by Lucy Ardern and
THE Gold Coast's theme parks are gearing up for a multimillion-dollar tug-o-war over visitors in 2010, with major expansions planned along with new rides and shows.
As holiday crowds pour through the gates this week, park bosses are looking at maintaining their competitive edge next year as Melbourne and Cairns expand their theme park offerings, tempted by the near six million annual visitors to Movie World, Dreamworld, Sea World, Wet'n'Wild and Whitewater World.
Wet'n'Wild will open Australia's first multimillion-dollar Aqua Loop, which releases people trap-door style into four see-through water slides.
Plans to create a white Christmas next year at Movie World with snow falls and a million Christmas lights were also detailed, along with a new themed attraction at Sea World for children aged between five and 12.
Dreamworld has flagged a major relaunch of one of its big thrill rides in July 2010 and is also in negotiations to get another multimillion-dollar attraction to add to its Big Six thrill rides.
Warner Village Theme Parks chief executive officer Tim Fisher said the Aqua Loop would be open in time for the September school holidays.
"It will be the only one like it, with four loops," said Mr Fisher.
Warner Village owns Movie World, Sea World and Wet'n'Wild.
Movie World business unit manager Bob White said a smaller version of the Aqua Loop would also be constructed for those who wanted to 'make sure they were up for it' before climbing on board the new water slide thrill ride.
Mr Fisher would not go into detail about the plans for the new Sea World attraction, but said it was 'water related' and was a 'multi-million dollar investment'.
"It will appeal to families with younger children -- we felt that was something that was missing," he said.
Sea World this week unveiled its new Sea Viper rollercoaster -- a revamp and rebadging of the former Corkscrew ride.
Dreamworld spokeswoman Shelley Winkel said there were also plans to expand the park into some of its 4ha of spare land.
"We are going to do a major relaunch of one of our signature rides with a lot more power put back into it," she said. "There's also talk of a major new ride ... we are still in negotiations about that.
"When White Water World opened there was always a plan for phase two expansion but then the GFC (global financial crisis) hit, so depending how business goes, that is something we will also look at again ... we've still got heaps of land."
A second article accompanies the first but unfortunately is not online (as of yet) so I decided to type the first bit. Ashley Irvine (ash.1111 on these forums) was interviewed.
An avid theme park expert has warned the Gold Coast tourist attractions they have to deliver on their promise of new fun at the parks.
ThemeParkNewsDirect.com editor-in-chief Ashley Irvine is one of the most prolific commentators on theme parks in Australia.
He said the Aqua Loop was rumoured as the next big attraction for Wet'n'Wild.
"That has been the talk on all the internet forums," he said.
He expected Movie World bosses to keep a close eye on the development of the Universal Studios theme park in Singapore that was due to open early next year.
"This will probably give them a few ideas and could be a bit of a wake-up call for them," said Mr Irvine.
There had been more hype with new attractions than real excitement offered.
"They really need to do something to excite the audience," he said.
Warner Village Theme Parks CEO Tim Fisher said current attendance numbers were up on last year and the theme park season had started strongly after Christmas.
The rest of the article speaks about the new Narnia Studio tour, MTV plugs in as well as Kasey Chambers and Sam Clark performing at WNW and MW over the holidays.
So what do you guys think?