9 things you can’t believe these Gold Coast theme parks would do
Right. We get it. Theme parks are fun. They’re a Monday morning water cooler conversation and a “bet I did it better” playground duel. (Like, hey dude, have you done the new DC Rivals Rollercoaster?). For most Aussies and visitors, the Gold Coast theme parks are also a rite of passage.
But, behind the soda-pop sized giggles, Queensland’s theme parks have giant hearts; from supporting highly threatened animal species to nourishing communities and creating lasting memories for families. Here are nine noble things we bet you never considered a theme park would do.
1. Gold Coast theme parks give to the folks who need it most
What happens when you have 12 food outlets and more than 10,000 hungry visitors through the gates? Like any giant party, you’re either going to run out of food – and believe me no one wants to tell a three-year-old there’s no more Chunky Monkey left at Ben & Jerry’s – or you have lots of leftovers.
So rather than dump that overflow, Movie World has partnered with the Soul Centre Pantry, a charity at Upper Coomera to donate around 20-50 fresh items per day to the less fortunate. That’s 10,000 items a year straight to the folks who need it most.
2. Putting ‘hospital’ into hospitality
We all love koala cuddles and a good lorikeet feed (who doesn’t have that iconic pic of a colourful lorrie on their head?), but Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has a serious side to its feathered fun. This hospitality giant became a bonafide Wildlife Hospital in 1989 when it employed its first vet.
Now one of the largest Wildlife Hospitals in the world, the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary treats more than 10,000 sick, injured and orphaned wildlife annually – and it’s all free of charge to the community and carried out on the kindness of donations. Blimey. That’s as rare as finding a doctor who bulk bills.
3. They’ve got the eye of a tiger, a fighter …
Dreamworld may be best known for its tonsil-ticklers, but behind the big thrill rides is a wildlife warrior that has contributed more than AUD$2 million towards saving tigers in the wild. Hola! that’s a lot of dosh.
The money is raised through early morning tiger walks (p.s. an epic memory if you and three mates have a spare $695 to take a 200kg pussycat for a stroll), tiger cub photos, the adopt-an-animal program and general loose coins donated by guests.
There are only 400 Sumatran Tigers left in the wild, and without Dreamworld’s contributions, which go toward arresting poachers, among other things, the situation would be even more dire.
4. Giving families one last-ing gift
For one brief day, they can forget. Moreover, they can fly. They can cuddle. They can laugh. And their families can record it all. Theme parks are said to be the happiest place on Earth where lasting memories are made.
It’s not terribly well known but the four big guns of the Gold Coast theme parks pony up with some of the bravest charities around – Make a Wish, Starlight Foundation and Camp Quality – to give thousands of incredibly sick, disabled, and underprivileged kids a chance to do what the parks do best: live and laugh. Your ticket and your patronage helps to make that happen.
5. Rescue, research and rehabilitate
Let’s do the maths: 70 seabirds, between 40 to 70 turtles, handfuls of entangled dolphins, the odd sea snake and every now and then a stranded whale that makes national news. That’s a lot of marine creatures in trouble and a lot of human hours needed to help out. The question is, ‘Who you gonna call?’ Sea World.
Yes sir, each year, Sea World’s rehabilitation unit contributes more than $1 million Aussie bucks to the rescue, research and rehabilitation of marine life. And it’s all funded from the cost of your ticket. That means every entry into the park is also a vote to keeping our oceans alive. I vote YES.
6. By gum(tree)! They’re into koala-ty care
Chuck a buck or two into one of the donation boxes dotting a theme park and do it knowing you could save an Aussie icon, the koala, now under serious threat from loss of habitat and disease. A couple of Gold Coast theme parks are onto it.
Dreamworld, home to the second largest collection of koalas in captivity – some 60 koalas on constant rotation for koala cuddles – has partnered with two local universities in a $1.8 million-dollar project to create a living koala genome bank that will produce disease-free koalas for release in the wild. Anyone can help out through their Adopt-an-Animal program which starts at $20 for the year.
Meanwhile, Currumbin Wildlife Hospital treats more than 500 koalas a year, a noble act that comes with its own challenges. Feeding this volume of patients is huge and the park has a campaign to plant 10,000 additional eucalyptus trees as a food supply.
Over at Paradise Country, the “Save a Mate” recently dug into donation boxes (and profits from its Save a Mate products) to also contribute $4000 to the Australian Koala Foundation.
7. Free training for a dream job
Proving that a private sector partner and a big name footy player can kick some serious community goals, Dreamworld has teamed up with the Preston Campbell foundation to help Indigenous youth get real work experience at Presto’s Training Café.
The six-week training program takes place inside the theme park, not far from Corroboree area, and comes at zero cost to participants.
8. A themed war on waste
Have you ever seen a local community club clean up a waterway? How about a school group picking up litter? Well, that waste has to go somewhere and someone has to pay for its proper disposal. That someone could very well be Sea World.
The Gold Coast theme park’s Research & Rescue Foundation partners with Healthy Land and Water to fight marine waste through the Community Marine Debris and Zero Waste Grants. Each year, they remove more 30,000 items of litter, such as plastic bottles, plastic bags and cigarette butts, plus a staggering 30km of discarded fishing line. Thanks, Sea World.
9. Breeding little buggers
Australia has a pretty poor record for losing species to extinction. Thanks to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, two of the cutest critters, the Kroombit Tinker Frog (sounds like a jazzed-up crumper) and the Bristlebird now have a better chance of survival.
The sanctuary is actively involved in breeding these endangered species onsite with the intent to release them back to the wild to supplement wild populations.
And one more … because it’s Christmas
Imagine a Christmas without a break. No holiday. No fun. The Christmas Grinch has zero power when it comes gift giving at Movie World on the Gold Coast. Every year, the park in conjunction with the Gold Coast Suns and the Gold Coast Community Fund hosts the White Christmas Charity Event, opening the park up for one magical evening to around 5,000 disadvantaged Gold Coasters… And it’s all F.R.E.E.
None of these special heart-felt activities would happen if not for the millions of people who visit our Gold Coast theme parks. Their entry tickets help to make the lives of others (four-footed and two) so much better. So if you are keen to know more, check out how to do these theme parks in a day: Dreamworld, Movie World, Sea World, and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.
*Please note the temporary closure of all Queensland campgrounds in national parks, state forests and state-managed recreation and protected areas, in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.