Unspoilt sandy beaches
aren’t even the main attraction in theme-park-filled Queensland
Don’t shut your eyes Mum – it’s not scary!” implored my son. Max is a dedicated theme park tourist because nothing is too noisy, wet or stomach churning for him. Of course it isn’t – he’s nine years old.
I’d had no problem taking him on a gentle springtime carousel around New York’s Central Park before, or on the teacup ride at Disneyland Paris, but he was much younger then.
Now as we pulled into the car park of Australia’s Warner Brothers Movie-World, a gigantic green and black caged structure grimaced at me, making me feel queasy and resigned to my fate.
Situated in the north-east of the country, the mix of Versace glitz, family-friendly activities and stuck-to-the-sun-lounger relaxation guarantees the Queensland Gold Coast is a destination to please every tourist.
We’d spent the time since breakfast in traditional Gold Coast fashion, licking Paddle Pops (a local chocolate milk iced treat) on a typically broad-foreshore beach with foam-topped waves, almost empty save for a swimmer or two half a mile away.
While it was a wrench to drag ourselves away from the balmy sunny day and powdery sand, the Coast’s theme parks are escalating their battle for the visitors’ dollars and a wealth of new attractions are begging for attention.
Like most Australians, I had previously done ‘TheWorlds’ as they are known colloquially – SeaWorld and Warner Brothers MovieWorld – but the region also boasts Wet ’n’ WildWater Fun, making the Coast the Ozzy capital for some serious theme park action.
Our first stop was MovieWorld, and we got there early so there was no queue (oh dear). Max was straight to the point: “Oh cool it’s the Green Lantern ride, Mum. Pleeeeease can we go on it?”
With the steepest drop in the Southern Hemisphere and speeds of up to 66kph, the Green Lantern roller coaster is not for the fainthearted. It’s based on the DC comic about an intergalactic police force charged with the protection of the universe. So of course we had to try it. The 488m-long ride pulls 3.5Gs on its hairpin bends, so I’m told by the charming PR, Renee.
It was also suggested that once strapped into my seat, I might want to hold on to the safety rail. In all honesty, that was a given.
Sipping chilled water as I waited for the ride, I realised we were directly underneath it. Close enough to see the patrons’ faces as they whizzed overhead.
Then it was our turn. Locked into place in our car, I eventually opened my eyes as we began our slow ascent. Each click of the fluoro track as we climbed was a reminder that very soon, my heart would leap into my mouth and all my possessions – diamond stud earrings, fillings, the lot – would, I presumed, cascade to the ground below. The Lantern also has an on-board audio system, the only one of its type Down Under, and as I listened, I wondered if mine was supposed to be giving me a few bars of Adele’s Skyfall followed by, “Please take care not to lose the contents of your stomach”.
We flattened out to a level curve and I smiled bravely at Max, taking in the mountain scenery. ‘I wonder what the postcards are like in the gift shop?’ was my last thought as we jolted immediately into a 120-degree, face-forward inverted drop followed by a curve that flipped us 180 degrees upside down.
More dips followed and we were half-way through the Lantern, but of
Forget beautiful beaches
and the Great Barrier Reef – Queensland’s Gold Coast is now famous for being Australia’s theme park capital. Louise Oswald samples the ups and downs