ORLANDO, Fla. — Universal Orlando Resort opened its Volcano Bay water park Thursday.
Crews worked around the clock Wednesday to put finishing touches on the park's centerpiece, a replica of a volcano.
“It's been a six-year journey on this project, and it takes a lot of people to do it," he said Dale Mason, vice president and executive art director for Universal.
The original design team was small, but 6,000 people were involved in the planning, design and construction of the park, Mason said.
"We have traveled the world looking at other water parks and other experiences," Mason said. "We traveled all over Asia and brought back with us all the knowledge about what's great in a water park and what's not great. And we applied it here at Volcano Bay."
Volcano Bay features 18 attractions, including slides, raft rides and a lazy river, but the park's signature ride is Ko'okiri Body Plunge, a 70-degree-angle, 125-foot water slide.
But before guests can slide down the rides, they must grab their Tapu Tapu wristband.
Everyone gets one when they buy a ticket. The band allows park goers to virtually check in to a ride so they don’t have to wait in line.
The wristband will alert the rider when it’s their turn and they also issue weather alerts.
The 170-foot ride is taller than Niagra Falls.
"It is an amazing, exhilarating thing," Mason said. "You gotta do it."
Visitor Leah Gittens said she took her family to the park on its opening day.
"Oh, it was really good fun," Gittens said. "It was nice, and great for kids as well. And it's been a bit of excitement."
Ashlee Thompson, who also visited the park Thursday, said she enjoyed the rides.
"So far, it's been really good," Thompson said. "The rides are pretty intense. They are pretty scary. We just got off this one, and it was fun."
Maritza Gonzalez and her family woke up at 4 a.m. to make it to the park.
“It was all worth it. The kids were already up and excited to come,” sje said.
The park opened at 10 a.m. and is scheduled to close at 8 p.m.