Gold Coast’s Dreamworld – Rides, Experiences and Stories of Disaster

It was 2016 when Dreamworld really made it’s mark here in Australia. A Theme Park opened back in the early 1980s, it was one of the main theme parks on Queensland’s Gold Coast that people flocked to pretty much most of the year along with Sea World and Warner Brother’s Movie World. But in 2016 it became one of the country’s biggest news items of the year – for all the wrong reasons.

The River Rapids ride had a malfunctioning pump. As a result, two rafts, filled with passengers, collided flipping one of the rafts basically upside down and trapping riders in the workings of the apparatus. Four people died. The park was closed for a long time. And, understandably, it has not recovered to this day. It stands as a horrible reminder of how poor maintenance schedules and safety standards eventually ended in tragic and completely unnecessary loss of life. This is not the sort of incident that happens in Australia, we like to think regardless of the place we have the highest safety standards we can. Again, tragically, this was not the case at Dreamworld back in 2016.

But it is now 2022, and the park is open and receiving visitors. As I mentioned earlier in the week, it does not rival Movie World in popularity, but I presume that as a result of what happened in 2016, the criminal investigation and prosecution that followed, that Dreamworld’s safety standards are now as high as any theme park in Australia. And as a kid I always wanted to visit Dreamworld. Finally, as a 47 year old who still loves roller coasters, in 2022 I got my chance.

The aim of this post was to review the four rides I went on for you. But a little bit about my experience at Dreamworld is certainly called for first. So to start with, I went through their website where I bought a ticket in advance for $89. This came with one free fast pass (or whatever they called it) which is a great thing to have. Although I must admit visiting on my own gives the added bonus of being a single rider, and many rides have a single rider line which moves much fast as they try to fill gaps where three people are together and there’s a fourth seat etc.

A tram and a bus to the park – the last of the parks that you can get dropped off at on the parks bus – saw me arrive at Dreamworld after a very lazy morning catching up on some sorely needed sleep. Whereas I would have almost the whole day at Movie World the following day, at Dreamworld I had about four hours before it closed, I had to run around shooting a blog, eat lunch there and check out the place so to get on four rides was actually a decent achievement.

Although it wasn’t packed, and the photos don’t show how many were there, in fact they make it look nearly deserted which it wasn’t (this is because after vlogging I went around taking photos at the very end of the day and people had left), there was still a decent crowd, albeit not even half of the number that would be at Movie World the next day. For the record, it was Good Friday when I went to Dreamworld (and Easter Saturday at Movie World). How this affected numbers, I don’t know. I could make a case for it being busier than usual, but also the nature of Good Friday can see a lot of more religious types stay home I guess.

I wondered the place and worked out what I wanted to go on. I decided the ones I must do were the two roller coasters, the ‘Gold Coaster’ (possibly the lamest name they could have arrived at for it) and the ‘Steel Taipan’, which I had seen online and ruled it out as too extreme,  but actually watching it in action I felt it actually looked pretty awesome.

The food was expensive but edible, about all I could ask for. There seemed to be ties to Dreamworks and Disney at Dreamworld, the critters from Madagascar getting a couple of appearances, as did Shrek and the Kung Fu Panda. I do think there could be a case for a Disneyland on the Gold Coast, but it would probably have to replace Dreamworld. I’m sure it would be more profitable and probably be more popular than Movie World. And a bigger drawcard.

The weather was inconsistent – there were a couple of brief but heavy showers through the day, as you can see in my pictures. I decided the first ride I would try was the Sky Voyager as it had what looked like a small line and was probably going to be less intense than the roller coasters. Start small, build it up.

  1. Sky Voyager

The ride actually sits opposite the entrance to the left, past the big Dreamworld globe – not dissimilar to the Universal Studio’s globe I guess. Which I don’t think is affiliated with Dreamworld at all. It’s inside a building, and just when I thought it was going to be fast, it wasn’t. This was actually the longest wait I had for a ride which was about 45 minutes. You go inside the building and there you realise there’s a lot more lining up to do.

What the ‘ride’ is is actually a pretty cool immersive experience where you’re locked into a seat which then moves forward as you fly across Australia over many famous landmarks such as the Great Ocean Road, the Gold Coast of course, Sydney Harbour and the like. You get moved around – up and down, side to side, with fans blowing on you so you feel like you’re moving. I knew I wasn’t really, but it does feel that way. Actually a really great concept, a fun ride too. Not particularly scary, so a perfect start to the rides of Dreamworld.

  • The Gold Coaster

After eating – always the best time to get on a roller coaster – I headed over to the front left corner of the park for the Gold Coaster, a tallish coaster which required you too walk up and up to get to the start. The line was short – there had been a brief rain interruption, so maybe this had moved people under cover and caused others to call it a day.

Nevertheless, I didn’t have a long wait to get on it, maybe 20 minutes, and this was a pretty good coaster. It takes you very high to start off with, has a number of steep hills, goes over the waterslides at the adjoining ‘White Water World’ Park, and includes two loops. I really enjoyed it, good thrills but not over the top at all either.

  • Escape from Madagascar

For this one I think I waited maybe 30 minutes, maybe a little less. This is a shorter (although for me I find all rides are too short!) ride, and is aimed more at kids I guess, with no loops or steep hills. Your seat hangs on this one, and there are some fast corners. And actually it’s a pretty enjoyable ride all said.

  • Steel Taipan

I decided early on I would finish my rides on this one. Sadly I couldn’t take the action camera on any of the rides, they are unsurprisingly strict about safety and they see that as a safety risk. Although I did get decent footage of the ride from below so that will feature when I get around to putting up the vlog.

This was my favourite ride for sure. It was the longest, had a couple of upside down loops and a twist or two as well and you can take the back seats that spin – no thanks – if that floats your boat. It starts slowly, and you make your way up the first incline/hill… but uh oh – you don’t make it all the way and are suddenly racing backwards. The ride goes backwards up a spire, once you go up that, you go back down with a lot more pace and the ride has really begun! It’s fast, you go upside down a number of times, I don’t know what to say. It was AWESOME! Finally, a ride that totally ‘gets me’!! This was the best ride I took the whole time I was at the Gold Coast!

Other rides in the park include the ‘Dreamworld Express’ – a slow train ride around the park which was not running when I was there. There was a ride called ‘Pandamodium’ which looks big on thrills if you like being spun around. I don’t. It’s a circular ride when the seats also spin on an arm that spins… there’s a lot of spinning and I would expect a lot of throwing up too. Not for me. The ‘Giant Drop’ takes you up high and then drops you straight down, again not my sort of ride.

There’s a flying ride called ‘Tail Spin’, bumper cars, a merry-go-round, a younger kids’s area too, as well as a few shows at different times of the day that I didn’t get to see. Actually left feeling pretty satisfied with my day. Which would not be the case of Easter Saturday at Movie World.

So all in all, if you want less crowds and feel safe enough, Dreamworld is GREAT alternative to Movie World where wait times are not insane and there’s plenty of fun to be had for all ages. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, but I was satisfied with my half day there and would have happily stayed longer if I could have and given the Steel Taipan another go!

Thanks for joining me today – take care wherever you are in the world – and May the Journey Never End!

11 thoughts on “Gold Coast’s Dreamworld – Rides, Experiences and Stories of Disaster

  1. Pingback: The Great Movie World Disappointment of 2022 – Andy's World Journeys

  2. Pingback: 2022 Looking Forwards and Back – Andy's World Journeys

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