For families, one of the biggest draw cards to the Gold Coast is its fantastic selection of theme parks. Choose between:
- Whitewater World
- Warner Brothers Movieworld
- Paradise Country
- Sea World
- Wet n Wild Water World
- Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
or purchase a special pass and visit multiple parks over your holiday. As the ‘theme park capital of Australia’ you’re certainly spoilt for choice.
Planning for Gold Coast theme parks
Whether you’re hitting one Gold Coast theme park or several, it pays to do some planning ahead. This way you can enjoy the best of theme park rides, meet your favourite characters, watch your favourite shows and book exclusive experiences that could see you and your family swimming with dolphins, getting up close and personal with tiger cubs, or enjoying an access all areas star tour. Exclusive experiences fill up fast, so aim to book these activities before you go.
Before you visit each theme park, check out the map, rides and showtimes online and ask everyone in your family what they would like to do. If you have little ones, get your measuring tape out too and get to know what rides they are eligible to ride on. High restrictions for many rides apply.
Depending on the time of year you’re visiting, you might need to be selective in the things you choose to do. School holidays can be particularly busy and you might not have time to do all the things available in each park. To best manage this, have everyone pick one “must-do” activity, be it a ride, a show or a photo with a character. If the big rides are on your bucket list, aim to go on these before lunch. Not only will this potentially reduce wait time it will help avoid post-lunch G-force stomach turns.
If you don’t have a car and you’re looking to take public transport to the theme parks you have plenty of options to choose from. Translink can get you to the parks using a combination of light rail and local bus routes and SkyBus provides direct theme park transfers from Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach to Dreamworld, Movieworld, Paradise Country, Topgolf, Wet’n’Wild and WhiteWater World, with departures every twenty minutes. Purchase tickets online, over the phone, or from drivers when you board the bus.
If you’re staying in Coolangatta and you don’t have a car, talk to your accommodation provider about organising a transfer with one of the many local transfer companies. Also ask about travel time from your accommodation as you want to get to the parks nice and early, as close to opening time as possible. Most parks open between 9:30am and 10am.
Dressing the part
The Gold Coast is in Australia’s ‘Sunshine State’ but before you throw on a singlet and a pair of thongs, think about the activities you’ll be taking part in. Remember that you’ll be exposed to the sun for a long period of time, so cover your shoulders if possible, wear a hat and don’t forget to pack sunscreen. Opt for light, cool, sunsmart clothing. Any clothing with rivets, studs, zips etc which may damage waterslides may not be permitted at Wet’n’Wild and WhiteWater World. Avoid dangly earrings or hoops too.
Packing for the day
It’s a great idea to pack some lunch and snacks if you want to save some dollars, but bear in mind that each park has different rules when it comes to BYO food. Wet’n’Wild, for example, says bring what you like, just as long as it’s not commercially prepared (eg. McDonalds takeaway), alcohol or glassware. They even have coin-operated BBQs if you fancy cooking up a sausage sizzle.
Sea World and Movie World don’t allow you to BYO food but they will make exceptions for allergies. They will also let you bring in bottles of water or fruit. Dreamworld doesn’t let you bring any food unless you have a genuine medical reason to do so, however if you have a World Pass you can pop next door to WhiteWater World at lunch time which does allow you to BYO picnic.
Other things to pack include swimwear and towels. This is an obvious pack for Wet’n’Wild and WhiteWater World but it’s worth noting that other parks like Sea World and Movie World have waterplay areas where you can get wet.
A camera is another must to capture your happy day.
When you’ve got cameras, GoPros, hats, nappies, towels and lunch to lug around you can end up feeling like a packhorse. Luckily most theme parks on the Gold Coast have lockers for hire. Check out each website for costs and be sure to pack some gold coins.
If you’re heading to Wet’n’Wild and you’re worried about carrying around a wallet, exchange some cash for a waterproof wristband or “Splash Cash” on arrival. You can then swipe for food, drinks and photos any time you like. If you have money left on your wristband at the end of the day simply swap it back for cash.
Keeping kids safe
When you have a group of excited children (adults can be just as bad) it’s inevitable that a child will get separated. For the most part you’ll find them eyeing off a ride nearby but it’s important you set a meeting point in case you can’t find your way back to each other. Pick an easy-to-find location and make sure everyone in your group knows where it is. You might also like to draw a phone number on the arms of young children or add your details to a reusable waterproof wristbands for their wrist.
A day at a Gold Coast theme park can be fun for kids but for parents it can be potentially stressful. Make a plan to wind down after your jam-packed and enjoy good food, a couple of drinks and live bands at the Cooly Hotel. One of Australia’s best live entertainment venues, the Cooly Hotel is like a theme park for adults and you know you deserve a visit. We can;t wait to see you.