Sunday 23 June 2013

Top Ten Australian Rides

A recent post on the Theme Park Tourist blog has inspired me to do my Top Ten Australian theme park rides. We do have some amazing rides in Australia, and while they do not approach Disney/Universal on scale, I like to think we punch above our weight.

So here we go, my Top Ten Australian rides:

10. The Cyclone
A tough choice for the final position, but I had to go for a classic, The Cyclone. Dreamworld purchases it from Lunar Park Sydney in 2001, and during it's 2 minute journey has a reverse sidewinder and a vertical loop. It is starting to get on in years, but it still provides grrat thrills.

9. Wild West Falls
Hands down the best water ride in the country, WWF is a long meandering cowboy story with a thrilling and soaking conclusion.

8. Jet Rescue
A motorbike coaster themed to a jet ski rescue of an injured seal. Theming and thrills with a little bit of heart. This is the best ride at Sea World, a park focused on marine conservation.

7. The Claw
So theming isn't always done well in Australia, and Dreamworld's The Claw is a great example of that. This ride is themed to a giant red claw. This ride gets points for being unique in Australia and for great thrills. Plus being upside down 11 stories high.

6. Green Lantern Coaster
Movie World's brand new El Loco comic book themed almost car park coaster is an unquestionable hit. While the theming, beyond the queue, is not of the Movie World standard, the thrills are  undeniable. The steepest drop in the southern hemisphere and several inversions plus an iconic LED display and high capacity, means this coaster clearly wipes the floor with Dreamworld's Buzzsaw.

5. The Giant Drop
Once again theming is done away with for thrills, but when you have (or had up until last year) the tallest drop ride in the world, who cares. This one is truly for the brave. With drops on two sides of Dreamworld's gigantic Tower, you eiyher get beautiful views over the Gold Coast hinterland, or even better views to the amazing coast. You can see Surfer's from the top! And then you plummet back back to earth. I can vouch for riding day or night, both are beautiful and scary for different reasons.

4. Justice League Alien Invasion 3D The Ride
A dark ride! A pure stand alone dark ride. This shooter from Sally Corp is not Australia's first dark ride, but it is our only current one. Only Scooby and Superman which have dark ride elements compare. This is our first interactive shooter! And it is fun from start to finish. It's not perfect and the name is a total mess, but it is a wonderful addition to Movie World's line up.

3. Tower of Terror 2
Dreamworld's signature ride is also its best. A recent revamp has turned the car around so that you are now shot backwards out of the dark disco tube and then you climb up Dreamworld's iconic tower facing the ground. One of the tallest coasters in the world, although some question its status since it doesn't do a circuit,the Tower of Terror is a must do if you are visiting Dreamworld. I tell people that a ride on TOT2 goes like this, scary, fun, scary, fun, over. I only wish that the car got closer to the top of the tower. These days you are lucky to make it half way up.

2. Scooby Doo Spooky Coaster
My second choice might surprise a few people, at least my first choice shouldn't surprise anyone. Let me make a case for why Movie World's Scooby Doo Spooky Coaster should be number two. Firstly it is one of our only true family coasters, most of our coasters are thrill machines or kiddie coasters. Secondly, it has tonnes of theming set in a spooky castle from the rather awful Scooby Doo movie. It has an good dark ride sequence at the start and a short one at the end. It is our only fully enclosed coaster. Sure it's not the Rock'n Rollercoaster,  but critics that call it a wild mouse in a shed aren't really being fair to it. It has a vertical lift! It has a backwards drop and it has laser and smoke effects covering its wild mouse section. It is one ride I never miss when visiting Movie World. My only complaint is that they took out a great dark ride to make way for it. If only Gremlins could have lived in the same park as Scooby. Overall the Scooby Doo Spooky Coaster scores strongly for thrills, originality and theming.

