So, having relaxed on the beaches of Far North Queensland we headed for a slightly different pace of life, south to Surfers Paradise and the Theme Parks.
Flying into Brisbane we picked up another Avis Car rental at Brisbane Airport. We’d make the booking with DriveNow back in August and one point that really came through was how much cheaper it was to book in advance. That may sound like a sales pitch however the reality was that it saved us $60 on a 3 day rental. It does pay to book in advance particularly in peak periods such as Christmas, Easter and School Holidays.
Perhaps we were lucky with our timing but we had bags and hire car collected and were on the road within 35 minutes of landing.
We drove south to Surfers through the road-works on the Gateway Motorway (why in Australia do we refer to some roads as Motorways and others as Freeways? Aren’t they the same thing?) and on down the Pacific Motorway past the soon to be visited Theme Parks.
Surfers Paradise seems to take people one of 2 ways; either it’s a blot on the landscape, a gaudy, mishmash of towers blocking out the afternoon beach sun, or it’s endless beautiful beach and surf with hotels, restaurants and all the city mod-cons we love together in one of the best Australian climates. Either way it’s unqiue and we reckon take it as it comes and enjoy, after all as one of Australia’s fastest growing regions it has to be one of the most popular destinations around.
We arrived during the AFL Grand Final so the streets were quieter than usual and with the up coming Gold Coast Indy 500 race due in October this was a God-send as there were saftely barriers, temporary stands and other road changes to navigate around and challenge the newcomer.
We’d booked a 3 bedroom apartment at Crown Towers on the recommendation of a friend. This towering Resort certainly had everything within its 39 floors.
Downstairs there were 2 pools, the outside beach-like pool was surprisingly cold at 16 degrees and despite the warm weather didn’t appear to get any warmer during our stay. Fortunately we had the sea and the indoor heated Pool and Sauna at 26 degrees were a popular fall-back.
Other facilities included, bar, restaurant, popular Thai Restaurant, internet access (note if you wish to do a Qantas online check-in the security settings don’t let you print your boarding passes as we found out! Fortunately we discovered an internet café down the road that we were able to use), Tour booking desk and free underground parking. Include the central location, complete security and this was an ideal spot for families to set up base in. You get to choose either to remain within the resort which had everything on tap, or venture out to the beach or Surfers itself.
For those looking for immediate thrills and spills the Resort sits beside Adrenaline Park, a mini theme park in the middle of Surfers. This had the aptly named Vomatron (giant propeller) which I was reliablly informed revolved at 120kph (not for me thank you), Sling Shot which propels you 72m skyward at 160kph (ditto) and bungy jumping into or touching water (your choice). Fortunately there is mini Golf, dodgem cars and bungy trampolines to keep sane people entertained.
We only had 2 full days for the Theme Parks and the kids had settled on Wet ‘N’ Wild and Warner Bros Movieworld. We’d booked in advance on the myfun.com website and grabbed a 10% discount on our Escape passes (2 parks in 3 days) – a hidden bonus in doing this was that we skipped the ticket queues at both parks.
Both parks were a hit with the kids, although the parents were a little hesitant (in one case VERY hesitant) in jumping on the rides.
As plenty has been written about the Parks I’ll keep my observations to the following tips:
- Pre book your tickets on myfun.com (you need to sign up but that’s a 20 second job). You get the 10% discount and avoid queuing at the parks.
- Get there early! Aim to arrive around 9.15am – doors open at 9.30 or so and rides commence around 10. You’re looking at 50+ minute queues for popular rides later in the day, arriving early ensures you can experience your favourite thrills more quickly. Alternatively visit the park outside School Holidays.
- Wet ‘N’ Wild have a no Commercial Food allowed through the gate Policy – but home made sandwiches and bringing your own drinks was fine. This seems a sensible approach – we took our own and also purchased onsite from some of the many outlets as well. An obvious thing to note – Glass and alcohol are both no-no’s.
- Movieworld take the Food Policy to a bit of an extreme and allow no food or drink onto their premises at all with the exception of Special Dietary requirements. They have security guards at the entrance to check bags. A bit of a draconian measure I assume to encourage you to purchase at onsite food and beverage outlets.
- Your Kids will have a complete 100% ball of a time! And guess what? So will you. The Parks have everything set up to a tee and it genuinely was Family fun at its best. To be honest – so what if you have to queue – so does everyone else, relax and enjoy, it’s all part and parcel of being at Australia’s most popular Theme Parks.
Surfers definitely has something to offer for everyone and is conveniently within 2.5 hours flying of Australia’s large cities as well as being a popular destination for overseas visitors. With events such as the Indy 500, the forthcoming Aussie Rules Football team franchise to be launched in 2011, a potential bid for the Commonwealth Games, Australian University Games, The Theme Parks, Iron Man and other Surf Competitions, there really is always something to do and see on this vibrant coast.
Next year I am reliably informed we are back for Dreamworld and something called the Drop – which I’ve been assured will be heaps of fun. Having seen it from the freeway I’m not convinced, perhaps it’s Mum’s turn to try that one! Sea World will also be on the agenda and sounds tamest of all – gotta love those Dolphins, Polar Bears and Sharks!