During the past week I’ve been on the Gold Coast… mixture of business and pleasure. During that time I managed to tour a couple of theme parks (one – Movie World more specifically – was actually open for the Halloween party I attended with my better half). Now, alongside games I love theme parks.. especially roller coasters and thrill rides (there’s also some crossover between the worlds of design and business between games and theme parks… here I just think of Nolan Bushnell and the emergence of Atari in the 70s). So here’s my wrap of the two theme parks I attended, both of which I haven’t been to for about 15 years! How things have changed .
(I should also point out that in each case this is the first time I have experienced these rides).
Well as I mentioned this was open in the evening specifically for attendees of the Halloween party which was very cool because the waiting times were virtually non existent. However, since only specific parts of the park were open, I can’t really provide a complete overview of everything there. The ride I spent the most time on (4-5 rides) was the Superman Escape ride.
// Superman Escape //
This ride was very cool – 0-100kph in 2s – shooting you up an incline for a fantastic drop to get some negative g forces. Plenty of twists and turns – including going through a building, added to the positive g’s and the excitement.
The theming of the coaster was fantastic with intro screens running prior to getting seated on the ride, plus the narrative segment of the ride before the coaster starts its high speed trajectory. Even the coaster structure was red and blue matching the colors of the Superman costume.
Overall a very cool, short but sweet ride that you can experience again and again. 8.5/10
Here I had access to all the open rides (although a couple were closed for maintenance). So here are the rides I managed to experience during my time at the DreamWorld. Also, I’ll leave my general discussion about the park in the final comments section after discussing all the rides.
// Giant Drop //
This ride is totally awesome. Quite simply, you slowly ride up 39 storeys, and you go down mighty fast! Amazing! Definitely worth it for the 4 or so seconds of free fall. I did this ride to start my time at the park and it definitely had my heart pumping. When I rode the Giant Drop it was a relatively off-peak time so the queue wasn’t too bad. The ride itself is an 8 seater gondola, however the tower it’s on also has another rail system with another gondola so they can run two gondolas simultaneously at peak times when the crowds get larger. (This happened later during the day when I attended).
Exhilaration overdrive. Ride this, and you could snap your undies (or worse)! 9.5/10
// Tower of Terror //
Now, I should explain that one of my favorite rides at California Adventure park (opposite Disneyland in Anaheim) is also called the Tower of Terror… so I was actually expecting something a little similar. We’ll this ride is nothing like the Disney version (and as I mentioned I leave my general theming discussion to later)… in fact I have no idea why its called the Tower of Terror (apart from the fact that you sit in a carriage that goes up and down a tower mighty fast). Despite that it was a really fun ride. Basically its a roller coaster that travels up a half-parabolic incline (on the same tower the Giant Drop uses), and then back down again.
This ride really starts with a bang as you are propelled at almost 160 kph (yep, those magnets must get mighty warm), and reach almost 38 storeys high, before the freefall experience of negative g’s to end up where you started. Basically for the first half of the ride the skin on your face stretches back… trim, taught and terrific
Forget botox, if you want to see yourself with a face free of lines, try this ride… plus you get the added bonus of free fall. Botox plus free fall… what more do I need to say! 8.5/10
// The Claw //
Now I have to say, I looked at this ride and thought it was going to be pretty tame. But, it does actually give you good bang for your buck (I tried to get on it later in the day, but the line was just too long… a testimony to its re-rideability). Basically this is a pendulum-based ride that swings you through a large arc (240 degrees) at a peak height of 9 storeys. To add to the excitement, riders sit facing outwards on the main circular section, which also rotates. There’s enough mini-free fall moments to make this ride definitely worth a visit.
Time to swing, sit and spin. 8/10
// Cyclone //
I have to say, of all thrill rides, coasters are my favorite. The Cyclone was an fun coaster to ride, despite the fact that when you are strapped in, you can’t raise your arms above your head (which is always a great way to add to the excitement) – in fact you’d probably be lucky to raise them up to shoulder height. After the initial incline, the ride starts off at 13 storeys and has some good thrills from there. I actually found the ride a little rough (nowhere near as smooth as Superman Escape at Movie World) as you get jolted around in your seat, but it is a long ride, so I suppose it makes up a little in that capacity. The 360 loop and sidewinder are also fun, and so too the fact that it actually passes into Whitewater World next door – that’s right is passes through two theme parks. The theming for this ride was atrocious (in fact it seemed that the ride entry and exit points had been swapped and people were made to enter the ride on the outside of the main building (which had no theming at all, but a good view of Whitewater World), and made to exit through the inside of the building (where old, dilapidated theming existed).
Some good fun and loops for the troops. 7.5/10
// Thunder River Rapids //
As most theme parks are built in areas where the weather is sunny for most of the year, there’s always a need to cool off, and that’s the reason I embarked on this ride. Surprisingly, the theming for this ride was quite good, and would be a great ride for young kids and/or adults wanting something gentler. In the end I didn’t get very wet as all (as I had hoped), but it was an enjoyable, relaxing ride, and great to let the adrenaline die down.
Relax, six back, and enjoy the ride. 7.5/10
// Other rides… //
Other rides I wanted to go on were:
‘Log Ride’ (line far too long late in the day – went on the Claw instead).
‘Eureka Mine Ride’ (closed for maintenance)
‘Wipeout’ (closed for maintenance)
Overall I had a great time at both parks. Probably, the main criticism I would have would be the theming at DreamWorld which varied from good to appalling. Some areas were themed quite well (such as the Nickelodeon and Wiggles World areas), and so too some of the rides (like the Thunder River Rapids). However the majority of the main attractions (what DreamWorld calls the Big 6) – Motor Coaster, Tower of Terror, Giant Drop, The Claw, Wipeout, Cyclone – are in some need of theming. Sure, I like a thrill ride like the next guy or gal, but adding theming elements, and building it into the “story” of the ride would have greatly enhanced the experience. Also, the theming elements that did exist looked old and in need of repair (or in most cases in desperate need of upgrading). And, on many occasions, TV screens in the waiting areas were showing unrelated advertising for skydiving, or events such as drag racing – why? what’s that got to do with the ride? Including this attention to detail, and then leveraging off it through the ride would have greatly enhanced the experience in my view. It also provides an opportunity to grab the rider’s mind and really ramp up their adrenalin levels (here I think of the Tower of Terror at California Adventure which did a fantastic job of theming and building suspense, despite the actual drop itself being nowhere near that of the Giant Drop at DreamWorld). Overall, the rides were great at DreamWorld, queues bearable, but they could have been even greater with more attention to detail. However, Movie World had much better theming. (And if Movie World can do it, I’m sure DreamWorld can too.). I’ll definitely be going to both parks again!
All in all I had a fantastic time in Queensland, and would also like to thank Robert and Ian, my fellow Gold Coasters for sharing the fun over the weekend.
Movie World: http://movieworld.myfun.com.au
California Adventure: http://disneyland.disney.go.com/
Tower of Terror (Disney): http://disneyland.disney.go.com/disneyland/en_US/parks