COVER STORY:

What’s go­ing on be­hind Aussie World’s gates may sur­prise you

Life & Style Weekend - - WELCOME // INSIDE TODAY - Layne Whit­burn layne.whit­burn@sc­news.com.au

Our vi­sion is to be­come the num­ber one rated tourism, events and en­ter­tain­ment des­ti­na­tion in Queens­land.

WHEN was the last time you switched off from the may­hem of life and just gen­uinely had some fun? Not “sit­ting on the couch” type switch­ing off, we’re talk­ing belly laughs and gen­uine smiles so big that ev­ery­day life stresses fade into the clouds.

It’s not a dream, this kind of fun is pos­si­ble… and it’s just around the cor­ner at Palmview.

The Dow­nun­der Drive precinct is af­fec­tion­ately re­ferred to as the gate­way to the Sun­shine Coast. While 110,000 cars drive past the Aussie World theme park, the iconic pub, shop­ping vil­lage and The Shed daily, what’s hap­pen­ing be­hind the scenes may sur­prise you.

The Aussie World team gave Life&Style Week­end mag­a­zine a sneak-peak look at how the Coast’s only theme park op­er­ates be­fore the gates open to the pub­lic each day.

A stan­dard day in the world of fun starts off with safety first. Aussie World ride en­gi­neer­ing man­ager Alex Casarotto said the team of ride en­gi­neers start at 5.45am to do the daily in­spec­tions and safety checks.

“We want ev­ery­one who comes to Aussie World to have fun, and it is our job to en­sure they have a fan­tas­tic, safe time,” Alex said. “Safety is our pri­or­ity.”

The main­te­nance team also start bright and early to en­sure the pre­sen­ta­tion of the grounds are spot­less.

At 8.30am, the hos­pi­tal­ity and café team pre­pare the food, while the guest ex­pe­ri­ence op­er­a­tors pre­pare the park be­fore the gates open at 10am.

There are more than 200 em­ploy­ees across the precinct and Dow­nun­der Drive chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Aaron Flana­gan said the suc­cess­ful ex­e­cu­tion of their master plan would re­sult in a fur­ther 250 new jobs be­ing cre­ated.

“More than $150 mil­lion is an­tic­i­pated in eco­nomic im­pact from the con­struc­tion phase and an on­go­ing eco­nomic im­pact of more than $160 mil­lion an­nu­ally for the lo­cal econ­omy,” Aaron said.

The Aussie World theme park has in­stalled four new rides and at­trac­tions dur­ing the past 12 months, with more planned for in­stal­la­tion in the near fu­ture.

Aussie World is in the process of ex­pand­ing from its cur­rent six hectares (15 acres) to mak­ing full use of the 22ha (55-acre) foot­print with new thrill rides (the first of their kind in Aus­tralia), at­trac­tions, ameni­ties and a green space to play host to a va­ri­ety of events.

“A num­ber of rides have been de­com­mis­sioned to in­tro­duce new rides and at­trac­tions. We are com­mit­ted to grow­ing and en­hanc­ing our of­fer to en­sure we op­er­ate one of the lead­ing theme parks in Aus­tralia,” Aaron said.

“We will also con­tinue to in­vest in events such as our Hal­loween FestEvil, Aus­tralia Day and Ride the Night se­ries which is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar with the teenage mar­ket as we have live DJs and bands and the park has a com­pletely dif­fer­ent at­mos­phere at night time,” he added. While the kids and teenagers are well looked af­ter, the broader com­mu­nity will be pleased to hear the iconic pub, for­mally known as the Et­ta­mo­gah Pub, is in the midst of a ma­jor re­fur­bish­ment and set to of­fi­cially re-open in the lat­ter half of next year.

“The pub is such an im­por­tant as­set for our precinct so it was im­por­tant in cre­at­ing our vi­sion for the pub that we de­vel­oped some­thing that the com­mu­nity would be proud of, some­thing that is go­ing to be fam­ily-friendly, iconic and in­spired from the Coast’s peo­ple and en­vi­ron­ment,” Aaron said.

The new pub will more than dou­ble its foot­print for so­cial­is­ing and din­ing and Aaron be­lieves it will be com­pletely trans­formed in line with the ex­pec­ta­tions of a mod­ern ho­tel but still with that un­mis­tak­able quintessential Aus­tralian, quirky feel.

Then there is The Shed. Built in 1992, this space has come to life in the past two years af­ter a multi-mil­lion-dol­lar re­fur­bish­ment in 2015 trans­formed the unique and dy­namic space into mecca for live mu­sic and li­cenced func­tions and events.

“We’ve show­cased some ex­cit­ing lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional tal­ent in­clud­ing a ca­pac­ity sold-out show for 1100 peo­ple re­cently for the Vi­o­lent Femmes and our fu­ture events cal­en­dar is look­ing epic,” Aaron said.

“We’ve also hosted char­ity break­fasts and cor­po­rate lunches and din­ners where at­ten­dees have also been able to en­joy the theme park’s rides and at­trac­tions as part of their event at The Shed.

“We’re cur­rently gear­ing up for the Christ­mas func­tion sea­son and are gen­uinely ex­cited about the fu­ture of our func­tions and events busi­ness; the op­por­tu­ni­ties are end­less and we are keen to grow this side of the busi­ness. Our tagline for The Shed is Al­ways Orig­i­nal and the feed­back to sug­gests we’re de­liv­er­ing on that prom­ise.”

Put sim­ply, there have been some ma­jor ad­vance­ments at Dow­nun­der Drive but Aaron says it’s just the be­gin­ning.

“We’re a fam­ily-owned op­er­a­tion with pas­sion­ate long term own­ers com­mit­ted to in­vest­ing in and sup­port­ing the growth of the Sun­shine Coast re­gion,” he said.

“Our vi­sion is to be­come the num­ber one rated tourism, events and en­ter­tain­ment des­ti­na­tion in Queens­land.”

While Aaron ad­mits this goal is mas­sive, he says the ded­i­ca­tion and pas­sion of the own­er­ship, the lead­er­ship team

and all the staff is sec­ond-to-none mak­ing a vi­sion this large pos­si­ble.

From ride tech­ni­cians and op­er­a­tors to gar­den­ers, hos­pi­tal­ity team and ev­ery­one in be­tween, it is the friendly faces in­her­ent in the motto Fun’s our Thing which sep­a­rates a good day out to a great ex­pe­ri­ence. That’s the Aussie World ex­pe­ri­ence.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

The May­hem Maze.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

Jake and Tilly with park vis­i­tors.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

The Wasp.

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