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Posts posted by downunder

  1. Fear and loathing at Sydney's new waterpark and allegations of corruption:




    Security alarm went off before Wet'n'Wild NYE party


    When the theme park selected a company to be responsible for its security, it immediately became the talk of the industry.


    One of Sydney's most hotly anticipated New Year's Eve events was shelved at the last minute following major management failures and security oversights.


    An investigation by Fairfax Media can reveal that, far from falling victim to technical difficulties or public transport issues as previously claimed, the event at Wet'n'Wild was cancelled six hours before its starting time after the venue failed to provide an adequate crowd safety management plan to police.


    It's been a farce ... Unimet has never had the resources to cope.


    As Village Roadshow and promoters One Cube prepared to lock horns in a legal blame game on Tuesday, a senior NSW Police source confirmed a ''risk assessment'' had identified ''deep concerns'' about event staffing and security.


    Pretence: The message to Unimet Security staff, prompting them to act as though they didn't know who Brad Kisbee was. Photo: Supplied


    Fair Trading investigators were also assessing information on the Prospect theme park's security supervisor Brad Kisbee, who played a role in a tender process that last October saw a lucrative on site contract awarded to Unimet Security, a company with which he had been involved for several years.


    On Friday, Mr Kisbee said he was ''unable to say'' whether he had declared any ties when he helped Wet'n'Wild appoint contractors.


    ''It's irrelevant,'' he said. ''Yes, I was involved in the interview process and final meetings. But I can assure you, I had no say on the actual selections.''


    In the countdown to the opening of the ''world's best water theme park'', Village Roadshow held interviews for a security supervisor capable of providing the ''best possible guest experience''. Mr Kisbee, a former Blacktown Westfield security supervisor, was appointed.


    A tender invitation was also advertised by Village Roadshow for a security company, with appropriate expertise, to provide all-hours services across the theme park.


    The scope of the tender included roaming patrols, VIP hosting and managing crowds of between ''15,000 to 20,000'' people. Although Unimet's traditional work involved static guard work at pubs and dog patrols in western Sydney and Wollongong, it bid for the tender.


    One prominent security company owner, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: ''I know of at least 30 companies, including a few big ones, who submitted a detailed tender for this.''


    He said a fortnight after the October 11 closing date, he received a letter signed by Wet'n'Wild operations manager Bianca Sammut advising him the application was unsuccessful.


    Mr Kisbee confirmed that, in the days that followed, he helped interview, and gave his ''opinions'' on, the five shortlisted companies. This included Unimet, which was awarded a contract with Reddawn, a company with which Unimet regularly shared jobs and staff.


    ''There have been several formal complaints lodged to authorities about the process,'' one bidder said.


    ''When this fellow's [Mr Kisbee] name surfaced as being the security manager at Wet'n'Wild and then it emerged who had won the contract … it became the talk of the industry.''


    With contracts signed, Unimet appointed an operations manager, Darren Barrett, to assist in the transition of staff to the theme park.


    In a message to employees on November 24, the eve of their induction training, Mr Barrett stated: ''Meet at the entry gate … it is highly important that they remember this is the first time that you are meeting the W&W security manager Mr Brad Kisbee. NO one has met him prior to the induction. Please respond to this message to ensure you have received and understood the above.''


    A Unimet source confirmed eight staff attended the following day and ''pretended'' never to have met Mr Kisbee. ''It's been a farce ever since,'' he said. ''Unimet has never had the resources to cope with the contract it received … and several staff left under the pressure.''


    On Friday, Unimet director Natalie Eggenhuizen initially claimed Mr Kisbee had no connection with the company. But when told Fairfax Media had a Unimet business card displaying his name and current phone number, she said: ''He is not a silent partner … he was a consultant some time ago.''


    Of the message sent by Mr Barrett, who could not be reached by Fairfax Media, she said: ''I'm not Darren but I always tell staff that when you're meeting someone for the first time … to always be on your best behaviour.''


    Village Roadshow spokesman Darrin Davies said final decisions were made by the general manager and operations manager of the park after ''a thorough and competitive tender process'' that included ''third party independent advice''.


    He said Unimet was not appointed as part of the original tender process but in ''a secondary security role''.


    Mr Kisbee said: ''Village Roadshow has told me not to speak further. But when my contract is up in April, I'll give the full story.''


    Nearly 9000 ticket holders paid between $110 and $200 to attend the cancelled New Year's Eve party.

  2. An interesting article about a "very serious" proposal by Disney for a Sydney development.




    Walt Disney Company proposed a Disney Resort in Sydney


    Disney Bay: What might have been


    It was so secret it was discussed in whispers with a special code name inside the state government, and flew under the radar.


    But the Walt Disney Company's plan to put a Disney Resort on prime waterfront land around White Bay and Glebe Island in 2007-08 was no mickey mouse plan.


    Instead, glossy proposal documents seen by Fairfax Media reveal for the first time that the company was deadly serious in its pitch for what it called ''Disney Wharf at Sydney Harbour''.




