The Parkz Update: Dreamworld, January 2016
Dreamworld has launched their new Motorsports Experience as well as the limited run BeatBox show this summer. In this Parkz Update we look at a Dreamworld that has transformed into the best presented theme park in Australia.
In recent years we've been hard on Dreamworld. Many readers would agree: cost-cutting and questionable artistic decisions saw the park consistently reach new lows that were matched by subpar operations and disinterested staff. It's delightful that 2016 seems to be a new chapter in the park's history. Dreamworld is looking refreshed and more like a cohesive theme park than it has in 15 years or more, backed up by front line staff who seem to take a genuine interest in seeing guests enjoy their time at the park.
Recent history has seen the park dominated by thrill rides that are lacklustre (
CycloneHot Wheels SideWinder, Motocoaster), focus too heavily on spinning motion (Pandamonium) and offer painfully low hourly throughput... with Tail Spin managing to tick all three boxes. However, if this recent rejuvenation in operations and entertainment is anything to go by, Dreamworld might well be on track to once again deliver the style of innovative attractions that they were once known for.
And so begins our look at a truly refreshed and inviting Dreamworld...
The barn at the park's entrance has been given a very welcome coat of paint that makes it fit in nicely with the main entrance building.
The new globe at the front of the park will surely be a staple of Instagram selfies for years to come. The feature is "inspired" by similar globes
at Universal Studios parks, albeit with a somewhat obtrusive support structure. We'll also forgive the lack of tilt on the rotation.
The exhibit features a wide range of cars from Brock's storied career.
The cars are all immaculately presented.
Equal parts completist and macabre, the Daytona Sportscar that Brock ultimately died in on September 8, 2006 has been faithfully restored and is on display at Dreamworld.
Brock's Garage features more than 28 of Peter Brock's cars. Which we figure is marketing talk for 29 cars.
Here on a busy 35°C day in the peak summer trading period, the air conditioned Brock's Garage has only a slow trickle of inquisitive guests pass through. Either it has been poorly marketed, is poorly signed within the park, or an exhibit of cars just isn't that interesting to the average theme park guest... or a combination of all three?
Between Marlboro, James Hardie and Peter Brock, there's a lot of death lingering with this car.
The branding on the cars and the sponsorship branding throughout the area makes Motorsports Experience essentially a shrine to the commercial side of racing.
Perhaps the best thing about Brock's Garage to a theme park fan is this expansive building that would make a great home for a full-scale dark ride down the track.
Hot Wheels SideWinder
Worlds collide as the Motorsports Experience transitions from the adult-oriented Brock's Garage to the toy theme of Hot Wheels SideWinder
Some retro signage helps blend the ride with the overall hipster vibe of the Motorsports Experience.
Life-sized replicas of scale replicas.
If the turbine made no sense when the ride was Cyclone, then this odd structure that replaced it will have you scratching your head.
The tower is basically a vague collection of Hot Wheels things. It's the most bizarre piece of nothing theming you'll ever see.
The new Vekoma train. Ratcheting horsecollar restraints have been replaced by these hydraulic restraints that feature spring-loaded chest vests. They're comfortable for some, but depending on your build you may find the hard rubber vest quickly causes discomfort on the collarbone.
The ride features an almost insecure amount of branding everywhere you look.
You almost get the feeling that this ride is themed to Hot Wheels or something?
The colourful train takes a page from Mick Doohan Motocoaster's book. And reminds you that Dreamworld now has two yellow-tracked, racing themed roller coasters with rainbow trains.
The train heads down the plesasant first drop.
Hot Wheels is synonymous with orange track and royal blue supports. While the current light yellow and blue scheme is kind of close, given that the ride is in clear need of paintwork, it's a shame that Dreamworld didn't use this opportunity to give the ride the true overhaul it needed and paint the the ride to match its theme.
