Universal works to improve Volcano Bay after poor online reviews

Guests take to social media to vent frustrations

By Justin Warmoth - Anchor
Willie J. Allen Jr./Universal Orlando via CNN

Here's a first look inside Universal Orlando's Volcano Bay, a 30-acre water park. Credit: Willie J. Allen Jr./Universal Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. - Universal Orlando's 25-acre water park Volcano Bay opened two months ago, and while most guests agree the park is aesthetically pleasing, many have left frustrated and annoyed. 

Many guests have been sounding off on Facebook about their problems, giving the park a 2.9 rating out of 5 (541 reviews).

The reviews are even worse on Google, where the park received a 2.5 rating out of 5 (751 reviews).

To compare, Disney's Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach water parks both have a 4.7 out of a 5-star rating on Facebook (8,822 reviews and 8,035 reviews, respectively).

SeaWorld's Aquatica, meanwhile, has a 4.5 rating on Google (2,318 reviews).

One guest who rated Volcano Bay a 1 out of 5, wrote on Facebook, "I spent $260 for (4) tickets, $20 to park, over an hour to get thru security, bus ride, entry line and ticket check on a Wednesday, received a bracelet to be more efficient. There was so many people in the park we couldn't find a single beach chair to put our bag down. Had to rent a locker for $12 to put our stuff in. Found a fun looking slide scanned our bracelets was informed we could get permission to stand in the line after a 2.5 hour wait. By 1:30 in the afternoon we still haven't been on a water slide other than the way over crowded lazy river......I would suggest waiting until Universal sorts this one out. Great facility but horribly organized."

Parkgoers use the aforementioned wrist bands with wireless technology to join virtual lines for attractions while hanging out in other areas of the park -- a system Universal hoped would reduce waiting times.

But it seems the wristbands haven't worked like the park expected.

Another guest, who also rated the park a 1 out of 5, wrote, "I feel totally irritated after spending 6 hours in this park. We arrived 20 mins before opening and managed to get on only 2 slides in 6 hours. The wrist band system is a complete shambles. We were told to go to our first ride 10 mins after arriving. Whilst in what looked like an hours line, the wrist band said ride was delayed (technical issues). So we all left the line. After about 20 mins the 3 other members of my party's wristbands all reset. One member of our party had a faulty battery. 2 people lost their bands on the rapids. My son after waiting 3 hours to go on the drop slide was told it was closed due to a fault. I know it's a new park and very busy. But it's extremely confusing and totally frustrating day out. Maybe try going back in 5 years or so. Not happy today!"

The reviews, however, aren't all bad.

Gwendolyn Parker, who gave the park a 5 out of 5 rating, said, "The experience my children and I had was wonderful!!! We figured it out quickly. Your best results to get early admission. We arrived at 7:45am and was in the park by 8:05am. By 9:30am we had ridden over half of the rides. We went back the 2nd day at 6:00pm. It was great and less crowded. I love the bands given us notice when it's time to return back to a ride. Between our wait we enjoyed the wave pools which allowed us to continue to enjoy the park while waiting on a ride. The layout on the park was well thought of with keeping most of the park as cool as possible. The sprayers keeping the sidewalks cool, trees locations, tons of seating and outdoors carpet on the bridges are a plus. Great Fun for my Family. We will go back."

News 6 emailed Universal Orlando spokesman Tom Schroeder about the reviews.

"The vast majority of our guests tell us they are enjoying their day at Volcano Bay. We have been hard at work to improve the guest experience -- and we are not going to stop," he said.

Many have speculated that Universal opened Volcano Bay too quickly and blame the poor reviews on kinks and the massive summer crowds.

News 6 will continue to follow up with Universal to see what, if any, adjustments they make moving forward.
 

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