I went for the first time last week and after a nice little bit of relaxing and having nightmare flashbacks of staircases upon staircases I decided to share my thoughts on the park. I've never been a huge water park person but I can definitely respect the role they play here in Florida. The only other major water parks I've been to are Rapids in Palm Beach which is more of a Cedar Fair type straight forward park with no theming but has a bit of charm and fine landscaping for what it is. The other is Aquatica which is lays in that SeaWorld trademark between Cedar Fair and Universal/Disney theming. So no Disney water parks experience for me to compare with unfortunately, but I think I can make the assumption all three of my parks have a higher level of thrill.
So, the most striking element of the park for me was the absolutely phenomenal landscaping. Being next to a major interstate, I think it was already important for Universal to really flesh out but they hit it out of the park. Its ridiculous how much coverage they got in such a small amount of time. Plus the general orientation of the path ways, especially at the entrance of the park to set up the volcano view, were very well thought out and executed equally as well. Volcano, ruins, different wooden structures, and slide towers all looked great as to be expected from Universal. The architecture in tandem with the landscaping really brought the park to life in a way I feel we haven't seen before in Florida, or anywhere really. Sight lines from every angle were so well thought out and it resulted in such a beautiful park.
Slides were all really good. I'm not as much a connoisseur of water slides as I am of roller coasters or other amusement park attractions but I'll try my best
I suppose I'll arrange these in the order that they come to mind:
: Holy Guacamole this thing was nuts. Like I said, I'm no expert on water slides but I think this is the best I've ever been on. I was lucky enough to get backwards on the drop and both tower walls so that may have made things even better! 10/10 would ride again
: I kind of found this disappointing, not in the way that it was bad just that it wasn't as great as I had hoped. The drops didn't really feel nuts like some of the others slides with the exception of the final plunge being very exciting. Solid slide though and really something exciting and different.
Kala & Tai Nui
: I didn't know a water slide could be this intense! Twisty body slides usually are quite painful on the back but these felt smooth. Awesome ride!
: I really enjoyed these. They were also intense and provided a cool ride experience. Best of all they had fun bouncy bridges
: This was the first drop slide I've been on. Great experience. The placement of the ride is rather odd though. Beautiful once you find it but hard to find.
: Probably not the best generic family raft slide but still a fun ride! *Insert Disney Moana joke here*
: Kind of boring to be honest. Also really tight seats :look:
: Great little mat racers. The queue is also really cool with Krakatau passing through the structure.
I'm probably forgetting a few, but eh. Also the fast lazy river was amazing in itself. It made lines feel shorter and was my preferred way to burn Tapu Tapu minutes!
I think Tapu Tapu Tapu worked well. In a water park where there are wave pools, lazy rivers, and alcohol virtual lines flourish. I don't however wish for anything like Tapu Tapu Tapu Tapu to ever makes it's way into the actual parks unless in an express pass, similar to the Q bot systems. The Tapu Tapu Tapu Tapu Tapu's use around the park was really clever especially with the locker opening system which made losing group members less of an issue.
As far as negatives, there are two that stood out to me. First was the lack of maps around the park and second was the lack of clocks. I'm a fairly good navigator and had a prior understanding of the parks layout, but people who had no idea of the layout likely were extremely confused. And adding a clock to the Tapu^6 would be greatly appreciated.
Universal did an excellent job and I can't wait to see what the expansions bring to the park.