Pinky promise leads to a sodden day out
IT is an un-Queensland-like Queensland day in July, but there is no escaping a little-fingers-entwined pinky promise. My daughters detect reluctance on my part. “Dad, you do want to go, don’t you?” It’s cold, it’s going to rain, the tickets are expensive. “Can’t wait,” I reply. “Let’s do Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast.”
Once through the gates, Calypso Beach invites us to “float down a lazy river” but is instead “closed for renovations”. I imagine that I am Clark Griswold, as played by Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Vacation, whose family, after an arduous journey across the US, from Chicago to Los Angeles, arrive at Walley World, billed as “America’s Favorite Family Fun Park”, to find it closed for renovations. Clark loses it, but I decide to stay calm.
Wave Beach is open but looks unpromising: a large, still, empty pool guarded on all sides by male lifeguards clad in red and yellow, looking too cool for their designer sunglasses and possibly too cool for visitors. Feeling a tad conspicuous I entertain the audience with some “Dad moves” as the waves start up.
Daunted (scared, in fact), we wander aimlessly past towering rides: Blackhole. Kamikaze. Mach 5. Tornado. We venture into Buccaneer Bay, the pirate-themed pool for little ones. I begin to relax, reclining in a patch of sun, when my daughters, aged eight and 12, too old to be classed as “little”, are ejected by another seriously cool lifeguard. We move on.
Time for a real ride: The Super 8 Aqua Racer. Lowthrill rating: excellent. “Off you go,” I tell the girls, “I’ll watch from the bottom.” “No way, Dad,” they insist. “You are coming with us”. A female lifeguard expertly calms our nerves and we plunge into a Wet’n’Wild routine: Sandals, thongs and towels (note to selves: leave them in the lockers next time, and remember to wear rashies) are deposited at each ride as we have four or five goes on each. I keep myself mildly entertained: admiring “yummy mummies”, telling Dadstyle jokes and flirting with our favourite lifeguard. At Mammoth Falls the enjoyment-to-scariness ratio is ideal (it’s a doddle). We share one inflatable, doing a different pose each time we float below the camera.
Next is an “Extreme H2O” ride known as the Black Hole. We fly through the darkness in tandem, our challenge not so much claustrophobia as a lost thong. Above the River Rapids a toddler sits at the launch pad, decked out in an array of flotation devices, poised for his solo release down the chute; lifeguards are planning his mission by walkie-talkie. The boy, rigidly unmoved, resists the privilege of a “fast-paced fully encapsulated” slide for “adrenaline junkies” as I airily descend the open air flume rated “perfect for the kids”.
I’m not sure if the ground-level lifeguard is briefed for my arrival but I hope so when I panic, momentarily disoriented in a 40cm wall of foaming water. By lunch time it’s no warmer. Hypothermia could well set in. We carry on. I picture Mum, luxuriating somewhere (Burleigh Heads?) with alcohol, nibbles and sunshine. But she can’t sip wine and ride the enclosed flume slide known as the Constrictor, ha ha. I’m up for our next challenge and head for the top.
When it’s time to leave I reflect that I’m poorer, shivering, have a chafing problem, sore biceps and chlorinated hair, but it’s been a fun family day. I didn’t resort to doing a Griswold, and a beer at the surf club at Coolangatta awaits at the end of the Pacific Motorway. There may be more pinky promises to negotiate, however, as apparently Wet’n’Wild Sydney is pretty good, not to mention a few of the Gold Coast’s other themed Worlds. • wetnwild.com.au
Buccaneer Bay is one of Wet’n’Wild’s calmer spots, aimed at smaller kids