Gold Coast 2015 – Day 7 – Dreamworld (3rd visit)…

I don’t know if it was whether I slept awkwardly or whether the exhaustion of hitting the theme parks every day has finally caught up with me but it was around 8:30am when I got up this morning. Ordinarily, and on a good weekend, I could easily sleep in until 10am, but not so here on the Gold Coast. Something tells me, however, that as soon as I’m back at work, I’ll be getting up at the very last conceivable minute each morning and practically begging to stay in bed to get some more sleep. Sandy and the kids had just left for kids’ club when I was getting out of bed. Joey didn’t seem overly interested in whatever activity it was that they were doing this morning, since he came back to the cabin not long thereafter. I took my time getting into gear and milled about the cabin a bit – just generally tidying up and whatnot.

It seemed like the weather front from yesterday and last night had finally cleared, as it was mostly clear skies and a balmy temperature outside the cabin. After a while, I left Joey playing on his iPad and wandered over to kids’ club to see what they were getting up to. They were just wrapping things up when I got there. Jennifer was keen to get into the swimming pool again and Sandy looked like she could do with a bit of a lie down, so I got Jennifer changed and took her over to the pool – which is about 60 seconds walk from our cabin. Joey was content to sit glued to his screen for the duration. Jennifer and I killed about half an hour at the pool before we came back and I set about cooking everyone their second breakfast (although it was my first). By late morning, the clouds had started to accumulate again and the temperature was dropping. In fact, we put the heating on for the first time this week and decided to leave it on so we have a nice and warm cabin to come back home to later this evening.

Since tomorrow is the weekend, and the beginning of school holidays, we suspect that the theme parks will be packed to the rafters. It’s Jennifer’s birthday tomorrow and she had chosen Dreamworld as her choice for what to do on her special day, but we convinced her that it would be best to have ‘her choice of activity’ today rather than tomorrow, since the queues would likely be much too long and she wouldn’t enjoy herself as much. She was more than happy with this idea so we got ourselves organised and set off for our third visit to Dreamworld.

The weather steadily worsened throughout the morning and by the time we hit the park turnstiles, it was really quite overcast and grey and the rain was starting to come down. We flashed our kids tickets and carers cards at Guest Services and they duly issued Sandy and me with free passes for the day. I asked whether the Tower of Terror ride was operational and held my breath. Fortunately, the woman said it was operating today. However, she said, the weather may ‘affect’ its operation. I assumed this meant that it would close if there were thunderstorms but the weather didn’t seem that bad to me so we hoped for the best. Both Jennifer and me really wanted to do the Tower of Terror thrill ride and so the family split up (neither Joey nor Sandy were ever going to do this ride) and I took Jennifer straight to that attraction. The queue for this ride is almost entirely inside with narrow corridors making it difficult to see far in front of you. This made it hard to judge how far from the front of the queue we were at any one point and it seemed like we really weren’t making much progress. After a while, it dawned on us (and our neighbouring queuers) that the ride wasn’t running. Every few minutes, we would normally hear screams of people as the carriage shoots victims through the tunnel and up the tower but the absence of this noise seemed to confirm that the ride had been closed. However, since there were no announcements being made, we just assumed this was a temporary thing and that the ride would start operating again shortly. This turned out to be the case but we probably spent a frustrating hour in the queue all up before we eventually made it to the front. The ride was well worth the wait in the end but the annoyance of no announcements, perhaps together with the inclement weather, did make me a bit grumpy for the rest of the day.

We exited the Tower of Terror ride into the now pouring rain, which really was quite heavy at times. The rain did eventually diminished throughout the afternoon. Fortunately, we had the foresight this morning to dress warmly with all arms and legs covered and with jackets for the kids. Since we had already seen all of the park (twice!) already this week, we just milled around for the most part in those sections that the kids had the most fun in. A burst of heavy rain sent us undercover at one point and we decided to have some lunch in one of the park eating areas. Unfortunately, the rain sent everyone else looking for cover and lunch at the same time and we had to stand around for 10-15 minutes waiting for tables to become available. I just lost out on several mad dashes to latch onto tables being freed up by departing guests on several occasions. Fortunately, one that was close to where I just happened to be standing was vacated and I grabbed onto it with dear life. Once Jennifer and I were seated, I called Sandy and she arrived with Joey shortly thereafter. It was always going to be an expensive proposition to eat theme park food. I’ve already sold each of my 5 kidneys three times over to pay for various things on this theme park holiday and I’m now up to chipping bits of liver off to. I’m hopeful that I have enough equity in the car to start towards a down payment on that dialysis machine when we get home. For now, however, we’re throwing caution to the wind and I just grinned and gulped when I was hit with the price of a small box of fries, hotdog and a small drink. There goes the kids tertiary education fund.

