Summer Kickoff: Volcano Bay

This post is sponsored by Visit Florida.

It should be noted that while I’m writing this, Brett has steel drum music blaring in the house right now like we are islanders. Like we’re on vacation. Like this laundry is going to disappear and be replaced with a cabana. It’s his new thing–steel drums, 24/7, preferably poolside. The cool thing is, we live in a state where that island vacation feeling is pretty accessible given our climate and our landscape of tropical palms and beaches. And when we want to explore that feeling a little deeper, there are some amazing tourist attractions just hours away. Last week, we kicked off our summer vacation visiting one of those places, Universal Studios brand spankin’ new Volcano Bay™ water theme park…and we are smitten.

 photo print 1_zpsaiwvurkr.jpg

It has everything you want when you’re seeking the thrill of a theme park–rides, rides and more rides (18 attractions, to be exact); but our favorite thing about the park is that it appeals to the laid back crowd as well with a huge stretch of beach that faces the volcano (yes, volcano!), two-tiered cabanas and the most incredible lazy river I’ve ever experienced–waterfalls, grottos and illuminated caves. And there’s so much for little kids.

But first, the bus ride. Our hotel shuttle picked us up in the morning, and I don’t know if it was the anticipation of getting to Volcano Bay or the excitement of riding a bus, but the kids were giddy.

 photo print 17_zpssoszrdph.jpg

Dash had this funny plastered smile on his face that Lainey and her friend labeled the “bus smile”. Numerous times for the rest of the trip, they asked him to show us his “bus smile”–which he did, sending the girls into fits of laughter.

 photo print 18_zpszuvvsxt7.jpg

 photo print 19_zpsm7klcdvc.jpg

 photo print 20_zpsbfpmsgac.jpg

We had talked about the volcano before the trip and had shown the kids pictures, but watching them take it in when we rounded that first corner of the park was such a treat. Nella gasped and whispered, “The volcano!” It’s called Krakatau™ and it really is spectacular–completely monstrous with caves hidden throughout that you can swim through, a walking path hidden behind the waterfall and rides built into it including a drop tube toward the summit (none of us were brave enough).

 photo print 21_zpsoueklt9s.jpg

 photo print 29_zps2e7zjojb.jpg

 photo print 56_zpssxcskmmt.jpg

Nella did the sand body test and approves–soft like sugar.

 photo print 23_zpswthc6xsc.jpg

 photo print 24_zpstxyr7gzo.jpg

We brought Lainey’s good friend Maggie with us, and it was so nice having someone for her to explore the big kid stuff with. Plus, Maggie feels like family and overlooks our craziness.

 photo print 65_zpsblpe1mln.jpg

 photo print 47_zpslyvasac1.jpg

 photo print 48_zps7zegb42q.jpg

Favorite things about the park:

The TapuTapu™ bracelet. Everyone gets one for the day when you check in to the park, and not only do they hold your place in line for rides (kind of like a restaurant buzzer), but they allow you to interact with hidden features all over the park so you can turn fountains on, open your locker with it and link up your credit card so you don’t have to carry anything. The little kids loved using theirs to activate surprises.

 photo print 67_zpsnpz93fop.jpg

We lost it when Dash walked by this carving and it started making noises. He was mesmerized.

 photo print 66_zpslfwh2v6x.jpg

And the park attractions for little ones? After we set up camp on the volcano beach, I left Brett with the kids for a bit while I went exploring. Upon discovery of Tot Tiki Reef and Ranamukka Reef, I texted Brett: “Oh my God. Abandon ship and meet me in the back. The kids are going to freak.”

 photo print 38_zpsuag8wi8z.jpg

 photo print 31_zpsb6mcy0sq.jpg

 photo print 33_zpsi3mhnusq.jpg

 photo print 36_zpscstg8cow.jpg

It is there that their bravery soared. In fact, I climbed to the top of a massive water play structure with Nella and Dash, not at all expecting that they’d attempt the slide, but they got in line. Totally out of character for both of them, Dash decided he didn’t want to do it while Nella jumped in front of him and, before I could caution her, took off.

 photo print 34_zpsrlvysyky.jpg

 photo print 35_zpso3acopon.jpg

I was dodging kids, running to try and meet her, yelling to Brett at the bottom, “She’s coming! She’s going down! Did you see that? OUR HESITANT KID JUST WONDER WOMAN’D THAT SLIDE, DUDE!” From there, she was unstoppable.

 photo print 45_zpsbrdez2je.jpg

 photo print 44_zpsvqwgvd8l.jpg

And her proud smile? Electric–could have powered that whole theme park.

 photo print 46_zpsvnsvmgaz.jpg

 photo print 42_zps7tpbs2gw.jpg

It was raining in Naples while we were gone, but thankfully most of our park day was beautiful.

 photo print 28_zpsxitu2tvf.jpg

And when it did rain, we got cozy inside a restaurant for lunch and then explored more of the park in a misty haze that added to the allure of a volcano island.

 photo print 54_zpsnmtgyv5z.jpg

 photo print 30_zpsi0eoslw1.jpg

I love this picture:

 photo print 63_zpsepfx5zqp.jpg

Another moment of bravery–Nella did not want anything to do with exploring the waterfall, but Brett scooped her up and gently guided her along.

 photo print 60_zpsgrmk0iw6.jpg

Sometimes you need your dad to help show you that things aren’t as scary as you imagine them to be. She loved it.

 photo print 61_zps0mhfh9bs.jpg

 photo print 57_zpsvpkyq5mr.jpg

 photo print 58_zpscywwolc6.jpg

I didn’t brave taking my camera on the lazy river, but the caves were stunning.

We finished the evening exploring Universal Studio’s Citywalk™ and Brett found his mothership–Antijitos Mexican Restaurant.

 photo print 72_zpsykeup1bb.jpg

It was the perfect summer kickoff for our family, and the kids are already asking to go back.

 photo print 27_zpsc1jnzuf9.jpg

Somehow, they’re not buying that this steel drum music by our own pool is the same thing.

 photo print 73_zpslswp7htx.jpg

The best way to sight see Florida in the heat of the summer? Water. Water, water, water.

 photo print 78_zpsuyetpcxa.jpg

Bonus…water with a view.

 photo print 25_zpsighsinem.jpg

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of VISIT FLORIDA. The opinions and text are all mine.

The post Summer Kickoff: Volcano Bay appeared first on Enjoying the Small Things.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s