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  1. #1

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    The Truth About "Australia's Favourite Themeparks Attractions & Resort"

    I often find on international forums like these, many people dont grasp my understanding of "quality" -- just why is my vision of "Disney" on such a high pedestool?

    The Gold Coast Australia, is home to the countries theme park corridor, a strip of highway and land that encompasses multiple themeparks and attractions. To briefly name the majors, consider: Dreamworld, WhiteWaterWorld, Movieworld, WetnWild, Paradise Country, Australian Outback Spectacular, Seaworld, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.



    This report will focus on Movieworld. A park which in their own words is:
    "The only Australian movie related theme park" where you will "experience a fun-filled, Gold Coast theme park family adventure with all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood... Meet your favourite stars and enjoy all the behind-the-scenes action, comedy stunts, and exhilerating rides, shows and attractions"

    Some quick research on Wikipedia will show anyone who isnt familiar with the park (particularly its origins) that it was established in the early 1990's and was quite impressive in its opening years with a fantastic line up of attractions that closely aligns with the above mentioned marketing statement: Police Academy Stunt Show, Looney Tunes River Ride, Looney Tunes Musical Review, Movie Magic Special Effects Show, Young Einstein Gravity Homestead, The Gremlins Adventure Western Action Show and the original Batman Adventure-The Ride.

    Movieworld adjoins the Warner Roadshow Studios and was developed
    (see official website) "on a concept which has proven highly successful in the USA and is an extension of a fully operational and very successful movie studio with an established track record, offering an inside look into the magic and fantasy of movie making."

    Now as Movieworld approaches its 20th Birthday lots has changed. The adjoining studios and the themepark operate independantly, there is no longer a studio tour (despite the previous incarnation of a four empty soundstages already lacking in comparison to its inspiration at Universal Studios Hollywood). Attractions wise, the park is rather pressed for land like USH, and as a result frequently replaces and repurposes showbuildings instead of adding attractions. Regretably all the movie related attractions have now vanished from Movieworld. There is one remaining opening day attraction at the park, The Looney Tunes River Ride.

    Keeping in mind this information, I hope to show you why I find it so frustrating that places like Disneyland are not within a closer grasp for themepark fans downunder. I'll now move along to a photo trip report style presentation detailing my latest day at the park.

    To start off.

    How much does it cost to visit Movieworld?



    AU$74.99

    To put it in perspective; the larger, more established (and still movie orientated) Universal Studios Hollywood have single day admission (which also includes a second day free) priced at US$74.00 - Now I know there is a conversion rate rate and depending on the value of the dollar things change.

    Even Disneyland single day admission is only priced at US$76.00.


    Next step; still not inside the park, is this any indication of whats to come?


    To be fair, Wild West Falls is down for scheduled maintenance, but Marvin The Martian Rocket...


    ...looks to be about as dead as Marvin's earlier appearence in the park: Marvin the Martian in 3D. It's been a long time since this ride has been in daily weekly monthly yearly? operation.

    Okay, so once the admission is taken care of, what happens once you are inside the front gate?

    Movieworld officially opens at 10:00AM local time; with the gates occasionally opening 30minutes earlier to facilitate the turnstile queues.

    Once inside, things dont look so good. On this particular day, I entered the park around 11:30AM; two hours after the front gates opened.



    Even at this stage you are lucky if 3 out of 30 shops / dinning options
    were open.

    As guests enter Movieworld they are greeted with this:


    Closed.


    Closed.


    Closed.


    Closed.


    Dont let this picture confuse you. I know the overcast day might be misleading but this is not 11:45PM. This is 11:45AM; almost the middle of the day, and the park still looks like this...


    Closed.


    Closed.


    Closed. And unprofessional looking too. No guest should ever see this side of theme parks; this distracts from the magic.


    Crossing under the berm at Disneyland lets guests leave the world behind.

    Not so here:

    Closed.


