One of the best things about the Gold Coast is its plethora of high-quality entertainment parks, all located close enough to Brisbane to be convenient, but far enough away to not be annoying as all hell.
Sure, entry prices are steep and God help you if you fancy a bite to eat from one of the takeaway kiosks ($14.95 for two drumsticks, chips and a small drink? Awesome!), but you can't doubt the general high quality of the attractions, and moreso, the rides.
The Wah and I popped down to the cheapest of the parks on Saturday - Wet & Wild. Now you might think two pasty white geeks like us would not really be keen to spend six hours in the blazing sun for the odd plummet down a speed slide or bob in the wave pool. But you underestimate the sheer physical thrill - and for the Wah, the thrill of physics - involved in such rides as the Tornado, the Kamikaze, the Sidewinder and The Black Hole. Even for us geeks.
It is amusing to stand in a queue surrounded by bogan dudes with giant tatts of dragon heads on their backs and chicks in Australian flag-flavoured string bikinis that don't quite cover the whole cleavage (dare I mention - "underboob"), and listen to The Wah explain that when we hit the bottom of the 10-metre drop of the Kamikaze, we'll be moving at 15 metres per second, until friction hits and slows us. Smarty pants.
Fun though these parks generally are, there's always one ride that's a god-awful disappointment to the soul. This particular day it was White Water Mountain, which consists of four interlocking flumes, all fuelled by a stream of water weaker than Oprah's willpower in the face of a 12 pack of Krispy Kremes. We queued for almost ONE HOUR to lie on our backs and toddle along so slowly, I could have re-enacted The Lady of Shallot on the way down.
Except for the fact that these days, you can't actually sit up on any flume rides anymore. Fair enough, in your wacko crazy torpedo tube rides, you gotta stay within the confines of the two or four-person rubber dinghy. But seriously, a flume ride? They're about as dangerous as a Labrador puppy on valium. But thanks to Workplace Health and Safety Laws, flume rides are now the ENEMY OF FUN.
It made me remember childhood trips to the Australian Woolshed all the more fondly. Back in the late 80s, the Woolshed in Samford Valley was THE place to go if you were on Brisbane's northside and seriously needed some waterslide action. You'd pay by the hour, and the attendant would brand your exit time into your forearm with a thick black waterproof stamp. It was a badge of honour; the pre-teen equivalent to a nightclub stamp.
You'd then hit the slope uphill, pushing your little legs 100 metres or so until you reached the top of the slides. There were three to chose from. The first and second were similar in length and speed; the third was longer and faster. There was none of this "Wait for the person in front of you to finish before getting on the slide" nonsense. The attendant would lazily wave you on once the person ahead of you had turned the first bend. This meant faster queues, and better yet, the ability to clog up the ride with your siblings and friends halfway down - forming a conga line of delighted children, speeding at full tilt to the suspiciously yellow but thankfully shallow exit pool below.
You could sit up, lie down, turn around and go backwards - nobody cared. You could even get a run up and take a flying leap at the start of the flume to build up momentum if you liked. The only time attendants got crabby was when you tried to block the water jets in order to force a torrent of H2O to hit your backside as you took off - a "Perfect Storm" of sorts on a flume slide.
Up and down you'd go, over and over, until your time was up. Then Mum or Dad would buy you a Rainbow Paddle Pop and you'd chuff off home to rinse that unique chlorine/urine mix out of your hair. I'm positive regular visits to waterslides as a kid boosted my immune system.
The Woolshed slides are still there I believe; but I daresay they too have been sanitised and regulated just like their bigger cousins at Wet & Wild. And while I understand their public liability insurance must be enormous, it's still a bit of a shame. Some of the magic has gone.
Anybody else have stories of mad waterslides and water parks from their youth? I haven't even started to address the wonder that was Amazons Aquatic Adventureland at Jindalee...