I don’t know of many families who go on a holiday to the Gold Coast and get in and out without visiting a theme park. Almost as famous as the brilliant weather and the beautiful beaches are the theme parks of the Gold Coast.
There are adults who don’t like theme parks and who avoid them at all costs but I’ve never met a child who doesn’t love a day of rides, thrills and merchandise.
On a recent mini-break, we were staying at the Intercontinental Hotel which is about a 10-minute drive from Dreamworld. Dreamworld sits on 85-hectares of land and opened for business in 1981. In its history it has had many different owners who have all invested in the park and further expanded its operations.
We went to Dreamworld on a Saturday in the middle of winter. The Whitewater World water park wasn’t open and I’m assuming that’s because it was winter however, there is more than enough to do at Dreamworld in a one-day visit without also trying to fit in a water world experience.
The good thing about going to Dreamworld in winter and outside of school holidays is that the park isn’t at all crowded. It was very pleasant wandering around without hoards of people and we didn’t have to spend a long time queuing for rides. I think the longest we queued was about 20-minutes but I’ve heard that when the park is at capacity, you can sometimes queue for over an hour.
Dreamworld has a lot of attractions and there is definitely something for everyone. In 1995 Tiger Island opened which is a safe haven for Bengal tigers to live, breed, swim and play without fear of poaching. Currently there is a baby cub tiger who will soon be old enough to be viewed by the public and no doubt, this baby tiger will be a big attraction for Dreamworld.
Part of the park is dedicated to small children. Renamed in 2005 as Wiggles World, it has a lot of cute and colourful attractions for children not yet tall enough and brave enough to tackle the park’s more thrilling attractions.
Dreamworld has over 40 rides and is famous for its Big9. Now Alfie and a couple of his cousins were determined to experience every one of the Big9 during our day at Dreamworld. Taking one for the team, I said I would supervise the boys who wanted to tick the Big9 off their list.
And it’s quite a list.
The BuzzSaw was probably the most terrifying of the rides I experienced. You sit in an open carriage and are held by a single waist harness with little to cling onto to. The ride starts with a 46mtr vertical ascent and then you’re dangled upside-down, 15 storeys in the air before the car free-falls, plummeting down a final vertical drop at speeds of up to 105km/hour. Nice!
The other one I reluctantly went on was the Tower of Terror II. You get on the ride in a very dark tunnel and you think the ride might move forwards but you’re thrown backwards through a tunnel hitting speeds of 160km/hour. You soar 100mtrs into the air and dangle at the highest point for a few seconds then at incredible speed, head back towards the tunnel. It’s noisy and the speed caused my eyes to water – I felt like I needed pilot’s goggles.
Another of the Big9 is the Motocoaster, a ride that’s a tribute to Mick Doohan and 500cc motorbike racing. Adults ride on bikes that replicate a 500cc motorbike and there are sidecars for children. This is a very popular ride and even in winter, this is where we did have to queue.
And as for the Big9, we didn’t manage to tick every ride off our list. We managed eight but the ride that eluded us was The Giant Drop where you ascend to a height of 39 storeys before being dropped. I’m not good with heights so asked the boys if we could give that one a swerve and instead go on their favourite ride several times. They were okay with that and went on the Cyclone three times instead.
And now for a bit of trivia. The Cyclone rollercoaster was originally at Sydney’s Luna Park. However, the residents in the apartments that look out over Luna Park complained to the authorities about the noise from all the screaming. The ride was removed and purchased by Dreamworld.
Dreamworld is a very clean park that’s well staffed and there are a lot of attractions. Even though we didn’t waste much time in queues, we found there were more than enough attractions for us to pack into one day. I think if the water park had been open, we probably would not have tried to fit both into the same day.
Having arrived just as the park was opening, the boys and I were there until almost closing time. They were having such a fantastic time it was hard for me to extract them but I did manage to bribe them with, ‘If we leave now I’ll let you choose anything you like from the lolly shop’.
The next day I did wake up feeling like I’d been punched in the back or that I was recovering from a massive workout and I think that’s because of being jerked around at high speeds on the Big9. Battle scars!
Like all theme parks, Dreamworld is touristy however it’s a lot of fun and a great place to create some wonderful family memories.
Verdict: Go on – Tick the Big9 off your list.
Dreamworld: Dreamworld Pkwy, Coomera QLD