I had the opportunity to ride Big Dipper 3.0 yesterday multiple times.
Firstly; Wow! This coaster is great and is exactly what Luna Park Sydney has needed in the last couple of years. It packs a punch, provides a spectacular view of Sydney, has some incredible elements and its pacing is spot on from start to finish. It is easily the best thrill attraction in the park by a country mile (understandably) and I'd comfortably place it fairly close to Jet Rescue in coaster rankings.
Going through the entire experience, the queue definitely sets expectations fairly low. Besides the nice murals during the stairs at the start and the old Big Dipper 1.0 coaster train, it is not a nice queue. You climb the aforementioned mural stair cases until you reach the cement platform that tumble bug used to reside on where you now have the option to go right into Foyeur 2 at the big top or straight forward towards Big Dipper. At this point you can you see the holding area for the second train which is interesting considering it's so close you could touch it (and has no covering which is kind of interesting considering how harsh the Australia sun can be) but surrounding the ride footprint are chain wire fences covered in custom fence mesh graphics which combined with the metal staircases and unpainted aluminium railings makes it look like a construction site.
As you make your way up these stairs and start to realise that this attraction is not at all disability friendly, you come to the controversial metal archway bridge. Legitimately this feels like something you expect to see in a prison and it was not uncommon to hear 'dead man walking' from our group as we meandered over the bridge. You do get an interesting vantage overlooking the attraction but its definitely not nice looking and once again all feels incredibly temporary.
From here you make your way down from the metal bridge into a small cattle pen that uses similar decking to what we've seen behind the park in Luna Land surrounded by further chain wire fences with custom fence mesh graphics on them. These graphics show the different iterations of Big Dipper through history which is neat but once again it feels like it should be temporary. To help assist with the guest movement they use small modular metal fences which were neatly organised at the start of the day but progressively got shoved into the corner of the cattle pen as the night went on but thankfully all guests were respectful of the queue. There is now one final ramp you ascend before the attraction and then you're ready to board!
The line honestly moves fairly quickly so thankfully you're not stuck out in the open for too long. The longest we waited was around 10-15 minutes which isn't bad for the parks premier attraction. This is assisted by the fact that they make sure to stage guests as the coaster is cycling which helps to increase flow. Keep in mind that there was only one train running all day.
Once you ascend the ramp you're now greeted to the station which is incredibly barebones and, considering the height, doesn't even provide a good vantage of the park because the station is almost entirely surrounded by solid walls. Instead you get a good vantage of the coaster, expect for the non-inverting loop, which helps to hype you up as you see other riders soaring around. The ride cycle is roughly 30-40 seconds so it's not longer before the next group is back and as they disembark you're ready for your own journey. Before you get harnessed in you must drop off all your loose belongings but there are no lookers are anything provided except for some coloured tubs which still had the labels on them from where they were purchased. They are red and blue which mirrors the ride vehicles but they honestly looked really tacky.
Sit down, cross your arms and the second ride operator will lower the harness for you. Nobody in our group had a problem with the seat or harness and I found it to be rather comfortable! Though no time to think because before you know it the ride is moving. The first little jolt out of the station is a friendly introduction to the movement of the attraction, before it cranks things up to eleven and you hit the second launch and soar into the non-inverting loop. You don't have a lot of time to think here but the view that you get is spectacular! The forces placed on you through all the elements (on average. I'll get to this later) are strong but not uncomfortable, and you constantly find yourself surprised by how much a punch this coaster is packing. As you leave the non-inverting loop you now enter the mess of track surrounding the queue area and you fly through this area. Even riding it near five times I found it difficult to anticipate where the coaster was going next because it trashes you from left to right and even, at one point, upside down. I'm often not a fan of corkscrew like elements but whatever element is right at the end is really fun!
And, before you know it, the journey is over and you hit the brake run. This is the area where people have their little 'woohoo!' moment as the train coasts into the station and you get ready to disembark. They make you keep your head back and cross your arms during this point because once the harness releases it springs up with some extreme force. I almost saw a kid get their nose clobbered because despite holding the position for a little while, right at the last second they turned around to see their friends reaction and the restraint grazed their face. I will not be surprised if this gives somebody a bloody nose one day.
Gather your belongings, exit to the right, descend the stairs and check out your photo! The experience of Big Dipper is over.
Overall here are my takeaways that I can't figure out how to put into a proper sentence structure:
It is an incredible coaster presented fairly poorly. It does not feel like the parks premier attraction considering the queue and presentation, but it sure does feel like it when you're on-board.
The ride has 'personality' and it changes through the day and where you sit. My first ride was at the back and it is VERY rough! Then our next three rides as a group were at the front and it was spectacular. Though our final ride before park close was at the front and suddenly now the front was rough and it made me feel rather unwell. If you get the choice, ride as close to the front as possible. Usually I'd say the opposite for most launched attractions but this is the exception. Somebody in our group predicted it had to do with the wheel sizes differing from front to back. Hopefully it doesn't degrade with age and operation.
It goes down a lot. There were several times the ride simply was not running for whatever reason and one of those times it appeared that the train got stuck on the brake run and the guests needed to be evacuated. On top of this the ride also did not open until around midday.
Operations was pretty good all day except for the end of the night where the ride operated announced shortly towards ten o'clock that they were only doing two more rides and those towards the back of the line would miss out. It came out of nowhere and everybody was really shocked. You need to manage guests expectations in this instance as the last experience of the night should not be them getting kicked out of a line that they've already waited 10-15 minutes in. The park needs an announcement an hour before close telling guests to get their final rides in and that they cannot guarantee that guests in queue will not be able to experience the attractions close to closing time.
I hope that some time within the next 12-18 months that they attraction goes down for an extended period of time to improve the queue. It just isn't good and is bad show. If this is not temporary than I will be extremely disappointed as no amount of cutesy paintings will fix this and its polarising compared to the vibrant and colourful park down below.
I'm surprised the second train was not running. It was not busy but you would think that they'd want to take the opportunity to get operators used to cycling two trains as much as possible so that they don't panic when crowds return. I can predict that as COVID eases this ride will become more popular and the operations we saw were good, but would struggle under standard school holiday crowds.
I would argue that is easily one of the most unique coasters in the world. No where else can you soar through an iconic skyline on such a unique type of roller coaster. Seeing the harbour bridge and the city fly around your vision as you thrash through the coaster course is very memorable and makes the experience extra special.
If Luna Park Sydney is listening; I want more things like this! You've got plenty of flat rides and now I'd love to see more future additions like this coaster. I have no idea where you'd put them, but at this stage it seems like your only choice is more custom designed coasters considering space limitations.
I love how you can see this coaster from so many different angles. There are certain vantages obstructed by Coney Island, but otherwise you've got clear vision on almost all parts of the ride and its great to just sit and watch.
It's got an amazing roar! It doesn't carry a lot which is nice for residents, but when you're nearby it really lets you know that it is there.
That's all I can think of for now. I know it's a lot but TL;DR I really liked it but it's presentation is weak.