    Closed; Not only closed, but distracting from the Western theme.


    Closed.


    Closed and long gone. A forgotten area of the park, once home to a lively Western town with shops, photo opportunities and a stunt show. Now just boarded up and abandoned; funny how even the Ghost Town premise cant cover up this thematically.


    Not even the posters are themed appropriately.


    Maybe Thriller is the new Western.


    Closed. Although apparently this absence of this store has been cleaverly and thematically hidden behind a dogtag dispenser.


    Here is the closed door anyway.

    On my last visit to Disneyland, the park opened at 6:30AM local time. At this point in the morning it was obvious that attendence had yet to peak, but the park was open; so too were the shops and eateries.

    Similarly, when Universal Studios Hollywood opens its front gates, guest walk down the entry promenade greeted by open stores, street entertainment and the appeal of a lively themepark atmosphere.


    This is a common sight at Movieworld as children peer through closed doors and windows eyeing off what souvineers they want Mummy and Daddy to buy.




    Australia beat Universal Studios Orlando to having the World's first Harry Potter themed attraction, the Harry Potter Movie Magic Experience; a walk-through which featured several recreations of sets from the Harry Potter films.

    Now all that remains is the Harry Potter Shop; although seeing it like this, gives me the indication that Movieworld is having a hard time competing with Universal's The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.



    Personally I am not interested in purchasing from a store that is not interested in selling their products. Opening stores late does not force guests to hold off their shopping urges until late afternoon, extending their stay in the park. It simply frustrates them. Children become agitated as they cannot get the latest toy they fancy, which in turn becomes another worry for parents to deal with. With little other options to keep them entertained, its more likely to drive them away then loosen the purse strings.




    In this particular instance, it seems even the staff are confused as to wether the Shrek Shop is 'Open' or 'Closed'.




    Guests are bombarded with an over usage of semi-professional inhouse printed signage at every turn.


    Sticky tape can fix anything at Movieworld.

    Unlike the care to detail that occurs at Disneyland after hours, the park is hardly cleaned after hourse, let along painted daily!

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbV_miHV2Fw"]YouTube- Disneyland After Dark[/ame]

    Whatever are guests to do if the park does not open when its supposed to?

    Let's try The Rides:


    Oh look the queue doesnt look too bad here...


    Oh.


    Closed.


    Closed.


    Maintenance.


    See maintenance stuff.


    Closed.


    Closed.

    Let's try some of those shows; you know the ones that immerse you in the movie magic of "Hollywood on the Gold Coast"

    The Movie Magic Special Effects Show - Defunct.
    Studio Tour (larger part of The Movie Magic Special Effects Show) - Defunct.
    Riddlers Lair; Sets from the feature film Batman Forever incorporated into the "studio tour" portion of The Movie Magic Special Effects Show - Defunct.
    Harry Potter Movie Magic Experience - Defunct.
    The Official Matrix Exhibit - Defunct.
    The world's first 3D film; Marvin The Martian In 3D - Defunct.
    Studio Tour - Defunct.


    How about dancing animals instead. Drastically different to the original opening day attraction; Looney Tunes Musical Review.


    Fair enough, this venue is being refurbished for a new Christmas Show... on Ice.

    I wonder where that idea came from?
    This brings me to a new point of discussion.

    Attempting To Replicate International Success On No Budget
    As Movieworld has progressively repurposed any original attraction relating thematically to movies, they have increasingly attempted to captialise on larger budget international offerings.

    Take for example the stunt show replacement for Movieworld's longest running and most popular show; Police Academy Stunt Show.


    I dont know if it's the Italian village setting, the Red hero car, or the heist/chase storyline... something about this is familar.

    Unfortunately, investing AU$10Million doesnt really compare to:


    The last major construction at Movieworld was the installation of a large roof to cover the Main Street. Heard that idea before?


    Here is the concept excuted successfully in Universal Studios Japan.


