Located just an hour’s train or car ride away from the Brisbane CBD is the theme-park district on the Gold Coast; it’s a great escape from city living for a day or a weekend. Suitable for the whole family, the Gold Coast theme parks offer a jam-packed entertainment schedule that will have even the grumpiest child jumping for joy. But where do you start? This following is an introduction to five of the best.
What child (or adult) doesn’t want to experience their favourite movie or cartoon characters coming to life? At Warner Brothers Movie World on the GC, your kids can hang out with Batman, chill with Catwoman, kick it with Scooby Doo and party with Austin Powers. The rides at Movie World are also pretty cool, with lots of options for younger children and some heart-stopping experiences for the big kids (and parents). The coolest thing about Movie World is that is puts a focus on a more well-rounded experience, with great shows and film screenings happening almost every hour. In terms of getting there, it’s easy enough to book flights into Brisbane, stay in a downtown hotel and catch the express TX5 bus from Helensvale station.
Wet ‘n’ Wild
One for the water babies, Wet ‘n’ Wild is a great family day out, particularly in the middle of a hot Brisbane summer’s day. If your kids are finding the city a bit too stuffy, relief is just a mere 60 kilometres away, with trains, buses and various shuttles operating regularly from downtown Brisbane. Wet ‘n’ Wild contains a huge list of attractions in the form of wave pools, water slides and hydroslides. Some of the highlights include the Kamikaze, the Mammoth Plunge and the SkyCoaster. The great thing about Wet ‘n’ Wild is that if you have older children who can play unsupervised, you can let them loose on the rides while you relax and observe from a distance in one of the many pools. It is also conveniently located just opposite to Movie World — if you can handle doing two parks in one hit.
One for the animal lovers, Sea World is another family-friendly option, which has more of a conscious. Part of the business model includes a not-for-profit arm, the Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation, which exists to fund independent marine research projects. Sea World has recently welcomed the addition of a friendly new face: a gorgeous baby Polar Bear who goes by the name of Henry. The Sea World shows are not to be missed, especially the much-famed Imagine Dolphin Show and the Fish Detectives Sea Lion Show, both of which operate twice daily, morning and afternoon.
An old favourite and the only park that isn’t owned by the Warner Brothers Group, Dreamworld also happens to be the largest of the theme parks and provides much entertainment in the form of its adrenaline-pumping rides. Test your fear factor on the Tower of Terror or walk on the wild side with a sky-high spin on the stomach-turning contraption “The Claw”. For the little ones, Dreamworld is also made up of various “realms”, including the “Kung Fu Panda: World of Awesomeness” and “Wiggles World,” the official “home” of Australia’s favourite children’s entertainment group. In terms of how to get there, a number of bus and train options are available from Brisbane CBD and other places in the city.
Australian Outback Spectacular
Providing a unique and arguably more cultural experience than the other theme parks, the Australian Outback Spectacular is one of the newer additions to the GC park portfolio, having launched in 2005. A dinner-and-show affair, the Australian Outback Spectacular is presented by R. M. Williams, and is full of music and drama — enhanced by an all-Aussie barbecue menu. The show goes for 90 minutes and is held in true cowboy style arena, only adding to the overall atmosphere. It definitely provides bang for your buck, with the current production having taken home the “Major Tourist Attraction Award” at the 2010 Queensland Tourism Awards.
About the Author: Brisbane guest blogger Sarah McIntyre is an adrenaline junkie who freely admits to being hooked on rollercoasters.