December 31, 2016 marked the end of a chaotic year, and also the end of a 40-year tradition in Orlando. The water park Wet n’ Wild has been an Orlando staple since opening in 1977 under SeaWorld founder George Millay. Universal purchased the park in 1998. While America was no stranger to pools and water slides at this time, Wet n’ Wild was considered America’s first-ever water park in the the sense that it was the first park in America dedicated exclusively to water rides. This park was a real trailblazer in its early days, paving the way for future water parks that would eventually come to overshadow it. Nevertheless, it was a beacon in Orlando- Universal’s match to Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end. Wet n’ Wild officially closed its doors on December 31, marking the end of a tradition for tourists and locals alike. Luckily, something even more awesome is about to take its place. While Universal has no official plans for the land Wet n’ Wild occupied, Universal is constructing a tropical paradise-themed water park of epic proportions (the first water park constructed by Universal), set to open in June of this year. If you Google “Universal Volcano Bay Water Park,” you’ll see what I mean. Volcano Bay is like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and as a Florida resident, I’m super psyched!
So far, the only pictures available for the park are prototype sketches and a few pictures of the early, rudimentary stages of construction. The prototype images look awesome though! This park literally seems like something out of this world, something futuristic that doesn’t seem to fit in with modern times. There is a picture of a watery cave illuminated with twinkling lights that looks like something out of the movie Avatar.
Not only does this park look futuristic, but based on the limited information available so far, it seems that it will offer some futuristic features as well. The coolest of these high-tech features, in my opinion? No long lines. That’s right- it sounds impossible, but Universal wants to do away with the long lines that are par for the course at Orlando theme parks by offering virtual lines that allow guests to virtually check themselves into a line while doing other things in the park. A device called a TapuTapu wearable will be given to guests at no extra charge, alerting them when it’s time to go to the ride.
Another feature of the TapuTapu wearable is the “tap to play” feature that enables guests to trigger special effects throughout the park with a tap of their device. Guests can shoot water cannons and illuminate lights throughout the park from the convenience of their wearable.
A full list of the attractions planned for the park can be found on the park’s website, but the star attraction is by far the Krakatau Water Coaster. The imposing fire and water volcano, Krakatau, towers over the rest of the park and will feature several attractions within its walls that feature water effects during the day and lava effects at night. Aqua coasters are not exactly a new invention, but the Krakatau Water Coaster is the first of its kind. It will use linear induction motor technology to propel riders both downwards and upwards though the interior twists and turns of the volcano.
Universal promises to release more information on the park over time, but if you’re already set on paying a visit to Volcano Bay, you can buy your tickets now. As we look ahead to a new year, we can also look forward to this one-of-a-kind water park.