Gold Coast 2015 – Day 8 – Dreamworld (4th visit)…last update from the Gold Coast!

Well, just as we were all starting to slow down a bit towards the end of the holiday and expecting a bit of a rest, we’re hit with an absolutely massive last full day that will leave us remembering the Gold Coast with very fond memories indeed.

Today is Jennifer’s 9th birthday. It’s really hard for us to comprehend this fully but our little girl is growing up so very fast. As was the case with Joey, we gave Jennifer free reign to decide what we would do today and she, like Joey earlier on in the week, chose Dreamworld again. Who am I to refuse a nine year old girl’s birthday request? The weather today has returned to just about perfect again, with clear, blue skies and balmy temperatures that are not too hot but just right. We had just a gentle, warm, breeze this morning to prevent the baking sun from feeling too hot.

One of the things we really like about staying here at Ashmore Palms, other than the excellent location and accommodation, is that there is free kids entertainment of one sort or another every morning and also in the evenings during the weekends. The kids’ free fun and games this morning was at one of the kiddies playgrounds. A pair of children’s entertainers in full clown outfits were keeping the kids amused with music, dance and glitter tattoos. There were about 15 children and a few parents this morning and everyone was asked to put their name down on a registration sheet on a clipboard to make sure all the kids got their tattoo. Naturally, I put my name down also. In the spot marked ‘age’, where kids were putting 6, 9, 11, 8, 5, etc., I put 48 1/2 (nearly 49). When my name was eventually called, my choice of tattoo was a pink rainbow unicorn, which went down rather well. Jennifer spent much of the day today telling just about every last stranger she met that Daddy has a pink rainbow unicorn tattoo on his shoulder. Thanks!

Once all the tattoos and other fun and games were finished for the morning, I took the kids to the pool and we all had a good time splashing about. There were a few other kids there already and they all had a bit of a laugh as I did my usual five minute routine of trying to get into the water but chickening out at the last moment each time. We spent probably a good half hour playing fun and games in the water. I’ve come to expect that any game played with Joey will always see him ‘win’. This either comes naturally or, much more likely, because he simply changes/adds ‘new rules’ to suit him. When a new rule can’t be made up on the spot for whatever reason, it then usually defaults to ‘no, that doesn’t count because I wasn’t ready’. Wouldn’t you know it, he won every game we played.

Back at the cabin, we all cleaned up and showered, as Sandy cooked up a lovely brunch. This was the point at which Jennifer decided she would open the couple of presents we brought with us for her birthday. For both kids, their birthday presents were a little subdued this year. Since we had a very tight luggage allowance, we were really quite limited with what we could bring with us.

I was a little apprehensive about Jennifer’s choice to go back to Dreamworld today. Being Saturday – the first weekend of the school holidays, no less – I expected the parks to be really quite full. When we arrived at the theme park, however, the car park didn’t look particularly full and we didn’t see huge swarms of people inside either. At the boot of the car, we went through the usual routine of smearing sun cream all over our exposed skin before making our way to the turnstiles. There were different staff working the guest services desk today and they seemed decidedly unsure about whether our carers cards were acceptable or not. They certainly scrutinised them considerably more than did any of the previous staff members on our previous three visits this week. They did eventually accept them, though, and even gave us four fast passes, which would whisk us to the front of any given ride queue, just because it was Jennifer’s birthday. In actual fact, there was some degree of social engineering on Sandy’s part that went on that, perhaps, contributed to this a little. Either way, we made our way into the park without paying for Sandy and me and with some fast passes to help us along.

For whatever reason, Jennifer had decided that today she would do the Giant Drop ride after all – perhaps the most thrilling ride anywhere in Australia and possibly beyond – and so she and I made our way there, whilst Sandy took Joey over to the other rides area. Unfortunately, Sandy left her phone back at the cabin this morning, so we would not enjoy being in communication with each other for the duration of the afternoon. We are by now so familiar with where everything is at the park and exactly where each of us was planning on being, it really didn’t seem to matter quite so much. I had given Sandy one of the four fast passes to take with them (I expected that Jennifer and I would probably end up needing them the most). I had two of our three fast passes ready to go when we entered the queueing lanes for the Giant Drop but we found there were no other people there and we walked all the way to the front of the line to meet just a small handful of others waiting for the next ride. We probably waited less than a minutes before the attendant called us all through to get into the carriage – so we even didn’t need to use our fast passes after all. Perhaps it was just as well that there was no wait, as the ride really is quite hair-raising and too much anticipation would probably have seen me vomit before we went on.