    Here it is at Movieworld. They are quite proud of their addition; advertising the obvious weather benefits and the large function capacity.




    Unfortunately the destroyed a wonderfully themed Main Street like this in the process.




    To reduce costs, the roof only extends as far as it has too, just past the building facades. That's an alright idea from a business perspective, but to accomplish this...


    the unthemed, obtrusive roof support poles now stand in front of the once nicely themed Main Street.

    Not to mention the Plaza, which went from this:



    To this. Don't knock the exposure levels. This is how bleak Movieworld looks under the roof on a normal day, let alone today's overcast weather.

    You also have to wonder, arcitectually, what were they thinking when they designed this structure. Here's a series of photos that I shall call "Poles in front of Doorways" -- I think you get the point.






    Oh look; the shops still closed too. Maybe the fact that Dance Heads is closed lessons the impact of the pole that obsucures its entrace.

    On a brief side note; if it looks familiar, Dance Heads is also another product taken from the USA. It appeared briefly at Universal Studios Hollywood, although it did seem rather unpopular during my last visit there.


    Back to the poles.


    This was once a great replica facade from a classic movie; note the signage I made reference to earlier, and the addition of the pole pulls the guests as far away as possible from Rick's Cafe American ala Cassablanca.


    Similarly, this corner of the park no longer looks like The Farmers Merchant Bank from Bonnie & Clyde. Their last robbery was foiled because Clyde wasnt aware of the new addition which didnt show on the banks blueprints.


    Photo Entre?


    Now this one is just embarrasing. This store was added after the roof.


    That's not all.


    The same problem occurs with the positioning of just about every pole that supports the new roof.


    Even when there isnt a door in sight. Who puts a pole in the middle of the only footpath around?

    It is apparent that eliminating rain and bad weather was the only aspect taken into consideration when building the roof. In addition to the irreversable damage to the theming of Movieworld, the roof has terrible accoustics; speakers that once projected from windows above Main Street now blast noise all around the park. Reverberation and echo make the music inaudible and just throw back the crowd noise. Instead of being transported to another world of movie magic, as you walk down Main Street nowdays your sensory environment reminds you of a crowed shopping complex.

    In 2006 Movieworld introduced a Family orientated Halloween event. They recently decided to up the anti, making it a more adult orientated event.

    Sound like Universal's Halloween Horror Nights?

    Well this is how Universal do it:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laL4Sg8-XdA"]YouTube- Guest Reactions from Halloween Horror Nights 2009 at Universal Studios Hollywood![/ame]


    And... the same attempt, only with minimal construction and theming budget; and the stubbornness to only work in house and not seek the assistance of the local film community.

    Bad Show
    Everytime I see people joking online about Disney's bad show when a single light bulb is blown, I have to laugh out loud.


    Movieworld's main entrance is requiring a bit of TLC.




    Show buildings are not maintained.






    Back of house areas are freely visable from front of house.

    Recently I read a report on Parkz.com.au about how theming can work and related to each other between different areas of the park.


    The report highlighted how this area in the Kids WB area of Movieworld compliments the Wild West Falls attraction in the distance.

    Photography is great like that. Take a step back and look at the view that guests see.


    Unthemed.


    Concrete.


    Wall.


    Respectfully, I hope the view of Disney's Carsland from Paradise Pier doesnt end up looking like this.


    In another area of the park you find yourself in Chinatown.


    Until you move closer, and the theming runs out.


    Instead you are now in an underachieving area of the park where shops are closed to save on staff wages.


    And its passed off as "Maintenance".
    Take a peek through the closed roller door and you will see an empty shop floor. The Lethal Weapon Store has been closed for months, going on more than a year.


    Where ride photo preview screens once stood, is the same small sign instructing guests to go here there and everywhere in search of their photos. I'm afraid to say, at AU$15 per photo, the run around isnt worth it, and the ride experience is quickly forgotten as the desire to make a purchase.

