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The Top 12 Gold Coast Theme Park Attractions of All Time

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The Top 12 Gold Coast Theme Park Attractions of All Time

Here on the Gold Coast us locals are lucky enough to be living in the theme park capital of Australia. With millions of tourists visiting each year, our parks just keep growing and growing - paving the way for exciting new attractions but also resulting in the loss of some of our old favourites.

Today we bring you a countdown that acknowledges the attractions that GC locals will always hold close to their hearts, the rides and shows we've grown up with - the Top 12 Gold Coast Theme Park Attractions of All Time!

12. Tower of Terror II

Where: Dreamworld
January 1997 - Present

Do you remember the first time you braved the 'Tower of Terror'? At the end of 1996 Coomera's first high-rise, a steel shuttle roller coaster, shot up and became the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world at that time.

Originally named 'Tower of Terror', it was modified and relaunched in 2010 when Dreamworld decided riders shouldn't be able to see the track in front of them, rather behind them instead..

The tower quickly became an iconic ride for Dreamworld and held three world records between 1997 - 2003.
As of January 2017, the 'Tower of Terror' ride will be 20 years old.

Tower of Terror's first TV commercial (1997)

11. Polar Bear Shores

Where: Sea World
When: December 2000 - Present

It's pretty cool to think that we live on a tropical island and have our very own polar bears right here in the GC. Home of Lia, Hudson, Nelson, and Henry is 'Polar Bear Shores' just down the road at Sea World.

The idea started in 1997 when Sea World first started planning for the enclosure. By 2000, Ping Ping and Kanook were the first polar bears welcomed to the park.

In 2013 Sea World announced the birth of its first polar bear cub - Henry. A 'Polar Pre-School' opened up months later.

Home to 7 polar bears in its 17 years active, 'Polar Bear Shores' is the only exhibit in Australia where you can see the world's largest land carnivore up close.

10. Arkham Asylum

Where: Warner Bros. Movie World
When: December 1995 - 2012 (Lethal Weapon) 2012 - Present (Arkham Asylum)

In 1995 the movie-inspired 'Lethal Weapon - The Ride' was introduced to Warner Bros. Movie World and became the park's first big roller coaster. Having five back-to-back loops while your feet are dangling in the air was a concept ahead of its time, which is why the ride still stands strong and remains popular among guests today.

In 2012 it's now known as 'Arkham Asylum - Shock Therapy'. Besides a new carriage, the retheming of Chinatown and finally removing the headrest that knocks you around for a minute straight, there wasn't much of a difference between the two rides.

That was until 2016 when Movie World added a 360-degree virtual reality experience with an Arkham Asylum story line that synchronizes with the movement of the coaster.

Although it will always be referred to as the 'Lethal Weapon' ride, 'Arkham Asylum' has stood the test of time. It doesn't look like it's going anywhere - it's just getting better.

9. Tiger Island

Where: Dreamworld
1995 - Present

The Gold Coast's very own pet tigers. Today there are 13 tigers and cubs currently living on 'Tiger Island' and 'Tiger Kindy' at Dreamworld.

Opening in 1995 as one of two interactive tiger enclosures in the world, the island has since been home to over 30 tigers in the care of their handlers and the Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation.

In September 2016 'Tiger Island' underwent renovations and the tigers got their crib pimped out with a new pool and play area. These cats will always be a big part of the GC and alas, a part of the Top 12 Gold Coast Attractions list.

8. Mammoth Falls

Where: Wet'n'Wild Water World
When: 2000 - Present

Everybody has a funny story that took place on these very slides. 'Mammoth Falls' is two 6-person raft slides that opened at Wet'n'Wild Water World in 2000.

The first slide featured a series of inline drops to the ground called the 'Mammoth Plunge'. The second, 'Mammoth River', had several corners and was an obvious favourite among guests. This led to the removal of the Plunge, which was to be replaced with a replica of the River - good move Wet'n' Wild.

The 'Mammoth Plunge', however, can now be found at Sea World.

