With the colder weather fast approaching and winter officially only weeks away, many of us start dreaming of warmer climates, and those of us living in the southern states of Australia start daydreaming about…Queensland.
Winter is the perfect time to take the kids up to the Gold Coast for some rollercoaster fun at the theme parks!
In May 2014, our family took its first interstate trip, which also happened to be the first plane trip for all three of the MLT kids (more about their first flight experience some other time!). We spent a week on the Gold Coast driving around to all the different beaches (yes it was warm enough for a swim-but only just!) and did a quick trip up to the gorgeous hinterland.
But what would a Gold Coast experience be without a few days spent at the theme parks?
Given the varying ages of the kids at the time (10, 6 and 4), and the not-so-hot weather, we settled on visiting Sea World and Dreamworld only. We spent a day at each theme park, with a rest day in between. Miss 10 spent her 10th birthday at Dreamworld- it doesn’t get any better than that!
There were highs and lows, lots of water and silent cursing, and a few unexpected surprises! All in all the kids and Mr and Mrs MLT had a ball and concluded that the trip was worth the time and money.
So here I present to you a list of 6 tips to help you survive the Queensland theme parks:
- Choose your theme parks wisely: There are quite a few theme parks to choose from, so if you aren’t wanting to experience all of them, my suggestion would be to choose according to the ages of your children, your budget and the weather. Sea World is especially great for younger children, but older kids and teens would find it boring. Dreamworld is excellent for older kids and does have a section for kids under 5. Miss 6 was too old for this section, but too young for the bigger rides. There weren’t as many rides for the “in-between” age, which was disappointing. We didn’t see Movieworld this time- I had been there before many years ago and didn’t think it was a park all 3 of my kids would enjoy. If I had to recommend only one park, I would recommend Dreamworld.
Image: Mamma Loves Travel
- Check the theme park websites: Rides undergo maintenance throughout the year, so check if your favourite ride will be open on the day you are planning to visit. Sea World has currently closed down its Beach Break Bay (the section with rides for the littlies) as it makes room for a bigger and better kids zone opening in late 2015. Also check for any promotional offers on tickets (also check your state’s automobile club for any offers). If there is anyone in your group with special needs, the websites provides information on additional services on offer to assist you.
- Spare clothing/ponchos: You will get wet! Bring some spare clothes if this bothers you, and a poncho in case of rain. We experienced a ten minute downpour at Dreamworld and ended up huddling under cover. We were also saturated at Seaworld after the Stormcoaster ride (Miss 10 made us sit in the front!).
- Organise your day: Buy your tickets online to avoid queuing at the gates, and try to get to the park early. Print up a map and make a list of all the things you want to see and do. Then narrow your list to a “top 5”- anything additional is a bonus! If you are super organised, you might want to plan what order you will visit each attraction, factoring in the layout of the park, where you want to stop for lunch and where the toilets are.
- Stop for regular breaks: Not only do the kids get tired, but so do the adults! A 15 minute stop will help recharge the batteries for the remaining hours ahead. It’s also an opportunity to reapply sunscreen if need be, and to decide where to go next.
- Consider off-peak times: We visited the theme parks at the end of May on a weekday so the queues were minimal (the longest we waited at any ride was about 3 minutes). We felt free to roam the parks without worrying that our kids would become separated from us, and if we needed a toilet stop the kids didn’t have to wait for a vacant cubicle. The only downside was that the atmosphere was lacking, probably due to fewer people. However, I think it’s a small price to pay considering how crazy these places can be during school holidays!
The theme parks can be a fun day out for the family, or a complete nightmare. A bit of thought and planning beforehand can help alleviate the stress. The most important ingredient of the day is FUN- enjoy your day with the family- the thrills, the water, the laughter (just beware of The Claw- you have been warned!).
Have you taken your family to any of the Gold Coast theme parks? Which park was your kids’ favourite? Would you add any other tips to the list above?