Whether you want to kick off your next theme park holiday with a bang, a splash or a scream, Madeline Hoskin has the latest from Australia’s greatest realms of fun.
The lure of theme parks can sometimes lose lustre once you hit adulthood. But there’s nothing like having kids in tow to help you rediscover the magic of these adventure-filled wonderlands. That sparkle in their eyes as they spy a water slide, their huge smiles, the pure excitement and joy, those brave steps onto their first rollercoaster – there can be no denying that these are places where magic happens and memories are made. Best of all, they’re always updating! Here’s a roundup of the hottest attractions this summer, from Australia’s adrenaline-junkie capital on the Gold Coast to the all-new splash-tastic surprises of Wet’n’Wild Sydney.
Australia’s biggest theme park wasn’t exaggerating when they created the jingle ‘so many worlds in one’. There are 13 in fact, all of which are packed with action as they ring in 2014. Wander from the rapids of Gold Rush Country into the shrieks from The Claw and Wipeout rides in Marine Parade, then into the brand new Dreamworld Corroboree for an array of wildlife encounters... and you haven’t even skimmed the surface yet. Tiger Island is the spot to watch this summer, with tiger cubs, Baru and Ravi, starting their new show, Cub College, on Boxing Day. It’s a playful version of the much-loved Tiger Island Presentation, using the cubs’ youth to up the ‘awww’ factor. For those wanting to face off in soldier/zombie warfare, the laser tag centre has also had a spooky re-theme, now ‘Zombie Evilution: The Battle for Kevil Hill’. It’ll thrill even the most seasoned laser combat veterans. Young ones will be enchanted by movie-themed worlds inspired by Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar. Make sure you don’t miss the Holiday Shrektacular – 20 minutes of song and dance on the Main Street stage, running for two weeks after Christmas. Whether you ride the Ogre-go-round, traverse the Thunder River Rapids, explore the Big Brother House, meet some Australian wildlife or brave the Tower of Terror II, your family is in for one big world of fun. Unlimited or Holiday World Passes are available online from just $79.99.
WhiteWater World offers an empire of excitement with the slips and drips of water slides right alongside the rush of Dreamworld’s roller coasters – they’re the only collaborative theme park and water park in Australia. The popular Night WhiteWater World event is returning this summer, with every Friday and Saturday in January coming to life from 6.30 to 10pm amid live entertainment and fantastic firework displays. Day times will also not disappoint with the park’s loyal trove of goodies on offer. Slip down one of their epic Big 7 Thrill Slides if you dare, while tinier tots will probably prefer the aquatic playground, Pipeline Plunge, or the watery world of Wiggle Bay that is especially for under-fives. All-ages can learn the rush of riding a wave at the safe, state-of-the-art Surf School, and best of all, there is plenty of space for families to relax, eat and enjoy some quality time relaxing in the sun together. Dreamworld’s online Unlimited or Holiday World Passes include entry to WhiteWater World.
New South Wales
The wait is over for Sydneysiders – this shiny new theme park has officially opened as of 12 December! Wet‘n’Wild Sydney has been inundated with presales, and the hype is justified with the park bringing all the fun of the beach to Sydney’s Western Suburbs. Boasting more than 40 slides and attractions, rush-seekers will adore the world’s tallest double Sky Coaster, the slippery Typhoon, eight lanes of H2GO Racers, the 40ft drop at 60km/h on the 360Rush and much more. Wet‘n’Wild Junior is perfect for mini ones with the southern hemisphere’s largest tipping bucket, a river, mini-versions of the most popular ‘big kid rides’, not to mention other slides and a ‘beach’ area. Silver or Gold Season Passes are available online now from $99.99.
Jamberoo Action Park
New South Wales
Families certainly control the action at Jamberoo, just an hour south of Sydney. The park is going strong after opening stage one of its Kangaroo Island developments at the end of 2012. The Funnel Web, the longest and largest ride of its kind in the world, gets you going 30km/h for thrilling stomach-in-the-sky sensations, while new Banjo’s Billabong has four-storeys of interactive splash play – complete with a tipping bucket that holds 1200 litres! Of course there are all the old faithfuls too: the wave pool at Outback Bay, the twists and drops of The Taipan, The Settlers Shack’s aqua cubby, Surf Hill and more. An all-new season pass lets you buy online and enjoy unlimited fun for only $89.99! Open daily throughout the summer holidays, 10am til 5pm.
Wet’n’Wild’s veteran Aussie representative certainly carries its weight in all things, both wet and wild. This summer they’re turning up the splash-factor with special Summer Games. Imagine this – the whole park is a board game and two teams of 100 are organised, RED and BLUE. The objective is simple: whichever team has more fun wins a VIP day for all... although you don’t need an incentive to have fun here. With attractions encompassing the gentle shores of Calypso Beach the Giant Wave Pool, kiddie fun at Buccaneer Bay, and non-stop thrills on rides like the Blackhole, Kamikaze, Tornado, Constrictor or Super 8, you’ll be all smiles whether you win or not. Open 10am til 5pm. VIP passes for Sea World, Movie World and Wet’n’Wild start online for $89.99.
The only movie-related theme park in the southern hemisphere is frosted over with festive cheer this summer, bringing new joys with a White Christmas adventure. The park is decked out in over a million fairy lights, with a Christmas Parade, carols from the Gold Coast Choir and Santa residing in the Christmas Village. Also new to the park is adrenaline-packed show, FMX OVERDRIVE, running from 22 November until 25 January, 2014. Freestyle motor cross and Hollywood Stunt Drivers will certainly deliver death-defying action to any budding stunt doubles out there. Movie buffs can top this off with rides like the loop-free and kid-friendly Road Runner Rollercoaster, the ‘Kids’ WB! Fun Zone’ and interaction with much-loved Warner Bros’ characters. Movie World is part of the VIP pass, currently available online from $89.99.
Sea World’s latest attraction has been breaking news and melting hearts. Make sure you come and meet Henry, Australia’s only baby polar bear, in his new $1.5 million Polar Pre-School – an extension of the already popular Polar Bear Shores. Get in quick before he gets too grown up! The enclosure offers an experience that is fun, educational and outright adorable. Also, the wait is over for Sea World’s much anticipated Storm Coaster, which launched in December. It’s a family coaster that will see you brave a 20m wave from the safety of ‘dry’ land. Don’t miss the marine encounters of Seal Harbour, Penguin Point or Dolphin Cove, the wet fun of Castaway Bay, thrill rides like the hair-raiding Sea Viper, or family shows featuring favourites like Dora and SpongeBob. Sea World is part of the VIP pass, available online now from $89.99.
Australia’s oldest fun park has proven its timelessness, celebrating 101 years on 13 December. The park’s pièce de résistance, the Luna Park Carousel, has also celebrated a centenary of life – but rest assured that doesn’t mean they’re coasting on their old reliables – the iconic face itself has undergone many facelifts. So to mark all the excitement, the historic site is launching three all-new rides. Lovers of speed and screams will adore the twists of The Power Surge, while aqua babies will enjoy The Pirate’s Revenge aqua-coaster and all-new Bumper Bubbles that will have you crawling, running, scrambling, slipping, sliding, falling and maybe even walking on water. Buy online and save, with off-peak family tickets for just $138.95. If you’re local, also consider an all-age annual pass, available for $110 per person.