And Volcano guests have to ride a bus after they put their vehicle in a not-so-themed concrete, monolith of a garage. No reports of Morlocks ... yet
TH Creative, while I agree with you that Volcano Bay's $20 parking charge is unfortunate, Aquatica charges the same amount. I would say that a good number of people going to Volcano Bay are probably staying on site, but if the $20 is discouraging people from going it probably would work to Universal's advantage until they find the sweet spot attendance cap to make virtual queuing work well. But as an Orlando local, I favor Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach for the after 2 pass option and free parking.
Given that VB is hitting capacity within 30 minutes of opening on many days of operation, I think if the $20 parking charge is keeping day guests away, that's probably a good thing, at this point. VB is an enhancement for UOR on-site hotel guests and AP holders with free parking right now. If you're not staying on site and going to the early access hour, I wouldn't even think of visiting VB this summer.
As much as many people are complaining about VB and its pricing, Econ 101 says that UOR has *under*priced it at this point. There's still too many people trying to get in versus what it can handle.
Fist time we went to TL I thought I was not in the correct parking area. Then, I thought maybe since it was later in the day they had stopped taking monies... We were ignorant to those parking lots at the time..
But now since joining TPI - we know everything... hahahaahah...
What do you suggest they do TH? There's no room for a parking lot, so Volcano Bay guests are essentially relegated to the main resort garages. The Disney waterparks have enough space around them to accommodate full parking lots, so there's no need to charge for parking, especially since there's no tram or other services in the lot. I would hope that guests trying to visit Volcano Bay, but arrive too late to get in, are being given refunds on their parking charge.
I'd rather pick on the fact that Universal Deluxe and Moderate resort guests (Hard Rock, Portofino Bay, Royal Pacific, and Sapphire Falls) have to pay for parking on top of their hotel cost that is more expensive than parking in the normal daily guest garages (Cabana Bay parking is cheaper). I don't necessarily have an issue with them charging for parking, rather that it's tacked on when you arrive and more expensive than parking for off-site theme park guests. Guests not aware of the parking policy, the extra charge for daily parking may have persuaded them to chose an off-site hotel. I don't understand why Universal can't simply add the daily parking fee to their hotel rates or at least show it as part of their reservation system before it's booked. They show they charges on the individual hotel information pages, but it's not something shown during the booking process. Parking at the resorts for guests staying in the hotels should also be the same or less than what it costs for off-site guests to park, not $2 more per day.
You're slipping, TH! Volcano Bay has been open for a whole month, and you're only just now getting around to complaining about the parking fees? C'mon now, you've got to do better! The Disney PR department doesn't hand out bonuses for lackadaisical effort like that!
I have to agree here. As a Universal and Sea World AP, the hassle of unloading at the garage and bussing over and back to Volcano Bay is a big turn off for us. With a 2 hour drive to Orlando (more like 2.5 hours with I-4 traffic in the past year and a half), it is unrealistically a day trip anymore. Add all the stuff for a family of four that needs to be carted back and forth, and it is even more blah. Aquatica, while certainly not the scale of park that Volcano Bay is, is just a significantly easier park to get in and out of. And the final blow is the recommendation that you absolutely need to be there during early entry. I'm not getting up at 4:30am to start the process of going to a water park!
Side note ... I-4 traffic in the past year and a half is completely re-writing the book on how we visit Orlando parks. We used to be able to dodge a lot of the problems on I-4 by going during off-peak times, but not anymore. Trips to Orlando for us have gone from mostly day trips to primarily overnight getaways. And that means fewer trips for us. I have the feeling that in the next year or two, it could even change our AP status. And even once the Ultimate I-4 project is completed years from now, that does nothing to address the problems on I-4 between Tampa and Haines City.
@Russell Meyer the parking fee for Universal hotel guests sucks, but it is basically the same nickel and dime strategy that most other resorts use to shakedown guests with daily resort fees, parking fees or both. And the parking fee is a bargain when compared with the cost of having your vehicle broken in to at a hotel with free, unsecured parking. Vehicle burglary is such a major problem from Downtown Orlando all the way to Kissimmee and everywhere in between that I will gladly pay more to park somewhere where there is a bit lesser chance of this happening.
@jeremygary - I don't begrudge them the right to charge for parking. I just don't think they should be charging resort guests more to park their car by their hotel than off-site theme park guests to park at the garage. I would gladly pay $20 or less to park my car at the Hard Rock Hotel, but to charge me $22 just because I'm staying at the hotel and not simply visiting the parks for the day is not right. FWIW, Cabana Bay guests only pay $12/day to park, so why if I'm paying more for a nicer room do I need to pay $10 extra to park my car? If they want to charge off-site guests more to park at the resort parking lots, fine, but honestly, all non-resort guests should be forced to park in the main garages, not at the resorts to ensure enough parking is available for all hotel guests.
