Universal Volcano Bay Opens to Horrible Reviews

When a new theme park or attraction opens, how do you gauge if it’s a success? Ask your friends who have been? Read your favorite fan website? Personally, I like to check the pulse of the general public in whatever way I can. I’ve mentioned this many times before, but the general public doesn’t read fan sites like TPU. I know it’s hard to believe since there are so many fan sites out there, but trust me when I say that the majority of the general public don’t read fan sites.

That said, there are fair amount of resources to find people who don’t necessarily eat, sleep and breathe this stuff. Which I find invaluable. Websites like TripAdvisor, Yelp or even Facebook reviews can give you a true indicator on how the masses are receiving a new offering. And so far? Volcano Bay doesn’t seem to be doing so well.  Now anyone can tell you that all new parks have their issues and opening on Memorial Day weekend may not have been the best idea. Universal also seems to be paying big time for opening Volcano Bay on a busy weekend, but the problem goes a bit deeper than that.

If you’re looking for actual reviews, check out Volcano Bay’s rankings on TripAdvisor or Yelp. Both list the water park at 2 out of 5 “stars” which is pretty terrible for a new park from one of the world’s leading theme park companies. The main issues seem to be with the slides breaking down fairly regularly, TapuTapu wireless wristband system is “glitchy” and the virtual queues are often in excess of 4 hours or more. All issues that can be resolved in due time. So who’s to blame here?

I will tell you who’s not to blame: paying customers who decided to give Volcano Bay a try within their opening weeks. If there is one piece of logic online that drives me crazy, it’s the “well you’re an idiot to go to a new theme park when it just opened and expect it to be perfect” excuse. Any customer who goes to any business, no matter how new or old and expect that what is found within to be working properly is a reasonable assumption regardless of holidays, new technology or anything else.

According to insiders, Universal really botched this opening on their end.  Slides were barely tested before the general public was let in on opening day. The first large scale test of TapuTapu in action was on opening day. They were incredibly understaffed and had to ask team members to come in early and/or stay late. Plus, they didn’t seem to scale their crowd levels up to learn how the park flows and provide a better experience.

New theme parks should always start their attendance on a sliding scale going up. You start anywhere between 40% to 60%  of total park capacity on your first day and slowly ramp up to 100%.  From all signs that I have been told, Volcano Bay did not do this. Do I think they can iron out their problems?  Yes… but they still have a long way to go on working the bugs out and doing it with paying customers doesn’t exactly seem fair. Your thoughts?

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Images Copyright: Universal Orlando Resort

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