Are you (and your kids) mad for theme parks, but have already covered the Asian scene? Grab a cheap flight to Australia and go theme park crazy on the Gold Coast!
It’s okay, you can confess. You love theme parks and wild rides just as much as your kids do. If you’ve already spent many a day riding the highs at the best theme parks in Asia, why not hop down under to the Gold Coast Australia theme park strip? Rumour has it there may even be a Disneyland Australia in the making! Plan in advance and you’ll score cheap flights with Scoot, and thanks to our guide to surviving plane trips with kids, you’ll arrive unscathed and ready to hit the theme park scene. We’re talking the big boys: Sea World, Warner Bros. Movie World, Wet‘n’Wild, Dreamworld (and a few specialist Aussie themed parks sure to get you immersed in the outback culture). Best of all, you needn’t languish by the neon lights of the Gold Coast for your entire sojourn, thanks to luxe and lovely family beach escapes like Caloundra and Noosa on your doorstep. Sounds positively euphoric…
Dreamworld (pictured top) is the mother of all theme parks, with amazing rides, shows, animals, food and shopping. We gave thanks on walking through the gates that it’s blessed with SHADE, which sadly is the missing element of most family theme parks (Legoland being case in point). Not-to-miss attractions include the live Wiggles show, the Madagascar Madness Land, tiger cub kindy, and the heart-attack inducing thrill rides, the most extreme of which being the Giant Drop with its 135km/h, 39 storey plunge. Eeek! While you’re in the vicinity, may as well mosey over to neighbouring, affiliated Whitewater World (but maybe not if you’re planning on Wet’n’Wild). It’s certainly a full, action-packed day out, so your little chickens will be tucked up early to bed (leaving you to indulge in a holiday cocktail or two).
Where: Dreamworld, Dreamworld Parkway, Coomera, Queensland, Australia 4209
Open: Daily 10am-5pm, closed Christmas Day and Anzac Day (25 April).
Cost: Adult $95, child (ages three-13) $85
Warner Bros. Movie World
As its name suggests, Movie World is the undisputed home of the stars of the silver screen. And there’s no better way to get the good vibes going than a cuddle with your little cartoon enthusiast’s favourite characters: Tweety Bird, Bugs Bunny and Batman all hang out here! Don’t worry if you miss them on entry, as all the Looney Tunes Characters put on an epic show in the Main Street Parade. Movie World is perfect for young kids with the dedicated Kids’ WB! Fun Zone, where you’ll find age-appropriate rides (Road Runner Roller Coaster), cars to drive around a track and a mini-splash area to cool down. Older kids (and adventurous adults) will be thrilled by the stomach-churning range of electrifying roller coasters, the Arkham Asylum being the newest and most terrifying. Make sure to also catch the high octane Hollywood Stunt Driver 2 stunt show. Lights, Camera, Action!
Where: Movie World, Pacific Motorway, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia 4210
Open: Daily 9.30am – 5pm, closed Christmas Day and Anzac Day (25 April)
Cost: Adult $89.00 (online $79), child (ages three-13) $74 (online $64)
If you grew up with Free Willy on repeat and your kids share your passion for animals of the aquatic kind, Sea World is the theme park for you! While it’s home to the obligatory sea creatures such as dolphins, killer whales, seals, tropical fish, stingrays and sharks, it also boasts some unexpected and impressive wildlife like the polar bear and emperor penguins. What really sets Sea World apart is that it also has a touch of all of the other theme parks, including rides (such as the classic log ride), water park, sky high cable cars, and jet-ski stunt shows. Don’t miss the brand new Nickelodeon Land – it has a miniature roller coaster! And our younger adventurers were enthralled by the Dora’s Best Friend Adventure live show.
Where: Sea World, Sea World Dr, Main Beach, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia 4210
Open: Daily 9.30am – 5.30pm, closed Christmas Day
Cost: Adult $89 (online $79), child (ages three-13) $74 (online $64)
Wet’n’Wild Water World
Wet’n’Wild is a must do for kids growing up in Singapore, who tend to swim like fish from a young age. It covers an impressive 16 hectares and boasts loads of awesome rides. Buccaneer Bay is shallow and perfect for the younger tots, as is the Wet’n’Wild Junior section, which caters to the under 10s with smaller versions of the larger thrill rides Tornado and Aqua Racers. The Giant wave pool and Calypso beach are also family go-to zones. Waters are heated to 25-35 degrees, so you’ll feel inclined to brave the slides all year ‘round. Adrenalin junkies will get their fix at the Extreme H20 Zone, which all have minimum height requirements (110-120cm), but this writer’s six year old had the nerve to brave the Mach 5 ride, and is still alive to tell the tale. Good, clean, exhausting fun!
Where: Wet’n’Wild Water World, Pacific Motorway, Oxenford, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia 4210
Open: Daily 10am – 5pm, closed Christmas Day and Anzac Day (25 April).
Cost: Adult $74 (online $64), child (ages three-13) $59 (online $49).
For a true Aussie outback experience with bite, head to the Australia Zoo, established by the late conservationist and crocodile hunter Steve Irwin. His family, including his wife Terri, son Jack and daughter Bindi are carrying on his legacy with panache. It’s not part of the Gold Coast theme park strip, but worth the 45-minute drive from Brisbane as it might just give you the excuse to visit the Sunshine Coast. There’s plenty of Australian and large international animals to see in the spectacular shows and opportunities to have up close encounters with your favourites. Crocs alive, anyone? Crikey! Don’t worry, you won’t have to risk life and limb to see these creatures in action. There’s also a serious focus on educating tomorrow’s conservationists, so it’s not just a jolly.
Where: The Australian Zoo,1638 Steve Irwin Way, Beerwah, Queensland, Australia 4519
Open: Daily 9am – 5pm, closed Christmas Day.
Cost: Adult $59.00, Child $35, family 2 adult and 2 children $172.
Paradise Country Aussie Farm Tour
Paradise Country Aussie Farm Tour is a brilliant day out for all young families wanting to experience the Australian farming lifestyle. Kids will be enchanted to see, and in some cases pet, the emus, kangaroos, koalas, dingos, horses, cows, goats and poultry. They’ll also have the chance to watch stockman and sheepdogs round up the sheep, and shearers showcase their skills in a live demonstrations. Anyone for a spot of gold and gemstone fossicking? Hungry tummies will be filled with a scrumptious Aussie barbecue lunch.
Where: Paradise Country, behind Warner Bros. Movie World and Wet’n’Wild Water World at Oxenford, Gold Coast, Australia
Open: Daily 9.30am-4.30pm, closed Christmas Day.
Cost: Adult $39, Child $29 (including lunch)
Australian Outback Spectacular
While not falling in the theme park category, the Australian Outback Spectacular is worth a mention thanks to its taste of Australia with the three-course barbecue meal and a circus-esque show (total 1.5hrs). The current show is the High Country Legends, which features bright lights, live music, death-defying aerial stunts and horses, the story of a plucky Aussie lass sold to the circus at the tender age of seven is brought to life. The kids will LOVE it, and so will you!
Where: Australian Outback Spectacular, Pacific Motorway, Oxenford, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia 4210.
Open: Tue – Sat show at 7:30pm, selected Sun at 12:30pm, closed Christmas Day and Anzac Day (25 April).
Cost: $90 including dinner