Tickets are Now Available for Universal’s Volcano Bay. But There’s a Catch…

Originally published in Theme Park Tourist…

It may seem hard to believe, but we are now only about half a year away from the grand opening of Volcano Bay, Universal Orlando Resort’s upcoming not-a-water-park water park. And while we still have a lot of questions about how Universal’s revolutionary new Tapu Tapu system will work (and how Universal will handle all the guests not standing in line at this park), those who want to be among the first to experience this new park can now purchase tickets that can be used for admission to Volcano Bay beginning June 1, 2017. But most are probably going to want to pass on this initial opportunity to secure their spot at this brand new park. And here’s why:

1. Want to get in early? You’re going to need a multi-day park ticket

Image: Universal

The only way right now to secure admission in advance for Universal’s Volcano Bay is to buy a multi-day theme park ticket to Universal Orlando Resort and use one of your days for this water park. Interestingly, you cannot buy a one or two day ticket for use at Volcano Bay, as these only include admission to Universal Studios Florida  and/or Islands of Adventure. However, if you purchase a 3-5 day ticket, you can use a single one of your days at Volcano Bay. However, before you grab your wallet, there’s a big restriction you should know about:

If you are looking to use any kind of discount here, you are out of luck. Though you can purchase 1-5 multi-day day admission tickets at discounted rates if you are a Florida resident (or have a specific promo code), no discounted tickets include Volcano Bay admission at the moment.

 Image: Universal

Unfortunately, this means that the least expensive option for those who want to be among the first to experience the cutting edge attractions of Volcano Bay is a full-price three-day ticket that includes one park per day, which costs a whopping $245 per person. And if you are a frequent Universal Orlando Resort visitor or annual passholder, this is a pretty steep price to pay just to enter one park. Especially since the first days of this park’s operation might be a little rocky…

2. Capacity issues are likely going to complicate admission early on

Image: Universal

Though it may seem weird that Universal is only allowing guests to secure entry to Volcano Bay via their most expensive ticket types, when we look at some recent announcements regarding this park, Universal’s strategy becomes a little bit more clear.

Because Universal’s Volcano Bay will not feature any queue lines (thanks to the newly-developed Tapu Tapu technology) capacity will need to be tightly controlled in order for every guest to get equal opportunity to experience all of the attractions at this new park. Because there is no stand-by line at all, if this park gets overcrowded, guests may only be able to select from a handful of attractions to experience as wait times balloon and common areas (where these guests will presumably wait) fill up. And when guests are paying a hefty sum for admission, the last thing Universal wants is complaints about not getting value for money. And that’s where this early ticket purchase policy comes into play.

By restricting admission early on to the most expensive multi-day tickets, Universal can spread out the initial swell of guest levels at this park and also discourage visits from those who are looking to visit multiple times over a short amount of time (like annual passholders). However, even though Universal may be trying to limit access to this park in its early days, a plan is already coming together for the future of this park…

3. Annual passholders will be able to experience Volcano Bay and information is coming soon

Image: Universal

Though we don’t have any concrete information yet about how Universal will handle ticketing for annual passholders (given the limited constraints on admission we’d assume unlimited visits will not be an option for any passholder tier) Universal has confirmed that they will be addressing this concern soon, stating both via their official Annual Passholder Facebook Group and other social media accounts that information regarding admission for this group will be announced at a later date, potentially as soon as January 2017.

While this may seem a little frustrating to annual passholders (who will obviously be quite excited to experience this brand new park), the fact is that Volcano Bay’s structure makes it so attendance must be tightly controlled to preserve the functionality of the Tapu Tapu virtual queuing system mentioned above.Though unconfirmed, we’d guess that Universal will employ some kind of spacing mechanism to help keep things even that will could block specific tiers of passes on certain days. Another (potentially less popular) option would be for Universal to not offer any kind of Volcano Bay admission included as part of an annual pass, and then sell special passholder tickets at a discounted rate for this park.

4. What about single-day admission?

Image: Universal

Another lingering question that Universal doesn’t really have an answer for at this time is that of single-day admission. While its true that both Walt Disney World as well as SeaWorld Orlando often bundle admission to their respective water parks with other ticket types, it’s easy for those who just want to visit Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach or Aquatica alone to pick up a ticket for just these individual parks. However, it looks like, at least at the park’s opening, this may not be an option for Universal’s Volcano Bay, and it will be interesting if Universal ever offers Volcano Bay admission by itself.

What do you think about Universal’s early ticket purchasing policy? Do you agree with the current requirement to purchase at least a three-day ticket to gain entry to Volcano Bay? Or do you think Universal should adopt a simpler system? Sound off below and let us know what you think they should do!

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Don Korta
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