7. Batman Adventure - The Ride

Where: Warner Bros. Movie World
When: 1992 - 2001 (Batman Adventure - The Ride) 2001 - 2011 (Batman Adventure - The Ride II)

If you grew up on the Gold Coast or came for frequent theme park visits, you're well aware of 'Batman Adventure - The Ride'. A year after Warner Bros. Movie World opened, the motion simulator was announced with an opening date to coincide with the release of 1992 film 'Batman Returns'. This would then become a major attraction in the park for 19 years with only one redesign.

Here's the first TV commercial for 'Batman Adventure - The Ride' in 1992.

In 2001, the ride was revamped and the simulator visuals were replaced with a computer-generated high definition film featuring elements of the Batman movies and 1990's animated series.

The ride was set at Wayne Manor, where you were a Gotham City Police Cadet invited by Bruce Wayne for a private viewing of his library. As an Australian guide with a questionable American accent is giving the tour, a screen reveals Mr. Fox who then goes on to talk about WayneTech's latest developments, before being interrupted about an issue at Arkham Asylum.

You're then lead into the Batcave where you're prompted by a glitchy upper-torso Robot-Batman sitting in a chair. Split into groups of 20, you're then guided into the Batwing. See what happens from there below...

6. Bermuda Triangle

Where: Sea World
When: March 1994 - October 2010

One of the most unforgettable attractions at Sea World was the unmissable big volcano in the middle of the park that would burst out balls of fire every few minutes - known as the 'Bermuda Triangle'. This themed indoor flume ride located in the centre of a lake opened in 1994 after a failed 'Lassiters Lost Mine' ride was removed. After opening, 'The Bermuda Triangle' was a major contributor to an increase in attendance at the park.

Photo by Anne Zahalka

16 people would board a Research Probe vessel that got closer and closer to the volcano, eventually rotating a few times with a bit of a reverse drop - the usual dark boat ride essentials.

In 2008 Sea World ditched the fireballs and two years later the 'Bermuda Triangle' was permanently closed. Although lasting a long run of 16 years, the ride had become outdated.

Three years later it's replacement, the 'Storm Coaster', opened up in its place.
Here's the first commercial for 'Bermuda Triangle' from the early 90s...

5. Scooby Doo Spooky Coaster

Where: Warner Bros. Movie World
When: June 2002 - Present

For 10 years the 'Warner Bros. Classics & Great Gremlins Adventure' ride was a guest favourite and still sends people through a roller-coaster of nostalgia even thinking about it! But when Warner Bros. filmed the 2002 live action movie 'Scooby Doo' in the studio adjacent to Movie World, it was time for a revamp.

The 'Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster' is an indoor roller-coaster that is an all-ages crowd-pleaser. As you walk in to Spooky Island Castle there is a huge room full of queues. While quieter months mean a lot of this space is empty, summer attendance numbers have crowds queuing out the door for over an hour at times.

The ride first involves some sharp turns and surprise drops through a dark cave as Scooby guides you to a platform which ascends vertically. At that point you're just sitting there rocking from side to side listening to "Scoooby.. Scooby-Doo? Where are you!?"

All of a sudden you're falling backwards into a giant dark sound stage where all you can see is the track, smoke and an overload of blinding lasers. You jolt back and forth, drop a few times and walk out of the ride with the Scooby-Doo theme song stuck in your head.

It's the ride everybody can enjoy, even if it's just watching this POV video with the lights on:

4. Affinity

Where: Sea World
When: 1996 - 2007 (Dolphin Cove Show) 2007 - 2013 (Imagine) 2013 - 2017 (Affinity)

The dolphins at Sea World have pretty much starred in every Gold Coast tourism campaign since the park opened in 1971.

In its 46 years, Sea World attractions and shows have rolled over numerous times - but the one attraction that has become a must-see is the popular dolphin show.

Located in a 2,500 seat arena at Dolphin Beach, the current show 'Affinity' is the latest incarnation of what has been a staple at Sea World for years.

Proving dolphins are highly intelligent animals, these mammals have nailed a synchronized routine of jumps, flips and tricks, winning over the crowd and packing out the arena almost every single day.

3. Police Academy Stunt Show

Where: Warner Bros. Movie World
When: June 1991 - April 2008

It all began in 1991 when the park first opened and Movie World's attractions were more focused on movie-making and behind the scenes tours rather than the roller-coasters you'll find today. Based loosely off the 'Police Academy' movie franchise, the stunt show featured a ranch of stunts, gags, jokes and pranks that was so well received by audiences it was adopted by Warner Bros. Movie World in both Germany and Madrid.

