Theme Park Hacks For The Best Day Ever!

Theme Park Hacks For The Best Day Ever!

02 Dec 2021

We’re known as a theme park super hub here on the Gold Coast, with five themed worlds offering everything from hair-raising waterslides and world-record breaking coasters, through to heart-warming animal encounters and nostalgic family fun. With so much choice and limited time to tick off your theme park adventure (it’s a rite of passage for any Gold Coast holiday), we’re here to help. Armed with a few handy hacks and tips up your sleeve, here’s how to get the most out of your day.


You know what they say – those who fail to plan, plan to fail, and this could have some merit when it comes to booking your theme park pass ahead of time. Save by booking your tickets online instead of at the gate (as much as $20 per ticket!), so jump onto each operator’s website a few days before you visit and take advantage of some serious early-bird savings. You may even get to skip the queue if you’re not lining up to buy a ticket on the day – winning!


These days, almost everything can be done in the palm of your hand, and theme parks are no exception, with all the major parks offering a convenient app to download before you arrive. This handy little hack will give you access to convenient parking information, interactive maps, show and presentation times, facilities and service locations, and the all-important ride wait times, helping you to plan out your day with ease.


Speaking of lining up for rides, one of the best things you can do is get acquainted with the Virtual Queue service, which is now available at some Village Roadshow parks including Movie World and Sea World. With a few quick taps and swipes, you can reserve your spot on your fave coaster or experience, then select from the available ride times listed. Once the countdown clock ticks over to zero, you then have 30 minutes to check in to your ride – now that’s some seriously savvy time management.


If you don’t already, give the parks a follow on your socials in the weeks leading up to your visit to keep abreast of any flash sales, discounted tickets or bundles, new attractions and park updates right from the horse’s mouth.

Sea World Facebook/ Sea World Instagram
Movie World Facebook/ Movie World Instagram
Wet’n’Wild Facebook / Wet’n’Wild Instagram
Paradise Country Facebook/ Paradise Country Instagram
Dreamworld Facebook/ Dreamworld Instagram


Good news for families! Kids under three year of age can enter for free at Dreamworld, Movie World, Sea World, Wet’N’Wild and Paradise Country. Toddlers are well and truly catered for at all local parks, with everything from Looney Tunes character meet-and-greets in Movie World’s Streets Magnum All Stars Parade, to Sea World’s popular Nickelodeon Land where household faves like Paw Patrol, Sponge Bob and Dora reign supreme. And it may be hard to tear your youngsters away from Dreamworld’s dedicated kids zone, peppered with ABC, Play School, Wiggles, and Bananas in Pyjamas-themed attractions. There’s also shallow splash pools, aqua playgrounds, tipping buckets and gentle slides for little ones at Wet’n’Wild.


Gold Coast temps soar throughout the spring/summer season, but there’s an easy way to enjoy a reprieve from the heat when visiting the water parks: a private cabana. Options start at $90* at Wet’n’Wild, with other packages available for bigger groups and families at different zones throughout the park. And while it may seem like an expensive outlay at first, if you split the cost between your party (up to six guests), it works out quite economical, giving you more left over for a post swim/slide frozen treat. If you’re visiting as a couple, a set of shaded leisure lounges are a cost-effective option at $40 per day. Dreamworld’s White Water World also offers luxury cabana packages starting from $119*, with inclusions ranging from dedicated locker hire to refrigerators (perfect for keeping snacks cool – but more on that later), televisions, fans and second-storey viewing platforms. Accessible cabanas are also available to book.


After a massive day of thrills and spills, weary little legs won’t be keen on a long walk back to the car… only to realise it’s not where you thought you’d left it. Avoid this draining exercise by taking a quick pic of your parking spot on your phone when you arrive – your exhausted afternoon-self will thank you for it.


We know it’s tempting to grab a takeaway coffee on your way to the theme parks to fuel up for a huge day, but what you may not know is that most of the big parks feature onsite cafes and coffee shops, serving up freshly made cups of caffeine goodness on the spot. Check out the brand new Burrow Cafe at Paradise Country, Village Bean Coffee at Movie World, Wet’N’Wild and SeaWorld, and The Sandwich Shop at Dreamworld (Green Bean Coffee Co is currently closed for refurbishments).


Now that you’re happily caffeinated, let’s take care of hungry tummies. Fruit and bottled water is permitted at Village Roadshow theme parks, so don’t forget your reusable bottles and throw a few apples and bananas in the backpack to help get them through to lunch time (they may also come in handy on the trip home). You can BYO picnic-style packs to White Water World and Wet’n’Wild which makes for a more cost-effective option, but if you want to give yourself a break from packing lunchboxes, the parks offer a generous selection of eateries catering to all tastes. There are also family dining deals available at some parks, like Dreamworld’s Family Meal Deal, which can be booked online in advance and will save you a few dollars.


Weekday crowds are often significantly less than the buzzing weekend rush, so if you can swing a day (or even a few hours in the afternoon) during the week, you’ll likely enjoy a much quieter park and shorter queues, meaning you can repeat your favourite rollicking rides over and over again.


For parents who want to unleash their inner child, but whose kids prefer to skip the dare-devil thrill rides, Movie World and Dreamworld offer a thoughtful ‘Parent Swap’ service. As the name suggests, you can get your adrenaline rush while your partner and child keep their feet firmly on the ground, then swap duties – without having to line-up again – so you can each get your kicks sans the awkward solo queuing.


In a nod to modern times, most theme parks on the Gold Coast offer the oh-so convenient  AfterPay option on online tickets and gift card purchases, easing the financial load for families planning out their Gold Coast holiday. And if the grandparents are looking for Christmas or birthday gift suggestions for the kids that they’ll swoon over, consider a theme park gift card to their fave park, which they can put towards the cost of their next Gold Coast adventure. It’ll earn them some serious brownie points.


If you have toddlers in tow and forgot to pack a pram, don’t panic – Movie World, Dreamworld and Sea World all offer stroller hire services from $20* per day, so little legs can have a break while you cover some serious theme park mileage.

Not sure which park you want to visit first? Check out 6 Gold Coast Theme Parks for more info on what each one offers.

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Narelle Bouveng
Narelle Bouveng

A local Gold Coast mum and well-travelled Australian travel writer, Narelle has over 21 years’ experience wandering and chooses to call Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast home. A sunrise and sunset regular, you will often find her juggling a coffee and her camera, snapping for her blog and family travel inspired Instagram @alittleatlarge while youngest daughter Tiah frolics alongside.


Destination Gold Coast acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region. 
We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout Southeast Queensland.