The Parkz Update: Sea World, January 2016
We head along to Sea World for a long overdue look at the recently launched Nickelodeon Land, the renovated Dockside Tavern plus a host of other changes and improvements around the park.
Image: Parkz. Storm Coaster has finally had its pointless seat belts removed.
When the car park is full – as it typically is during January – cars are directed onto the council land to the south of the park. Fun fact: Australian Outback Spectacular was originally planned for this land.
If parking on grass didn't tell you that it was going to be crowded, the temporary fencing for herding guests before they get into the park might be an indication.
Bikini Bottom Crosstown Express is a Zamperla Rockin' Tug.
The ride is one of three in Nickelodeon Land themed to SpongeBob, which makes sense given the popularity of the show and its nautical theme at a park like Sea World.
The ride's motion is basically a very toned down version of the family-oriented Disk'O, such as Dreamworld's Shockwave.
The "bus" gently rotates as it rocks back and forth on the curved track.
SquidWard waiting for the next bus.
Posters adorn a bus shelter for such exciting Bikini Bottom destinations as Glove World.
Kelp shakes on display gives this a sort of theme-park-within-a-theme-park vibe.
Patrick's Jellyfish Frenzy is a Zamperla Demolition Derby. Teacup style pods with rider-controlled spin spin in a figure-of-eight pattern with no shortage of near-misses.
With three SpongeBob rides, Nickelodeon Land could nearly have been just all-out SpongeBob themed.
SpongeBob's Boating School Blast is the Gold Coast's first true children's coaster.
Inoffensive SpongeBob-esque landscaping surrounds the coaster, though the ride is anything but immersive.
The motor housing underneath the lift hill has been restyled (this is an older photo). You can also see the ride camera hidden discretely in the brick wall.
The coaster is a the latest version of the Zamperla family coaster and features completely redesigned curves and banking. This should mean the ride is smoother than other similar models around the world, which are notorious for roughness despite the ride's meek size.
The front of the boat-themed train.
The train, like cars in the SpogeBob universe, features an outboard motor as its method of propulsion.
The meet-n-greet area for the Ninja Turtles has moved into Nickelodeon Land, which is home to Donatello's Ninja Flyers.
The harder you pedal the higher you go.
The ride signage is the only patch of shade for the queue. Given that the ride seems to be the most popular in Nickelodeon Land and also has quite slow throughput, it could really do with a bit more shelter.
Michelangelo is the most stereotypical teenager of the group, according to Wikipedia. Which explains the skateboard... and the nunchucks.
Herb and vegetable gardens suitable for making pizza sauce surround the ride.
The junkyard-meets-Italian kitchen look works well for the ride.
Water cooler bottles + plants makes for a suitably junkyard planter. But we're guessing Sea World isn't getting the deposit back from Neverfail...
Blueprints for the flying contraptions.
Even the drainage is appropriately themed.
The park's original carousel has been updated with a Dora the Explorer theme.
This Mexican shelter is for photo opportunities with costumed Dora the Explorer characters.
The second of two Dora the Explorer themed rides at Nickelodeon land is Boots' Banana Boogie.
The ride is the only one to survive multiple reincarnations of this children's area. It was Airborne Barrel Brigade at Cartoon Network Cartoon Beach (1999-2007), Elmo's Sea Safari at Sesame Street Beach (2007-2011) and Air Sea Explorer at the generic Beach Break Bay (2011-15).
Sky High Skyway
The Sky High Skyway has been retired, meaning that now both chairlift rides at Gold Coast parks are sitting, standing-but-not-operating.
It wouldn't be a closed cable ride without support poles reminding you of its existence.
Ray Reef has recently been entirely enclosed with netting, presumably to keep birds out of the area.
It's likely that it was the food on sale to hand-feed the stingrays that was attracting birds, but it's odd that Ray Reef had been open for seven years before this was deemed necessary.
The entirely pointless, unhygienic, dispatch-slowing and prone-to-failing seat belts have been removed from Storm Coaster. It's a rare win for logic.
The only adult-friendly aspect of Nickelodeon Land is the long overdue makeover of Dockside Tavern, Sea World's idyllic pub/bar.
The once expansive bar counter has been reduced to a small corner to make way for more seating with an area to queue. In essence, a large bar that handled crowds well was reduced to make room for a queue, because the new smaller bar doesn't handle crowds.
In all their wisdom, Sea World have gone against the typical practice in Australian bars of a separate queue for food so that ordering a few quick beverages aren't held up by those making slower food orders. There's only one line for ordering at the new Dockside Tavern, meaning that anyone just wanting to buy a drink must stand in the same as those wanting to place food orders.
Making the bar smaller to fit more tables in would be a good idea, if it weren't for the fact that the entire interior dining space was empty. Even on a particularly busy Summer day the entire inside area was empty. Given that the main attraction of Dockside Tavern is its vies over dolphin pools, this isn't exactly surprising.