Sea World, The Gold Coast’s iconic oceanarium, marine mammal and theme park has come a long way since its debut in 1958 by entrepreneur Keith Williams as the Surfers Paradise Ski Gardens.
By 1972 it had moved from the Nerang River to The Spit, changed its name and brought an Endeavour Replica and marine life displays into the mix.
Today the park is virtually unrecognizable from these early days although the water ski displays are still a feature (now called Waterski Wipeout) , the 1979 built Viking’s Revenge Flume Ride (the first theme park ride in Australia) still runs and the 1982 built monorail, another Australian first, still chugs its way high around the park from above.With a plethora of attractions today, divided into animals, thrill rides, a mini- water park and family friendly activities, here are some of the highlights:
First and foremost Seaworld is about marine life, with the long-time favourite Dolphin Cove, where dolphins keep the crowds entertained throughout the day with scheduled shows, Polar Bear Shores where a family of polar bears can be viewed from underwater and above as they play, feed and frisk, Shark Bay, the Oceanarium, Penguin Point and Penguin Encounter and the newly built Seal Harbour which is awash with great vantage points to watch seals feed and frolic.
Also worth a look is the Ray Reef where you can get up close to touch and even feed the most misunderstood sea creature: the stingray, and the Polar Bear Pre-School where little bear pupil Cub Henry can be seen.
Rides - the New Storm Coaster
The newest thriller to join the fray is the Storm Coaster, where riders encounter a 20m wave of water on dry land and face a mega fire while drenched. Others include the Sea Viper corkscrew roller coaster, the Viking Flume and speed-propelled Jet Rescue. Meanwhile for the younger set there’s a mini world of fun at Beach Break Bay, with a carousel, Air Sea Explorer, Beach Dump Trucks and Beach Ball Bounce.
Then for all ages the Sea World Water Park attractions are the mega water slide and water features as well as the state of the art poolside cabanas for parents to take time out and relax in. (Note that an extra entry fee applies unless staying at the Sea World Resort).
And adjacent to all of this is the fantastic Castaway Bay for adventures on land or in water. The Battle Boats Ride is a kind of adventure on the high seas with eighty water cannons to shoot and be shot at with and next door Queensland’s biggest fortress – an enchanting multi-storey cubby house and rope city with the option of taking a Sky Climb (a paid extra).
From Sponge Bob (on parade and in 3D) and Dora the Explorer to the Jetski Stunt performances and the Fish Detective live seal theatre, there’s plenty of entertainment on tap throughout the day. Check the programme for details.
Need to know: Sea World guests can swim with dolphins, feed the sharks, go behind the scenes with the polar bears and more as part of their Animal Encounters programs, for an extra (substantive) cost. Bookings essential.
It pays to visit Sea World more than once - annual memberships to Sea World can be had for as little as $10 more than a one day pass. And look out for the super VIP memberships deals, which for the same price as a one day entry, offer multiple entry to all of the Warner Brothers theme parks in a fixed period of time.
Nice to know: Sea World Resort is located at the northern gate of the park and is well worth a stay to make the most of a visit to Sea World, especially for a family with young children. The resort opens straight to the park with its own monorail station and is next door to the water park and Castaway Bay, 2 of the Gold Coast’s ultimate playgrounds in one.
Resort guests can come and go as they please all day, with unlimited entry.
Sea World Dr
Closed Xmas Day