What to eat and drink at Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Park

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I took a break from the Florida heat to spend the day at Universal’s Volcano Bay. These are the best foods and drinks I have tried there. (Photo: Carly Caramanna/Yahoo)

I’ve been a regular visitor to Universal Orlando Resort since it opened in 1990. On a recent visit, I looked forward to a much-needed refuge from Florida’s soaring temperatures and ditched the roller coaster for their on-site water park, Volcano Bay. A lifelong theme park foodie, I was looking forward to trying the food and drinks offered at the South Pacific-themed water park in addition to cooling off.

Surrounded by lush greenery, this water park is unlike any I’ve ever been to – it almost feels like a resort thanks to its sandy beaches and winding paths. With stunning tropical wilderness and a towering 200-foot volcano serving as the centerpiece, I completely forgot I was within earshot of I-4, Central Florida’s busiest highway.

In this total oasis, a surprising and honestly unexpected gourmet hotbed has been found serving up South Pacific-inspired bites and cocktails. From ribs smoked on site to poke bowls of fresh ahi tuna, the culinary attention to detail is largely due to Universal Orlando Executive Chef Jason Glus.

When he joined the company 20 years ago, menus were ubiquitous with theme park staples like churros and chicken tenderloins, but he decided to change the perception of what food theme parks can and should be. Yes, there will always be turkey legs and hot dogs, but for the discerning or adventurous palate, there’s so much more.

Glus shares with Yahoo Life that over the past four years, Universal Orlando Resort has made the decision to become more sustainable by using locally sourced ingredients, which means that at resort properties in Orlando, their menus are changing. seasonally as they try to use the freshest produce available. Ingredients.

With dozens of inventive options to choose from at one of the best water parks in the country, these are the best restaurants and drinks at Universal’s Volcano Bay.

Waturi Fusion Waffle Cone, $6.49

Location: Koka Poroka Kona Ice Cream

(Photo: Carly Caramanna/Yahoo)

(Photo: Carly Caramanna/Yahoo)

This tasty explosion of colorful soft drinks is probably what Volcano Bay is best known for in terms of food, but it’s definitely worth it. Waturi Fusion is an Instagram-worthy creation that can be found at the Koka Poroka Ice Cream Kona quick-serve ice cream shack. The soft layered serving cone is a cascading rainbow mix of banana, blue raspberry, orange and strawberry flavored swirls. Served in a mug or my favorite method, the waffle cone, it’s an absolute delight on a hot day that’s shockingly subtle on the sweetness scale.

Burgers, prices vary

Locations: Kohola Reef Restaurant and Social Club and Bambu

(Photo: Carly Caramanna/Yahoo)

(Photo: Carly Caramanna/Yahoo)

You really can’t go wrong with any of the burgers served at both Bambu and Kohola Reef Restaurant and Social Club. Volcano Bay uses fresh Angus beef patties that are hand-packed daily and loaded onto homemade burger buns. The patty itself is juicy, full of flavor and cooked to perfection – a feat for any theme park.

My favorites include the Reka Burger with pepper jack cheese, caramelized onions and tangy mango barbecue sauce and the Kohola Burger, topped with crispy fried onions and pickled jalapenos. Vegetarian eaters are not left out and can enjoy an edamame quinoa burger topped with tasty roasted shiitake mushrooms.

Tiki punch, $13.99

Location: Dancing Dragons Boat Bar

(Photo: Carly Caramanna/Yahoo)

(Photo: Carly Caramanna/Yahoo)

There are plenty of places to grab a refreshing drink in Volcano Bay, but the Dancing Dragons Boat Bar is the best. Similar to a beachside watering hole, the sprawling bar – shaped like a canoe – opens out onto the white-sand beaches of the lagoon with picture-perfect views of the water park’s larger-than-life volcano. Viewed from the side, the thirsty guest will be pleased to know that the drinks are fabulous, with the Tiki Punch being a knockout.