1. Superman Escape
The only Australian coaster to make the top twenty of Mitch Hawker's Steel Coaster Poll (at #16) is without doubt the best ride in the country. It's not our tallest or fastest, but with great thrills and a perfectly matched theme it's very hard to beat. The internal of the ride is themed to a subway, when an earthquake hits. In the dark ride section you see walls collapse, flooding water pooring down and crashed cars. It looks dangerous until you hear Superman tell you he'll get you out of there fast. Superman fast. And boom your slow dark ride turns into an Intamin Accelerato. You are launched 0 to 100 km/ h in 2 seconds. You are quickly cresting the top hat and than whipping through this wonderful coaster layout. Superman brings you right back down to the ride gift shop, for a safe escape. The gift shop doesn't do much trade though, as all the riders have to leave their wallets in lockers before the ride. However, this is one of the best coasters I've ridden, and an easy choice as the best ride in Australia!

Sunday 2 June 2013

Sea World June 2013

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my best wife in the world got us passes to the Big 3 VRTP parks for my birthday. This weekend was our first opportunity to check out Sea World!! There are big things going on at Sea World at the moment, so it's definitely worth a look.
For the moment, I'm going to call it Seal World.
It was our first opportunity to check out Seal Harbour which opened earlier this year!
This multimillion dollar area plays host to 9 Seals and Sea Lions. It includes a centre island with great views into the different pens.
Some have been calling it Seagull Harbour, since it can be hard to tell that the seals are there at all, at first glance.
But they are! We saw 6 different Seals and Sea Lions swimming in the 10-15 minutes we were there. Most of the time they were enjoying the warm sun. Doesn't he look happy?
Just as happy is the bench in the middle of the centre island!!
The big news of the last 12 months at Sea World is that we were going to see two new attractions in the next two years. A water coaster themed to a great Storm, and the mysterious Wild attraction. It appears we have already see the Wild attraction move from 2014 to 2015, but it will still be interesting to see what this. New attractions can only mean one thing for Sea World....
Closures. The park is so small, that construction, particularly in the middle is bound to close a few attractions. Ray Reef was closed.
The Viking's flume was closed (and dry). Jet Rescue was also closed when we visited, but I am told it's been open at other points in the operation. Anyway, back to the good news! Guess what is missing from the following photo...
That's right! An enormous volcano! What was the Bermuda Triangle has been completely demolished to make space for the new Storm water coaster. You can probably see some of the first uprights are already in place.
And we are starting to see some concrete trenches as well!
Work is coming along nicely, both inside and outside the former Bermuda Triangle ride building. To be honest, it's not much of a build anymore. It's more of a roof with a couple of partial walls.
 Most of the area really looks like a construction site.

 Lots of work left to do.
Inside the "building" is also a war zone.
 Most exciting, you can see a definite trench for coasting in!
And the trench doesn't stop just because the building does. No sir!
Let's move over to what is the supposed site for Wild! The story I had heard before going to Sea World is that they are reclaiming land out of the main lagoon for Wild. There is definitely land being reclaimed on the back of (what is currently) Dinosaur Island. It appears that there has been a large push in from both sides of the lagoon. Here is the view from the front of the park.
You can see quite a lot of dirt has already been moved, and also a decent size of dirt to go. Here a couple of views from the back of Dinosaur Island. You can really see that this gap has narrowed significantly already.
We are yet to hear official word on what wild is. Rumours have included it being called "Congo Island" with live Hippos, Crocodiles and Gorillas. This may be one or multiple attractions, we will just have to wait and see!!
 On other interesting Sea World news!
Free refills!! For $10 you can buy a (small) cup, which you can use for free refills of soft drink and (most) frozen drinks at 4 locations within the park. The cup holds 375mL, but has a very cute design. You are given an arm band to signify that you bought that cup that day, and it is fairly seamless getting your cups refilled. I only had one staff member who decided that I wasn't worth speaking to since I was only getting a refill. I'm looking at you Castaway Bay guy! Everyone else was very happy to do it.
To be honest, I don't know if it is new, but this is awesome! Crazy coloured M&M's! While a few colours had run out, it was cool to see all the different options. $4 for 100 grams. Buy 200 grams and you get 100 grams of Brown M&M's for free. No one loves Brown M&M's.
We also checked out the Spongebob Parade, which has changed since last time I saw it. Gone is the Plankton float, and with it went the whole story. It's now essentially a SpongeBob greatest hits show, which is still entertaining, but not as good as it was.
And because it is Sea World, here is photo of an inaccessible Pirate Ship being overtaken by a slow monorail!!
It will be very interesting to see the changes in Sea World over the next 12 months!!