Home to the world's first spectacular theme parks, Southern California has been the dream destination for generations of children around the world — a fantasy land where fairytales and iconic Hollywood films first became 3D, where roller-coasters grew into structures the size of space stations and speed never impressed unless it was measured in G-forces.
Now, some of these awe inspiring experiences can be found on Queensland's Gold Coast. Theme parks such as Dreamworld, Space Walker and Sea World will switch on your adrenaline big time, turn everyday reality into fantasy and take you on journeys through oceans or across space.
DreamworldDreamworld Pwy, Coomera
Tel: 1800 073 300; www.dreamworld.com.auPrices: Adult, $62; child, $40.Getting there: The park is one hour's drive from Brisbane Airport and 40 minutes from Gold Coast Airport. It's located adjacent to the M1 Pacific Mwy (exit 54) at Coomera, just 30 minutes drive from Surfers Paradise and 45 minutes drive from Brisbane city.
A paradise for adrenaline junkies, Dreamworld claims to have some of the tallest and fastest rides in the world, including The Claw, Tower of Terror and Wipeout. By and large, these are tailored to suit the tastes of teen and 20-something daredevils, but even the youngest children are catered for in areas such as Wiggles World — complete with Captain Feathersword's ship, a ride in the Big Red Car and a Fun Spot Activity Centre to Wiggle away your day.
For animal lovers, there's Tiger Island, where white and gold Bengal tigers play, wrestle and swim with their handlers every day. The youngest of your brood will revel in Farmyard Friends, where they can gently handle and even bottle-feed newborn kid goats, lambs and piglets.
Chevron Renaissance Centre, Surfers Paradise
Tel: (07) 7 5538 2988; www.infinitygc.com.auPrices: Adult $23.90, child $15.90.Getting there: It's right in the centre of Surfers Paradise on the corner of Surfers Paradise Blvd and Elkhorn Ave.
It's called Infinity, but it only takes about 30 minutes to experience — and that's the beauty of it. Feels like you've been wandering around the 20 multi-sensual environments filled with special effects, atmospheric sound fields and electronic music for eons. Using a combination of darkness and futuristic lighting, Infinity fools the brain into seeing extraordinary illusions. Experience infinite space in the Recessional Corridor, get gloriously lost in the Electron Maze or just marvel at the Star Chamber.