After completing the ride, I was quite literally holding onto my head for a minute or two to steady myself, whilst Jennifer was jumping up and down with excitement. No rest for the wicked, though. Next up was the Tower of Terror, which we again went in to find very few other riders waiting to have their turn. We even went around for a second turn after stumbling out of this one and, again, managed to catch the ride with little wait and our fast passes still in tact – bonus! The next big thrill ride was one of Jennifer’s favourites – the Buzz Saw. This time, there were enough people for about a 20 minute wait and so I gave Jennifer one of the fast passes and sent her up to the front of the queue along the special fast pass lane, which was otherwise empty. Once again, a little social engineering came in useful here. When the attendant came to collect the next victims for this ride, she looked at Jennifer on her own in the fast pass queue and seemed a bit puzzled so I walked up and Said that I was letting her go on her own as we only had a single fast pass and it was her birthday. Without further ado, the attendant motioned for both Jennifer and me to walk through and onto the ride – bonus! She even gave Jennifer a birthday sticker and made an announcement to the other riders that it was her birthday. To be honest, I did feel just a little bit guilty but since it’s Jennifer’s birthday, I figured I’d go ahead and live with that guilt.

Having stumbled off the ride several minutes later, I grabbed Jennifer a snow cone and a churro and we set off to meet up with the rest of the clan. We had arranged to meet at a certain point at a certain time, as the Puss in Boots character was going to be at one of the photo booths for people to take photos. The character didn’t come out for a good 20 minutes after the expected time but both kids were thoroughly pleased when it did finally happen and they got to have a cuddle and photo.

We planned on heading into Surfer’s Paradise for a meal for this evening and so we wanted to leave the park at around 4pm. With about half an hour to play with, we all had one last go on our favourite rides. Jennifer and I went back to the Giant Drop and this time sat in the carriage that faced the park. Once again, there was no line to speak of and, once again, I came out the other side wondering why on earth I put myself through the ordeal to begin with. We used our last 2 fast passes for one last go around on the Buzz Saw before making our way back to the front of the park. Sandy and Joey hadn’t yet showed up, so Jennifer decided she wanted to get her face painted. I wasn’t refusing any reasonable request for today’s birthday child so this is exactly what we did. When Sandy and Joey showed up, we made our way back to the car having thoroughly enjoyed ourselves once again. We left Dreamworld on a high.

With very little traffic on the roads, we made our way over to Surfer’s Paradise, where there seemed to be very many more modern high rise buildings than I remembered from two years ago. We found an indoor car park in one of those modern high rise buildings and walked the couple of minutes to the Hard Rock Cafe, where we enjoyed a lovely meal exactly two years ago also. I resigned myself to the fact that I’d probably have to chip off another portion of what little liver I have left to sell in order to fund this little feast. In the event, it was a lovely meal with lovely atmosphere. Our waiter was a spitting image of Jack Sparrow and did a great job at embarrassing the kids. At the end of the meal, he got them both to stand up on their seats and promptly yelled out to the entire packed restaurant that is was both Jennifer and Joey’s birthdays, which immediately solicited a great reaction from the crowd. The meal eventually came in at $106 all up. This wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be given that it was about the same as what we paid at Hog’s Breath Cafe a few days ago ($100) – even though the kids ‘ate for free’ there at the time. We all waddled out of the restaurant absolutely stuffed after about an hour, and made our way leisurely back to the car – leisurely being about the only pace we could muster.

Back at Ashmore Palms, the evening’s entertainment was courtesy of a kids’ disco. I tag teamed with Sandy, as Jennifer was up for it but Joey had reached his threshold and was more content to sit himself in front of the TV and unwind from another long day. There were probably 20-25 kids – mostly between 4-12 years old. There did seem to be considerably more girls than boys but everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

So, here we are, having come too the very end of the very last day of this holiday, and probably my last blog entry also. What can I say? It has been a truly magnificent holiday for the whole family. Everyone has been very relaxed and we’ve had at absolutely minimum of tears. We’ve crammed so much joy and happiness into this week that I have to admit to feeling a little sad to see this one coming to an end. For those that have been following my daily updates and posting of photos, I hope you’ve enjoyed the holiday along with us. If you have, do feel free to let me know.

So long Ashmore Palms and the Gold Coast for 2015, it has been great 🙂