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[Photo TR] Down Under 2018


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This February I had the chance to escape the Virginia winter and experience Australia for the first time. There were a lot of incredible things to do and places to see, but I also tried to steer the trip towards theme parks when I could.

 

First stop was Sydney, home of the world's only wooden wild mouse! Unfortunately, it was closed , but at least it was getting refurbished.

 

One of the most notable things about downtown Sydney for me, was how close together everything was. From the hotel, we could walk to the Opera House, the docks, and hundreds of restaurants. We could also take a slightly longer walk across the bridge and go to Luna Park. The city was vibrant - it just felt bright and colorful, with new activities around every corner. Very clean, too. Beats every city I've visited in the US.

 

Sydney Harbour Bridge: I loved the bridge. Went across it a few times, including once for a morning run. It provides great views of Sydney, the Opera House, Luna Park, and the downtown buildings. You can also climb it for a price. The Bridge Climb was exciting and efficient. The climb tour guides were all a lot of fun. They were knowledgable and seemed to truly enjoy their jobs.

 

Luna Park: The location on the water is pretty great, and the Wild Mouse looked fun. Unfortunately we didn't get to ride it. The rest of the park has a drop tower and pretty standard carnival attractions. It's also right next to an Olympic-sized swimming pool if you're interested in that sort of thing.

 

Opera House: Being the uncultured American that I am, I had never been to an Opera before. I saw The Nose, which is really weird, but also very funny depending on your sense of humor. During this performance, I discovered that I don't like Opera. Even though everything was in English, I still needed the subtitles to understand what they were singing. The lack of discernible tunes also started bothering me after a while. I'm very glad I got to see an Opera at the Sydney Opera House, but I would be reluctant to see another one.

 

Restaurants: The food was great! There's a different place every 10 feet as you walk around the harbour by the Opera House. Breakfast was my favorite. I found that every breakfast I ate in Australia was huge. Greatest bacon I've ever had. Also, Australians seem to really love mushrooms. They are offered as a side for almost every meal. I started to assuming this was one of the reasons people were so healthy . . . I did not see a single overweight non-tourist on my whole trip!

 

Tall Ship Harbour Cruise: The cruise was an add-on to the Scenic World trip package we purchased, and I'm very glad we went. The captain was great, and very patiently interacted with all the kids around him while he navigated. The other tour guides were also friendly, pointing out all the landmarks and such. Happy tour guides seemed to be the theme of this trip, as everyone seemed to be enjoying their job.

 

Chinese New Year: It was Chinese New Year when we were there, so the city was all decked out in celebration. It was pretty neat, and made me want to see what awesome things Sydney did for each of the holidays.

 

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The entire harbour area was beautiful and handled crowds pretty well

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There were tons of farmers markets and shops on a lot of the streets

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View of the bridge and the Opera House from Luna Park

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The Ferris Wheel provides some great views

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Luna Park had a nice, clean midway

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Saddest picture of the trip

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It looked so pretty

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Opera House from the tall ship

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Opera House from shore

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Walking Across the Sydney Harbour Bridge

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Opera House from the bridge

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Sydney Skyline

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The tall boat captain was pretty cool, as you can see in this picture

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The tall boat tour was one of the pleasant surprises of our Sydney trip

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A great view after spending 24 hours flying

Edited by chaos
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Great shots of Sydney and it's harbor!

 

And that Wild Mouse! Darned if it didn't look like the one that used to be (RIP) in Blackpool!*

 

 

*What I can see of it, from that angle, lol!

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Thanks for all the comments!

 

We made it out to Scenic World in the Blue Mountains (home to the tragically SBNO Orphan Rocker). And even without the coaster, Scenic World is one of my favorite parks I've ever been to. The staff is really nice (like Dollywood/Silver Dollar City nice) and super energetic. The park is in a rainforest, so everything about it is absolutely beautiful and breathtaking.

 

The crazy thing is, there was a massive amount of fog when we went, so I can't even imagine how much more beautiful everything would look without it. If I went back, I would definitely plan on spending more than half a day there.

