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NEWS: Wet'n'Wild is coming to Sydney!

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Park hours have been extended to 10am-11pm every day until February 1st (except for a handful of public holidays). Good to see that they are trying to keep up with the demand, and I wouldn't be surprised to see hours extended after that during hot weather. As far as theme parks go, reaching capacity at 10:30am really isn't a bad problem to have!


According to this press release (www.villageroadshow.com.au/upload/Document/Sydney%20WnW%20Opening.pdf) 155,000 season passes have been sold, with 34,500 visitors on the opening weekend. It'll be interesting to see what numbers this place can do in its opening season.


The Facebook page went into melt down over the weekend, I think it turned into a PR nightmare for them. Season park holders where turned away, car parks couldn't handle the amount of cars.

I think yesterday's "sellout" of season passes took some by surprise - there are some nasty comments on that Facebook page! Also a surprising number people complaining about the $5 bottles of water, when the park will let you bring one in from home. Duh-doi.

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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.

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I went last week and it was horrible. The only plus was the park is visually beautiful and some of the slides are good.


However the park was NOT ready to open.


I'll be posting a Photo TR soon with details.

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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.

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More fear and loathing in Wet and Wild-gate. Security chief resigns after awarding security contract to a woman he lives with, the zaniness continues:




She is the glamorous, part-time country and western singer who runs a western Sydney security firm called Unimet.


He is the head of security at Sydney's Wet'n'Wild who, in October, played a central role in a tender process that awarded her company a lucrative on-site contract.


The Unimet Facebook page, which featured photos of Mr Kisbee at its Christmas party last November, was shut down on Thursday


On Saturday, Brad Kisbee resigned from Wet'n'Wild after it emerged investigators from the NSW police State Crime Command were reviewing ''issues'' relating to the ''awarding of security contracts'' at the $120 million venue.


The inquiry follows last week's Fairfax Media investigation that found Mr Kisbee had been involved with Natalie Eggenhuizen's Unimet business for years.


Other than acknowledging a brief stint of casual consultancy work carried out by Mr Kisbee ''some time ago'', both he and Ms Eggenhuizen were still denying they shared any links last week. But they are in a de facto relationship and live together in Richmond with two children.


On Friday, Mr Kisbee could not explain why messages were posted on Facebook six months ago congratulating ''Natalie & Brad'' on the birth of their daughter. ''I need to look into this straight away,'' he said.


When Village Roadshow left 9000 ticketholders in the lurch by cancelling the Wet'n'Wild New Year's Eve music festival six hours before it was due to start, it became clear that all was not well at Australia's newest theme park. While senior management and promoters One Cube are still blaming each other for failing to produce an adequate crowd safety management plan, police are more interested in how the park's security contracts came to be signed.


More than 30 companies submitted applications after Village Roadshow invited tenders for the supply of security services last October.


As a close associate of Unimet, Mr Kisbee was privy to commercial-in-confidence material submitted by Unimet's rivals and he helped interview the five shortlisted companies, including Unimet. As the on-site security head, he then offered his opinions about the applicants to Wet'n'Wild general manager Chris Warhurst and operations manager Bianca Sammut.


Unimet was awarded the contract for night security services, which included carrying out dog patrols. Red Dawn, a company Unimet has worked closely alongside, took out the tender for daytime operations.


Mr Kisbee said he had ''no idea'' why Unimet operations manager Darren Barrett later sent a phone message to staff reminding them it was the first time they were meeting Mr Kisbee at the theme park's induction training day on November 25.


''NO one has met him prior to the induction. Please respond to this message to ensure you have received and understood the above,'' the message said.


Ms Eggenhuizen, who was due to appear alongside her mother, Kel-Ann Brandt, at the Tamworth Country Music Festival on Saturday night, declined to comment.


The Unimet Facebook page, which featured photos of Mr Kisbee at its Christmas party last November, was shut down on Thursday.


Village Roadshow spokesman Darrin Davies confirmed the park had accepted Mr Kisbee's resignation and was reviewing the ancillary security contract with Unimet.

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Looks like Wet and Wild has done pretty well so far according to this article, but who knows if there'll be a backlash next summer. Key points:


*160,000 season passes sold before opening December 12

*400,000 attendance to January 31, 2014 (since opening Dec 12)

*$5.8 million pre-tax profit for the six months to January 31 (impressive from a 12 Dec opening, albeit with pre opening season pass sales)



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