This cocktail is an alcoholic combo made with light rum, raspberry rum, dragon berry rum, lemon rum and cranberry juice. Like a distant cousin of Long Island Iced Tea, it’s heavy to pour yet very smooth. It’s also great for people like me who want a tropical drink that’s not too sweet.

Coconut Crusted Fried Chicken Platter, $14.99

Location: Kohola Reef Restaurant and Social Club

(Photo: Carly Caramanna/Yahoo)

(Photo: Carly Caramanna/Yahoo)

Located at the base of Krakatau Volcano with stunning views of the expansive lagoon-style pool, Kohola Reef Restaurant and Social Club is home to one of Volcano Bay’s most satisfying dishes, coconut-crusted fried chicken. It’s almost shocking to find such good fried chicken in a water park, but alas, here we are. The meaty chicken is wonderfully juicy and coated in an addictively crispy exterior with just the right amount of coconut sweetness running through its brine. Mango coleslaw and fries are great sides, but the chicken is the star.

Mac and cheese and jerk shrimp, $19.49

Location: Whakawaiai Eats

(Photo: Carly Caramanna/Yahoo)

(Photo: Carly Caramanna/Yahoo)

Whakawaiai Eats offers plenty of style in its tropical decor and must-have shaded seating. Bypass the flatbreads and hot dogs on the menu for their jerk shrimp macaroni and cheese. Not exactly the traditional water park snack, this dish combines jumbo seared shrimp with a decadent mac and cheese made with pasta shells and an addictively creamy white cheddar sauce. Kudos to this quick service stand that executes perfectly cooked shrimp.

The combo is served with an Icee, perfect for cooling off during your break from the sun.

Wai-Waitermelon, $13.99

Location: Dancing Dragons Boat Bar

(Photo: Carly Caramanna/Yahoo)

(Photo: Carly Caramanna/Yahoo)

There are plenty of signature cocktails at Universal’s Volcano Bay Dancing Dragons Boat Bar, but the Wai-Waitermelon is one of the most refreshing. With vodka, watermelon syrup, fresh raspberry and watermelon, this fruity concoction combines just the right amount of alcohol with the flavors of summer’s most beloved fruit. Its drinkability factor makes it more than easy to knock a few down, which makes souvenir glass a wise buy here as it offers discounted drink refills. Relax, you’re on island time now.

Chocolate Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, $3.29

Location: Bamba

(Photo: Carly Caramanna/Yahoo)

(Photo: Carly Caramanna/Yahoo)

Named after the beautiful bamboo stalks that make up this restaurant, Bambu is a quick service place offering a variety of chicken fillets and sandwiches. Skip the savory dishes for their chocolate pineapple cake. The chocolate cake itself is wonderfully rich and moist, complemented by a sweet ring of pineapple baked right into it. The size is absolutely perfect, satisfying your chocolate fix without weighing you down so you can get back to slides.

Smoked Hawaiian Ribs $18.99

Location: Kohola Reef Restaurant and Social Club

(Photo: Carly Caramanna/Yahoo)

(Photo: Carly Caramanna/Yahoo)

It’s worth avoiding the crowds at Volcano Bay’s biggest restaurant for that tropical twist on an American favorite. At Kohola Reef Restaurant and Social Club, their Hawaiian ribs are slowly smoked on site before being glazed in a sweet and sticky honey sauce. The glaze nicely coats the meaty ribs that are bursting with flavor and fall straight off the bone. Accompanied by the cucumber, mango and basil coleslaw from the platter, it’s a total home run.

Bowl Poke Poke $14.49

Location: Feasting Frog

(Photo: Carly Caramanna/Yahoo)

(Photo: Carly Caramanna/Yahoo)

You can find one of Volcano Bay’s lightest bites at The Feasting Frog, a quirky frog-shaped quick-service spot. The poke poke bowl draws on the park’s Polynesian influences and features fresh raw ahi tuna, honey soy dressing and pineapple salsa. The flavors dance in harmony while the dressing provides just the right amount of sweet and sour taste to accompany the incredible fresh fish. The plantain chips provide just enough crunch to bind this dish together proving you can have something incredibly light yet still full of flavor.

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