History of the Theme Park Dreamworld
In 1974, John Longhurst bought 85 hectares of land to put his dream of building a theme park into practice. With a few attractions, Dreamworld opened to the public on December 15, 1981. A year later, the first expansion led to the world’s longest steel double loop rollercoaster, the Thunderbolt. With time, the park more and more expanded. In 1989 the park was sold to Bruce Jenkins’ Dreamco, yet due to Dreamco’s financial trouble in 1990, Ernst & Young, Receivers and Managers were appointed by the Mortgagee, IOOF Friendly Society, to take control. In 1994, Dreamworld successfully ended its liquidation. In 1995 the Park was sold to Singaporean Businessman and investor Mr Kua Phek Long. One of his first investments then put Dreamworld on everybody’s lips, as the fastest and tallest coaster was coming to the Gold Coast in 1997: the Tower of Terror. Two years later, Dreamworld was acquired by the Macquarie Leisure Trust, now Ardent Leisure Group.
Tour of the park
If you walk through the Disney-esque Entrance building, you find yourself directly in front of the Dreamworld globe. On both sides of the plaza, you can find buildings with typical Australian architecture, yet also a very futuristic looking building, which is home to Australia’s first flying theatre: Sky Voyager.
The large-scale motion simulator by Brogent Technologies features a very impressive flight along several famous Australian landscapes. We take off at the Gold Coast, have a look at the Wallaman Falls, follow the Tully River, fly over the Lancelin Sand Dunes, have a look at the Twelve Apostels from the seaside and experience a firework at the Sydney Harbour – the scenes are all loosely connected, yet the transition is always fluent, which gives you an overall coherent experience. Overall, Sky Voyager is one of the best Flying Theatre, I’ve experiences so far.
Right next to it, the roller coaster Buzzsaw was set at a very prominent position right at the edge of the park and very close to the entrance of Dreamworld. The ride itself was a Maurer Skyloop XT150, as you can still find them at several theme parks along the globe. It was the third SkyLoop, I’ve tried and yet I was still not very impressed with it. The extreme hangtime at a height of 46m, the descending heartline roll and the rush towards the ground creates a great experience, which is best when only experienced once. Buzzsaw was by no means a popular ride, so it isn’t a surprise that Dreamworld closed the ride for good after just 10 years of operation at the end of August 2021.
Passing along the future site of the Steel Taipan roller coaster and former site of the Thunder River Rapids Ride, which had to be closed after a fatal accident where a boat was flipped on the ride’s lift, we now have a look on one of the main attractions at Dreamland: The Giant Drop.
For a very long time, there was no drop tower being taller than the Giant Drop and up to this date it is still in the top three just behind Lex Luthor’s Drop of Doom (122m, 2012) at Six Flags Magic Mountain and Zoomanjaro: Drop of Doom (126m, 2014) at Six Flags Great Adventure. All rides were attached to the support structure of a roller coaster made by Intamin. Yet, the Giant Drop was first and with a drop height of 115m it is not particularly lower.
Just one year after the inauguration of the world’s fastest and tallest coaster Tower of Terror, the 119m tall Dreamworld Tower received its second and final attraction when two drop lanes were installed to both sides of the roller coaster’s track. To maximise the ride’s capacity, both lanes feature a gondola for eight people each.
After leaving the heavily themed queue, we soon take place in the gondola to the front. After checking the restraints, we soon start our journey to the top of the tower. During our ascent, a vehicle from the Tower of Terror coaster gets the tower into vibration whilst shooting towards us. With a great view onto the surroundings, we then spend some time at the top before the Giant Drop. The hook releases the car, and we drop towards the ground accelerating to a max speed of 135 km/h before we hit the brakes and the awesome ride comes to an end.
Rocky Hollow Log Ride and the Dreamworld Corroboree
Past the now closed log flume Rocky Hollow Log Ride, which was not operating on my day of visit, we now enter Dreamworld Corroboree. This area is home to the Vintage Car Adventure ride, as well as a bunch of animal enclosures. Here, we can have a look to native Australian animals like dingoes, koalas, and kangaroos. Interestingly, the park is famous for its koala breeding programme. It is rather amusing to see how many Asian travel groups are guided into this part of the park only to take some pictures of them holding a koala.
