The Parkz Update: Dreamworld unveils new and returning attractions as peak season winds down

As the busy summer winds down, Dreamworld announces the new Play School Wheel, gets Wipeout operational and the Log Ride continues its preparation for eventual reopening.

Image: Parkz. Wipeout is back up and running at Dreamworld.
Crowds continue to descend on Dreamworld as school holidays draw to a close.
It's always good to see these original ticket offices being used, given that they sit dormant for much of the year.
The way they offer a glimpse into the park for queuing guests is a staple of many theme parks around the world and a far more exciting way to start a day at a theme park than filing unceremoniously through the guest services building.
While on that building, here's a token look at the Dreamworld Cinema ahead of its transformation into a flying theatre later this year.

Wipeout

Those familiar counterweights peak out over the tops of the pandanus trees that line Ocean Parade.
Ocean Parade has earned its name back with the return of Wipeout, the area's only truly ocean themed attraction.
Another reliable favourite of Ocean Parade high above the pandanus trees.
For something different, here's an Ocean Parade flat ride towering over palm trees. The vast majority on Tail Spin tend to go for gentle rocking or not at all rather than aiming for furious barrel rolls.
Wipeout has reemerged looking fresh.
You can't deny that Wipeout is an iconic ride and wonderful to watch in action.
Looking back, it appears that the Vekoma plaque was removed way back during the ride's 2014 maintenance and was never reinstated. Does it still count as a Vekoma ride?
The ride's trademark surfboards are missing, and new ladders and platforms have been installed where they once sat, making it near impossible for this iconic feature of the ride to return.
The water feature that was added during its previous overhaul has been removed, a real shame given the added excitement this added to the ride.
Wipeout is the last remaining example of the old Arrow/Vekoma style horse-collar restraint in Australia.
Already known for its loud, mechanical sounds, Wipeout is making some new grunts and groans. They are hopefully just a case of components wearing in, because it's quite jarring.
A policy exists that doesn't allow riders under a certain height to sit in the end seats. It's not brought to the attention of guests in advance and operators don't sort riders prior to boarding, meaning these awkward seat changes take place very frequently.
The ride also appears to be having some teething issues with restraints. Two or three tries to get the restraints successfully locked was not uncommon throughout the day. It makes for particularly slow dispatch times.

It goes without saying that Wipeout is a truly unique ride and one of Dreamworld's hallmark attractions. Seeing it out of action for so long raised questions about its age and suitability as a viable attraction, but its return instantly reminds you just how integral this ride is to Dreamworld. The awesome 2014 water fountains are no more, but Wipeout is still its old, insane self.

Finicky restraints that often close and release two or three times before the ride is ready to go slows things down and makes more than a few onboard visibly agitated, so lets hope that things like this – and its new uncharacteristic mechanical groans – are just teething issues that Dreamworld can address.

Play School Wheel - ABC Kids World

The Play School Wheel has appeared in recent days in ABC Kids World.
The ride is a stock standard Zamperla Mini Ferris Wheel featuring some fairly uninspiring Play School artwork.
Most theme parks commission Zamperla to build custom themed gondolas (Pandamonium is a great example), but for this ride Dreamworld have gone with a stock standard and particularly dated design of caged gondolas.
The theming consists of characters printed on the sides of the gondolas.

Any investment in new attractions is a good thing for any theme park, let alone Dreamworld with its well documented struggles. The issue with a ride like Play School Wheel isn't its existence, or even its suitability for its target audience. It will no doubt be a hit for preschool aged riders and parents watching alike, though the satisfaction most young kids can elicit from a coin-operated shopping centre amusement – or a cardboard box for that matter – tends to suggest that the target audience is easily pleased. As we've come to expect from Dreamworld, the problem with the Play School Wheel lies in the execution.

The ride's manufacturer Zamperla are known for their ability to intricately theme and customise attractions. Look at the tremendous detail on Dreamworld's own Pandamonium for this manufacturer's skills. Simlarly, Sea World's Donatello's Ninja Flyers is a whimsical, themed delight. What's puzzling about the Play School Wheel is just how perfunctory this attraction is. Zamperla's Mini Ferris Wheel has been installed countless times around the world; where most theme parks opt for a customised experience, Dreamworld have taken the quickest, easiest and no doubt cheapest route in execution.

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Gaudy looking gondolas say nothing inherently Play School – save for the prints of popular characters plonked onto the side of each – while harsh steel bars form a cage reminiscent of the questionable rides you'd strap yourself into between sack races and fairy floss at a school fete decades ago.

Doubtless a December opening was planned so Dreamworld had something – anything – to lean on for marketing as they went into the peak trading period. But like the delayed Trolls attraction and the reopening of Rocky Hollow Log Ride and Wipeout, this modest kids' ride also seems to have missed the target by a long shot. The implausible alternative is that Dreamworld made the deliberate decision to half build a new ride during the peak season while a handful of other major ride refurbishments already had engineering and technical staff stretched thin.

Play School Wheel demonstrates more of the fake it till we make it recovery strategy that has been the modus operandi of the past twelve months. It's a bare-bones addition that does nothing for Dreamworld's increasingly lacking theme park bona fides, but it's something – anything – that they can present to the market as a new addition and an apparent sign of their commitment.

Dreamworld has Play School Wheel slated for a February launch.

Rocky Hollow Log Ride

Nothing particularly dramatic has happened with the Log Ride in a number of weeks. Its reopening date has been completely removed from the Dreamworld website.
The bizarre sliding awnings are the defining feature of the Log Ride reopening and they raise a lot of interesting questions. Such as how staff will deal with the repetitive manual operation of these heavy steel devices. There don't appear to be any guide wheels, bearings or mechanisms to lessen the physical exertion needed to slide this into and out of position.
The awnings also appear to provide numerous pinch points for operators and guests alike. We'd also draw your attention to the gaffer taped upholstery.
The awnings slide to either side, loosely fixed to the arched frame with four u-shaped brackets. The steel mechanism along the top of the of the awning locks into the eyes welded at the top of each arch. When down in this side position, the entire weight of the frame is rested on the tip of just one of the rather flimsy-looking u-shaped brackets in the back corner.
Perspex is hard to escape on the Log Ride now.
Despite the questions surrounding the boats, the Log Ride sits looking ready to go.

We're very much of the opinion that the new Rocky Hollow Log Ride experience needs to be judged in action, but these additions to the ride's boats pose so many questions completely separate from their impact on the physical ride. Ignoring the aesthetic qualities – or the simple fact that no other flume ride anywhere in the world features something like this – they are a confusing mix of impracticality, unnecessary complication and seemingly inadequate design.

Dreamworld have not committed to a reopening date for the Rocky Hollow Log Ride.

Tiger Island

It's not all bad at Dreamworld though! Here's a few pleasant tigers doing pleasant tiger things in Dreamworld's thoroughly enjoyable Tiger Island.
Some lush green grass and shade does the trick.

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