I swapped kids with Sandy and took Joey for another round of some of his favourite rides. We only just managed to get through the aeroplane ride and then into the theatre in time to join up with the others to see the Kung Fu Panda show he particularly wanted to see. This was followed by more aimless meandering from ride to ride for the next hour or so. There were more dry spells than rainy spells throughout the afternoon but we were all by now really quite damp. Towards the very end of the day, we decided to spend a few minutes in the park shops, since I really wanted to see just how far I could push the whole bankruptcy thing. Also, since it was Jennifer’s day, she was due a plush toy of her choice. A bit of communication breakdown between Sandy and I next ensued. I was under the impression I was taking Jennifer over to another shop near the front of the park and Sandy would follow shortly thereafter with Joey. In actual fact, she was taking Joey back to do another ride he’d not yet done – one of the more intense rides. After waiting patiently for about 15-20 minutes for Sandy to show up with her RACV card so that I could get the all-important 10% discount on Jennifer’s soft toy of choice, I SMS’d and called several times but with no response. Throughout the entire week, we have split up several times in the various theme parks but we’ve always been just a quick call or SMS message away from each other and this has been great. Right now, however, we were ‘out of touch’ and this really sent my stress levels through the roof. For one thing, I was down to the last few percent of battery life on my phone and needed to conserve the remaining energy so that the satnav would get us back home again. I really couldn’t afford the power to keep sending messages and calling her. Not knowing where they were or what might have happened was really starting to become a concern for me and my frustration levels were now starting to soar. They eventually showed up with Sandy looking decidedly green and stressed herself. Apparently, Joey had plucked up the courage to go on the ride, which alternates between a gentle cycle (for the smaller kids) and a more aggressive and thrilling cycle (for the bigger and more thrill-seeking kids). Because it was the end of the day, the attendant asked the riders if they just wanted to stay on (normally, you have to get off and walk around to get back on again if you want to ride again) and do the more thrilling cycle. Joey, it seems, had decided he’d give the more thrilling cycle a go after all. However, at the very last minute, he had second thoughts. The attendant couldn’t let just him out without resetting the entire ride so she spent some time convincing him – successfully as it turned out – to have a go after all. It was when all this was playing out that I was trying to contact Sandy to see where they were, but she of course couldn’t respond because her bag was tucked away and she was locked into the ride’s seat harness. I watched the more thrilling cycle of this ride previously and practically vomited on the spot just by looking, so I could very well sympathise with Sandy when she showed up looking green.

As Jennifer and I were waiting for the others at the front of the park, a small group of Dreamworld dancers were on the stage and dancing to a mash-up of up-beat contemporary music. The crowd of remaining park visitors had assembled to watch them go through their routine. Sandy and Joey did eventually make it back to the front of the park and Jennifer was finally able to secure her soft toy – a tiger – and I was also able to secure my precious 10% discount with Sandy’s RACV card. The irony is that we’re not actually RACV members, but they sent Sandy a card all the same and it seems to have worked everywhere we’ve used it, since nobody bothers to check anything anyway.

We finally all piled into the car and heaved a big, relaxing sigh – right up to the moment we exited the car park and onto the on-ramp for the motorway, which was moving at a snail’s pace. We had made it all the way to the Movie World exit – just a couple of Kilometres up the road – after about half an hour of driving. During this time, we had been contemplating what to do for dinner. One of the last things Sandy did just before we left Dreamworld was to buy a box of 4 Krispy Kreme doughnuts, since a doughnut was actually the bribe of choice to coerce Joey onto that last thrill ride (note to any other parent reading this – yes, we know). Unfortunately, nobody had the forethought to ‘remind’ Joey that he was only to eat one of the four and not the three that he actually ate before anybody realised anything. Still, everyone else in the car was still quite hungry (Jennifer had eaten the last doughnut) and the Movie World exit sported an array of fast food outlets. Sod it – fast food it is then. It would at least give the slow moving traffic a chance to clear and we’d be able to hold onto our world’s-worst-parents badges still further with yet another surrender to junk food.

The food was … well, crap. However, it did mean we didn’t have to cook and we piled back onto the motorway again. It had by now sped up from snail’s pace to turtle’s pace and our 20 minute ride home eventually ended up taking around an hour and a half, with no obvious sign of accident or any other explanation for the traffic volume. So, somewhat damp and perhaps just a little deflated, we arrived back at the cabin. Fortunately, leaving the heating on turned out to be a good thing, as the place was nice and cosy as we walked through the door. It would have been nice to be able to stretch out a bit but the two sofas we have are just not quite big enough to lay on and they have very hard side arm rests too. I poured over the day’s camera takings but pickings are always very slim on inclement weather days and the number of photos we’ve been taking daily has steadily decreased, as we’ve re-visited the parks for the second and third times.

I dare say we’ll all sleep very well tonight. Tomorrow is our last full day here on the Gold Coast and we currently have absolutely nothing planned. Should be a good day. Right?