ANGELA SAURINE takes her son on his first theme park experience at Warner Bros. Movie World and Sea World theme parks on the Gold Coast
Glancing down sideways, I catch sight of my four-year-old son in the grandstand and notice a look of awe and wonder on his face. It’s a moment I find repeated again and again over the course of our weekend at Warner Bros. Movie World and Sea World theme parks on Queensland’s Gold Coast. The Paw Patrol show, the stunt show, the seal presentation – all have him transfixed for an unusual length of time, and it fills my heart with joy.
Warner Bros. Movie World Gold Coast Theme Park
Our weekend begins at Warner Bros. Movie World, also known as ‘Hollywood on the Gold Coast’. It’s Oliver’s first theme park experience, as I am reminded when he asks why the people on the roller coasters are screaming. “Mummy, tell the lady to stop the roller coasters because the people on it are scared,” he responds sweetly when I reply. While he’s too short to go on the thrill rides, there are still plenty of other rides he can go on, with me accompanying him, to help us fill our day. He loves rotating, ascending and descending on the Tweety & Sylvester Cages ride, riding on the Yosemite Sam Railroad miniature train, and sitting on the back of one of his favourite characters, Wile E. Coyote, on the Looney Tunes Carousel ride.
Treasure is another one of his favourite things, so he is delighted that his lunch of chicken tenders is served in a take-away treasure chest box at the Gotham City Café, inspired by the city of Batman fame. We also try to get our photo taken with Batman and Robin, but Oliver goes shy — despite Robin’s best attempts. When we see him again in the parade later in the day, he recognises us in the crowd and waves.
Seeing cars racing around and nearly crashing during the entertaining stunt show is enthralling for both of us. We pop into the guest services office to check Oliver’s height. At just over 90cm, he is just tall enough to go on the Justice League 3D ride. Phew! Shooting laser guns alongside Oliver’s superhero idols in a battle against evil proves to be one of the day’s highlights.
Sea World, Gold Coast
The fun continues the next day at nearby Sea World, which is also owned by Village Roadshow theme parks. We download the park’s app to plan our day around all the shows and presentations. It feels like a well-oiled machine, with just the right amount of time to get between each event and fit everything in. We dance along at the Paw Patrol on Holiday show, and marvel at the acrobatic displays as the Sun State All Stars and the Bay City River Rats battle it out on water skis and wakeboards at the Thunder Lake Stunt Show.
In between, we check out the rides in Nickelodeon Land, including the Boots’ Banana Boogie ride. We see majestic rays being fed at Ray Reef, laugh out loud as the seal that starred in the kids’ movie Return to Nim’s Island performs cheeky tricks in the Seal Theatre, and see dolphins leaping in the air in Affinity Stadium.
While the resort still breeds dolphins in captivity, which is strongly opposed by the RSPCA and other animal rights organisations, the company’s non-profit arm the Sea World Research & Rescue Foundation does its bit for conservation by saving and rehabilitating sick, injured and stranded marine animals in the wild and supporting scientific projects.
Sea World Resort, Gold Coast
After an exhausting day, it’s a relief to be staying at Sea World Resort, which adjoins the park. Our room overlooks the large lagoon pool, and what can only be described as a pretty epic water park. When I see it for the first time, I instantly wish we were staying longer. At night, kids dance and sing along to their favourite SpongeBob Squarepants songs under the musical water fountain in an event known as the SpongeBob SplashBash. They can also play in a specially-designed interactive sculpture themed around Dora the Explorer and her friends, with special character voice-overs.
The first night, we dine in the resort’s Shoreline Restaurant. There are restaurants I’ve been to where, I have to admit, I’ve felt a bit embarrassed about having an active and playful toddler. This isn’t one of them. There are young children dining with their family in their pyjamas and lining up for free face painting. Waitstaff walk amongst the tables carrying birthday cakes with sparklers on top. The buffet includes staples like chicken nuggets and spaghetti for kids, with lots of naughty dessert options such as jelly, gummy bears, jellybeans and marshmallows.
The next, we dine at one of the waterfront tables at the Boatshed Bar & Grill, with the water park’s splash bucket providing entertainment on one side and the sparkling lights of Broadwater on the other. The menu is a surf and turf extravaganza, plus salads, but you can also buy chips from the nearby Waterfall Cafe for fussy eaters. There’s also a café in the lobby, which is a great alternative if there’s long queues at Shoreline Restaurant for breakfast, and you can enjoy flavoursome meats served straight from the Teppanyaki grill, sushi and sashimi from Hatsuhana Japanese Restaurant. Pint-sized fans of pizza and pasta can also get their fix at Melrose Italian, which is also the place to go for creamy after-dinner ice-cream.
Check the theme parks’ websites before you decide what dates you visit to see which rides are undergoing maintenance.
The writer was a guest of Village Roadshow Theme Parks