Dreamworld, AU, July 19, 2004

Associated parks:

So - I actually made it to Dreamworld Down Under. I was a little keen to get there because I wanted to see what the twin ride to STE at SFMM, named Tower of Terror (sic!) or TOT, which points more or less the other way seen from a more global perspective, was like. The park is close to Pacific Highway 1 south of Brisbane, and clearly visible for the street. TOTs tower structure is much more skinny and doesn't look half as massive as STEs massive double track tower. It's a simple tube structure, that nevertheless carries two additional drop rides on each side next to the track of TOT.

Next to the tower, the other rides featured are not too many: A river rapids ride, a wild mouse, a "Rugrats Runnaway Reptar" small Vekoma inverted ride, and some flats from the good old fairground days such as an "Enterprise" wheel with gondolas turning vertical and a "Gravitron" type ride, named Vortex.

Additionally, there is the tallest looping coaster in Australia in the park, a yellow Arrow coaster with a rather unusual custom layout.

We entered the park at around 10:30 in the morning. Even through we only had to wait about 10 minutes at the entrance, the “Dreamworld – so many worlds in one” trance loop was already falling on our nerves – what a pain must it be to be exposed to that the whole day as a cash desk employee.

The park was pretty empty, not to say dead, at first. We immediately went for TOT, as I couldn’t wait any longer to go there. The themeing is a contaminated industrial production site that needs to be evacuated (probably an allusion to the escape theme of STE). With this kind of themeing, the acutal physical design of the themeing was rather coarse: basically it was simply a naked building with open air conditioning pipes, and lots of dust gathered around. There are some fake-rusty metal things on the wall, but overall, it was rather dirty in there with trash and dust laying around anywhere. Maybe they do that on a purpose to enhance the uneasy feeling of contamination? Additinally, a tape loop was played that told the visitor that the building was contaminated and that we should leave immediately. Well, there were 2 cars ahead of us so it took us 10 minutes to wait – which is not much.

The ride is exactly like STE, it starts extremely sudden with a tunnel, then into the open. The track is between trees, so you can’t look left or ride, but there is no time for that anyway. The sound it makes is exactly the same, there are some more “clanking” noises along the way however.

The only T-Bars present are the track itself and some supports as the car bends upward, so the structure looks more skinny, making the ride look somewhat less impressive - I wouldn't really say more scary, but maybe I just thought about the ride for too long for it to scare me. Most of it’s impressiveness seems to lie in the jet turbine noise it makes and the size and speed of the car.

Then you go up the tower – and, sorry to disappoint TOT/Australia idealisers, the ride goes nowhere near the top of the tower. Most of the times I saw it launch it went up somewhere between 2/3rds or 3/4ters up the height, which makes it exactly like STE. Maybe this depends on the weight of the passengers(?). California has some more scenery to offer than the dense and rather flat bushlands around Dreamworld. If you are lucky, you can get a flash glimpse of the sea 7 km to your right though.

The 0 G time of these rides are really great – if you can slow your adrenaline to actually feel them after the shocking launch. The seat and the car are exactly like STE, only that it looks more funky in silver instead of red with its frontal “Conan the Barbarian” spikes. The seats cushions are red and seem somewhat more padded on TOT (I might be wrong about this).

Then the car goes back down and you get slowed down to a halt – that’s it. There are two operators on the ride, both highschool age.

After TOT, we checked out the IMAX theatre which had a surprisingly educational and well made film about India. This film however was much to frightening for the young kids – I saw several parents leaving the theatre after the Indian Tiger that the film was about had killed a young girl in a dramatic scene. Most of the park seemed to be designed for very small kids, but then there are three very adult and dramatic thrill rides, and a movie only suitable and interesting to adults.

After the Imax, we tried to hop onto Cyclone, the custom Arrow looper. The line didn’t seem that long, however there were no train dispatches. So we went to Whipe Out, a Top Spin type ride. We only had one load ahead of us, still we waited about 15 minutes. The ride itself was 2 minutes long – actually one of the best programs on a Top Spin (which I am not a big fan of generally). I have ever experienced. What took so long was the loading and unloading of the ride.

Because the Arrow still didn’t seem to go, we went onto the small flats, which I basically hate because they make me nauseous by going round and round and round. So there I was, doing old Enterprise again and recapturing childhood memories in the Vortex.

Then we boarded the Rugrats Coaster. Nice little kiddie ride. The ride is not really rough, but it rumbles and vibrates along the track – why?