    It was a grand vision, incorporating not just so-called ''classic Disney'' elements, but also themed hotels, a marina and ferry wharf, two new light-rail stations, a retail space, an entertainment quarter and a residential development.


    The old White Bay power station was to have been reborn as a design studio and arts centre, the concrete waste of Glebe Island would have blossomed into ''Fantasia Gardens'' with hedges cut in the shape of Disney characters, and just a short stroll away would have been what the designers termed a ''high-energy NY theatre-style district''.


    There would have been a yacht club family resort and ''upscale'' residential developments in Disney Village on the northern end of White Bay, together with a Disney town centre (billed as offering ''prime waterfront office space'') and a Disney university and hospitality school.


    There would have been Nemo-themed attractions in the theme park area, Peter Pan and Dumbo rides and actors in Disney character costume entertaining visitors as they traipsed in and out of retail outlets such as the ''Goofy Candy Store'' and the ''Princesses'' boutique.


    ''Project Lester'', as it was code named, was described as ''an integrated Disney destination to live, work, play and learn'' with the promoters promising it would enhance real estate values on the site itself and in the immediate neighbourhood.


    The company said the proposed harbourside complex would ''refresh the city's tourism offerings'' and draw patrons from ''all over Australia and the world''.


    But the response inside the state government was mixed. The local politics were seen as a huge challenge for a Labor administration, with one insider recalling fears that it ''wouldn't have gone down at all well with the denizens of neighbouring Balmain and Rozelle''.


    Among ministers, the most enthusiastic was the now-disgraced Ian Macdonald, who held the state development portfolio. Then-premier Morris Iemma and then-treasurer Michael Costa were involved in high-level talks on the project but their interest waned as the scale of infrastructure investment expected by Disney became apparent.


    ''When they started looking at the infrastructure costs, they just went cold,'' said one senior insider, who recalled a starting figure of $500 million for the rail wharf and road changes that the project would have required.


    Another objection from senior members of the bureaucracy was that the plan from Disney was really a ''development proposal dressed up as fun park''.


    ''One of the main reasons we entertained the idea at the start was that … it was a fabulous site, close to the city, and instead of more million-dollar apartments, we thought why not look at something potentially more interesting'' said one source who looked closely at the project.


    ''But in the end, it was difficult to get detailed proposals from them in writing, and there was always doubt over whether it could work.''


    A spokeswoman for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts said the company was always looking to grow its business and ''as part of that process, we have conversations with many different entities''. The company would not comment on the Sydney proposal.


    The site remains largely a concrete expanse, housing a temporary exhibition centre and a cruise passenger terminal.

  3. Wow $10 million in eighties money is helluva price for a mid-life crisis. I'm sure they enjoy this lawn ornament driving coaster nerds nuts. Would TPR have gone to Scenic World if there wasn't the Rocker to gawk at (though it is of value as a tourist destination), would it have attracted attention?


    There's enough urban legends about this coaster to fill a year's worth of National Enquirer editions. There's some quite amusing reading on parkz about this. Even some who claims to have a ride on this when they were testing it.


    I'm surprised they spent $34 million on upgrading the scenic railway, do they run a drug cartel on the side to fund this?

  4. My current work building where I'm sitting right now is on the site of a former amusement park that even had a rollercoaster (Sega Mega World).


    Luna Park 2 miles / 3.2 kilometres North

    Merimbula's Magic Mountain 285 miles / 549 kilometres South

    Sea World 536 miles / 836 kilometeres North

    Luna Park Melbourne 545 miles / 877 kilometres South

  5. We won't go anywhere near this place until February at the earliest. I'm not a big water park fan, so it's no big deal if I never go. I'd be more interested if they get lo-q at some stage.


    I'm hoping this gives Village Roadshow impetus to add an amusement park and perhaps develop a whole precinct.

  6. Phoenix isn't a coaster, it's a near death experience. Though I wonder how intense it would be with a lapbar instead of a buzzbar. On the TPR trip I was on that visited Knoebels, one rider wound up sitting on the lap of the rider next to them - though maybe it was a cover story for trying to have sex on a coaster.


    Boulder Dash is intense, but based on my experiences it doesn't have the airtime of my top 4, but as observed already, the terrain aspect makes it amazing.


    Wild One at SFA is one a lot of people rate, but it was Mild One when I was there, very sluggish.

  7. Agree on Magnum XL-200 is a shadow of it's former self since they changed the braking at the turn-around.


    Also agree on Raging Bull is more Mildly Flustered Bull with those trims, as if the B & M hyper experience wasn't calming enough. Apollo's Chariot was also a bit of a mild one in 2008 when I last rode it.


    Tower of Terror II at Dreamworld was supposed to a radical re-invention of the original, but it only goes half way up the tower.

  8. Wet and Wild Sydney seems to be get many hot and bothered, rather than cool and relaxed.




    The shutdown of Wet'n'Wild's NYE Festival with six hours' notice was a ''heavy-handed approach'' that showed ''disregard'' for the community, western Sydney councillors say.


