Through some creative scheduling, I’d managed to get 2 days off in a row once again, and I had only one plan in mind. Go use the Gold VIP pass I’d bought last month and finally do all the parks involved. I’d been to Movie World earlier, but held off writing about it, partly cause I was lazy, and also so I could write about all 3 at the same time. Headed down to Brisbane on the Sunday night, this time staying in the Base Backpackers just next door to the Central train station.
Of course, this plan got scuppered Tuesday morning, where after a very full day previous, I tried to get up and get ready for Wet and Wild, and my body went, yeah…no, and instead spent the day wandering Brisbane and getting myself as informed as I could about the tragic outcome of the Sydney hostage incident. So I only really did Sea World and Movie World, which is still plenty for a 2 day break.
It’s a little ambitious trying to do Sea World from Brisbane, as you’re looking at a good 2 hours travel between train and bus routes just to get there – a lot further than I was expecting considering Movie World and Wet and Wild are just about 90 minutes combined travel, so got there a tad later than planned, but just in time to see the dolphin show…provided I could get to the opposite end of the park in 20 minutes (not easy when you’re getting distracted every 5 minutes). Really had to bolt when I got distracted by the ray feeding just to the left of the rides.
I don’t know if its just Australia or if all the animal parks are now taking this route, but the dolphin show was much like the other animal shows I’ve seen here – very few ‘tricks’ and mostly performing jumps and spins with the additional human interaction – which is pretty great. With the exception of the human parts, most of what the dolphins were doing were things you might see them do in the wild anyway – and they all seemed pretty happy to be splashing around.
Afterwards, I decided to go and finally try out the rides that people had been telling me about after visiting Movie World the last time. Apparently Sea World’s ‘Storm’ coaster was really good – supposedly designed to feel like you were in the middle of a typhoon. Only had a 20 minute line at least, and thanks to single rider got to sit in the front row.
…However, its a very big disappointment. Not only is it a rather short ride, but there’s not really enough build up to the setting on the ride, and on the one sharp dip, you got through spitting misty water – and at that speed, it stings in your eyes like sand, so I had to close my eyes and spend the next few minutes recovering. Really not all that great. The log ride next to it is also nothing compared to Movie Worlds log flume – I get that its an animal park and not a ride park, but it feels like they could be doing a little bit more than they are.
In fact, the only ride worth its salt there was the Jet Rescue, which I stumbled upon almost by accident since its sort of hidden behind a tunnel in a corner. This is where you are strapped into a jet ski seat and then thrust along a track at pretty high speeds, trying to simulate actual jet ski action – and it works beautifully. Went on it about 8 times consecutively before the show schedule forced me away.
For all my disappointment about the rides, the shows provided are all great quality. In the afternoon I was able to watch the Jet Ski Stunt Show, which is pretty spectacular. There are 4 pro jet ski performers, using the main pool at the entrance to do jumps, spins, races and a variety of other things that I honestly didn’t think you could do with a jet ski. They also managed to show off what was essentially a water powered jet pack – which was awesome and I want one for Christmas.
Finally, I went over to watch the sea lion show, which is set up like a corny detective show, involving some pretty horrific puns and a rather major microphone fail where the 2 speaking characters had to start holding their heads very close together to use the one still functioning headpiece. With the exception of that tiny hitch though, its a really good performance and the 3 sea lions used are really well trained.
Since I needed to get to Movie World for the Winter Wonderland event at 5:30, I only had about an hour before I had to leave (would take close to 90 minutes to get back to the station and then another bus), so headed to the areas I hadn’t seen yet. When I got to the Shark Bay, discovered that in addition to snorkeling with the safe sharks, they had a large pool with a glass bottomed boat, which coast $10 to try. Decided to go for it, and I highly recommend it.
The boat navigates around the pool for about 15 minutes, getting you great views of the 4 huge sharks that swim in its waters, as well as the 2 large sea turtles currently here for study. The sharks often swim around the the boat rather than underneath, but the views from the rest of it are fantastic.
I also managed to go and see the fairy penguins getting fed – these guys are held at the other end of the park from the cold loving penguins, and they’re utterly adorable. Teeny tiny, and have a tendency to shake after eating to help digestion. Only one of them wasn’t born in captivity, and was rescued on the Australian coast after getting caught in netting. He lost a chunk of his fin and it was decided he’d have a better life here rather than trying to outswim predators in the wild.
Overall, I had a good day, but I think Underwater World in Mooloolaba is better value for money if you want to see an underwater animal attraction in Queensland. The performances I saw were the only really unique thing – there’s very little Sea World offers outside of that which isn’t offered better at other attractions.
I’d done Movie World last month, and really enjoyed it – mostly for 2 rides, Arkham Asylum and Superman Escape. Both are fantastic coasters and as a single rider on a weekday, got to ride them quite a few times. Only downside was that you had to hire a locker for Superman, as you can’t take anything loose with you. People were having to hire lockers to spare a pair of sunglasses – really not a great idea. The others rides are so so – the log flume is really good, and the Scooby Doo coaster is great for kids, although the Green Lantern ride is fairly meh once you get past the strange harness it provides.
This month, Movie World hosts an evening even especially for Christmas, Winter Wonderland. The park stays open between 5.30 and 8.30 and allows a limited number of people to come and enjoy Christmas activities as well as some of the rides. With my Gold VIP pass, I got one entry in during this time.
Arkham Asylum was sadly not open for this event, but Superman, Green Lantern and Scooby Doo were. I pretty much spend the majority of my time rider Superman, before dragging myself away to see the special events.
The western section with the log flume is closed, but its been converted into a small Santa village, complete with Santa Claus. There’s also a Christmas buffet happening in one of the restaurants, and a chance to ice gingerbread men at another.
However, at 7, everyone gathered in the courtyard, and the million Christmas lights decorating in the shopping arcade began lighting up. For the first time in sunny Oz, it finally felt like Christmas.
At 8, this was followed by the Christmas Parade, including floats from Warner Brothers movies and characters – as well as typical Christmas floats. Really like the Polar Express one…but I was a little distracted watching my time. I’d realised very late in the evening that there weren’t any scheduled buses from Dreamworld after 6, since the majority of people had left by then. For this event, they had one charter bus that would go to Helensvale station and the Gold Coast. First come first served – so instead of enjoying the end of the parade, I was glancing at my watch and trying to figure out how many people were heading for the bus stop.
Ended up leaving about 8:20, and found I shouldn’t have worried. Took until 8:50 before the bus was full and left, so actually missed my planned train and had to hang around for the next one. At least I go there without forking out for a taxi though.
Winter Wonderland is a pretty great way to spend an evening if you want some Christmas feeling in your Australia trip, although you may want to plan you getaway in advance. Its worth the entry fee just to try out Superman Escapes in the dark. Gonna do Movie World in a day again though – just making sure its a weekday so the queue’s stay short.