Universal Orlando’s new Volcano Bay could remake theme park industry


We’ve known that Universal Orlando Resort was building a new water park called Volcano Bay to grow its resort along side the five resort hotels and two theme parks. Today we’re getting our first look at the park and some of the experiences it will provide guests. There’s also one little detail that promises to remake how guests experience theme parks all together.

First off, Universal isn’t calling Volcano Bay a water park, they’re calling it a Water Theme Park. There will be 18 attractions spanning 28 fully immersive acres. They’ll be divided across four primary park areas where there’s something for everyone, including a multi-directional wave pool with sandy beaches, peaceful winding river, twisting multi-rider raft rides, speeding body slides that drop from the top of the volcano into the waters below – and a state-of-the-art marquee attraction that will be revealed at a later date.

Part of the promise of Volcano Bay is a hassle-free convenience. This will most likely come in the form of using a wristband system to eliminate the need to carry cash and keys around with you, but also using it to go on any of the big attractions without waiting in a long line. How will they accomplish that? Universal will get rid of the standby line and make everyone get a reserved time to ride.

Universal is currently testing a system like this at Wet-n-Wild. Guests scan their wristband at the entrance of an attraction and are given a time in the future when they can return to ride. In the meantime, they can enjoy any of the wave pools or lazy rivers.

Imagine this at an all-inclusive boutique VIP theme park. Instead of waiting in queue, guests can be enjoying the amenities, shopping, dining, etc. Then when your time is near, your wristband chimes to remind you it’s time to go. Clearly this won’t work at a park that doesn’t have some limits on attendance, but at a boutique park that’s built to serve only a couple thousand guests a day, it’s perfect.

How much would you pay to never have to wait in a queue again?

We’ll get our first taste of theme park of the future at a date before June 1, 2017.

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6 thoughts on “Universal Orlando’s new Volcano Bay could remake theme park industry

  1. Bailers

    There’s nothing I want less than to be following a calendar on my vacation. It’s the same problem Disney has. I’m getting tired of having to plan my day around events, just like my normal workday is like.
    No thanks, I’ll find somewhere else to go where I can be in charge of my own schedule.

    1. John Frost Post author

      That’s the beauty of this system. You don’t plan ahead, you go to the attraction you want to ride next, but rather than waiting standing in the hot sun somewhere, you get to play in the wave pool or lazy river. No planning ahead required. It’s the best of both worlds.

  2. Northern Disney fan

    So in Disney-ese, its a water park that only works on the “Fast Pass” system. I do see the appeal. In theory its less waiting in line, so that’s great. and you spend more time at attractions, whether it be a wave pool or lazy river and less time drying out in the Florida sun.

    On the flip side, I do see what “Bailers” is saying. By having a designated time to ride, you are kind of tied to a clock. For some on vacation, there actually is a certain appeal to lining up in the queue for the ride, cuz you want to ride it “now”. Not later. And if all the attractions are going to work on the designated time system, that’s an awful lot of time to spend in a lazy river waiting.

    Still excited to see this park, and how it will spark Disney to counter it– a new water park? improvements to Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon? Let the games begin.

    1. NP20

      Plus, if all the attractions will work this way, why should I even have to go to them in the first place. Why can’t I from a computer or smart phone enter the ones I want, get times for all of them loaded onto this device. To have to walk around the park to each one to get a time and then come back later feels like a hassle. I’m a planner – you start in one place and progressively make your way around an amusement park – no backtracking allowed! To be running back and forth across the park all day seems like a waste

    2. Chandler

      As long as the system is working correctly, you’re waiting the same amount of time regardless. There’s not a standby line for the virtual queue to compete with.

  3. Frankie

    Meh. This certainly isn’t going to draw me across the country from California. Suppose you want to ride a ride but then are told to come back in 3 hours. But 2 1/2 hours later, your group decides they would rather do something else? Seems like more of a hassle. Besides, I feel like most water rides don’t suffer the “breakdown and wait” problems that motorized rides do. Sure the lines may be long, but they generally move at a faster pace.

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