As the school holidays approach so too does the need to plan out some fun days for the family and usually somewhere near the top of that list is a day out at one of the many theme parks scattered along the way to the Gold Coast. Living so close to the Theme Park Capital of Australia it’s pretty hard not to consider them when you are guaranteed a jam-packed day of fun that the whole family can enjoy that ends with happy little bodies asleep in the back seat on the short drive home.
Although there is no doubt the kids will go crazy at the idea of spending some time at these parks, for many parents the idea is met with hesitation as a full day out requires some planning to do. To make the decision to go easier, below is some advice and tips on ways to save both time and money on your next theme park outing.
Plan, Plan, Plan
Someone once said to me that to fail to plan is to plan to fail and I couldn’t agree more. Sure spontaneity can be exciting but with a few kids in tow you may just be asking for trouble not to have your day thought out ahead of time. By planning you can save both time and money and below are some reasons why.
Ways to Save Money
- Buy Multi-Pass Tickets
Living in Brisbane you would be crazy not to take advantage of the many multi-pass tickets currently on offer. Movie World, Sea World and Wet’n’Wild currently have the Locals VIP Pass which allows unlimited entry to these three parks until 30 June 2014 for only $89.99! Considering you would be paying this for a one day ticket to one of these parks anyway you would be crazy not to buy one of these! At the moment this also includes one free entry to Movie World’s White Christmas. Dreamworld also has the Unlimited World Pass with unlimited entry to Dreamworld,WhiteWater World and SkyPoint until 24 December 2014 that offers great online savings, starting at $79.99 for children. Not only will you save money on multiple visits but it will put less pressure on you to get to everything in one day if you find yourself running out of time.
- Give the kids a budget – Sometimes it helps to allocate a certain amount of money for a treat to each child and they can then decide how best to spend it during the day. Alternatively, let them know they can get their special treat at the end of the day on the way out for the car ride home. It’s probably better if any sugar rush is added to the excitement at the end and not throughout the day anyway.
Ways to Save Time
- Rain or Shine? – It’s a good idea to do a bit of research on what days will be less busy then others. Weekdays are notoriously quieter but in school holidays you may want to put aside your love of sunshine and start checking your weather reports for rain! Crazy as it may seem, a little drizzle (we are not recommending during torrential downpours!) can deter most people and if you are happy to throw on a poncho then you will also avoid the line-ups. Who feels rain anyway when you are hurtling at speed along the rollercoaster or splashing in the pools at Wet’n’Wild?
- Be an Early Bird or a Late Comer - Get to the park as early as possible to get a good park and before the hordes arrive. Alternatively, some people (especially those clever enough to get a multi-pass) opt to wait until after lunch to enjoy the quiet of the afternoon which includes shorter lines.
- Get a Map or an App! – Yep, print out a copy of the park map or download one of the parks’ apps to have quick access to the map throughout the day.
- Make a list of what shows and rides you want to go on – By making a list beforehand of what rides everyone wants to go on and what shows you would like to see you can make sure get them done early on in the day so no one misses out. It is a good idea to get each family member to put one or two rides on a “must do” list and make sure these are done first, that way everyone will feel like they have gone on the ones they want before you leave.
- Have a rough schedule – Although you can’t know how long you are going to be queuing for each ride you can be aware of which ones you want to go on, where they are in the park (so you can plan the quickest route) and what shows are on when. Usually you can plan to be at rides that are close by the show spots so there is no last minute racing from one end of the park to the other when you realise you have 2 minutes to go (or worse yet are two minutes late).
- Use your camera not just for happy snaps – To save getting lost at the end of the day, take a photo of the row and position your car is parked in when you leave it to make the journey back quicker.
- Go back to front! – As soon as the gates open it’s not a bad idea to head to the furthest end of the park and work your way to the nearest. Everyone tends to do it the other way round so if you start at the end then you have a better chance of shorter queues for the first few rides at least.
- Split up – If you have a few children of different ages with you and more than one adult then it’s worth considering splitting up. One adult goes with the older kids on the thrill rides while the other stays with the younger ones and on more suitable attractions. After lunch you can always swap and that way both adults get a go on the thrill rides and with all kids.
- Toilet Stops! – Make your first stop on arrival a toilet one. No doubt the kids will always want to go right when you are nearing the end of a very long line-up so it helps to see if they need to go straight up. It’s also good to check with them between rides too or when you pass by a toilet.
- 9. Eat on the run – It’s a good idea to have snacks or food handy to give to the kids while they are lining up in queues. Not only does it provide a good distraction for them but it saves time sitting down for a lengthy lunch later.
A Few Points for Child Safety
- Take a picture of your kids – It’s always a great idea to take a picture of your kids before you start the day so that if you get separated for any reason you have a recent picture of them in what they were wearing to make describing them easier.
- Have a meeting spot set up – Always have an emergency meeting place planned so if people get waylaid then you know where to go to meet.
- Dress appropriately – Make sure the kids have comfy, worn in shoes on and plenty of sunscreen. A compact dollar store poncho is a great investment in case it rains – you can always discard it once the sun comes back too if it is just a cheapie so you don’t need to carry wet gear around.
- ID’s for the kids – It’s always a good idea in any place with a lot of people to have your contact details clearly visible on your kids. A good idea is a disposable wristband with the details on it as this is clearly visible for those who may find them and also do not come off easily.
- Who to go to – When you first arrive at the park, show younger kids what park employees’ uniforms look like, so they know whom to go to in case they get lost
Now you are all set to go below are the links to the places you want to visit in the Theme Park Capital of Australia and details for their latest attractions:
- Movie World – Wrap yourself up in a magical White Christmas adventure with your whole family as Movie World is transformed into an enchanting winter wonderland.
- Dreamworld – Are you a Zombie or a Soldier? Zombie Evilution – The Battle for Kevil Hill has begun and YOU need to choose a side. The only laser combat battle to be staged in a town across two buildings with two storey’s this new attraction will challenge even the most seasoned laser tag fans. And standby tiger lovers – It’s time for Dreamworld’s youngest tiger siblings Baru & Ravi to roar into action with their new Cub College Tiger Island Show starting on December 26th.
- Sea World – Experience a ride the whole family will love as you’re taken on a thrilling journey featuring amazing water and fire effects. Opening December 2013, Storm Coaster is the only ride of its kind in Australia and a must do this summer! Or cCome and meet Australia’s only baby Polar Bear ‘Henry’. This gorgeous bundle of fluff has just come out to play at Polar Bear Shores ‘Polar Pre-School’ and he can’t wait to meet you.
- Wet’n’Wild – Challenge your friends and family to a fast-paced race down the Super 8 Aqua Racer, one of the most advanced racing slides in the world, featuring cool drag lights and timing technology to ensure you receive your placing to an accuracy of 1/1000th of a second. Or let the kids loose at the pirate-themed interactive aquatic adventure land of Buccaneer Bay.
- WhiteWater World – Get your cozzies on kids! It’s time to go to WhiteWater World and try out the newly refurbished Pipeline Plunge. Watch that bucket of water!
So – what’s stopping you? Get started and start planning your Theme Park Capital day trips now!