 

The park has three "rides." One of them is a Skyway, which takes you across a valley hundreds of feet in the air. Second, there is a railway, which is the coolest railway I've been on. This is not Magic Mountain Orient Express. This thing is STEEP. The elderly folks in our car did not like it at all. It goes in a pitch black tunnel for a while, and then opens up to beautiful views of the rainforest.

 

Once you are down in the valley, you could go hiking for days. But, given that we were short on time, we took the shorter, 30 minute trail to the Cableway. The Cableway is very similar to the Skyway, but it takes you from the bottom of the valley back up to the top, which is where all the food/gift shops are. The cool thing about the Cableway is that it gives you some good views of the cliffs, and more importantly, Orphan Rocker.

 

Seeing Orphan Rocker's track in person made me so sad it is not operating. It uses the terrain so well, and is in such a unique area that it would probably be in my top 10 based on that alone. I have a new dream that Mack will come in and rebuild it the right way, because it truly would be an experience like no other.

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Everything looked nice and picturesque

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The fog kept on rolling in

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We stopped at a small town to eat breakfast

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Another great breakfast! Australia also seemed to love buttered banana bread.

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On the way up the mountains

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It's starting to look a little foggy . . .

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We got dropped off at the entrance to the skyway

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In line for the Skyway

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Leaving into the fog

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This was the view for most of the ride. Kind of scary just knowing your hundreds of feet up

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The gondolas had a glass floor and everything! Too bad it made no difference in the fog.

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Almost in

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Boarding

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POV shot . . . exiting the dark tunnel

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Final stretch into the valley

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In line for the railway

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Historical railway photos

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They were making balloon animals for all the kids waiting in line.

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The employees were awesome! Relaxed, energetic, and REALLY nice.

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More photos, and a video!

 

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Rainforest

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More rainforest

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Trees

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More trees

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I could have hiked around this place all day

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Benches

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Map

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I don't remember why I was having so much fun on this horse.

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Orphan Rocker lift vehicle

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Lift

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Orphan Rocker down through the valley

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Great look at Australia so far! It's a place that's definitely on my list for a coaster trip.

 

I can't recall my previous thoughts on whether I wanted to go to Scenic World, but you've convinced me that it's 100% worth visiting despite the lack of an operating coaster (and worse, the sad teasing presence of Orphan Rocker).

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  • 3 weeks later...

Now for the coaster-less update of the trip: We took a brief side trip to Queenstown, New Zealand. I highly recommend it, as it is a short flight and Queenstown is absolutely beautiful and feels very vast, clean, and (mostly) untouched. You can take a cableway up to the top of a mountain, where there is a bungy and a downhill cart racing attraction. The ride is fun, but the views from so high up are what make it so special.

 

We went ziplining with Paradise Ziplines, which also involved hiking through some mountains and around a beautiful stream. Then we went on a jet boat through the river featured in the Fellowship of the Ring and the new Mission Impossible movie. Like I stated before - no coasters, but the scenery and other attractions definitely make it worth the trip.

 

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Here is one of the streams we ziplined over

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Racing carts down

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Ready to zipline!

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There is a mountain behind it, filled with fun attractions

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The whole town is situated on this lake

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We did not do the bungee, but we did enjoy the view

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They said may Lord of the Rings scenes were filmed in this area

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More landscapes that were in Lord of the Rings (I think)

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There were so many Lord of the Rings tours driving around

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You could also bungee jump over this river

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Mission Impossible had recently finished filming here

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Lord of the Rings also utilized this river

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Did I mention this place was beautiful?

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^ wow.. . what beautiful pictures!

 

it almost looks like you were on an episode of the Amazing Race, doing go karts, and ziplines

 

great report, thanks for sharing.

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Now onto Warner Bros. Movie World.

 

So I was only given one day in Queensland, Australia. That meant I had a total of 7 hours to go to Movie World, Dreamworld, and Sea World (Australian parks close promptly at 5 pm for some reason, even in summer) But, even though I was only at Movie World for 2.5 hours, I was able to ride all the coasters, eat, and take some pictures and videos.

