A trip to Queensland's Gold Coast doesn't feel right without a trip to a theme park. No matter how many times I have visited this location, I can't resist the draw of a thrill ride, a photo with a superhero and an overpriced lunch to make the trip feel complete.
So when is the best time to visit a theme park? In the summer you have great weather - but with that comes the crowds. So what are the pros and cons to visiting in low season?
We recently escaped for a cheeky weekend away and here are our thoughts on a visit to Movie World on the Gold Coast in low season - June 2022.
The number one pro of visiting in winter is there are much less people in attendance. Try to go when there are no school holidays in any Australian State and guaranteed the crowds will be at a much lower level than they are in winter. Absolutely a plus.
If you have your heart set on a particular ride - be sure to check the Movie World website before you book your tickets because the low season also means maintenance season. The good thing is that they do at least publish a list of rides out of order due to maintenance on their website - the bad thing for us is that we didn't find that fun fact out until we got there!
On our visit in June 2022 there were major maintenance activity underway which included DC Rivals Supercoaster, Wild West Falls, Road Runner Rollercoaster and Doomsday Destroyer. And on top of that The Superman Ride also had some technical issues on the day we visited and Scooby Coaster had a delayed opening. For someone looking for thrill rides, that was a big bust for our visit. A con for a winter visit.
Given the above, the pricing of your entry ticket does not reflect these outages. Movie World has the same price for it's tickets no matter what time of year you go. One the one hand you have less rides to choose from, but on the other you don't have to queue for as long so get more opportunity to go on more rides. Pro or Con? I'm undecided.
With low crowds, it means less chaos in the car park. There was no need to get to the park much before opening time and we were easily able to find a car park, head to the gate and scan our tickets for no fuss entry.
And with the ability to scan in and out of the park as many times as you like - another bonus was that we could pack our lunch, leave it in the car for the morning and then run out to the car to get it at lunch time. No need to carry around big bulky back packs with snacks and lunches - the car was easily accessible when we needed to refuel. Tick for another pro!
NO WAITING FOR THE BATHROOM
There is nothing worse than leaving your visit to the bathroom to the last minute as you cram in your day full of activities - only to be faced with a lengthy queue. In the low season we could duck in and out of the bathrooms as often as required and with minimal wait times. Tick!
In the high season the weather can be quite hot and often humid. A Queensland winter on the other hand is mild in comparison to other parts of the Country. Shorts with layered t-shirts, jumpers and jackets were common amongst visitors providing what we found to be perfect weather for a day at the theme park. Tick!
What would you add to the list of pros and cons? Have we missed anything major?
Regardless of the pros and cons - any travel experience is a pro in our eyes and a visit to Movie World is a fun day out no matter if you are young or old, hot or cold!
Itchy Feet Family
Noosa, located on Queensland’s sunshine coast, is a great destination for families, solo travellers, couples and everything in between. There is a bit of something for everyone - and great weather most year round to greet you.
On a recent visit we discovered the Noosa Heads Coastal Walk - one of the great coastal walks in Australia, up there with the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk in New South Wales. If you like getting outdoors and experiencing amazing scenery, this walk ticks those boxes.
Starting from Hastings Street, the main street of Noosa, the start of the walk is easily accessible. Grab your morning coffee from a Hastings street cafe and then meander north in the uphill direction and you will join the boardwalk path.
There are a number of walking tracks to take in this area that allow you to discover the National Park, we opted for the Coastal Track - but an inland track is also available for those that like to discover that sort of terrain.
The walk starts out as a beautiful wide boardwalk path making it accessible even for those with strollers or wheelchairs. Most of the path is accessible - up until Dolphin Point where we saw those with strollers turning around as it gets a bit narrow with rougher terrain.
The coastal walk is a great fitness track and many locals use it for their regular routine, however as tourists we took the opportunity to do a slow meander and enjoy all the scenery had to offer.
Rugged coastline, crystal clear waters, sandy beaches, this is a stunning part of Australia.
There is a look out called Dolphin Point - where I did not see any dolphins, but at another stop along the way I watched a pod of some 15 dolphins playing in the waves - it was amazing. If you have the time to enjoy the walk at leisure, be sure to take some regular stops to soak it all in. Whales are regularly sited in-season (August to November) and Koalas can be spotted in the trees.
We walked as far as Hells Gate, about a 3.7km walk from Hastings Street, there is an option to follow the heads around to Sunshine Beach and then grab a bus to return - we opted for the return walk from midway point.
Take a Swim
If you love the surf, there are plenty of opportunities to stop off for a swim or catch some waves at quiet secluded beaches. The crowds at Noosa Main Beach are overwhelming during peak seasons, the beaches along this walk offer a much more isolated experience. The sands are white, the water is clear and they offer welcome relief from the crowds. However look out for the stingers - Queensland beaches can be unforgiving when it comes to marine life that sting and the beaches in Noosa are no exception.
There are plenty of picnic spots along the way with welcome shade from the harsh Australian sun. There were very limited toilet or water spots along the trail so be sure to pack a backpack with the essentials - hat, sunscreen, water - and if you have the time pack a picnic and enjoy one of the many stops along the way to soak it all in this a great place to do it.