Mr. Meyer asks: "What do you suggest they do TH? "
I Respond: Lower water park ticket prices by $20.
Dr. Hillman writes:"Volcano Bay has been open for a whole month, and you're only just now getting around to complaining about the parking fees?"
I Respond: It hit me when my daughter and I went to CityWalk because she wanted a milkshake at Dr. Steam Punk's chocolate mess. Two designer shakes plus parking ... $47. Universal Orlando's profit. $46.85.
Mr. Niles writes: " At this point. VB is an enhancement for UOR on-site hotel guests and AP holders with free parking right now. If you're not staying on site and going to the early access hour, I wouldn't even think of visiting VB this summer."
I Respond: When summer is over it will still take twenty pigs to park and then take a bus to get to the park where you get to wait three hours for 18 seconds of thrill on a water slide. At Typhoon and Blizzard you can enjoy the same experience without the parking fee or bus. VB has a lousy rep locally and on the review sites -- and the added Andrew Jax does not help.
I wonder when Uni will start offering a version of the parking rebate it gives movie-goers in LA, but for Florida residents going to VB.
Or rebates for people buying $13 milkshakes.
Going to Universal's retail/food complex and/or water park costs guests $20 more than going to Disney's retail/food complex and/or water parks.
I would agree that a lower price for Volcano Bay would be ideal. Universal really shot for the moon in terms of pricing, but as long as it reaches capacity every day, they're validated in their pricing decisions.
It would also be great if CityWalk guests received validation for eating or making purchases, but I think they've already attempted to correct for this by eliminating the parking fee for Florida residents arriving after 6 PM. Again, the economics suggest that Universal doesn't need to make any adjustments, because people willingly come in and pay for parking for a short visit to CityWalk in the middle of the day. I agree that it's robbery, but as long as people keep paying for it, UO will keep charging.
In addition to having the bus-free, complimentary parking Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach allow guests to bring in their own picnic lunches and coolers (no glass containers or alcohol). Does Volcano Bay permit guests to carry in their own food and coolers? Or are they required to pay theme park food prices if they want to eat or drink in the park?
Straight from the Universal website...
Outside Food And Drinks
We offer a variety of food options at restaurants and concession stands throughout our resort. However, we understand that guests may need to bring outside food and drinks. Please note the following guidelines:
Bottled Water (maximum 2 liters)Small snacks that do not require heatingAny food required for medical purposes and medically-indicated nutritional supplementsAny food required for special dietary needsBaby food/baby formulaSoft-sided insulated bags no larger than 8.5" wide x 6" high x 6" deep
Glass containersOpen containersHard-sided coolersSoft-sided coolers larger than 8.5" wide x 6" high x 6" deepPicnic lunchesFood that requires heating or refrigerationFolding chairs
That's pretty standard just about anywhere, and similar to Disney's policies except providing more details on soft cooler sizes.
Despite what I would consider an absurd price for a water park ticket, Volcano Bay is still reaching capacity on most days.
When we have visited the Disney Water theme parks we have brought in chips, sandwiches fruit, sodas, bottled water (no limit on liters. And we brought it in a hard sided cooler larger than the dimensions above.
How does that make Volcano Bay's regimented policies similar to Those of the Disney water theme parks -- where you can park for free and not have to ride a bus to get to the entrance?
I always thought Typhoon Lagoon was free due to its proximity to the Downtown Disney and avoiding a parking issue from guest looking for a free option. In turn the free parking was rolled to Blizzard Beach to keep both parks on equal footing and not a gracious gift from Disney. Volcano Bay did have room for parking but it needed Universal to not build Aventura Hotel not where it is and instead a parking deck adjacent to the park. Aventura could have been built nearer to Universal Blvd on land used by the bus route. But we could endlessly discuss some squandered options when it comes land use by Universal.
Typhoon Lagoon opened in 2989. The Downtown Disney expansion arrived in 1997. So...
River Country didn't charge for parking, so the precedent for free parking at Disney water parks was already established in 1976.
The obvious strategy is that VB was intended as a water park for people staying in the UOR hotels. Also AP holders get free parking so the local park enthusiasts have no complaint. VB, like all water parks have lower capacities. Seems like a good strategy since they usually hit capacity.
Tony Duda writes: "The obvious strategy is that VB was intended as a water park for people staying in the UOR hotels."
I Respond: Then why are there a zillion billboards and TV ads?
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