ABC Rids World
Through the toddler area ABC Kids World, where the small trackless dark ride Big Red Car featuring the Australian children’s music group The Wiggles is located, we now make our way towards the first installation of the family launch coaster by Intamin is located.
Mick Doohan’s Motocoaster
Similar to the Motorbike Coaster by Vekoma, Mick Doohan’s Motocoaster features a seating position which resembles the one on a 500cc racing bike. In comparison, the train design is slightly more complex, which makes the boarding a bit harder. Here, you have to climb onto your seat first, move your upper body under the harness, pull the front part of the bike towards you (which also locks your legs in place) and then the harness will be automatically moved into position. As only the bike’s side panel fixes your legs from any sideways movement, a rough surface keeps it from moving in any other direction, which makes the ride a rather uncomfortable one. But you could ride in a sidecar, which features a more traditional ride experience located in the back two rows of a train. Due to its lower high restriction, these are a great way to experience the ride with your kids.
After boarding is completed and everything is clear, the ride immediately starts with its launch. After reaching the ride’s top speed of 72 kph, we now enter an ascending wide curve which leads us to the highest point of the ride reaching 7m. A wide curve to the left gets us a bit closer to the ground and soon we race over a small bunny-hop. After another 270° curve close to the ground, we change direction and climb a bit upwards in a helix. This is then followed by a wide curve to the left, which features a small dip in the middle. We then make our way towards the front of the ride in a bunch of alternating curves. After a short hop, we then hit the brakes. A short turnover then leads up to the station’s exit position.
Mick Doohan’s Motocoaster could be a great ride if the bikes would be slightly more comfortable. The fast-paced layout loses a bit of momentum towards the end of the ride, yet it has a ton of great curves which makes up for that, so that in an overall rating the ride features an okay experience.
The Claw and Tailspin
The Claw on the other hand is a superb ride. The monstrous looking pendulum ride by Intamin features a very high acceleration which in return led to a very fast-paced experience with tons of airtime and a lot of pressure. This Gyro Swing is brilliant!
Right next to The Claw, we can find the entrance to Tailspin – a ride where the riders can actively control how intense they want their experience to be. As a daredevil myself, I like to have tons of rollovers on a Gerstlauer Sky Fly – something, which was very easy to achieve back in the past, when the first models came up. Tailspin on the other hand is a rather new model and a rollover therefore isn’t as easy to initiate, yet still manageable; once you did the first one and hold your wings in position it is easy to do a lot more in a row.
Past the closed Disk’o Coaster Shockwave, we now make our way to Dreamworld’s large Looping Coaster: HotWheels Sidewinder. The ride was recently redeveloped to the Gold Coaster and got a surfing theme – a very fitting move if you ask me.
The Arrow Coaster previously known as the Big Dipper at Milton Points Luna Park in Sydney moved to Dreamworld at the end of the 2001 season. As the ride was tailored to fit into a very specific footprint at Luna Park, which is why the station is located high above the ground, a new entrance and exit path had to be designed to bring the guest to and from the ride. Unfortunately, Dreamland has chosen to install a large spiralling ramp, which takes ages to climb. Once at the top, we cross a small bridge and wait until the previous guests have left the station and the doors open for boarding.
The ride starts with a small dip out of the station. In a left-hand turn, we rapidly approach the ride’s lift hill. Arrived at a height of 40m, we immediately take another small dip and a turnaround, before we drop down. With full throttle, we now race into a large turn, which takes us high above the ground. After another drop, we then take a long turn to the left before we make our way into the waterpark Whitewater World. Here we rush through a long left-hand curve close to the ground before we initiate the first inversion of the ride: a sidewinder. Here, we first turn to the left while rotating around our axis before we plunge down towards the ground in a half loop. This is followed by a full vertical loop. Soon after, we take a large hill, race over a long straight into a turnaround and come to a stop in the ride’s station.
