The Claw at Dreamworld

The insider’s guide to Dreamworld

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It’s started. Summer’s here and those boppy little TV adverts promising a world of fun are back…  and so is the pester power.  Theme parks in peak season require a bit of preparation to get the most of the day and after two years working at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast, I reckon I’ve earned my stripes.

Here are my top 8 tips for getting the most out of Australia’s biggest factory of fun.

1. Plot your day

Okay, it might sound like swatting for a test or worse, prepping for a military invasion, but the more planning you do, the more you’ll get out of the day.

Grab an online map, study the show timetables and figure out fast how to entertain your teens while finding bite-sized fun for your tots. Don’t forget to circle whole-of-family activities like Zombie Evilution – it’s bound bring out the baddie (or the goodie) in all family members. You get a laser gun, a fancy name like “Belcroft Splat”, a mission to save the world, and the chance to painlessly shoot (or save) that family member of choice.

2. Tick off the big rides with the slowest through-put first

Dreamworld's Tailspin_croppedYou have to be a ride nerd to understand this, so just trust me when I say that due to ride capacity and ride popularity, some ride lines take longer than others. That includes the Tail Spin, the Giant Drop and The Big Red Car at Wiggles World.  Seriously.

When the average age for Big Red Car is three and the average tantrum is every ten minutes, you definitely want to make sure you hit this ride first.

3. Set up a meeting point that’s fun in its own right

That way, if your tween gets stuck in Madagascar, your toddler won’t carry-on from boredom. My favourite spots are Tiger Island, an all-weather viewing platform with box-office cafe seats overlooking roaming tigers, and Flowrider, home to spectacular bellyflops and wipeouts from wannabe surfers. Flowrider is located right outside Shark Attack and serves up ice-cold slushies, perfect for thwarting meltdowns.

4. Avoid overheating

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Aussie summers are long and hot. So instead of cramming it all into one day, grab a 3-day world pass and relieve the pressure. Plus, Dreamworld is the only theme park connected to a water park, meaning you can roam between the two: cool down on a slide then head next door for a ride.

5. BYO food

Let’s be fair here. Theme park ticket prices haven’t changed in years so making money from the tummy is probably what keeps these fun factories afloat. Like many other entertainment zones, Dreamworld has a no BYO-food policy (unless there’s a medical reason for it). But don’t worry, I’ve got a way around it.

WhiteWater World, right next door, is home to some of the greatest water rides on the planet and here, poolside picnic spaces literally roll out the BYO food mat. So, with a little bit of planning, and a two-park holiday pass, you can fill the family esky (aka ice box) with all those gluten-free sandwiches, designer drinks, and leftover Christmas goodies to last the day. Fuel up, then, jump from one park to the other.

6. Rest up

If your idea of a fun park is a poolside banana lounge, then go to Cave of Waves at WhiteWater World. Most slides are within eyesight of the Cave, and while responsibility for your kids rests solely with the parent, it’s a good place to chill out, knowing that every water slide has qualified lifeguards, all-seeing security cameras and a team ready to help should the need arise.

7. Go animal

Koalas in Queensland at Dreamworld.

Not on the rides. At the zoo. Tucked away behind all the colourful craziness is a full-sized animal sanctuary and home to Australia’s second-largest captive koala population, plus all the favourite furry fellas like wombats and kangaroos.

Here you can feed a giant croc, watch a traditional sheep shearing show and even cuddle a koala. It’s quieter than the rest of the park and a great place to chill in between the fun.

8. Add more fun

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Here’s a secret tip that few folks know: Just before you leave Dreamworld, chat to the happy staff (too much fairy floss!) at the Market Place exit and ask about a return ticket. For just $5, you can upgrade to a three-day holiday world pass, giving you unlimited entry to Dreamworld, WhiteWater World AND Skypoint Observation Deck over three consecutive days.  Now that’s a valuable tip.

How do you get the most out of the theme parks? Do you have any tips to add?

Heading to another one of the Gold Coast’s theme parks? Check out this handy guide.