Have you ever taken this walk? Leave us a comment about your highlight of the experience.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
If you have no idea how to play golf, more swing and miss than hitting targets - here are 7 reasons to visit Top Golf Gold Coast and why it is for you. If you are a pro at all things golf and enjoy a challenge - Top Golf Gold Coast is for you. And If you are a kid that has never even picked up a golf club before - Top Golf Gold Coast is also for you!
Top Golf Gold Coast is a triple level state of the art golf driving range, the first in Australia, and here are seven reasons why you might like to give it a try.
1. All Automatic
There is no guessing the scores here - the balls are microchipped and the computer system knows exactly where you are landing. Your name comes up on the screen, you swipe your club for a ball to appear and away you go. The chip tracks how far the ball goes, whether it has hit a target or not and provides you with a score. No-one needs to sharpen their pencil or guesstimate how far the ball has travelled. Mind you for those golfers that like to exaggerate how far they can drive a ball you are in for a reality check here!
2. Variety of Games
There are a variety of games available that are programmed into the system. Whether you want to just swing and track, or if you want to be challenged to hitting certain targets, there is something for all levels of experience - and plenty of choices to make you want to come back. There are both men and women’s clubs in each bay (kids clubs are available from reception upon arrival) or you can bring your own. And both left and right handed tees are in each bay.
3. All Ages
Top Golf is an activity for all ages. We visited for a corporate function with adults and then returned as a family. Our Miss 8 barely knew what end of the club to hold, but she managed to hit a few of the targets and not once threw her club over the edge!
4. Great Atmosphere
We visited on a Thursday night for a corporate function and walked into a funky, vibrant, atmosphere for 80s night! There was a DJ on the decks of the roof top bar and there were some great tunes being blasted through the speakers. There was a really good vibe at the venue and, as well as our corporate function of 50 people, the bays were filled with groups of mates of varying ages and genders. There is a bar/eatery on the ground level as you enter the venue and then another on the rooftop level.
Our second visit was on a week day before lunch and although not as vibrant as the Thursday evening, there was still a good vibe about the place.
5. Comfortable Bays
Each bay can cater for up to six people. The bay consists of a six seater lounge area, or high tables, that offer table service for food and drinks. They have self controlled televisions with a range of sporting channels to choose from and self controlled heating, ceiling fan or mist sprayer.
6. Table Service
Everyone loves table service - especially when you are paying for your bay by the hour! The fully licensed venue serves up brunch for the early arrivals and share plates and cocktails for the late night crowd. The attendants were friendly and service was prompt for our pre-lunch time visit.
7. Bays by the Hour
The Top Golf structure is you get to hit as many balls as you possibly can in your allocated time slot - you pay for your bay by the hour. Prices vary depending on when you visit but start at $55 per hour for a midweek day time bay.
When you arrive at your bay you are set up for an hour (unless you ask for more) and when 15 minutes remains you will be prompted to see if you want to extend.
Top Golf Gold Coast is located right next door to MovieWorld on the Gold Coast - a great after theme park day out activity!
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
If you have been to the Gold Coast or Brisbane and done all the run of the mill attractions, here is a day trip with a difference: Get Wrecked with tour operator Sunset Safaris.
So long as you don’t mind a full day out - getting off the mainland and onto the world’s third largest sand island - Moreton Island - is a great adventure for the whole family.
With a 5:45am pick up from the Gold Coast we boarded a tour bus via Brisbane to catch a catamaran across to Moreton Island that departed at 8:30am. It is a long morning, but with a bus driver at the wheel we took the opportunity to catch a few more moments of sleep before our big day.
The ride across to the island took about an hour and was fairly smooth sailing. We were fascinated that the catamaran just pulled up onto the beach, put down it’s front and off drove the 4WD vehicles ready to explore this amazing island.
Upon arrival at Moreton Island this tour kicks into action - the group was split into snorkelers and kayakers and we were kitted up with wetsuits and life vests to hit the water and explore the Moreton Island wrecks.
There are 15 ships purposefully wrecked at Moreton Island that are home to a myriad of sea life, including coral. From the top of the water, through the transparent kayaks, we got a glimpse of what lied beneath.
The sea was a bit rough, this activity is not for anyone afraid of being out on the ocean, but the current was strong and you could go with the flow most of the way. We have done a few kayak tours as a family, most recently in the Norwegian Fjords at Olden, so were excited to try out a translucent kayak - it was fascinating!
Once we had kayaked we were kitted up with wetsuits and snorkelling gear and a Jet Ski ferried us out to the wrecks. Again, the sea was quite rough and the current strong which meant we pretty well had to just go with the flow, fighting against the current was fruitless.
Snorkelling the wrecks is an amazing activity. There is an abundant amount of sea life to swim amongst and the coral forming near the wrecks was impressive. This is the southern most part of Australia that you will see Great Barrier Reef coral.
