10 Things to remember when visiting the Theme Parks
The Gold Coast is famed for its world-class theme parks, however, with the hoards of visitors that make their way through the gates year in year out, there are a few things to take note of if you're a first time park-goer or a return customer looking to enjoy the fun all over again.
No matter which park you’re planning on visiting, be it Movie World, Dreamworld, Sea World, WhiteWater World or Wet’n’Wild, you’ll likely need to remember the same rules, regulations and helpful tips. Here, we’ve outlined 10 of the best things to remember during your next trip to the world-famous Gold Coast Theme Parks.
Take notes, because these will help make your holiday adventure all the more enjoyable and comfortable.
10. Bring an esky in the car
If you’re planning to stay at the park for the entire day it’s inevitable that you, or the kids, will start to get hungry, especially considering you’ll be spending half the morning running around the park or screaming your lungs out on rides. The parks don’t allow for outside food to be brought into the park (both commercially prepared and brought from home) as they all have ready-to-eat options available in the park. There are many options to grab a bite to eat within the park, with numerous stalls and shop fronts selling basic lunch staples such as sandwiches and burgers as well as gourmet pizzas and more!
However, if you’ve purchased yourself a season pass for a handful or all of the parks, then you’ll have the freedom to come and go through the gates as you please. This is where we suggest to pack the car with an esky full of yummy and sustaining food that will keep you going for the rest of the day.
This will also help you avoid busting your travel budget as the prices in the park can really add up if you’re looking to purchase food for the whole family! In saying this though, you might not be travelling to the park in your own car so purchasing food inside may well be your only option. While the choices are more expensive than outside eateries, you’ll be sure to find a nibble that won’t break the bank.
9. The car parks are BIG
Keeping on the theme of bringing your own car, those driving themselves will be blown away by the sizes of the car parks at each theme park. If you arrive early enough, you’ll drive into a near empty car park with hundreds of spaces, if you can nab yourself a park close to the front entrance then, by all means, go for it. However, if you’re arriving a little later to a half-full car park we suggest finding a spot that will stick in your memory.
The back edge of the car park is always a safe bet and will make all the difference when you’re leaving the park for the day with thousands of people all searching for their car and license plate. It’s also a good idea to snatch one of the back edge parks that include some shade from nearby trees throughout the day (especially if you have an esky in the boot!). Dreamworld, WhiteWater World, Movie World and Wet’n’Wild all have very large car parks that, once they’re full, turn into a game of “is that our car?” “where’s our car?” “that’s it, we’re walking home!”.
On the other hand, Sea World Gold Coast near Main Beach has a smaller car park so you won’t easily lose your car here, which is a relief!
8. Arrive early
This brings us to our next point, arrive as early as possible. While most of the parks don’t open until almost mid-morning, you’ll be able to enter the park before the rides even open.
This is highly advisable as it gives you enough time to find a park, memorise its location, make your way through the front gates (jumping the queue for those who have bought them online – strongly recommended), and get yourself acquainted with the park by walking around or studying the map.
Here’s a breakdown of the opening times for each park.
- Movie World: Gates at 9:30 am, Rides at 10:00 am
- Dreamworld: Gates at 10 am
- Sea World: Gates at 9:30 am, Rides at 10 am
- WhiteWater World: Gates at 10 am
- Wet’n’Wild: Gates at 10 am
7. You’ll spend most of the day in the sun
As you can imagine, the majority of the attractions are water-based, high, long and fast, so they require outdoor space. This then means that you’ll be spending the majority of your time outside in the sun, whether it be in queues waiting for your turn on the ride, or holding the bags while the kids go on the rides. Either way, you’ll want to bring with you a lot of sunscreens and wear sun-safe clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat.
If you’ve forgotten all of the above, then don’t worry, in addition to the food stalls at the parks, there are a number of souvenir and merchandise stores that sell themed clothing and hats.
6. Bring coins
If you’re not wanting to be the designated bag-holder then we suggest bringing along some coins to rent yourself a locker. While a number of the rides supply pigeon holes for you to store your bags and belongings in (at your own risk) while you’re on the ride, some don’t. This means you’ll have to have a designated bag holder who watches from the sidelines or you’ll have to try and rustle up some coins from the bottom of your bag.
