Theme Park Series – Dreamworld
I consider Dreamworld to be the ride central of all the Gold Coast theme parks. It has quantity, it has quality, and it has Tigers. As Dreamworld is a large park full of rides, you will want to pre-plan at least some of your day. The park map is available from their website and it’s highly worth a few minutes to look at it and pick where you will go when you first arrive.
I first went to Dreamworld nearly 20 years ago. This was back when they had a built in water park (as opposed to now, when they have an adjacent but separate park, White Water World). All I can remember from that visit is that I banged my head on a pool slide, someone scared me going up the chain lift on the log ride and that there may be ‘family’ photos somewhere of my mothers wet bum after a ride. Despite these seemingly negative first experiences, I still like Dreamworld!
I’ve managed to track down some old videos of Dreamworld rides. For the most part, they’re the same as if you showed up today. Please forgive the quality of the videos, they were all taken a few years back with an old point and shoot camera that I bought in around 2004. There’s no sound, so just imagine some screams when the rides start up!
There are two roller coasters that have been demolished since ‘my time’, one was the original, a double loop called the Thunderbolt. I was never old enough or tall enough to go on it as a kid and then when I was, I was scared of it since all I’d ever heard about was that peoples necks hurt afterwards! The other was called the Eureka Mountain Mine ride. It was a small, almost violent ride with lots of high speed hairpin turns that I loved. One of the scariest parts was if you were sitting on the right hand side of the cart, you’d fly around a corner and feel like you were hovering in mid air over the artificial lake. It was awesome. But I can understand why it was demolished – once when I was on it the seatbelt (yes, that’s how old it was, instead of bars it used seatbelts) slipped off my shoulder and I wrenched my shoulder trying to get it back on while going around a turn.
Like I said at the beginning, Dreamworld has a lot of rides. I don’t even think I’ve been on all of them yet. My favourite roller coaster is the Cyclone. It’s a large yellow steel coaster that’s at the front of the park. What I really love about this roller coaster is that it’s fast, has inversions, but has good ‘relax’ time. So many roller coasters are just fast, fast, fast and it’s over before you know it, with the Cyclone you get to kind of cruise a little as you go up and down the peaks and troughs. You also get a great view of the park on the ride up the chain lift.
The other roller coaster that I go on most frequently is currently called the Sky Rocket, but I know it under its previous name, the Rugrats Reptar Roller Coaster. It is a suspended roller coaster designed for kids. But it gets up to a decent speed for a small roller coaster. It’s also a great first roller coaster for adults, if you don’t want to go straight onto a giant one.
It’s been a year or so since I had tickets to Dreamworld, so they’ve got some new roller coasters I haven’t been on yet: Mick Doohan Motorcoaster (a fast & tight motorcycle themed coaster), Tower of Terror 2 (see below), Shockwave (spinning “Disk’O Coaster”) and Buzzsaw (very new, short and by the looks of it, intense ride).
The Tower of Terror 1 was Dreamworld’s award winning thrill ride. It was a simple and fast ride where you get into a car and get launched face forwards along a straight track at high speed. The track curves from horizontal to vertical and there are no breaks, gravity alone slows you down before you reach the end of the track, and you free fall back to earth (and backwards to the ride platform). This video was taken from the Sky Rocket queue line, and is of the Tower of Terror 1 configuration. It’s a little different now:
The Tower of Terror 2 is the same ride and the same track, but with the car reversed – you start out by being launched backwards and at the peak of the ride, you’re facing the ground! I’ve yet to go on the updated version of the ride but I imagine that it’s a bit scarier! I’m also curious about how they protect you from g forces when launching backwards. The bad thing about the Tower of Terror is that is is a VERY popular ride. Especially in peak seasons (school holidays mainly) it’s reasonable to expect the queue to be longer than the actual queue area. For that reason alone, I haven’t been on it in a few years. The other hassle with the Tower of Terror is that it’s one of the first rides to be closed with even a few drops of rain, so you can queue for ages and then have the ride closed until it’s dry again. I’m not knocking safety, but as it nearly always has a large queue, this is a frustrating thing that happens a lot in summer. South East Queensland is subtropical, so summer is the wet season. The good thing about this ride is that the queue line is nearly completely under cover. Last time I was there, the park has a little plaque near the ride track explaining the launch system for the ride, and how launching the ride momentarily increases the parks power consumption by some shocking amount. Tower of Terror 2:
