Building the Dream
Drive down Queensland’s Pacific Highway, between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, and you may spot a tower among the trees of the hinterland. A second glance reveals the open-air seat gondolas perched at the top of the tower – seats that are set to drop 119 metres in just five seconds. For many, it’s a moment when nostalgia sets in. Chances are, you may have sat in one of those seats, palms sweating, staring out at a view from 39 stories up, then shutting your eyes in anticipation.
Dreamworld is a place that triggers memories of thrills under a summer sun, of jumping from ride-to-ride until dusk, when the magic comes to a reluctant end.
Long time resident of the Gold Coast, Saida Anderson, has lived in the coastal city for over 30 years and still remembers her first time at the legendary theme park.
“Like most kids growing up on the Gold Coast, we had annual passes so I have fond memories of Dreamworld. Weekends were spent joining friends and family for a day out full of adventure, fairy floss, too many Gravitron rides and water slide fun in the sun. It never got boring!” she says.
Since its official opening by then Queensland Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Peterson in 1981, the theme park has evolved and added more and more ‘worlds’ to its land of dreams. Over three and a half decades later, Dreamworld remains a sentimental touch point in the Queensland psyche.
In the mid-1970s, John Longhurst purchased 85 hectares to build his dream theme park. Over the next seven years, he spared no expense, employing designers who had worked on America’s own ‘happiest place on Earth’ – Disneyland. It was never going to be the same as Disneyland though, Longhurst made sure of that. He hired Australian architects to model the park on Australian pioneer buildings, creating something that is quintessentially Aussie.
Now 35 years on, Dreamworld is an immersive experience that attracts international tourists and locals alike. Adrenalin-inducing rides, enthralling attractions and world-class food and shopping combine for the park’s air of wonderment. In 2006, Dreamworld opened WhiteWater World, the most advanced water ride park on the planet. More recently, leading entertainment partners like The Wiggles and DreamWorks have come on board, opening up new precincts for visitors to enjoy.
And while the emphasis is always on fun, Dreamworld remains a community stalwart, developing new and innovative learning experiences, garnering support through charitable organisations and implementing leading conservation initiatives that promote sustainable tourism.
Above all, it remains a constant. For adults, it’s all about memories and creating new ones with family.
“For me, Dreamworld will always mean fun, friends and thrill rides. And now I can enjoy watching my nine-year-old daughter create her own fond memories of the park. We never miss a chance to go and spend a day in Dreamworld with friends – it will always be a place of laughter for us – and I hope she remembers that too.”