    In retheming attractions, such as this:





    It seems to the the genral consensus that the old theming and aging paintwork will not be visable behind the new facade.


    Also, apparently not visable. Staff on mobile phones/bad back of house transitions.

    A-Frame City
    This one is something anybody will notice from the moment you purchase your tickets to Movieworld. Now, signage (and particularly A-Frames) are not necessarily bad. But they sure are in excessive use here:














    I can see this will likely be an ongoing report, as its already quite lengthy. I will leave you, for now, with a final couple of observations:

    Movieworld's Shrek 4D attraction closes this month. I understand Universal licensing fees are too much for the company to continue leasing the rights.

    However, when the Shrek store finally opened, you cant help but wonder what Universal think of this?

    I gather this kind of merchandising lends itself to the whole Marvel/Disney arguement.






    After 90minutes walking around at Movieworld I managed to visit every open shop, and check out all the open attractions. With daily admission set at AU$74.99 and a severe lack of value present inside to fulfill an entire day, you start wondering why this sign isnt at the front of the park.
    Last edited by rya86n; 08-25-2010 at 08:50 PM.

    1. Disneyland 1997;
    2. Disneyland Resort 2008; 3. Hong Kong Disneyland 2009; 4. Disneyland Resort 2009; 5. Disneyland Resort 2010; 6. WaltDisneyWorld Resort 2011; 7. Disney Cruise Lines 2011 - Disney Dream; 8. Disneyland Resort 2011; 9. Disneyland Resort 2012; 10. WaltDisneyWorld Resort 2012; 11. Disney Cruise Lines 2012 - Disney Fantasy; ?. Tokyo Disney Resort; ?. Disneyland Paris

  2. #2

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    Re: The Truth About "Australia's Favourite Themeparks Attractions & Resort"

    Wow, amazing trip report, thanks for posting it. It looks like it was a nice park at one time but when a park is left to rot then the results are not pretty. Maintenance can never be underestimated.

  3. #3

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    Re: The Truth About "Australia's Favourite Themeparks Attractions & Resort"

    Quote Originally Posted by indianajack View Post
    Wow, amazing trip report, thanks for posting it. It looks like it was a nice park at one time but when a park is left to rot then the results are not pretty. Maintenance can never be underestimated.
    This is one of the reasons I always have glowing reviews of Disney and consider it better value to fly overseas for my themepark fix.

    1. Disneyland 1997;
    2. Disneyland Resort 2008; 3. Hong Kong Disneyland 2009; 4. Disneyland Resort 2009; 5. Disneyland Resort 2010; 6. WaltDisneyWorld Resort 2011; 7. Disney Cruise Lines 2011 - Disney Dream; 8. Disneyland Resort 2011; 9. Disneyland Resort 2012; 10. WaltDisneyWorld Resort 2012; 11. Disney Cruise Lines 2012 - Disney Fantasy; ?. Tokyo Disney Resort; ?. Disneyland Paris

  4. #4

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    Wink Re: The Truth About "Australia's Favourite Themeparks Attractions & Resort"

    I could not agree with you more! Our theme parks are not up to par with anything that you see overseas.
    I now also save money and travel overseas for my theme park visits and will not go to any of the Australian ones ever again!!!

  5. #5

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    Re: The Truth About "Australia's Favourite Themeparks Attractions & Resort"

    Quote Originally Posted by CairnsGirl View Post
    I now also save money and travel overseas for my theme park visits and will not go to any of the Australian ones ever again!!!
    Now with visitors to Australian parks taking photos like the ones I posted earlier, and word of mouth comments like yours floating around, I wonder how they could ever consider their appearence to be positive advertising!

    It's depressing that the Australian industry doesnt understand a real themepark industry.

