Monday, June 10, 2013

Revisting a childhood Dream (World)

Day 2 (Mon, 3 June 2013)

Gold Coast holds fond memories for us. Kenneth and I visited it for the first time before the kids were born, and we revisited it in 2006, when Lesley-Anne was only 9 and Andre 5.  We had a great trip each time and remember it as a fun and vibrant city, partly because of the many theme parks.

In fact, one of main reasons we decided to go back to Gold Coast once again was so that our kids could live out their theme park fantasies before they got too old.  Just looking at our 2006 photos made me nostalgic - the kids were so cute then! It was also fun to compare the "then" and "now" photos, which I'll be doing a fair bit in this post.

If you have been reading my travel blog, you'll know that we're quite a theme park family. We normally arrive just before the park opens and leave only when it closes.  My kids, especially Andre, go crazy and will go on their favourite rides over and over.  Just as well they get their money's worth as I've grown increasingly chicken as I age.  I used to brave corkscrews without hesitation but these days, just the thought of it makes me feel queasy.  Kenneth, with his hereditary motion sickness, has always preferred his feet on terra firma.  At theme parks, he is the default bag handler and camera man.

Gold Coast has a myriad of theme parks but we decided to visit just two this time as they have the best rides, in our opinion. The first one we went to was Dream World.  When the gates opened, we made a beeline for the ride Escape From Madagascar.  This ride has a funny story to it.  In 2006, it was called Runaway Reptar and I'd made Lesley-Anne go on it with me.  She was rather timid back then and she was terrified by it. Andre had wanted to go on it badly but he missed the height requirement (110cm) by just a couple of cm.

When we first found out we were coming back to Gold Coast, Andre immediately googled Dream World and was disappointed that Runaway Reptar no longer existed. It was only later that we discovered they had merely renamed it as Escape From Madagascar. Clever way of making rides current, without having to demolish and re-build! 

The ride is one of those where your feet dangle and since it's a family ride, it is exciting without being terrifying.  Great fun. It's mild enough for Lesley-Anne to realise just how much of a chicken she was back then, to have been scared out of her wits by it!

We went on another nostalgic ride - the River Rapids. This was our favourite ride in 2006 - we lost count of the number of times we went on it.

The signboard hasn't changed in 7 years!

In this ride, you may get totally soaked or emerge completely dry, depending on where you sit and how the boat turns.  It's really the luck of the draw and it was absolutely hilarious because Andre wanted to get wet but Lesley-Anne didn't.  On 4 consecutive rides, no matter where she sat, Lesley-Anne got completely drenched and Andre remained dry.  It was almost as if the waterfall was gunning directly for her!

In the end, it didn't matter because we went on this so much that we eventually all got wet. 

Throughout the park, the kids posed in various places for old times' sake.  Like these:

One tip about theme parks in Gold Coast - the food there tends to be pricey and very limited. For example, at Dream World, a nondescript burger and fries platter costs A$14.95.  Fortunately, I found out about this in advance and following online tips, we packed our own lunch.  We'd bought two buckets of roast chicken legs at the supermarket the day before, heated them up in the morning and brought them along.  When we feasted on them at Dream World, we saw many envious looks.  A$12 fed the whole family.  My advice: pack a lunch.

Dream World has a wildlife section which features Australian animals. Feeding the roos - always a popular activity.  2013:


A couple of lovely animal shots by Lesley-Anne:

In 2006, one of Lesley-Anne's greatest disappointments was that she was too small to be allowed to hold a koala.  Obviously this time, we weren't about to let the opportunity pass by again, so the kids went for it.  Some states in Australia don't allow koalas to be carried by strangers as it can be stressful for the animal.  But according to its handler, this koala is so relaxed it doesn't mind being carried for pictures.  You can probably tell from the way it's not even bothering to cling on to Andre. It looks like it's just draped on like a rag doll.

More rides in the afternoon.  Shockwave is touted as a family ride but personally, I think this is a mis-classification.  The track is similar to the Viking, only lower, except that you sit around a circular contraption that keeps spinning and never seems to end.  Andre went on it and staggered out, saying it was scarier than it looks as you feel like you're going to be flung off.  I'll bet. I saw several unsuspecting aunties and ah peks clinging on for dear life during the ride. I'm sure they were praying for it to stop.

We went on many other rides throughout the day but the one that stood out most for us was Mick Doohan's Motocoaster.  This is a roller coaster ride unlike any other.  You're strapped in on one of the motorbikes and speed along a track to simulate riding on a very fast bike.  There are many sharp turns but no drops, so it's good fun for people like me who hate heart-stopping drops.

Here's a video Lesley-Anne shot of the ride.  Andre is in the second row of bikes.

I went on it 3 times and Lesley-Anne about 5. Andre loved it so much he spent the last hour at Dream World just taking and re-taking this ride. There was hardly any waiting time so I think he managed about 13 times in all.

Unanimously, we agreed this was hands down, the best ride in Dream World.

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