At that time, I realised the looping coaster was actually going but had a dispatch rate of about one ride every 10-15 minutes. We didn’t bother doing it but went to see the animal display.

They had Kangaroos to cuddle, some snakes, and a “take your photo holding a Koala” shack. The staff looked like some kind of national park guards to give it some kind of credibility. I must say Koalas are the sweetest animals I have ever seen. Other good parts of the animal exhibit are an acutal Tasmanian Devil (small Doberman like Marsupil) a nice Bird Cage with funny parrots and the nocturnal display. In one of the nocturnal cages, you had an underpant hang before your face if you tried to look out for the animals in the dark.

After the animals, we did the giant drop ride – said to be the tallest in the world at 120 m.

We waited for about 25 minutes for it. One dispatch every 5 minutes. I must say, this is the first ride that really scared me in a long time. There are two drops, one to the east and another westward looking. We went on the one looking toward the see. Slowly we were pulled up to 120 m – it’s incredible how high that is. You get a good view of the landscape and can even look out to the ocean. You are hanging there for a while, maybe 30 seconds or so. Then, without much notice (the carriage shifts a abysmal tiny bit) you are simply detached from the lift and dropped. The way down is really really long, and the breaks only kick in in the last 15 or so meters. The rest of the trip, the carriage is only held in place by two rails attached to the tower. WOW-! I was really out of myself after that. So that’s what it’s like to drop from a skyscraper, huh. I can understand that people say you don’t feel the impact – I had every fiber of my body contract there. What a rush.

Next, we went to the river rapids – this is pretty standard, extremely kinky Dinosaurs and some Elephant spraying which didn’t work.

Then, as the day was nearing its end, we decided to sit through that coaster dispatch disaster thing. We went over to the Cyclone and stood in line. We calculated that we had about three trains ahead of us. Our wait amounted to 45 minutes. I hate waiting – and I know people wait longer than 45 minutes for a coaster ride, but I just can’t stand it. Never mind. When we were finally up there (the queue is kind of nicely themed as a turbine hall with the walkway spiralling upward along the walls), it was almost closing time and we got of the last rides of the day.

The train is Arrow standard, with somewhat rounded edges on the cars (not the SFMM Viper like sharp edges). As always, my back proved to be too long for the restraints, but I decided to go with a little pain there. Astonishingly, our restraints were not checked manually. There was only one operater administering a single train operation from a booth to the left of the track.

The layout of the ride is pretty unusual: It seems to be kind of reversed. What’s last in normal coasters, the levelling-out curves, is the first thing that happens on this ride. The first drop is rather flat and what follows is a series of banked curves at different heights which gain in banking and G-Force along the way. There are some unexpected and unmotivated “whiplash” moments, which were riddling me: Was the track bending faulty? Anyway, as the excitement of the ride slowly increases, the train nears the end of the track, which is, a sequence of inversions that strikingly resemble the second half of a Vekoma Boomerang. There is a half Cobra roll (or a Diveloop if you will) followed by the smallest Arrow vertical loop I have ever seen. The vertical loop is the last thing that happens - I think this is truly exceptional – after this is just an elevated slower unbanked turnaround to get the train in line with and the final breaks and the station.

Then I learned why there was only one dispatch every 15 minutes: The entrance back into the station took AGES. The train was stopped about 9 times because the operator was obviously looking for the right spot to stop the train manually.

That was the last thing for the day. What got me somewhat smiling was that the operator of the river rapids ride actually managed to find out our picture from about 200 other pictures that had been taken in the mean time – so, they got me to pay another 9$ AUD for the picture – heck.

Dreamworld badly needs to work on those dispatch times. It might not have been such a busy day (July 19th), but the unnecessary wait definitely spoils part of the fun.

I got to see TOT a couple of more times in the upcoming twilight – and then we were off continuing down our surfing trip from Brisbane to Sydney. The beaches, waves and coast I saw on this trip by far excessing all experiences I had at Dreamworld. I guess I am a nature guy – or maybe I simply have grown out of the Themepark thing. Give me great coasters anytime, but the Nickelodeon or Looney Tunes or whatever themeing can never compete with the real thing out there.

So much for Dreamworld as a corner stone for self finding.



*** Edited 7/28/2004 4:12:49 AM UTC by superman***

Jo- i am glad you had a fun time at dreamworld, you certainly pointed out all its flaws. The major one being capacity. This park can get really busy in the school holidays and it really struggles to cope.

