NEDERLANDS // ENGLISH
What’s the best way to cure a huge jet lag? Coaster thrills! That’s why we’re starting our Australia trip in Gold Coast, a city which is within a 1-hour driving distance from Brisbane. Gold Coast could easily be described as Australia’s theme park capital. Consider it as an Australian version of Orlando, but in a much smaller scale. Gold Coast is home to 2 water parks and 3 classic theme parks. Although you won’t find any Disney or Universal here, the region has its own a movie-based park: Warner Bros Movie World. This park should be your top priority if you’re searching for coaster credits Down Under. Especially the park’s latest addition, a huge hyper coaster built by Mack Rides, is a big draw for thrill seekers. However, DC Rivals HyperCoaster is undergoing maintenance during our day at Movie World. That’s why we purchase a 7-day pass, which allows us to visit again after the refurbishment.
Warner Bros Movie World Gold Coast looks a lot like Movie Park Germany. That’s no coincidence: Movie Park was called Warner Bros Movie World Germany until 2005 and the park was directly based on its Australian sibling. That’s why you’ll probably recognise the entrance, the circular square and the Main Street on the right. Even the buildings and facades look familiar if you’re used to the German park. There’s one big difference: this Australian Main Street is mostly covered. The roof is visually rather unappealing, but I’m glad that it’s there. It’s quite a rainy day, so Main Street and the park’s central square are ideal to escape those unfavourable weather conditions.
At Movie-Park Germany, two attractions have been built in direct proximity to the park entrance. In Australia, you’ll find considerably more rides in this section. This is the park’s DC Comics area and it features four (!) roller coasters. One of the most famous coasters is Superman Escape, an Intamin Accelerator that opened in 2005. Superman’s top hat towers over the entry plaza and the ride looks quite spectacular. After securing our backpacks in a free locker, we enter the empty queue and we get to board the next train. Superman Escape is themed to a subway ride which doesn’t exactly goes as planned. An earthquake strikes during our train journey (this is convincingly simulated in a dark ride section) and we suddenly find ourselves in a collapsing tunnel. Luckily, Superman is there to save us and he manages to get us back into daylight. Although you shouldn’t expect any Disney level theming, this background story gives a nice extra touch to the ride. The actual coaster part is pretty good as well: Superman Escape contains a spectacular launch and some forceful curves. The ride may be a little short and there’s hardly any airtime on the top hat, but I actually enjoyed this roller coaster a lot. I would love to ride it again this afternoon, which is perfectly possible thanks to non-existing queues.
Our next ride is Arkham Asylum, a classic Vekoma SLC. This suspended looping coaster was inspired by The Joker and it represents some kind of torture device. And since torture is the ride’s main theme, Warner Bros did a great job. No seriously… Arkham Asylum makes me feel as if I’m thrown off a staircase. This is one of the most painful theme park attractions I’ve ever experienced and I really don’t understand how some other people seem to enjoy it. So dear Movie World management, if you read this… please get rid of this ride and buy a B&M inverted coaster instead. Australian coaster fans would be grateful.
I still don’t like S&S tower rides, so I’m really not interested in riding Batwing Spaceshot. However, the nearby dark ride looks more interesting. It’s called Justice League – Alien Invasion 3D and unfortunately, the ride’s name is more impressive than the actual experience. It’s a slow, uninteresting tour with mostly static scenes and some simple 3D screens. Justice League’s interactive part (killing monsters with laser guns, yay!) may keep children’s eyes away from the poor theming, but it’s just not working for me. Variable speeds and more elaborate decoration would make this ride considerably better.
Some rides look like they’ve been designed by drunk engineers during a staff party. And it seems as if S&S Worldwide throws lots of alcoholic parties. This American manufacturer already created some of the world’s most wicked roller coasters including Tranan, Eejanaika and Sequoia Adventure. Another coaster which belongs in this list, is Green Lantern Coaster. This El Loco type ride measures 500 metres of track and it contains bizarre elements. The ride starts with a very steep lift hill and a 120° first drop, followed by a curve which was banked in the wrong direction and a downward inline twist. Due to these strange elements, Green Lantern doesn’t feel comfortable. This has nothing to do with the ride’s smoothness (which is surprisingly okay) but it’s just a very unnatural experience. A staff member kindly invites us for a second ride, but ehm… no thank you.
I was hoping that DC Rivals HyperCoaster’s refurbishment would finish earlier than planned, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. So unfortunately, we won’t be riding any Mack Mega Coaster today. That’s why we move further into the park via the Main Street, which is home to two different shows. The first one is a short 3D film with characters from The Lego Movie. The film is set within a fictional theme park and I like that, although it’s actually just another 3D movie full of predictable special effects. Unfortunately, the park’s other show – which is called Hollywood Stunt Driver 2 – isn’t any better. Although they call it a stunt show, those race cars just make a few slow laps on the track. Whoever thought that Moteurs Action at Walt Disney Studios in Paris was disappointing, should definitely see this performance. Most boring stunt show ever, if you ask me.
If you turn to the right at the end of Main Street, you will enter a Looney Tunes themed section. And although this area is mostly designed for kids, I enjoy the atmosphere a lot. I grew up with Looney Tunes cartoons, so it’s all very recognisable for me. Besides, this Kid’s WB Fun Zone is themed and landscaped a lot more convincingly than the ugly Nickland at Movie Park Germany. However, you’ll hardly find any experiences for adults here. Unlike Nickland, where a lot of rides are suited for the entire family, most attractions at Movie World’s Fun Zone are children-only. We ride a Vekoma family coaster themed to Road Runner and Coyote for our coaster counter, but that’s it.