 

The staff here was incredibly friendly, but they don't mess around when it comes to "no loose articles". They have eagle eyes when it comes to your pockets. The attendants spotted the outline of my hotel key card in my pocket and made me go put it in the locker.

 

So I love Movie World. It's what I imagine a Six Flags park might be like if Six Flags invested in theming and a higher quality park experience. My only complaint is that Movie World is pretty small. So here's my take on all the coasters:

 

DC Rivals Hypercoaster (front seat): This is my new favorite type of hyper coaster! Anyone who's been on the Mack launch coasters knows how comfortable the seats are. Now the first half of the ride has some good airtime, maybe a little more intense than large B&M hyper coaster hills. But then the 2nd half is filled with insane ejector air - like an RMC but without the quirky sideways airtime.

(backwards seat): This coaster backwards is the single most intense coaster experience I've ever had. It left a bigger impression on me than my first ride on X, or I305, or my first ride on Steel Vengeance. It may just be me, but extreme airtime when you can't see it coming is thoroughly unsettling and incredible.

So overall, I think this is a top 10 coaster, and its only real detractor is that it is built next to the parking lot.

 

Arkham Asylum - Shock Therapy: It's an alright SLC. The ride is only slightly smoother than T3 at Kentucky Kingdom (they both have the new trains with the new restraints). Yes, it does have that cool bonus helix. And yes, it is the best, most intense part of the ride. But what elevates this above every single other SLC is the queue line and the theming. And, if you're going to have an SLC, you might as well theme it to "Shock Therapy" at an Asylum.

 

Green Lantern Coaster: It's exactly what you expect. Quirky, kind of short, but fun. Not as good as El Loco at Adventuredome.

 

Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster: I really liked this one. It's like a Wild Mouse, but with lots of fun surprises thrown in.

 

Superman Escape: The coaster part is a slight disappointment, as it has little to no airtime. However, I had no idea how extensive of a dark ride portion there was. The whole "trapped in a subway" storyline is executed very well, with minimal but effective set pieces. And the moment where Superman "rescues" you left a big smile on my face. I wish Six Flags would clone this coaster (or at least the dark ride portion) cause I would love every single one.

 

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Looks pretty standard here

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Even more theming

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More theming

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But the line is very well themed

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Bonus Helix!

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Unfortunately, the back row costs extra (but it's worth it!)

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Big beautiful elements in the beginning; crazy airtime at the end

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We headed straight for DC Rivals

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Those trains look so cool (and comfortable)

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Hard at work inside the tower

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The Drop Tower was being worked on

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Hard to say goodbye, but we had to get to Dreamworld!

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All the line had cool theming elements

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Pretty standard El Loco. The 4-a-row seating didn't change the experience much

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The character actors were really good. Dare I say Disney caliber?

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Superman's dark ride section was amazing.

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The rest of the ride is fun, but not as great as others like it.

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I was bummed out to see this closed

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Looks like a great flume ride

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The best themed SLC ever

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If you've ridden Time Travel in the back, multiply that first drop by ten and you get this drop.

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This coaster just makes me happy

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Great report! DC Rivals backwards really looks like one of the best coaster experiences out there. I loved Time Traveler's backwards ejector air filled drop, so I can only imagine what an entire layout of that must be like.

 

I'm sort of shocked Superman didn't have any airtime. That looked like a pretty solid layout.

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Great report, need to check out DC Rivals. Looks like the best Mack IMO.

 

Surprised to hear your thoughts on Superman, I thought the two big airtime hills after the tophat had awesome ejector.

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Lovely report! I also loved Superman and thought it had great airtime (but mostly in the front). Do they still have allocated seating at the Aussie parks? A definite policy downside...