The kids love the experience of snorkelling and although the seas were rough and it was hard work, the tour guides were great in providing a buoyant ring to just grab onto when we needed a break. We all wore life jackets so although we couldn’t dive down into the sea, not having one in slightly rough waters would have been a struggle.
Post water activities we refuelled with the provided lunch of salad rolls, potato chips and oranges before boarding a 4WD tour bus that took us out onto the bumpy roads/ tracks of the Island towards the Desert. A 20 minute ride along a one way 4WD only track brought us to a sandy oasis of dunes just begging to be conquered.
With our primitive bits of plank wood we hiked to the top of the dunes to take on the mounds head first! Again, not for the faint hearted, this is an adrenaline run launching yourself off the side of that dune head first with only a thin plank of wood between you and the sand.
“Arch your back, feet off the ground and elbows up” the tour guide suggested as they pushed us off the edge. The comment “Or not” generally followed as tourist after tourist our elbows hit the ground, followed by our faces, as we rolled or tumbled near the bottom of the dune!
It is amazing how sand can find it’s way into every crevice of your body, every pocket on your clothing, every inch of you - following a face plant and tumble in a sand dune at high speed!
Covered in sand and still shaking it out of our ears, hair and nostrils we head back to the beach to catch a 3:30pm ferry back to Brisbane and a long bus ride via Brisbane CBD to arrive back on the Gold Coast at 7:15pm.
This day tour absolutely exhausted our family of four, Miss 8 slept most of the bus ride back to the Gold Coast and she NEVER sleeps in a car! Master 11 stayed awake but was very hungry and tired by the end of the trip.
The time on the island was absolutely jam packed and we were constantly on the go - but with so many activities to get through it had to be that way. There was very little, if any, time to just chill on the beach and enjoy the surroundings. Leaving from Brisbane would cut out the early start and late finish but would still be a full day.
If you have never had the opportunity to visit Moreton Island this is a great option to squeeze in a visit when next in Queensland.
For more details, visit the Sunset Safaris website and check out their Get Wrecked tour.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
*Itchy Feet Family were guests of Sunset Safaris on this day tour.
A family trip to the Gold Coast is something most Australian families will do at least once. If you have done the mandatory visit to the theme parks and the kids are asking for a repeat, consider a side-trip to Moreton Island to break the holiday up.
Whilst I love a week at the theme parks as much as anyone else, I also need a holiday to recover from it and Tangalooma Resort on Moreton Island offered just that.
Unless you have your own boat, access to the island is via a ferry from Brisbane. The trip is just a short 75 minute commute.
Upon arrival there is beautiful sands, wrecks for snorkelling, restaurants, swimming pools and an assortment of activities you would expect from a resort catered for families.
These were our top four things to do at Moreton Island:
If you stay at the resort, included in your stay is an opportunity to feed wild dolphins. Every night a pod of dolphins swim up near the jetty for feeding and guests are invited to enter the shallows of the beach and hand feed them a fish.
Whilst you can not touch the dolphin and the experience is very short and sweet, it is a unique opportunity to get close to wild dolphins.
The dolphins are wild and the experience is not guaranteed, but from what I heard, it is very rare for none of the dolphins to make an appearance. The activity started back in 1992 and the resort follows strict guidelines to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the dolphins.
Snorkelling The Wrecks
Snorkelling amongst 15 ship wrecks was an absolute experience that is unique to Moreton Island. The ships were purposefully wrecked to form a breakwall for small boats. The abundance of sea life that has resulted was something that both surprised and delighted both the kids and adults.
When we instructed the kids to place their heads in the water, the look of surprise when they first realised what lied beneath was priceless.
You can walk along the beach from the resort and swim out to the wrecks, however on our visits to the Island we have done both the escorted tour via boat with a guide and a self-guided tour with kayaks. The currants can get quite strong so having a floatation device whilst snorkelling is recommended.
Going head first on a waxed board down a sand dune in the desert is not something I was expecting to do on an island resort holiday.
The Moreton Island desert is just a short drive from the resort with daily tours to the area.
After donning swimming goggles, yes swimming goggles in the dessert, it is quite a leap of faith to set yourself off from the top of the dune face first with only a thin board between you and the sand.
This activity is not for the faint-hearted, the climb to the top of the dune in itself was a challenge - let alone doing it over and over again!
Miss 5 was given an option to complete a half-dune and despite being tentative on the first launch, she completed it over and over again.
Master 8 head to the top of the dune with the adults and despite having a slight nose dive and roll out of control in the sand - he got back up and did it again.
Sunset Beach Walks
The sunsets on Moreton Island were spectacular. Family walks along the beach at sunset every night were mandatory. The kids cartwheeled and searched for shells as the adults enjoyed the amazing colours as the sun bounces on the ocean creating shadows through the wrecks.
Other activities we completed included quad biking, kayaking, archery, basketball, swimming and much more.
For details about Tangalooma Resort visit their website.
Next time you are planning a Queensland family holiday, consider Moreton Island as a side trip. There may not be any theme parks but the natural beauty and activities of this island will leave you wanting to return.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family