As a relaxing counterpoint to all the fascinating historical lore and wonderful sights and sounds of the antipodes, a day out at a good theme park takes a lot of beating; and Australia’s theme parks are up there with the best of them!
The Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is to Australia what Florida is to the United States of America – the home of most of the best theme parks to be found in the country. Accordingly it is a dream vacation location for most kids who live there, and not a few of the adults, with five of the top parks in easy reach of each other! In fact, these five parks are owned by just two companies, so discount tickets for Dreamworld/Whitewater World can be bought together, and for Sea World/Wet ‘n’ Wild/Movie World too.
Talking of dreams, Dreamworld has more than 50 rides and attractions, including fun activities for small children, such as Wiggle Bay, as well as the obligatory selection of bigger rides and a tiger zoo that attracts a large number of visitors. There is a big new ride for 2013 called Pandemonium that is creating a lot of interest and changing their much vaunted “Big 7” rides to “Big 8”! Reality TV fans might be interested to hear that the Australian version of the Big Brother house is situated here.
Right next door to Dreamworld is Whitewater World, which is so closely connected to Dreamworld that they share a ‘park map’! Whitewater World features mostly water-based rides from the ‘Temple of Huey’ (water slides) to the ‘Super Tubes Hydrocoaster’, a water rollercoaster which is coyly described as ‘an innovation in waterside thrills and technology’!
At this enormous park you’ll find eight major rides, nine animal attractions (although as one is ‘Dinosaur Island’ – they don’t necessarily all include live animals!) and another half dozen family fun areas with interesting titles such as ‘Fish Detectives’ and ‘Spongebob ParadePants’. Also available are ‘adventures’ including five different helicopter rides and a couple of all-day cruises (at extra cost) so you should probably allow several days to see and do everything there!
Wet ‘n’ Wild Water World
Featuring some of the wildest water rides around, this park is well named. You can try the ‘Black Hole’ where riders are catapulted through fully enclosed tubes in total darkness, ‘Surf Rider’ which apparently imitates surfing on a 30m wave (on a giant surfboard) and over the top of it all, a 200m zip ride that literally crosses the entire park from one side to the other. By the time you’ve tried all the adrenaline rides you’ll be ready to coast gently round ‘Calypso Beach’ in a soft tyre, or even just relax at the edge of the Giant Wave Pool and let the kids get on with it for a while!
Warner Brothers Movie World
Movie World has, of course, big rides to go with the big names – the ‘Green Lantern’ is described as the ‘steepest drop in the Southern Hemisphere’, and ‘Batwing Spaceshot’ is apparently ‘one of the fastest thrill rides you’ll ever experience’ – but there’s also a large shopping and eating complex (‘Main Street’) and a 4D cinema where you can recuperate afterwards.
Other Major Parks
Again like the USA, apart from the top parks grouped in the one place, there are a few more worth visiting, elsewhere in the country:
Luna Parks, Melbourne and Sydney
First opened in 1912 and 1940 respectively, these fairly traditional parks have withstood the test of time, remaining open when most other parks around them have closed down. Melbourne’s big attraction is the ‘Scenic Railway’, the oldest continually operating roller coaster in the world, while the Sydney version, although also boasting a roller coaster, emphasises the more traditional rides such as a ferris wheel and merry-go-round.
Adventure World, Perth
Small but perfectly formed, as they say, this little park manages to include all you need for a fun day out; it has a race track, water rides, roller coasters and a group of five high-octane rides called “Fear Factor 5”, guaranteed to get your blood pressure up!
Sovereign Hill, Victoria
More a park with a theme than a theme park as such, Sovereign Hill doesn’t have rides but instead features as a living outdoors museum. The staff are all dressed per the 19th century gold rush and the activities include panning for gold in the park’s own creek. Sovereign Hill’s big claim to fame is that it is where they found the second largest gold nugget in the world, weighing 69kg (10,500 pounds) – it would be worth over AUS $1m today!
So – theme park lovers of Australia, including visitors – get out there and have a great time.