    1. Disneyland 1997;
    2. Disneyland Resort 2008; 3. Hong Kong Disneyland 2009; 4. Disneyland Resort 2009; 5. Disneyland Resort 2010; 6. WaltDisneyWorld Resort 2011; 7. Disney Cruise Lines 2011 - Disney Dream; 8. Disneyland Resort 2011; 9. Disneyland Resort 2012; 10. WaltDisneyWorld Resort 2012; 11. Disney Cruise Lines 2012 - Disney Fantasy; ?. Tokyo Disney Resort; ?. Disneyland Paris

  6. #6

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    Re: The Truth About "Australia's Favourite Themeparks Attractions & Resort"

    Wow. Looks much more like an average-quality Six Flags. Far too expensive, I assume.
    -Hale (wumbology)

    a.k.a. h2mc, omnimover.mousetalgia, omnimover, wumbology, hogbackmtn, hhmcsharry, Hale M., h2m, h2mc

    (I've never visited Disneyland Resort, Tokyo Disney Resort, Disneyland Resort Paris, nor Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, so don't be fooled when I pretend to know what I'm talking about. [But I'm pretty good with the information, if I do say so myself. And you can hit me all you want with Walt Disney World.])



  7. #7

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    Re: The Truth About "Australia's Favourite Themeparks Attractions & Resort"

    It is particularly sad since it was once such a creative park. Once a park heads down the path of not caring about its guests, it becomes nearly impossible to recover.

    Budget cuts lead to lowered attendance, which leads to more budget cuts and closures, which leads to even lower attendance, etc, etc, etc.
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  8. #8

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    Re: The Truth About "Australia's Favourite Themeparks Attractions & Resort"

    Um... Wow. That is ridiculous. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate Disney Parks even more now.

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  9. #9

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    Re: The Truth About "Australia's Favourite Themeparks Attractions & Resort"

    As Dusty points out it hardly ever works with budget cuts. You need to take a gamble and spend money to make money.
    Whats a big shame is Movieworld did this once, with Superman Escape. An Intiman AG coaster which is well placed at the park entrance within eyeline of one of Australia's busiest sections of Motorway.
    The downside to this decision was the removal of the last remaining movie themed attraction, the Movie Magic Special Effects Stage.
    But theres a reason Superman Escape is the #1 coaster in the southern hemisphere.

    Quote Originally Posted by KEBSD View Post
    Um... Wow. That is ridiculous. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate Disney Parks even more now.
    I am constantly saddened by the fact that Australia is too small to sustain a Disney park property. Even the smallest of properties, think single Disney themed attraction, moreso than a whole park (and yes, I do have a concept in mind) would blow the competition down here out of the water!
    Even the return of Disney Store, should it ever come back to Oz, would rival our parks.

    1. Disneyland 1997;
    2. Disneyland Resort 2008; 3. Hong Kong Disneyland 2009; 4. Disneyland Resort 2009; 5. Disneyland Resort 2010; 6. WaltDisneyWorld Resort 2011; 7. Disney Cruise Lines 2011 - Disney Dream; 8. Disneyland Resort 2011; 9. Disneyland Resort 2012; 10. WaltDisneyWorld Resort 2012; 11. Disney Cruise Lines 2012 - Disney Fantasy; ?. Tokyo Disney Resort; ?. Disneyland Paris

  10. #10

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    Re: The Truth About "Australia's Favourite Themeparks Attractions & Resort"

    Wow.....

    I used to thing that my Local theme part was short of theming but this place just sucks! Wild Waves May not have a lot of theming but there are places in the park where I can get lost in another place. This report gives me the impression that while you can get lost in the theming, don't move or you may loss it.

    Even the local park manages to keep all the rides open from open to close....THes people should be ashamed.

  11. #11

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    Re: The Truth About "Australia's Favourite Themeparks Attractions & Resort"

    In continuing the thread's theme... you'll notice the plurals in the title.
    The company responsible for Movieworld also owns and operates a number of other themeparks in Australia.

