I always hear the same sentiment echoed into my eardrums whenever I talk about our theme parks in Australia compared to what’s overseas. “What we have just sucks” or “it’s totally different, they have more money” are two of the most common soundbites that seem to resonate with the general public. The reality I believe though is that despite having a small amount of theme parks, somehow we’ve managed to pull off a genuinely commendable effort in terms of thrills down under (that’s what she said.)
So, with that in mind, here’s my own perspective on Australia’s top five roller-coasters and what could be next.
5. Scooby Doo Spooky Coaster, Warner Bros. Movie World, Oxenford
As I mentioned above, here’s a classic example where we actually have something world-class and sometimes we just plain don’t realise it. Scooby Doo’s been “the first big ride” for millions of Aussie Kids, in essence, it’s almost always been the ride that’s helped us graduate from the little leagues to the big leagues, and for that alone it’s worth a mention. The entire ride’s indoors, and as most of you know, it’s not exactly a tiny walk in the park, either. Mid-way into the ride you’ll ascend a vertical that in a feat of ingenious European engineering, tilts as it elevates you to the top of a huge empty studio building that’s rocking out old-school Scooby tracks and turns it up to eleven with plenty of lasers and fog. Cool beans.
4. Jet Rescue, Sea World, Gold Coast
This roller-coaster seems to stroll some invariably thin line between family ride and thrill machine, and with its two launches (yes, you read that right, two) it earned a spot in my list purely because of the genuine surprise I had being so forcibly whipped at breakneck speeds with nothing but a lap-bar holding me in place. It’s the kind of ride you could honestly sit-on all day and not get bored.
3. Tower of Terror, Dreamworld, Coomera
If you’re not super into theme parks & thrill rides, then let me break it down in advance – there’s a lot of people out there who are super, diehard thrill-seeking fans who battle it out until their fingers are raw from typing so ferociously as to whether or not the Tower of Terror is in fact a roller-coaster or not. My opinion? If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. And this duck put Dreamworld on the map. This roller-coaster was the first to break the “100 mile an hour” speed barrier, and for a while reigned supreme as one of the tallest, fastest rides on the planet. For me, it has a lot of nostalgia – I rode this as a kid not long after open and it scared the shit out of me, and was also enough to get me hooked.
2. Abyss, Adventure World, Perth
It goes without saying, I think this roller-coaster kicks ass. It’s the archetype for the modern scream machine – it’s compact and works well with a smaller, more budget-concious park yet offers all the action of a ride twice its size. You’ve got barrel rolls in the dark, vertical climbs (and drops), plus a mess of inversions to sink your teeth into. I couldn’t think of a better fit for a new up and coming player like Adventure World, and for the money they spent, they couldn’t have done better if they tried.
1. Superman Escape, Warner Bros. Movie World, Oxenford
C’mon. You knew this was going to be number one. There’s just no competition with this guy. It’s as world class as it gets. Not many big roller-coasters guide you through an epic, pre-launch multi-scene story, filled with elaborate setups and visual effects. Not here, not overseas. And not many constantly make me grey-out (that’s when your vision starts to go funny) mid-ride. This roller-coaster is the epitome of why I love thrill rides. Just like Abyss, it may not be the biggest, tallest, or fastest, but i’ve heard that sometimes it’s not about those things, sometimes it’s about how you use what you have. In which case, Superman Escape reigns supreme. It’s 0-100 kilometre launch is as fast as a formula one car, the airtime hills are fierce, the pacing doesn’t let up and honestly, how cool is it to shoot in and out of a building, even for a split second? It continues to land itself in the ranks of the world’s best, and it’s easily my number one in the country.
With the Gold Coast set to host the Commonwealth Games in 2018, we’ve touched on previously what might be in store for our humble little parks. As rumoured here, on Parkz (Australia’s biggest theme park site) & on RCDB (the internet’s biggest database for roller-coasters) all signs are pointing to something that’ll be never before seen in Australia being built at Warner Bros. Movie World. Village Roadshow co-chairman & CEO Robert Kirby mentioned what’s coming “…will be one of the world’s best theme park drawcards” and nothing says drawcard like an epic roller-coaster.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the highway, Dreamworld’s continued to be tight-lipped as to what’s next beyond a Lego store opening due for next school holidays. Recently, the park’s mascots popped up in the most bizarrest of places:
Rumours have speculated that the Chinese-based property & cinema giant Wanda Group might be interested in taking the reigns of Dreamworld from current owners Ardent Leisure. With a company as large as Wanda (and with as much theme park expertise as they currently have) could this mean that Dreamworld could build something to rival Movie World? Speculation continues to abound as to the fate of Dreamworld’s cult-classic coaster, the Eureka Mountain Mine Ride, with some speculation going as far as to suggest that the coaster’s refurbishment and re-opening is on hold while money is appropriated into an imminent warchest to build something epic.
What are your thoughts? Is your top 5 similar? What would you like to see come to Australia next? Leave a comment below and share this article with your friends.