The Giant Drop is a ride that uses the physical structure of the Tower of Terror. You sit in a row of chairs and get winched to the top of the tower. After sitting there for around a minute the cables are released and you being a 120m (or 39 storey according to the Dreamworld website) plunge to the ground. The brakes only engage when you are about 1 storey from the ground, so it truly looks and feels like you are plummeting to your death. Naturally, you get a fantastic view on the way up. I’ve never been at the top while the Tower of Terror also runs, but I’ve heard the pole shakes a lot and adds another layer of terror to the ride. I haven’t been on the Giant Drop in a few years, and I’ll tell you why: the last time I went on it, it had just been raining. So the Tower of Terror wasn’t running. We went up, dropped, screamed and hit the brakes. The exact second that the ride restraints lifted and I touched the ground, there was this almighty rattling sound which I interpreted to be the winch part of the ride falling to the ground. So I started to duck and run away. Of course, a split second later, my brain decided to regain control of my instincts, and at that point I worked out that the rattling sound was the Tower of Terror being launched in a test mode to see if it was suitable to reopen it to passengers. And yes, the friend I was at the theme park with did see my face! I still get mocked sometimes. The Giant drop is built on both sides of the tower, so when there is peak demand, they can run two rides at the same time. I generally have only ever seen this during the summer holiday times.
Another of the popular thrill rides at Dreamworld is The Claw. It’s basically a giant swing that also rotates. The best part about this ride is that you feel the g forces all over your body as you swing fast from side to side. I’ll let the photos and video speak for themselves:
The Wipeout. Well, I could explain all the flips and turns and axis … or I could post this video:
I don’t got on the Wipeout usually. It doesn’t bother me to be flung head first, upside down towards a fake shark and the floor, but I really hate it when the ride goes slow and you nearly tip upside down. Yes, I am a very strange amusement park patron.
That covers the ‘biggest’ rides at Dreamworld, and now we shall move on to the wet rides! These rides are both quite old, but still very popular and are just fantastic to go on during summer. Firstly we have the Rocky Hollow Log Ride. It’s a fairly simple and old ride, but it still goes fast and splashes you. It’s no where near as fast or scary as the one at Movie World though, and it doesn’t include an on-ride photo. The other water ride is the River Rapids ride. This ride is fairly short but is fun and by judging visually, it’s one that nearly the entire family can go on, even young children.
In and around Dreamworld there are a lot of other rides, such as the Reef Diver and the Avalanche. There is also an entire section dedicated to children, with small rides and themed from popular childrens shows. (I tend to avoid this area of the park.)
Now we move on to the Wildlife attractions. Yep, Dreamworld has not only a ton of roller coasters, thrill rides and childrens rides, but an entire wildlife section. They have the ‘compulsory’ kangaroo, wombat, dingo and emu exhibits to view. But they also have interactive areas, where can interact with koalas and kangaroos. However, the kangaroos are smart – they know that tourists will sit with them, pat them and take photos, and when they’ve had enough, they will leave and go into the animals only areas. But there are plenty there, so there is a very good chance you’ll get to see and pat one.
I’ve seen their shows many times now, not a visit goes by without me going to watch. Twice a day the tiger handlers put on a show for the public and take the tigers through their paces, leaping and climbing trees. It is a great show, and you’ll need to get there a little while before the show to scope out a great spot. The handlers also take questions before and after the show, so you can ask about the things you want to know about Tigers. “Back in the day” before everyone had a digital camera, the handlers used to let you throw you r disposable camera over the protective gully and they would take a close up photo of the tigers for you. But I don’t think I’ve seen this happen for many years.
One thing that happens from time to time is that the young tigers are actually walked around the park. And while they’re walking you get a chance to pat them.
This is an awesome thing to do and if there are any tigers of the right age when you visit, you’ll hear about it at the tiger show usually. If not, just ask them.
This post is only a portion of Dreamworld. It really is an extensive park and I never thought about just how big it was until I started writing this! If you only have time or money for one theme park on the Gold Coast, Dreamworld is the one I would always recommend, as you get the best of nearly every theme park aspect in the one place.