Let’s face it. A Gold Coast theme park holiday is a rite-of-passage for Aussie families. Seriously, not a school holiday goes past without one of our kids’ friends returning with terrific tales of its abundance of slides and rollercoasters. But I have to confess that while I adore the Gold Coast, I haven’t really sipped its thrill ride cool aid.
In fact, I’d rather slurp on a glass of bleach. This is not due to a fear of being flung about at eleventy billion kilometres an hour. I have small children and trying to get them dressed, fed and out the door of a morning is more dizzying and death defying than anything a rollercoaster can throw at me. No, it’s more due to an irrational fear of being enclosed. And the very sight of those big metal bars that keep you from falling out – which are kind of a must when you’re being hung upside down at great heights and at high speeds – make me run screaming like the hounds of hell are snapping at my feet! Every freaking time!
Some research suggests that thrill-rides are great for your mental health and can help you overcome fears in other areas of your life. Personally, I’m not quite seeing how paying money to do something that makes me terrified is beneficial to my mental health. And as for overcoming other phobias, well… someone once told me that walking on hot coals would help me overcome a fear of flying. So I did it. But several hundred flights later I’ve yet to find a single airplane with hot coals in it, so it’s made bugger all difference to that particular phobia. Nor, I predict, would being strapped into a free-falling, loop-the-looping tin can and being flung all over the place while praying the dude whimpering in the seat in front of me doesn’t lose his breakfast. In fact, should an airplane ride ever happen to replicate a thrill ride you could be fairly certain I would never step foot in one again!
But regardless of my undeniable wussiness, I still enjoy a theme park. Yes, really! So here I am sharing my guide to Gold Coast theme parks for the perpetually petrified!
1. At Dreamworld braver souls than I can have their stomachs turned inside out on the BIG 9 – a bunch of extreme thrill rides which boast pant-soiling monikers like the BuzzSaw and The Claw. You’ll find me Giggle and Hooting my way through ABC Kids World and getting my kicks at Kung Fu Panda’s Land of Awesomeness with my four-year old. Plus there are really real tigers to ooh and ahh over as well as the awesome Dreamworld Corroboree, an interactive walk-through experience celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, wildlife and stories.
2. Sea World is equally brilliant. Here, my thrill-seeking companions can get their kicks from the park’s adrenalin rides and rollercoasters, but there’s so much else on offer that even the most shamefully coaster phobic can get their jollies. Me, I get mine via face-to-face animal encounters with dolphins, penguins and… swimming with sharks, something I’d much rather take my chances with than the ominously named “Storm Coaster”.
3. Yeah, I know its not technically a theme park, but there are still thrills to be found at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, a place that has been popular with families since I was a kid, you know back when the critters all sported names ending in osaur. These days not only can the kiddies can cuddle a koala, have birds sit on their heads or frolic in a field full of kangaroos, they can also strap in and take to the trees on the Green Challenge high ropes adventure course. While I sit back with a nice cuppa and a good book.
4. Another fave with my mob is Warner Bros Movie World, a theme park that is jam-packed with all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood The best thing about this park is that I can hang with Batman and Scooby Do and get my kicks on the merry go round in the Kids’ Fun Zone while the non-feather sprouting members of my family get theirs on the puke-inducing rides.
5. Right next door to Movie World is Wet‘n’Wild where I like to hang out in Buccaneer Bay with the under-10s, splash in the gigantic wave pool and float gently along the lazy river! But it’s also the one place where you don’t get strapped in on the thrill rides so I too can freely twist and turn my way down and around rides like the squeal inducing Mach 5 without my fear of being enclosed pooping the proverbial party! Weeeee….
Something else that thrills me about the Gold Coast is the abundance of awesome family-friendly accommodation.
Our latest sojourn to Gold Coast saw us stay at the Mercure Gold Coast Resort, perfectly positioned just minutes from the pant-wetting thrills of Dreamworld, Warner Bros. Movie World, Wet ‘n’ Wild Water Park, Sea World and the more wuss-friendly Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.
Our spacious Resort Room opened up onto a large balcony that invited in fresh air and gorgeous views of the gloriously green resort. While a family-sized spa tub in the bathroom proved to be an absolute winner after a hard day of sliding and riding. As did the pampering day spa, just quietly!
Great for families, there’s also wads of space to run about, an onsite restaurant and bar plus two fabulous swimming pools and floodlit tennis courts for those kids not already exhausted by the day’s theme parkery!
Disclosure: The Eats Worlds were guests of Mercure Gold Coast Resort.