Disney Needs to Step Up Its Water Park Game – And Here’s Why

Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park
Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park / Credit: Disney

It’s an ongoing debate that has many answers – which is better: Universal or Disney?

Universal Studios has the thrills and, of course, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Hogwarts Express, while Disney World has Mickey Mouse, more theme parks, and ultimately, more magic.

But when it comes to Florida water parks, Universal Orlando has certainly got the edge. If you haven’t been to Volcano Bay yet, then get ready to be surprised.

volcano bay water park universal

Credit: Disney Fanatic

Volcano Bay versus Typhoon Lagoon

Universal Volcano Bay Water theme park can be compared easily to Disney World’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park. First, they are both tropical-themed water parks with lush greenery and trees. Both are built around artificial peaks; Volcano Bay’s 200-foot tall volcano is named “Krakatau” while Disney’s park is centered on “Miss Tilly”, a shrimp boat impaled upon a mountain named “Mount Mayday.”

They both have aqua coasters that propel guests uphill in floats: Universal’s Krakatau Aqua Coaster and Disney’s Crush ‘n’ Gusher. They both have lazy rivers, Kopiko Wai Winding River and Castaway Creek.

Volcano Bay, which opened back in May 2017, replaced Wet ‘n Wild as Universal Orlando Resort’s only water park, and it was the first water park constructed by Universal itself.

And this is where you can tell Universal stepped up its water park game. Volcano Bay versus Typhoon Lagoon? We vote for Volcano Bay.

volcano bay tapu tapu watch water park

Credit: Disney Fanatic

The TapuTapu System

The TapuTapu system is game-changing. It is completely free for guests of the water park and allows guests to join a virtual queue, eliminating having to wait in line for attractions!

Remember walking up the stairs to a water slide, and having to wait a long time in the heat for your turn, your swimsuit already drying off? Well at Volcano Bay, you just have to tap into a ride and it tells you when to return! You can ride the lazy river, relax, do other slides, eat, and then come back when it’s your time to walk right on!

The wearable is distributed as you enter the park and allows for payment of merchandise and dining by linking a credit card. The fun wristbands can also be used to interact with features such as water springs, lights, and opening lockers.

Another amazingly thoughtful touch at Volcano Bay is the water sprayers for the pavements around the theme park. Walking barefoot throughout a waterpark in the Florida heat can be painful, but this small addition definitely helps make walking around in the baking sun a lot more comfortable.

universal volcano bay entrance

Credit: Disney Fanatic

The Central Florida Water Park Slides

Now, both Volcano Bay and Typhoon Lagoon water park have lazy rivers, but in addition to the more relaxed Kopiko Wai Winding River tube ride, Volcano Bay has a fast-paced and really fun attraction.

Teawa, The Fearless River, is Florida’s first high-speed torrent river attraction. Teawa simulates white water rafting, with rapids, waves, and high speeds – no tube required!

Of course, before it was sadly removed, one of Disney’s most unique attractions was Typhoon Lagoon’s Shark Reef, which provided guests the chance to snorkel across a manmade lagoon brimming with rays, small sharks, and tropical fish. The attraction permanently closed in October 2016 due to assumed high costs and maintenance, but this really set Typhoon Lagoon in a different water park league – even against its sister park Blizzard Beach.

We’re not even acknowledging the other water park contenders in the Central Florida area. SeaWorld Orlando has the slides of Aquatica Orlando, while Discovery Cove provides unique Orlando water park fun.

It will be interesting to see what level of attractions will feature in Epic Universe, Universal’s new theme park coming Summer of 2025. With four themed lands (one so far revealed to be Super Nintendo World), we’re sure that Universal will bring more to the theme park competition with Walt Disney World.

What do you think is the best water park in Central Florida? Is Volcano Bay better than Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, or does Aquatica Orlando get the trophy?

About Melissa Cannioto

Melissa is an author, adventurer, and chatterbox, who has worked at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, and Adventures by Disney! A British native, she has traveled the world, and now resides in Florida with her husband, an Air Force pilot. Find her children's book at

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