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Tributes flow for Dreamworld founder John Longhurst


Slick
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As reported in the GCB, John Longhurst has passed away, aged 90. Most folks will remember John as the founder (and builder) of Dreamworld, responsible for literally carving out the rivers and buildings that exist today.

John was a visionary and will be missed. If you'd like to learn more about his legacy, I interviewed him a few years back and turned our chats into a three-part series which is, as far as I can find, still the best source online about how he built Dreamworld.

 

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Thanks for the vision and memories John that so many have enjoyed.  You were a truelly fascinating Aussie character worthy of more fame.

 

@Slick I only came across your article a few weeks ago, and it was such a great read.  I was going to reach out to you to ask whether we could petition John for a Biography or something.  Alas, too late.

It sounded as if there were many more interesting stories to John himself, let alone his creation of Dreamworld, that could fill a book.  His fascination with Walt Disney, which I only came to know through your article, struck a similar chord in myself.  I found your article after searching for some info on John other than the small details on Wikipedia.  I was sparked by learning that my step father installed the original conveyer belts on the Log Ride, and had a few good stories about working there.  Thanks for that interview mate, and I hope if you have any further details or insight that you'd make an update to the article!

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3 hours ago, RobMac said:

Come on DW.....time now for a statue of John at the entry please 👍

You know how I said that John didn't just do what Disney did, he understood why? Adding a statue is literally just doing something Disney do without really understanding why.

Given John's public statements of what he thinks of the park nowadays, I don't think them adding a statue is quite the grand gesture you think it is.

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Put simply, he was a childhood hero. What he did with Dreamworld is clearly something only a very special person could achieve. 

To build a park that - adjusted for inflation - cost around $52 million in today’s money, is literally crazy when you think about it. With no real guarantee that it would even be popular. Granted, he had financial help from Keith Lord, but John was the driving force.

Australia’s Number 1 Tourist Attraction in 1987 cemented his legacy. Yet people discount what he did, which is unfair. 

The John Longhurst Dreamworld truly was a magical place full of character and warmth. It is a place that will always be dear to me. Thank you John. 

 

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6 hours ago, joz said:

You know how I said that John didn't just do what Disney did, he understood why? Adding a statue is literally just doing something Disney do without really understanding why.

Given John's public statements of what he thinks of the park nowadays, I don't think them adding a statue is quite the grand gesture you think it is.

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17 hours ago, joz said:

You know how I said that John didn't just do what Disney did, he understood why? Adding a statue is literally just doing something Disney do without really understanding why.

Given John's public statements of what he thinks of the park nowadays, I don't think them adding a statue is quite the grand gesture you think it is.

After John sold Dreamworld, he went back less than a few times - a few weeks after the sale and a few years ago. On his last visit, he remarked to me personally that he hadn't slept for days after witnessing the state of the park, noting that while Main Street (pre Sky Voyager) looked nice enough, everything beyond there was largely unkempt and not to the calibre or standard he would wish for.

That's not to say John was always right about Dreamworld's future or how parks as a whole had evolved in the decades since the sale of Dreamworld - his hatred for any large "un-Disney-like" thrill ride was, at times, almost amusing - he was well known to hold his hand up to cover his face and the view of Dreamworld as he drove past, and we debated on more then one occasion about the merits of Rivals, large rides as a whole and how the industry in Australia had evolved and changed over the years.

Having said all that, my point is this - despite some of his industry perspectives not evolving with the times, I can guarantee you John would hate having his face forever plastered out the front of that park that doesn't understand his fundamental legacy in the same way he would hate having a roped-off, un-operational steam train engine plonked out the front of a closed train line, seemingly taunting guests about a memory that once was and is no longer.

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