TOT and the Giant drop are horrors for capacity anyway, but coupled with the fact that the only major coaster only has one train and usually a 1 person operation means lines are huge. It never reaches the top just like STE, something to do with preservation of the LIMs.

They were thinking of adding another train to the Cyclone, but it would cost 1 million bucks as well as quite a lot of re-programming the computers- money which they did not want to spend.

Wipeout is a lot of fun. Its not a huss top spin, its actually a Vekoma- Surprising i know. Were the fountains working??

You mentioned the Mine train- did you actually go on it. I always enjoy it, short but fun and very smooth.

You also said that it seemed to be aimed at kiddies. They are actually aiming for everyone (lots of worlds in one) its just that they invest in cycles. So thrill ride then family/kiddie ride etc. The built the TOT and Giant drop at huge expense, then expanded the Wildlife section which the tourists love (especially the Asians). Then they bought the Cyclone, which was not actually planned, just came up cheap. Then the Runaway raptar coaster for the young ones and now they are building an Intamin gyro swing for the teenagers and apparently a coaster could be a goer for next year.

Thats quite a lot of investment over the last 8 years. Fingers crossed they keep on improving and reduce the Q lengths.

Enjoy the rest of your hols.


gyjdnb said:
Jo- i am glad you had a fun time at dreamworld, you certainly pointed out all its flaws.

...yah - sorry about that I don't mean to damage anyones business. There's also good things to say, it's in general a rather cleanly park and I guess the kids can have a lot of fun with the nickelodeon character themed portions. The animal stuff is fun, too - at least it makes getting to the animals a lot easier, and I would probably never have seen a real Koala let alone a Tasmanian Devil otherwise.

So - basically I was describing everything from a very subjective point of view. I'm also not sure it the 1 million for a possible 2nd train on the Cyclone wouldn't be better spend toward an entirely new coaster - on the other hand, the 12 minute dispatch rate is somewhat unheard of - maybe they can also use some of the money to make at least the 1 train op faster :)

Anyways, it was an interesting experience and the group I was travelling with (3 male adults age 30-45) were maybe not the exact target group of the park.

Australia is cool otherwise - although its so ... large!

Greetings jo

I was at Dreamworld the February before last and notcied the terrible capacity, we queued for an hour and a half for Cyclone and only saw 5 trains go out and in the heat it wasn't nice at all.

How-ever the Giant Drop was truley amazing, scared the hell out of me, I still get nervours just think about it. You fall for so long, it looks like next year they may be buying the second hand Boomerany from the now closed Wonderland near Sydney, so another low capacity coaster.

The thing that freaked me out when riding the Giant Drop was when the train from TOT came up the tower, the whole thing shook..... it was an amazing ride though.
Jo- i was not saying that dreamworld is Bad- i always have a great time there, just make sure you go when it is quiet!! Otherwise you will be in Q's all day.

They definately try to cater for all tastes there, whether you are a thrill seeker, animal lover, young kid or an adult. In my opinion a very good way way of running a theme park. And they have been very succesful. They make stack loads of money at the moment.

Aussie certainly is a bloody big place, i come from the UK and this island is just enormous compared to my little home one. It makes flying essential, driving just takes too long.

Aflack- There have been rumours about the Demon going to Dreamworld, but they are totally unsubstantiated. I do not think it will happen. I think we will be getting a big new coaster next year. Not some third hand crappy hand me down.

Carl- You are so right, it definately adds to the experience of the Giant drop when the TOT comes rocketing up the superstructure- certainly scares some!!

gyjdnb said:Carl- You are so right, it definately adds to the experience of the Giant drop when the TOT comes rocketing up the superstructure- certainly scares some!!

...I didn't get to feel that..:(. When I was up there TOT was quiet. (With dispatch times of 5 Minutes on TOT, there should be about a 1 in 3 chance to feel TOT go up the tower when you're on the giant drop).

superman said:
Additionally, there is the tallest looping coaster in Australia in the park, a yellow Arrow coaster with a rather unusual custom layout.

The layout of the ride is pretty unusual: It seems to be kind of reversed.

*** Edited 7/28/2004 4:12:49 AM UTC by superman***

I'm from Australia and it's good to see more people from over seas coming here.

Yes Cycone has a very unusual layout due to its history. It was origanaly built in Luna Park Sydney a very cramped city park. It had to weave in between rides and buildings and the loop and side winder (half cora roll or what ever yous call it) was out the back of the park behind a build and thats why there is that very squashed area. The ride was removed due to the bloody stupid Residence complaning about the noise.

****en residence they should **** off not the coaster.......

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