ORLANDO, Fla. – Universal's water park Volcano Bay is scheduled to open Thursday.
For months drivers along Interstate 4 have been seeing the 200-foot volcano rise above the highway. Parkgoers will get to finally see inside the towering structure Thursday.
"It was great! I enjoyed it! I loved it!," Jason Rivera and his family said after getting off one of the raft rides.
Inside the man-made mountain is the theme park's star attraction, the Krakatau Aqua Coaster. The thrill ride features canoes traveling among the peaks and through the valleys surrounding the 200-foot Krakatau volcano.
The man-made volcano will also erupt into the sky, which is sure to cause some head turns on I-4.
[Volcano Bay ticket price information]
The water park kicked off its first day with an opening ceremony that featured Polynesian dancers and musicians.
"It was an experience unlike anything we've ever seen here. There were dancers, people in the water. It was beautiful," park guest Katie Pryor said.
When guests enter the Universal park they will receive a wristband-style wearable technology called TapuTapu. The band will allow guests “to virtually wait in line while they play in other areas of the park,” Universal said. The technology will alert them when it’s time to ride.
"What they don't like to do is wait in line and we set out to solve that problem and that's what the TapuTapu is all about," Dale Mason, the Vice President and Executive Art Director for Universal Creative said.
Guests can find “tap-to-play” experiences around Volcano Bay using TapuTapu. The technology can trigger special effects “like controlling streams of water spurting from whales in Tot Tiki Reef, shooting water cannons at guests snaking down Kopiko Wai Winding River and illuminating images in the volcano’s hidden caves,” according to Universal.
"You tap it, go do whatever you want...go get a snack or something, then you get back in lie and you're back on the ride," Pryor said.
Park guests are already diving into the parks' new 18 attractions. Universal officials say Volcano Bay has something for everyone, including two lazy rivers and a wave pool for guests who don't want thrills. For adventure seekers, there are tube and raft slides, the aqua coaster, and the world's largest and tallest body slide that drops you through Krakatau Volcano.
There are also plenty of places to relax, enjoy the sand, and the experience. Universal officials tell News 6 that is what Volcano Bay is all about.
"It's pure fun and pure fantasy. What I hope our guests come away with is that they are exhilarated and get a wonderful restful day," Mason said. "It's a place to kick back and relax, but also get the thrills."
There were some first-day hiccups. Park officials say some rides did shut down periodically throughout the day.
They had to close the aqua coaster in the morning, but it was fixed and back up running by the afternoon.
Check back for updates as News 6 covers the grand opening Thursday.
Watch video below that Sky 6 took while flying over the new water park.