It was a sad day for all involved in the production of the 'Police Academy Stunt Show' in 2008 when it was announced the show would be wrapping up to make way for a replacement stunt show - 'Hollywood Stunt Driver'. Almost 10 years after wrapping production, staff at Movie World are still asked about the 'Police Academy Stunt Show'. It was a show that people could watch more than once - because each show was uniquely different. Now we're left with only the memories, or the cam-recording your Dad taped on VHS somewhere in the garage...

Here's a video from the very last 'Police Academy Stunt Show' in April 2008.

The show was also among one of the longest-running stunt shows in the world, with over 18,000 shows performed in its 17 year run. All good things come to an end, but the 'Police Academy Stunt Show' won't be forgotten anytime soon.

2. Giant Drop

Where: Dreamworld
When: December 1998 - Present

It's the ride that divides 2 types of people: the thrill seekers from the acrophobes. It's the ride that elevates to the top in 90 seconds, but feels like forever. It's the ride you'll always hear someone say "it's not that high" and then soon hear loud profanities coming from that very gondola. It's the 'Giant Drop', and it's landed the #2 spot on the Top Gold Coast Theme Park Attractions of All Time.

A year after the 'Tower of Terror' was opened to the public, the Dreamworld Tower was soon complete when the 'Giant Drop' became the next big Thrill Ride for Dreamworld.

119 metres tall with a 115 meter plummet to the ground at 135.0 km/h was a groundbreaking attraction not only for Dreamworld, but the whole world. For fourteen years, the 'Giant Drop' held the record for the tallest drop tower in the world, featuring in the 'Guinness World Book of Records' from 1999 to 2012 when it was beaten by 'Lex Luther: Drop of Doom' at Six Flags Magic Mountain in LA.

If heights aren't your thing, and the 'Giant Drop' will never be on your radar, here's a POV video that Dreamworld posted online. FYI, it's way more terrifying in real life.

The 'Giant Drop' became a household name here on the Gold Coast, and to any theme-park fanatics around Australia. If you've ever said "I went to Dreamworld", you were probably asked "Did you go on the 'Giant Drop'!?!?" With amazing views of the Hinterland and the Gold Coast skyline in the distance, the 'Giant Drop' is more than a thrill ride, it's an experiment. Are you brave enough? Will you keep your eyes open? Are you listening out for that first 'click' that means you're about to drop?

There's no denying this ride is an all-time favourite among theme park attractions. It sits atop one of the Gold Coast's very own landmarks and next year it will celebrate its 20th Birthday.

1. Superman Escape

Where: Warner Bros. Movie World
When: December 2005 - Present

If there's one ride on the Gold Coast that will send shivers down your spine just from hearing the coaster taking off - it's 'Superman Escape' at Movie World. Reaching 100 km/h in just 2 seconds, this ride is a stand out for all adrenaline junkies.

Before continuing to justify why this is the number one Gold Coast theme park attraction of all time we first have to go way back to what once stood on that very lot.

In 1991 the 'Movie Magic Special Effects Show' guided guests around a number of sound stages, demonstrating how sound effects and blue screens worked in the 90's. Rather than updating the tour, Warner Bros. Movie World announced they would be replacing it with the 'Superman Escape'.

The ride is a five-car accelerator coaster that features a hydraulic launch - seating 20 passengers each ride. Reaching a height of 40 metres and extending over 700 metres of track, riders experience 3.2 times the force of gravity!

When it opened in 2005, 'Superman Escape' became the fastest roller coaster out of all its competitors on the Gold Coast and still remains at the top spot today. That's not just fast, that's "Superman fast!"

But the reason this ride takes the top spot isn't because of how fast it is, or how long it's been around - it's because of the joy it brings people. As each train pulls up to disembark, it's rare to find a single person on board who isn't smiling or laughing. You know it's fast, but you never expect it to be that fast - no matter how many times you ride it.

For this we crown the 'Superman Escape' ride the #1 Gold Coast Theme Park Attraction of All Time!

So what's your favourite?