In most trip reports, I only talk about roller coasters and rides. However, there’s a lot more to write about. In this case, I really want to make clear that staff at Warner Bros Movie World are exceptionally friendly. You won’t see any unkind people or fake smiles here, but you’ll encounter many staff members who clearly enjoy what they’re doing. This is the laid-back atmosphere you’d expect in Australia. I would also like to make a compliment for the excellent food and beverage offerings in the park. We have lunch at Dirty Harry’s Bar & Grill, just like I did during my previous visit. This place serves delicious meat and freshly made nachos, burritos and salads. I really think this stall belongs in my top-3 of theme park food world-wide.
Food and coasters… this is everything I need during a day at Warner Bros. Maybe that’s why the park built a roller coaster opposite to Dirty Harry’s. This indoor coaster is called Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster and the entrance is themed to a haunted castle. During my previous visit in 2016, this indoor coaster turned out to be the park’s most surprising attraction. It’s a standard wild mouse built by Mack Rides, but Movie World enhanced the experience with a cool dark ride part, a vertical lift hill and a backward drop. That’s why Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster suddenly became my favourite wild mouse coaster on Earth. Unfortunately, today’s experience is totally different. I don’t know why, but Movie World recently removed most of the decorations, which makes the dark ride part seem rather useless nowadays. Warner Bros… why did this happen? Either way, I really can’t imagine the park being proud of the attraction’s current state, so I hope they will bring back those decorations soon. The ride will stay closed for 3 weeks at the end of 2018, so maybe that’s the ideal time to restore the ride in its old form. Until then, Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster is just a regular wild mouse in the dark.
Warner Bros Movie World seems to be in a love-hate relationship with theming and styling. Green Lantern, for example, was just built next to the parking lot without any decoration. However, a simple flat ride like Doomsday Destroyer received its own themed land including many great photo locations. Although I’m definitely not interested in riding this nauseating thrill ride, I am impressed by its decoration. If you ever wonder how to theme a flat ride properly, just take a look at this beauty. Or at Phantasialand’s Talocan, of course.
Another beautiful area is Wild West Falls. This is a classic Far West street including a huge mountain range and exotic vegetation. It’s simply stunning. Wild West Falls features just one attraction, but that’s a pretty awesome one. Wild West Falls Adventure Ride can best be described as Big Thunder Mountain meets Splash Mountain, including a backward descent. Wild West Falls Adventure Ride is exactly the refreshing experience we needed during a hot Queensland day. It’s similar to Rio Bravo at Parque Warner Madrid, but this Australian version is better maintained and the decoration looks more realistic than it does in Spain. Impressive ride.
Warner Bros Movie World isn’t huge and that’s an understatement. In fact, this place is so small that you won’t need a full day for a visit. That’s why we leave the park after our second ride on Superman Escape and we head to our hotel in Brisbane. But we’ll be back soon, so let’s fast-foward to our next visit on Saturday afternoon. Weather conditions have changed dramatically (clear blue skies, yay) and while arriving at the park, I’m noticing that DC Rivals is up and running. This is the moment my coaster-loving heart was waiting for.
DC Rivals HyperCoaster was inaugurated in September 2017 and it’s officially known as the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest, fastest and longest roller coaster. That sounds sensational, but there just aren’t that many big coasters this side of the equator. That’s why DC Rivals isn’t that unique compared to European or North-American standards: the tallest point is at 61 meters, the track measures approximately 1,400 metres and the train reaches a top speed of 115 km/h. The ride looks very impressive, though. Especially the stunning first drop (which can be found underneath a colossal image of The Joker) makes me believe that I’m about to experience a world-class roller coaster.
While entering Movie World, we immediately notice that the park is busy today. The sunny Easter weekend clearly attracted a big crowd, but the queue for DC Rivals HyperCoaster isn’t too bad. Despite slow operations, we only need 30 minutes to get to the ride’s station. And we’re in luck, because those friendly staff members assign the front seats to us.
Let’s get straight to the point: DC Rivals HyperCoaster is one of the best roller coasters I’ve ever ridden. This coaster delivers pure awesomeness from the first drop until the final brake run. The first descent is just as good as Expedition GeForce’s legendary first drop, the non-inverting loop is amazing and those curves feel more powerful than you’d expect from a Mack ride. DC Rivals also creates some great airtime moments and the coaster is remarkably smooth. However, during our second and third round, we notice that the ride is a little rougher when you’re seated towards the back of the train. I don’t consider this roughness as troublesome, but I do prefer the front row for the very best experience.
Have you ever dreamed of a backward ride on a hyper coaster? Then head to Movie World and pay 10 Australian dollars to get in DC Rivals HyperCoaster’s back row, which is reversed. Although it seems like a one-of-a-kind experience, I’m afraid this would be a little too extreme for me. That’s why we keep riding it forward, which is awesome anyway. I’m actually very happy that we returned to Warner Bros Movie World especially for this coaster. Thanks to this addition, the park confirmed its status as Australia’s roller coaster capital. They already had a wonderful Intamin Accelerator, but nowadays Movie World boasts another world-class ride. Furthermore, the park is blessed with motivated staff, beautiful landscaping and most of the theming looks pretty nice. That’s why Warner Bros Movie World is a fine amusement park and you should visit this place during a trip to Australia. The park and its pink piece of German steel are definitely worth it.
To be continued. See you soon at Dreamworld Australia!