Theme parks full price for a fraction of the fun

A quarter of rides and attractions across southeast Queensland theme parks remain closed due to COVID-19 or maintenance, despite patrons still having to pay full price for tickets.

Village Roadshow's Movie World, Wet'n'Wild and Sea World, as well as Aussie World in the Sunshine Coast, have rides, attractions and parades closed due to scheduled maintenance or COVID-19 restrictions, with some not scheduled to reopen until the end of the year.

It comes as embattled Dreamworld, one of Queensland's biggest tourist hot spots on the Gold Coast, remains closed due to recovery dilemmas and multiple legal challenges after the 2016 Thunder River Rapids tragedy.

Wet'n'Wild currently has nine of its 18 rides or attractions closed, including the SkyCoaster, Calypso Beach, and Tornado, while Movie World has eight of its 30 unavailable for either maintenance or COVID-19 restrictions, with three more expected to undergo maintenance in coming months.

Some of Movie World's most iconic rides are under maintenance including the Green Lantern coaster which is unavailable till mid-November, while Wild West Falls Adventure Ride will undergo maintenance from 15 June to 20 September.

Movie World’s Green Lantern ride
Movie World’s Green Lantern ride

Arkham Asylum is also under maintenance with no reopening date currently available.

Sea World has reported nine of its over 40 total attractions, including the Jet Rescue Coaster and Penguin Counter are under maintenance, while many of its animal adventures including the Shark Bay Discovery are unavailable due to COVID-19.

However Aussie World fared better with just five closed out of its 28.

QUT consumer expert Professor Gary Mortimer said there should be greater transparency for visitors.
"While repairs and maintenance are vital for the safety of visitors, having a large percentage unavailable at the same time at any one venue would be frustrating for visitors," he said.

"If a quarter or more of rides are unavailable, it suggests poor scheduling, and visitors have a right to complain."

Tickets range from $38 at Aussie World to about $80 at Village Roadshow's theme parks for single entries.

Corinne Hayes-Wayenberg, who was planning to take her children to Movie World, said it was "very disappointing", considering maintenance could have been done during the park's closure.

"I do realise that they also need to have COVID safe plans for each, but struggle to see how they have a COVID safe plan for the DC coaster, but not the Superman, or the Scooby Doo coaster but not the Wild West," she said.

A Village Roadshow Theme Parks spokesman said there had been difficulty sourcing parts for maintenance from overseas suppliers.

"Due to the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, as well as health restrictions in place at the time, the core focus by our team during the parks' four-month closure was critical maintenance and essential functions," he said.

"In addition to this, we are now experiencing longer timelines to reopen attractions due to delays in the sourcing of parts from overseas suppliers who have experienced shutdowns during COVID-19.

An Aussie World spokeswoman said it had been a tough time for businesses.

"Due to the nature of our industry it's not unusual for rides to be unavailable from time to time due to our maintenance schedule and our guests completely understand," she said.

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