    Touted as the ''the biggest and best water theme park ever built'', the Prospect site has been plagued with problems, culminating in the cancellation of Tuesday's event that stranded 9000 revellers.


    ''It was very poor organisation by all parties,'' Blacktown councillor Tony Bleasdale says. ''If this happened again it could lead to complete disillusionment with Wet'n'Wild.''


    Blacktown councillor claims to have been ''inundated'' with complaints about the $120 million Wet'n'Wild development.


    On Wednesday the promoters of the cancelled festival, One Cube Entertainment, agreed to give ticket-holders refunds. Many had spent up to $200 on a single pass.


    ''The promoters have been urged to move quickly to provide refunds,'' NSW Fair Trading Minister Stuart Ayres said. ''The last thing we want is a repeat performance of this debacle.''


    Since the park opened three weeks ago, Cr Bleasdale said he has been ''inundated'' with complaints about the $120 million development. Parking costs, ticket and food prices, access, transport and venue capacity were among the string of complaints he had received in the past three weeks.


    ''It's a great thing for western Sydney but it's not financially viable for families to buy tickets,'' he said. ''The pricing structure needs to be urgently revisited to include flexible family passes.''


    By December 22, Wet'n'Wild had sold 155,000 season passes at $124.99 for a gold pass and $99.99 for a silver pass. Day entry costs range from $54.99 to $69.99.


    Blacktown councillor Edmond Atalla said the park often reached capacity by 11am, blocking access for season-pass holders. He said customer complaints ranged from not being able to bring food into the venue (with customers forced to pay ''unreasonable'' prices for meals on site), to waits of ''up to 20 minutes'' to enter the car park.


    ''If they're not careful it could end up like Australia's Wonderland,'' Cr Bleasdale said. ''What undid them was cost. A lot of people are saying to me they've been once and won't go again.''


    On the first Saturday of the public school holidays, several rides were closed and the park put up a ''full house'' sign, turning away visitors. It temporarily reached capacity on three days during the Christmas period, and on December 20 a thunderstorm forced the park to close.


    A spokesman for Wet'n'Wild Sydney, Darrin Davies, said: ''During peak periods we encourage people to stagger their arrival times. People can often come in the late afternoon and find we're not at capacity.'' He said the park ''represented great value for money'' and those who bought season passes ''achieved exceptional value for their dollar''.


    Cr Atalla said while the venue provided transport from Parramatta railway station, the lack of buses from Blacktown was forcing customers to walk along a dangerous stretch of the Great Western Highway to reach the entrance.


    Blacktown resident Sandra Tangata-Toa paid $380 for a gold season pass for her family in November but said she was unlikely to renew her commitment next year. ''I think the park is great but there are a lot of hidden costs, like the $10 charge for using the lockers," she said.


    The NYE Festival promoters blamed the cancellation on a ''major technical production''. A contractor for Village Roadshow said the organiser's ''management plan for crowd control and safety failed to meet Wet'n'Wild's standards''.


    On Tuesday afternoon, the organisers promoted an alternative New Years Eve event at what was to be the festival's after-party venue, Parramatta's Roxy Hotel. A spokesman for the hotel said about 800 people attended and the ''majority'' of music acts on the NYE Festival bill performed.

  9. Mean Streak: needs a complete reprofile to prevent rider deaths - from boredom - a good candidate for an iron horse treatment.


    Ghost Rider - needs help. Layout is fine, but the coaster rides like it has square wheels. Topper track or iron horse it.


    Hades: in keeping with the theme of hell, a large amount of fire should be applied, preferably delivered by a stealth bomber. Call in the air strike.

  10. ^^That's what was happening, if I recall correctly one year, a group of people were ranking Expedition GeForce #1 and Superman Ride of Steel at SFNE last when they had ridden 100+ coasters. That was quit a while ago though.


    Outlaw Run looks like a real shot, it seems like most people who have ridden it are giving it number one and a lot of other people's number one's seem split between several coasters: El Toro here, Phoenix there, Boulder Dash and so on.


    I'm one of the people who will contribute to an Outlaw Run victory because I've been on all the top ten from last year except T-Express and the Happy Valley one. I was sceptical about Outlaw Run until I rode it, short, but every element is great - the drop is as good as El Toro, intense airtime delivered in many cases very differently to any other wood coaster and the finish...

  11. I wonder how many people vote on MH every year?


    Yin, it's usually around 400-600 ballots after they've weeded out Voyage and Prowler fanboys. I'm not sure if it's still up, but you can see what people voted and how many votes.


    On Voyage, I last rode it in August 2007. And it had no airtime and was absolutely pulverising at the turn around. I rode it front and back and everywhere else - no good. Love Holiday World though.

    Thanks! But why do they weed out Voyage and Prowler fanboys?


    It's usually obvious, fanboys put their favourite coaster at number 1 and the likely rivals at the bottom to try and rig the poll. I think that has pretty much ceased now or at least they prevent it happening.

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