The train looks nice, but it really doesn't handle any better than the original Arrow train. The track still has the same odd transitions, bumps and kinks along its course. And the new Vekoma train navigates these with the same shudders and jolts as the original Arrow train.
It aims to fix issues with roughness but ultimately suffers because the track on this 1994 roller coaster is simply not well designed in the first place.
the track is looking very bad in places, including many spots of rust like this.
You can see here that they got as far as grinding off the rust in places. The extended downtime during its transition to Hot Wheels really could have given the the structure the desperate attention it needs.
The ride's climax featuring its two inversions is still perhaps the roughest part of the ride. And keeping your head firmly back as ride operators suggest in their announcement is a good way to feel just how hard the rubber headrest is as your head bounces back and forth.
Hot Wheels SideWinder proves that you can't teach an old dog new tricks.
V8 Supercars RedLine
RedLine has been completely rebuilt with a new system.
The new system gives theme park guests the rare opportunity to pretend they are racing cars on a computer screen.
The moving seats and realistic controls are the high point of the new system, while the simplistic graphics and computer monitors hardly compete with the calibre of racing games being released for PS4 and Xbox One these days.
Grid Burgers takes the logo of Grill'd, adds a racing theme and serves fairly standard burgers. A much needed improvement on previous burgers served up at Dreamworld, but not quite the gourmet experience they're aiming for.
Much of the Motorsports Experience is a bit unsure about whether it's racing themed, or just hipster styled.
Moments after reflecting on the car that Brock died in, this confusing item greets you in the retail shop.
There's really no words to describe this baffling display.
Red and black are evidently vogue for racing enthusiasts.
Possibly the world's biggest key rack?
Tail Spin draws one of the longest queues in the park. Don't be fooled by the number of people in the line: owing to its 12-rider dispatches every five minutes or so, Tail Spin is the lowest capacity "thrill" ride in the park.
Disintegrating sign, or brilliant themieng? You decide.
The Skylink Chairlift continues to be taken over by nature.
For the summer Dreamworld has really upped the ante with roving entertainers performing mini shows throughout the park. At a time when the competition seem to be reducing the amount of in-park entertainment, Dreamworld have taken it back to the 1980-90s when these sort of performances were commonplace.
Dreamworld has two newly born cubs on display in Tiger Island.
While they're this young and motionless, it's often hard to distinguish them from the stuffed tiger toys that surround them.
The Ice Cream Parlour has been given a saccharine makeover that makes the decor more sickeningly sweet than the desserts they serve.
Like many of the food and beverage renovations in the past few years at Dreamworld, the Ice Cream Parlour perfectly achieves what it sets out to and breathes new life into an outlet that was falling into disrepair.
It really shows what could be done with the decades-old outlet with just a creative coat of paint. And it's a welcome change from the past decade of bright primary colours dominating Dreamworld.
This retro delivery van sitting out the front one one of many minor details that sees Dreamworld in the best shape it's been in for 15+ years.
For the summer, entertainers such as this quartet offer an interesting passive experience for guests just looking to take a break from the rides and queues.
The outlet for Ride Express allows guests to upgrade to a newly redesigned virtual queuing system that includes three levels of not-having-to-queue. As of January 2016, $25pp avoids the queue but not the wait, $40pp will cut your wait time by 50%, and $65pp will allow instant access to a dozen of Dreamworld's rides.
The river has returned to its normal state. Let's hope they've found a way to keep it in this condition.
The Dreamworld Express chugs its way around the park with all the charm of a diesel tractor.
The stage for the BeatBox show currently dominates the front of the park.
The BeatBox show is a summer production that combines lighting, lasers and Top-40 hits into a solid show to cap off a day at a park. Though there's little to it -- just a sequenced mix of songs and some pretty impressive lighting and a dancing "DJ" -- the show works largely because of this simplicity.
2016 is off to a flying start and sees a much welcome return to form at Dreamworld. As always stay tuned to Parkz to see if this momentum keeps up through the year and sets a new standard for theme parks in Australia.