 

Sydney's Wild Mouse is pretty good but by all accounts didn't live up to Blackpool's version.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Dreamworld:

 

A small step down from Movie World as far as both rides and theming are concerned. However, the employees were still just as friendly, and it still just felt "nicer" than most parks in the US. Also, I may be dumb for not realizing it before, but I guess the "Dream" in "Dreamworld" is a reference to Dreamworks. There is a huge section on the middle of the park filled with Madagascar, Shrek, and Kung Fu Panda themed attractions. I'm also hoping this means that the park will get some awesome How to Train Your Dragon themed coaster one day.

 

Unfortunately, Tower of Terror was closed, so I won't be able to compare it to Superman at SFMM. But I did get to ride all the other coasters.

 

BuzzSaw: This was my very first Maurer Sky Loop. While I'm not the biggest fan of shuttle-type coasters, the upside down lift hill is incredible, and quite unnerving. I have no idea why this type of lift isn't more popular. Other than that, I'm sure it's the same as all the other models like it.

 

Escape From Madagascar: Same as all the other Vekoma Suspended Family coasters. I guess being in the very well themed Madagascar area makes it a tiny bit better than the average clone.

 

Motocoaster: I had no idea this coaster existed until I came across it. Fun little surprise. Pretty good launched family coaster. Much better/ more intense than Pony Express at Knott's. Also, I like how the last two rows have little side cars for kids who don't want to get on the bike seats.

 

Hot Wheels Sidewinder: One of the more rough Arrow loopers, but it has the new trains with the more comfortable restraints so there's not really any head banging. I love the theme! It has one of the coolest queue lines, and the themed trains look really nice. Kind of unique layout, as the two inversions are at the very end of the ride.

 

I quite enjoyed this park, and hope they can finally move on from the accident and get at least one more major ride.

 

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Headed to BuzzSaw first

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Impromptu performances like this really added to the atmosphere

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The Motocoaster was a pleasant surprise

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Zooming through the course

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I loved the little sidecars!

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Madagascar

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This view from the Madagascar queue was the closest I got to Tower of Terror

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This Shrek farts and bubbles up water

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Shrek carousel

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One final look.

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I loved how they saved the inversions for the end. Didn't realize it until I was actually on the ride going through them.

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This flat ride looked pretty. Didn't ride it though.

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The entrance plaza was very nice

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Save the Hot Wheels Arrow Looper for last

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The the trains were pretty and colorful

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Too bad Tower of Terror was closed. :(

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BuzzSaw and Tower of Terror greet you from the parking lot.

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The queue was pretty awesome

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That's me in the front! I really love the upside down lift hill!

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Great reports!

 

I've been wanting to do a winter trip to Australia for a long time and Dreamworld and that fun little motocoaster would definitely be on my schedule, even though it's pretty solidly panned by most coaster fanatics I still think it would be a fun ride for us. It's also a great tribute to Mick Doohan, Australia's winningest GP racer.

 

I've been following the inquest on the Dreamworld Thunder River incident inquest and so far the park and its maintenance and training are really being raked through the coals. It's so sad to see a park that is beautiful and vibrant on the surface have so many issues.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Final update of the trip!

 

We visited Sea World very briefly - just enough to ride the two big coasters and monorail and walk around. To be honest, I was kind of disappointed in this park. It's clean and nice, and I didn't have many complaints, but it just felt like a pale imitation of the SeaWorld Parks in the US. However, the surrounding city, Surfer's Paradise is like 10 times nicer than Orlando or San Diego. So if you travel here, definitely plan to hang out at the beach and explore the city (something that we unfortunately didn't not have enough time for).

 

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The entrance was nice enough

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So was the view once inside

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"Nice" is the my go-to word for this park. I liked it, but it didn't wow me like the other parks in Australia

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Surfer's Paradise Skyline

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Storm Coaster

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The coaster part feels higher than any of the Atlantis rides, but it is pretty slow and less forceful

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The only really themed section is at the end of the ride, where I couldn't get any good pictures.

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The queue had some good theming, though

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I did love the entrance plaza

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Riders

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The park was pretty dead

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Fun little ride, but not as good as the (very) similar Motocoaster 15 minutes away.

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The beach at night . . . really beautiful place

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It gives you great views of the riders!

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