If you come prepared with cash and coins knowing you’re wanting to rent a locker we suggest making a B-line for them straight away because as the crowds flow in, most of them with bags of their own, you’ll all be vying for the same locker come time to line up for Superman Escapes at Movie World.
Cash is also helpful if you’re looking to purchase some ready-to-eat food from the roaming food stalls around the park. This takes away the hassle of trying to find an ATM should the vendor only accept cash and will make the whole process quick and easy for both you and the people in the queue behind you.
5. You won’t always get the front seat
Once you’ve stored your bag for safe keeping in the lockers and you’ve made your way through the line, don’t be disappointed if you don’t get the front seat. While some people will prefer to wait until they do get the seat – kudos to your patience – you’ll have just as great a time in one of the carriages behind.
If you are the type of person who only prefers the front then I suggest arriving incredibly early to your favourite ride to get at the front of the queue or just keep lining up and going on the ride hoping that luck will be on your side and you’ll get the front seat the next time around.
4. There are a lot of people
Now don’t let that scare you away, the crowds are what make the theme parks what they are today. The buzz of chatting, bursts of laughter and high squeals from those on the rides all adds to the excitement of the visit. In saying this, and fitting in with the long queues mentioned above, the crowds do fluctuate with different seasons and times of the year.
Come school holidays, you’ll find kids of all ages running around and having a great time and weekdays are often quieter than usual, except for holidaymakers visiting from interstate and abroad. If you’re looking for that happy medium of crowds and quiet then we suggest visiting on a weekend during the school term. While you’ll still be surrounded by families and kids, it’s usually a nice balance making the lines not too long.
Also, it’s a good idea to have a designated meeting place that’s easy to find should you or the kids get separate from one another.
3. Wear comfortable shoes
The long queues and crowds translate to a lot standing around and walking, so it’s strongly advised to wear a comfortable pair of shoes. If you’re eager to be the first to the queue at the opening time then best to wear your joggers and pick up the pace comfortably then be struggling with your thongs the moment you arrive.
If you’re wearing a pair of closed in shoes then you’ll be in the running to be one of the fastest people on and off the rides (not a real title, unfortunately), but you won’t be hassled by the annoyance of taking your shoes off at every ride to avoid them flinging off into the crowds while you’re high in the air.
If you can make it home without blisters or aching feet, you know you’re the real winner for the day.
2. Bring heaps of water
While you may not be able to bring food in, you’re okay to bring in water bottles (check with park rules as some may differ). If you don’t bring your own, it’s best to purchase one while you’re there because while you may not feel thirsty you can quickly get dehydrated once you factor in the heat (thanks, Queensland), the energy your burning and the fact that you’re spending almost the whole day on your feet.
If you avoid purchasing water or bringing your own, then you’ll be in for a shock when you get home and you’re more tired and exhausted than usual.
1. Plan your day
The theme parks on the Gold Coast are quite large and if you’re unprepared you can spend the majority of the day trying to find your way around to the rides and attractions you want to go on and see. To ensure you have the most productive and enjoyable day, you’re best to plan ahead and get your hands on a copy of the map before you arrive or set aside some time after you’ve entered to set out your route.
It’s not just about knowing where to go though, most of the parks have various shows and performances throughout the day that you – and the kids- definitely won’t want to miss. Take Dreamworld, for example, their Dreamworks area is frequented by some of the kids’ favourite characters from the big and small screens and these shows are can’t-miss experiences for the little ones.
If you have your route mapped out and you have an alarm to go off before the shows begin then you’re in for a good day. The planning will also come in handy for when the time comes to use the bathrooms. As the parks are family-friendly attractions there are a number of change rooms and disabled accessible bathrooms dotted around the park and if you know the general direction they are in you might be able to avoid a few accidents with the little ones.
The theme parks on the Gold Coast are perfect for all ages, so whether you’re planning to visit with the whole family, on your own or with a friend, if you follow at least one, if not all, of these steps you’ll be sure to have an incredibly memorable day.