Summer Kickoff: Volcano Bay

This post is sponsored by Visit Florida.

It should be noted that while I’m writing this, Brett has steel drum music blaring in the house right now like we are islanders. Like we’re on vacation. Like this laundry is going to disappear and be replaced with a cabana. It’s his new thing–steel drums, 24/7, preferably poolside. The cool thing is, we live in a state where that island vacation feeling is pretty accessible given our climate and our landscape of tropical palms and beaches. And when we want to explore that feeling a little deeper, there are some amazing tourist attractions just hours away. Last week, we kicked off our summer vacation visiting one of those places, Universal Studios brand spankin’ new Volcano Bay™ water theme park…and we are smitten.

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It has everything you want when you’re seeking the thrill of a theme park–rides, rides and more rides (18 attractions, to be exact); but our favorite thing about the park is that it appeals to the laid back crowd as well with a huge stretch of beach that faces the volcano (yes, volcano!), two-tiered cabanas and the most incredible lazy river I’ve ever experienced–waterfalls, grottos and illuminated caves. And there’s so much for little kids.

But first, the bus ride. Our hotel shuttle picked us up in the morning, and I don’t know if it was the anticipation of getting to Volcano Bay or the excitement of riding a bus, but the kids were giddy.

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Dash had this funny plastered smile on his face that Lainey and her friend labeled the “bus smile”. Numerous times for the rest of the trip, they asked him to show us his “bus smile”–which he did, sending the girls into fits of laughter.

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We had talked about the volcano before the trip and had shown the kids pictures, but watching them take it in when we rounded that first corner of the park was such a treat. Nella gasped and whispered, “The volcano!” It’s called Krakatau™ and it really is spectacular–completely monstrous with caves hidden throughout that you can swim through, a walking path hidden behind the waterfall and rides built into it including a drop tube toward the summit (none of us were brave enough).

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Nella did the sand body test and approves–soft like sugar.

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We brought Lainey’s good friend Maggie with us, and it was so nice having someone for her to explore the big kid stuff with. Plus, Maggie feels like family and overlooks our craziness.

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Favorite things about the park:

The TapuTapu™ bracelet. Everyone gets one for the day when you check in to the park, and not only do they hold your place in line for rides (kind of like a restaurant buzzer), but they allow you to interact with hidden features all over the park so you can turn fountains on, open your locker with it and link up your credit card so you don’t have to carry anything. The little kids loved using theirs to activate surprises.

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We lost it when Dash walked by this carving and it started making noises. He was mesmerized.

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And the park attractions for little ones? After we set up camp on the volcano beach, I left Brett with the kids for a bit while I went exploring. Upon discovery of Tot Tiki Reef and Ranamukka Reef, I texted Brett: “Oh my God. Abandon ship and meet me in the back. The kids are going to freak.”

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It is there that their bravery soared. In fact, I climbed to the top of a massive water play structure with Nella and Dash, not at all expecting that they’d attempt the slide, but they got in line. Totally out of character for both of them, Dash decided he didn’t want to do it while Nella jumped in front of him and, before I could caution her, took off.

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I was dodging kids, running to try and meet her, yelling to Brett at the bottom, “She’s coming! She’s going down! Did you see that? OUR HESITANT KID JUST WONDER WOMAN’D THAT SLIDE, DUDE!” From there, she was unstoppable.

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And her proud smile? Electric–could have powered that whole theme park.

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It was raining in Naples while we were gone, but thankfully most of our park day was beautiful.

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And when it did rain, we got cozy inside a restaurant for lunch and then explored more of the park in a misty haze that added to the allure of a volcano island.

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I love this picture:

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Another moment of bravery–Nella did not want anything to do with exploring the waterfall, but Brett scooped her up and gently guided her along.

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Sometimes you need your dad to help show you that things aren’t as scary as you imagine them to be. She loved it.

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I didn’t brave taking my camera on the lazy river, but the caves were stunning.

We finished the evening exploring Universal Studio’s Citywalk™ and Brett found his mothership–Antijitos Mexican Restaurant.

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It was the perfect summer kickoff for our family, and the kids are already asking to go back.

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Somehow, they’re not buying that this steel drum music by our own pool is the same thing.

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The best way to sight see Florida in the heat of the summer? Water. Water, water, water.

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Bonus…water with a view.

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of VISIT FLORIDA. The opinions and text are all mine.


Leave a Comment
  1. Thanks for information great blog.

    • ShawAna says:

      Just visit I’m sorry the park looks pretty but the wait time for rides were as long as 6hrs and you can only scan for 3 rides .The wave pool is more like a splash pad for kids . It’s a good water park but Typhoon Lagoon is better

  2. What a fun time. Love the photos of Nella on Brett’s back. :)

  3. Florida is an all time favorite of mine whenever I visit America. I’ve never heard of Volcano Bay before but I’ll put it on my bucket list for my next visit. Thanks for sharing.


  4. the smile on nella’s face in these photos is the best. what a beautiful day.

  5. Lisa M. says:

    Such awesome pictures, Kelle! That smile of Nella’s – electric for sure!! :)

  6. What a day! I want to go the next time I’m in FL.

  7. Sharlene says:

    Great post. I smiled when I saw steel drum music, I’m originally from Trinidad & Tobago the home of steelpan (steel drum). Always nice to hear people talking about it. I hated it as a kid, but after living nearly 22 years away from that little island it now sounds heavenly.

  8. Hi Kelle! This place looks like so much fun! Do you mind me asking what camera you used for pictures? I am assuming it was waterproof?

  9. oh my gosh ~ i haven’t visited your blog in too, too long, and the photos in this post took my breath away ~ pure joy! happy and grateful to be back ~ happiest summer to you and yours! xoxo bc

  10. Alexandra says:

    We live like 20 mins from there! Can’t wait to go

    Awesome pics as always! I have to ask where did you get Dash’s poncho?

  11. Jessica says:

    Looks so fun! In looking at the Yelp reviews though, the majority of people gave it one stars and said it was TERRIBLE. Wonder how y’all got lucky? Did you go an “off” day?

  12. Leah cohen says:

    Hi , love reading your blog posts. I saw the Lego review and snowballed from there and I’m glad I did ! We live in south FL and thinking about volcano bay – I’m curious if they have guest assistants pass for special needs / med fragile kids . I know water parks aren’t necessarily handicapped accessible but my son Ari who is 14 and has trisomy 9 mosaic loves water – just want to be prepared to navigate the park and couldn’t done much info bec it’s so new – would love to hear ur perspective. Anyway we can chat? Or any tips ?

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