This was the Gold Coast theme park holiday when my 8 year old daughter joined me on the dark side! When it became all about the thrill rides.
It was thoroughly proven on The Claw at Dreamworld. She was keen, but I was worried it would be too much, too scary for her. But as the ride spun and swung through the clear blue sky, something changed between us. As we laughed and screamed and closed our eyes, she somehow grew up.
My little adrenalin-junkie loved it! Her only concern was whether it had been too scary for me!
The primary school years are a fantastic time for a Gold Coast theme park holiday.
No longer are we limited to the tame kiddie rides, which have little to offer parents apart from watching the joy on our children’s faces. But not yet are we at the stage when they can be completely independent and leave hubster and I behind.
This is a joyous time for me, thrill ride fanatic that I am. When we can spend the day at a theme park together and enjoy it together.
Below I will cover the Gold Coast as a location, its theme parks and our favourite place to stay for a Gold Coast theme park holiday.
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A Gold Coast theme park holiday
The Gold Coast has long been Australia’s playground and deservedly so. A Gold Coast theme park holiday is such an easy and economical family holiday.
We tend to avoid the chaos of Surfers Paradise and stay in Main Beach. You still have the beautiful beaches and plenty of accommodation options, as well as the cafes and coffee shops of Tedder Ave. Plus you’re that little bit closer to the theme parks!
As the kids get older they enjoy different theme parks.
Under 5 they loved Seaworld. It’s so practical for little kids with the animal exhibits, excellent kiddie rides and fun characters like Dora and Spongebob.
Last trip, 2 years ago, was all about Movieworld. Alannah went crazy for meeting the characters there like Bugs Bunny and Tweety, while Hamish adored Batman (and still does!).
But this time Dreamworld was the clear winner.
Dreamworld, Gold Coast
While not included in the Three Park Superpass, Dreamworld has so much to offer that for us it was by far the best value. There is so much to see, from the thrill rides to the shows, from the animal exhibits to the Shrek, Madagascar, ABC for Kids and The Wiggles themed rides and attractions. Plus we arrived at opening and found it practically deserted for the first hour!
Kids areas at Dreamworld
When we were last at Dreamworld, when the kids were 4 and 2, we spent a lot of time in The Wiggles area, and I can remember Hamish sleeping in the stroller while Alannah went on some of the tamer rides in the Shrek area.
This visit we skipped ABC for Kids and The Wiggles and headed straight here to Shrek’s Faire Faire Away. It has several fun rides from Puss in Boots Sword Swing (height – 110cm min) and Shrek’s Ogre-Go-Round carousel (no minimum height) to Escape From Madagascar roller coaster (110cm min).
Characters at Dreamworld
There’s not a lot of focus on characters at Dreamworld, not like Disney World, but no Gold Coast theme park holiday would be complete without a few character pics. Shrek looked a bit scary to the kids I think, but Hamish was excited to meet Puss in Boots and Alannah tells me this particular penguin is Skipper from Madagascar.
Thrill rides at Dreamworld
There are some seriously scary thrill rides at Dreamworld, a couple of which we were quite happy to steer clear of. But we managed most of them!
Hot Wheels Sidewinder, a loop-the-loop rollercoaster (120cm min), was Hamish’s favourite, while I loved The Claw (120cm min) and Wipeout (120cm min). The surprise hit for the kids and I was Shockwave (120cm min). A bit like The Claw, but much tamer, it spins and swings from side to side making me feel the rush of excitement of a small child on a playground swing. Wonderful!
Food at Dreamworld
Despite the rules banning it on all the theme park websites, it seemed to be no problem to take your own food. But if you’re happy to purchase then I recommend Grid Burgers down near Hot Wheels Sidewinder. There’s a bit of a wait while burgers are made fresh, but they are delicious!
And after a few more rides, an ice cream at the Ice Cream Parlour makes for a sweet end to the day.
Seaworld, Gold Coast
There was quite a lot of renovation work going on at Seaworld and it was very busy, but we still packed a lot of rides in.
The Viking Revenge (95cm min) is a fun splashdown ride and a great favourite of ours. Storm Coaster (110cm min) is a brilliant rollercoaster, but you do get very wet at the end. The Nickelodeon area has some fun kiddy rides themed with Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Movieworld, Gold Coast
During our last Gold Coast holiday we visited Movieworld 3 times. At 6 and 4 the kids loved being big enough to go on plenty of rides and they met endless characters. This time they were a bit over the characters, and one of our favourite rides was closed for maintenance (Wild West Falls Adventure Ride), so we found the park had less to offer. And the lines were really long!
But the kids must have gone on that Road Runner Rollercoaster (100cm min) at least 4 times and never got sick of it!
Where to stay on the Gold Coast
We have stayed at Oscar on Main in Main Beach many times now and still we love it. My Oscar on Main review is here, but the best things about it are –
- One block from the beach with an uninterrupted ocean view (except apartments on low levels)
- Short walk from cafes and coffee shops of Tedder Ave – Crema Espresso is close and has fantastic coffee and service
- Away from the noise and busy-ness of Surfers Paradise
- Huge 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartments
- Full kitchens
- Modern furnishings
- Large balconies
- Friendly service
- Indoor pool
- Undercover secure parking
A Gold Coast theme park holiday is such a simple, easy escape from real life. Even in the middle of winter we found the sun shining and the temperatures around 4 or 5°c more than Sydney. And when you find yourselves bonding over thrill rides and truly enjoying each other’s company, then that’s a trip that fills up my heart and leaves me feeling relaxed and happy.
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When was the last time you had a Gold Coast holiday?
Have you had a moment when your child grew up before your eyes?