Tess’s Birthday at Volcano Bay
The last few years we’ve been doing “Disney Birthdays” for the kids. When we purchased our vacation rental home near Disney World and invested in annual passes to Disney we decided to cut out the big themed birthday parties and do Disney birthdays instead.
This year, clearly, things are a bit different. Kye wasn’t able to have his Disney birthday due to Corona and all of the bookings I’d made six months in advance for Tess’s birthday were also canceled due to the virus.
There are positives in all things and one of the positives of Coronavirus is that it’s a chance to “reset” a bit. I tend to go overboard for my kids (#shocker) and the Disney birthday trips have gotten a bit too grand and I needed to scale back so Corona is the perfect opportunity to start fresh and start smaller!
We talked to Tessie about her birthday celebration and she had options! She could do a themed birthday party, go on a small trip etc. We gave her some choices and she said that what she REALLY wanted to do was go to a water park.
We visited Volcano Bay last year during our Universal trip but Tess wasn’t tall enough to ride just about anything. So she has very little memory even of the experience!
I looked up the height restrictions and measured Tess and realized she is now tall enough for majority of the water slides. It truly felt like a “first visit” for her but we were able to combine it with the Universal theme park package we did!
Volcano Bay is part of the Universal Theme Park family but is not located within Citywalk. When we visited the first time we were staying at Cabana Bay Resort which is within walking distance to Volcano Bay.
This time we parked in the Universal parking garage, went through all the health screening and security check and then boarded a bus to go to the water park. It was a surprisingly EASY set up and much quicker than I’d anticipated it being.
At this point (July) Volcano Bay had been the only Universal park to hit capacity so we arranged our trip to make sure we visited the water park on the least likely day to reach that capacity and we were mindful to arrive early enough to ensure we’d be granted access.
We went on Friday so G-Mama would be able to be with us and we dubbed this DAY as Tess’s BIRTHDAY celebration day.
I’m not setting it in stone or anything crazy like that but I am considering trying to have a single DAY to celebrate the kids on their “Disney trips” rather than the entire trip be filled with surprises for them 😉
The buses were not as hardcore set up for social distancing like the ones I experienced on opening day at Magic Kingdom and we also had the entire bus to ourselves for the short ride!
I love that Universal theme parks have clear height charts at the entrances. We were able to look and see exactly what attractions Tess would be able to enjoy as well as those she couldn’t!
She was SO thrilled and we were all excited for a fun family day!
Masks are required to enter the resort but not required once within it since it’s a water park so it was, by far, the most “normal” feeling day of our trip and truly our most NORMAL family day activity since February!
We decided to use the toddler play area as our “base” and I planned for most of my morning to be spent there with Spear.
Mrs. Charlotte hung with me most of the morning but we also traded off a bit so we were both able to do some of the slides and experiences with Tess as part of her birthday celebration she really wanted to ride slides with us ALL.
She was in HEAVEN and was so, so excited all day and loved the park and getting to do most of the fun things! Having Spear there with her also made the little kid area more fun this time and she never complained at all during those moments where the biggest kids were doing slides she couldn’t do.
Spear started off slow and checked things out and he built up his bravery to do the water slides. He was so fun to watch and it was SO empty early that morning which made it so relaxing too!
I really enjoyed the quality time with Spear and getting to pour into him so much just the two of us. He was SO cute and so fun and it was really special 🙂
My suit comes in TONS of colors and was great for the water park! Last-minute before the trip I decided to grab these swim shorts and they were SO PERFECT for the water park. I was comfortable walking around all day and wasn’t having to constantly mess with my bathing suit bottoms to make sure they had appropriate coverage.
I did one water slide with Tess and freaked out the whole time haha and then I also did a “wild rapid” lazy river with the big kids that Spear wasn’t able to ride and we ALL could do the regular lazy river too. I’m def a lazy river kinda girl 😉
Zach and Kye were the only two brave enough for the volcano drop slide and all the kids were great at coming into the little kid area and interacting with Spear for a bit too. I was genius to bring some little toys with us and Spear was completely content in the play area with his toys.
I was totally fine with keeping Spear content in the toddler area of slides. They are like single slides and not a super large play area. The toddler and kid splash area are all together in one area so Spear could see the bigger kid play section but wasn’t overly interested in it because it had a LOT going on. Lots of water splashing and tall slides which can be intimidating to a two year old.
Of course Daddy wasn’t going to let the day go by without getting Spear on the “big” slides! Adults aren’t allowed to go down them so I waited at the bottom as Zach sent him down and HE LOVED IT. So proud of our brave boy!!! We’ve got another thrill seeker on our hands no doubt!
Tess had SUCH a fun morning! She did ALL the slides she could and was able to do her favorites multiple times. Everything was walk on which made it extra enjoyable and a water park in the July heat makes SO MUCH MORE SENSE than the theme parks for sure. It was a gift to be refreshed and not drenched in sweat or having to breathe through a sweaty mask all day.
The water park started to get crowded by around lunch time and the level of enjoyment went down pretty quickly as the crowds went up. Wait times for slides started to happen and Spear started to get “over it.”
I tried taking him to a sand area to play but he was just DONE. We decided to eat lunch (you’re allowed to bring a cooler in IF it’s a bookbag style, outside food is also allowed, and it’s smart to bring your own towels too) and call it a day to head back to our vacation rental home to get some rest before phase 2 of Tess’s special birthday celebration!
This was our first time as an entire family experiencing a water park together and it was FABULOUS.
Getting to the park early and then leaving at lunch time was really perfect. It was getting crowded and the little kid area became pretty stressful with lots of little kids running around. We really left at just the right time and all had a super fun experience! Tess truly LOVED it!
Planning a Trip to Universal?
- We own a 6 bedroom, 4.5 bathroom home 20 minutes from the Universal theme parks (and 3 miles from Walt Disney World) in the beautiful gated community of Emerald Island. Our Vacation Rental Home has a heated pool and spa, Disney theming throughout and a great game room for the kids. Be sure to visit this post for all the details about renting our home!
- My favorite planning tool for arranging our park days at Universal is Touring Plans. Being a member of their site allows you access to crowd calendars and daily itineraries to avoid waiting in lines! Learn more here!