The HotWheels Sidewinder is a very nice coaster, which reminds me a bit of a mine train. The ride has a very fun pacing, albeit the layout is a bit off due to its main elements being placed at the end of the ride. Therefore, the HotWheels Sidewinder is more about speed and acceleration than it is about inversions and honestly, I liked that a lot. Surplus, the ride has a great smoothness to it, which makes it a good ride for tons of re-rides.
The DreamWorks Experience is a large themed area with dedicated areas for three of the studio’s most popular films: Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar and Shrek! While Shrek’s Faire Faire away is home to many of the park’s children rides, the two other areas all feature one of Dreamworld’s mayor attractions. Unfortunately, the suspended family coaster Escape from Madagascar in the Madagaskar Madness area was down for maintenance.
Next to the Skadoosh Bumper Cars, you can find in Kung Fu Panda Land of Awesomeness the Zamperla Air Race Pandamonium. The popular ride comes in two experiences: soft-style and hard-style. While the soft-style cycle just rocks a bit sideways without going upside down, the hard-style run cycle is pure madness! I have been on quite a lot of these rides before, but Pandamonium is way faster than most of them and features far more rollovers. I had a blast!
We now could get to the next ride via the adjacent souvenir shop, but we chose to have a look onto Tiger Island before. This large area is home to two animal enclosures, as well as a large area used for the Tiger presentation. You can also take a picture with you and a tiger over here.
Tower of Terror II
When I planned my Australian road trip, I had no clue that Tower of Terror II will close. Once the announcement was made by the park, I was very happy that the final day of operation would be during our planned trip to the Gold Coast, so that I did not even have to reschedule the entire trip to ride Intamin’s first opened launch coaster for the first and last time.
When the Tower of Terror opened in 1997, it was the tallest and fastest ride on earth. Together with Superman: Escape from Krypton at Six Flags Magic Mountain, the ride held the speed record till Dodonpa at Fuji-Q Highland opened to the public in 2001 and the height record until Top Thrill Dragster opened at Cedar Point back in 2003. In 2010, the Tower of Terror received an overhaul consisting of a new theme and new trains. It was time to Face Gravity, Face First on the Tower of Terror II.
After passing through the ride’s iconic skull entrance and the futuristic queue, I boarded the ride for the first time on November 2nd, one day before the ride’s closure. Unfortunately, the ride was down for most of the day of our visit. I returned for the last day of operation for several re-rides, as well as one of the last rides being held on that day. It was an amazing experience to walk through the skull and listen to Europe’s Final Countdown while doing so. Overall, the excitement of the enthusiasts to catch the final Escape Pod was contagious.
The ride itself was an exciting experience. Once the vehicle was cleared, the lights of the boarding area are turned down and a countdown sets in. The light effect in the tunnel starts to go faster and faster and all the sudden the vehicle starts accelerating. For the next seven seconds, we accelerate to the max speed before we start to climb the tower. Now in a vertical position, the car loses more and more of its momentum while we are experiencing some of the finest airtime on a coaster. For several seconds, we now face gravity before plunging down again. We then race back into the tunnel, where we are smoothly reducing our speed and come to a halt in the station. After disembarking the ride, we then walk through a small corridor and take a lift ride into the shop.
Tower of Terror II was a great coaster! The ride was all about the launch, which was perfectly set in place by the lightning effects and noise in the tunnel. It just felt super-fast for a very long time. Once on the tower, the ride surprised everyone by its long-during airtime and the views towards the ground. I was glad, that I had the chance to experience such an iconic coaster on its last days of operation. I just wish, I could do it again.
Dreamworld is a very nice theme park with a very solid ride collection. You can easily spend a full day at the park and the adjacent water park Whitewater World. Nevertheless, inform yourself in advance which rides will be closed on the day of your visit, as unfortunately the park’s line-up was reduced quite a bit during the past few years and closed attraction might not give you the best impression of the theme park. Having new attractions in the pipeline, I just hope that the current strategy of the Ardent Leisure Group will pay off.
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