft. I do recall doing that with my younger brother who refused to help. 

To alleviate this, Universal has developed the ingenious TapuTapu. With technology playing more and more of a role in our lives these days it comes as no surprise that Volcano Bay has jumped on board. 

The TapuTapu waterproof wristband is your key to riding and avoiding queues. 

Universal Volcano Bay water park Orlando USUNIVERSAL ORLANDO

Volcano Bay theme park has plenty of wet and wild attractions

You can even use it while relaxing in your private cabana to purchase food and a even a cocktail or two that all boast a distinctive South Pacific twist. 

At each attraction there are totem poles which tell you whether your ride is good to go. If it’s a no, simply tap your TapuTapu against the Volcano logo and you’re added to the virtual line, alerting you when it’s your time to ride. 

Another impressive piece of kit is a big escalator which ships rafts back to the start. 

Usually you wouldn’t want to get this close to a volcano but on the Krakatau Aqua Coaster I found myself riding a four-man canoe, careering in and out of the Volcano coupled with a few heart-in-mouth inducing drops. 

After all the excitement I was overjoyed to find that Volcano Bay has a lazy river, in my opinion no water park would be complete without one. 

The Kopiko Wai Winding River is perfect too.

I took a leisurely float round and deep under the majestic Krakatau Volcano to the magical Stargazer’s Cavern where the night sky sparkles overhead. 

Above me the thrill seekers took on the Ko’okiri Body Plunge, which has you standing at the top of a transparent tube before sending you on 125ft, 70 degree drop on a stomach flipping 10-second ride. 

Just to reassure us, a “Waturi islander” described it as the scariest but most thrilling water slide he has ever experienced. 

But it’s not all about the adrenaline-pumping rides; the younger members of your tribe can frolic through geysers and ride mini-slides on the Tot Tiki and Runamukka reefs. 

Universal Volcano Bay water park Orlando USUNIVERSAL ORLANDO

A relaxing room at Sapphire Falls Resort

At the end of the day, when I was tiki-tukkered out, my stay at Sapphire Falls Resort was the soothing balm. My double room had a lovely relaxed coastal feel decorated in bright blues and oranges. 

If you find you really haven’t had enough water for one day the hotel pool is a great place to loll, with a slide of its own and hot tubs. 

Secretly, I was a little jealous of those taking on the more monstrous gravity-defying rides. However, there’s always tomorrow.


Virgin Holidays (0344 739 4787/ offers seven nights at Universal Orlando from £3,413 (four sharing), room only. 

Price includes accommodation at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, return flights from Gatwick to Orlando, car hire and three-park explorer ticket.

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