    Today's visit was to Seaworld.
    Like the US parks of the same name, its a marine park.
    Its owned by Warner Village Theme Parks/Village Roadshow (ie NOT Disney). Therefore I was interested to see this:



    A pirate themed penny press right near their wannabe pirate stunt show (it premiered 1 year ago to disappointing reviews - see GCB)

    On closer inspection -- recognise anything?




    In all honesty Seaworld seems to be in much better up keep than Movieworld. Although it suffers the same fate of misplaced theming, it did manage to have the majority of attractions and shows open for a weekend day.
    Last edited by rya86n; 09-04-2010 at 02:33 PM.

    1. Disneyland 1997;
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  12. #12

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    Re: The Truth About "Australia's Favourite Themeparks Attractions & Resort"

    love the trip report. if you don't mind, i want to tell you a quick story, i overheard this conversation on the disneyland train during my last visit.
    Australian family: siting down enjoying the view from the train.
    very talkative park fanatic: hi man!
    Australian father: uh.... hi?
    very talkative park fanatic: you enjoying your trip?
    Australian father: yes Disneyland is very nice.
    very talkative park fanatic: where are you from!
    father: Australia.
    park fanatic: cool! i heard about some parks down there i want to go visit!
    father: ok....? you know the parks down there aren't that big, and not near the quality of this park,
    park fanatic: OH! well you should fix that!
    father: *talking to mother* Honey keep a eye on the children.
    so now that you have posted this trip report, i can kind of see what that father meant about your parks being a little lack luster. i honestly have no idea why Disney dos not build a park in Australia. i always thought it was kind of idiotic to have no park what so ever bellow the south of the equator.
    great trip report man!
    Last edited by williamtheking; 09-04-2010 at 05:22 AM.
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  13. #13

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    Re: The Truth About "Australia's Favourite Themeparks Attractions & Resort"

    Quote Originally Posted by williamtheking View Post
    i honestly have no idea why Disney dos not build a park in Australia. i always thought it was kind of idiotic to have no park what so ever bellow the south of the equator.
    great trip report man!
    Glad you support a park in the southern hemisphere! Im sure its a numbers thing. Even if our whole population attended every year we'd come up short of the attendence required to sustain even a small Disneyland. As Ive mentioned before, I believe Disney should invest in a small property here, a heavily themed attraction based show -- I have a concept in mind, I just need the right connections with Imagineering (and I know even that is a hard sell!)

    1. Disneyland 1997;
    2. Disneyland Resort 2008; 3. Hong Kong Disneyland 2009; 4. Disneyland Resort 2009; 5. Disneyland Resort 2010; 6. WaltDisneyWorld Resort 2011; 7. Disney Cruise Lines 2011 - Disney Dream; 8. Disneyland Resort 2011; 9. Disneyland Resort 2012; 10. WaltDisneyWorld Resort 2012; 11. Disney Cruise Lines 2012 - Disney Fantasy; ?. Tokyo Disney Resort; ?. Disneyland Paris

  14. #14

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    Re: The Truth About "Australia's Favourite Themeparks Attractions & Resort"

    Quote Originally Posted by rya86n View Post
    Glad you support a park in the southern hemisphere! Im sure its a numbers thing. Even if our whole population attended every year we'd come up short of the attendence required to sustain even a small Disneyland. As Ive mentioned before, I believe Disney should invest in a small property here, a heavily themed attraction based show -- I have a concept in mind, I just need the right connections with Imagineering (and I know even that is a hard sell!)
    i always thought that buying out some smaller theme parks all across the world would be a very bright idea! keeping them roughly the same size, but improving there quality and themeing! i dont think that whould reduce tourism to the larger parks, but there would still be Disney quality parks even in areas of low population.
    So. Zetta. SLOW!

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    Re: The Truth About "Australia's Favourite Themeparks Attractions & Resort"

    You know, for a second, I thought I was looking at pictures from Six Flags St. Louis.


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