Several Guests Have Warnings About The Dangerous Rides At This Florida Theme Park

Let's face it, the last thing anyone wants to think about is the possibility of an accident while visiting a theme park. After all, theme parks are meant to be the pinnacle of fun and excitement for families and thrill-seeking travelers alike — and not a potential disaster just waiting to strike when you least expect it. However, even with all of the safety measures and accessibility requirements that these types of destinations must adhere to, unexpected accidents and mishaps — ranging from mild to severe — can definitely still happen. And no, you don't even need to be at one of most dangerous theme parks in the U.S. for that possibility to arise. 

Because whether you're braving some of Walt Disney World's most iconic coasters in Orlando or spending a day out at one of the U.S.'s more unique and lesser-known theme park destinations, safety should always be a priority. That said, it's precisely this concern for a lack of proper oversight that has driven hordes of guests to voice their complaints about Volcano Bay, Universal Orlando's premier water park. So much so that, since 2018, hundreds of injury reports have flooded in to local Florida authorities from visitors who ran into some serious issues during their visit. 

There have been multiple reports of accidents at Volcano Bay

From reports of scrapes and nosebleeds to concussions, and even a critical incident on the ride Punga Racers in 2019 that left visitor James Bowen paralyzed, the park has been accused of knowingly putting the safety of its staff and visitors in danger. In fact, according to the Orlando Sentinel, similar situations to the one that left Bowen paralyzed were reportedly flagged by two safety testers before its opening — with no added measures taken.

Furthermore, a 2022 lawsuit — reported on by Inside the Magic — by park visitor Danielle Tolman resurfaced the chaos after claiming she sustained a "life-altering injury" in 2018 while riding Punga Racers. Per Tolman, the mat she was given unexpectedly flung up and tossed her to the side, causing her to hit her head on the tunnel multiple times. Ultimately, the repercussions from the incident were so severe that they cost Tolman her job.

Despite the severity of some cases, Florida law only requires large theme parks to report injuries where a guest has been hospitalized for at least 24 hours — which could explain why the "official numbers" aren't more staggering. For example, Tolman's accident was never officially reported because she made the 100-mile journey back to St. Augustine that same day — meaning she wasn't interned at the hospital for the required period.

Other safety concerns that plague Volcano Bay

Although Punga Racers' manufacturer and Universal Orlando eventually overhauled the ride in 2020, removing the mats and turning it into a body slide, safety concerns at Volcano Bay are still making the rounds. That same year, the waterpark was forced to close early after a woman — along with several other employees and lifeguards — reported feeling electric shocks and a tingling sensation while walking along wet surfaces. The park re-opened the next day, with a spokesperson assuring that all electrical issues had been solved.

Beyond that, online reviews of the park also offer a scathing critique. According to a one-star Tripadvisor review by a user who called Volcano Bay's Fearless River "a death trap," the park's ride was so dangerous and unregulated that it pushed her and a friend underwater into a tunnel wall, dislocated her friend's shoulder, and left them struggling to stay afloat while help arrived. Meanwhile, other reports from the Fearless River include a 30-year-old woman who lost consciousness, painful grazes and cuts courtesy of the rough walls, and an overcrowded problem causing safety concerns. Overall, Volcano Bay seems to be one of those places that's either exhilarating or hazardous — it just depends if you're willing to brave the risks.