Chris Ingam took his kids to the Gold Coast and reviewed and ranked every single theme park show so you don’t have to.
New Zealand loves the Gold Coast! So much so that Mediaworks spent loads of money making a reality show about it! And what New Zealand loves more than anything else about the Gold Coast? The theme parks clearly. Fun for kids of all ages they say.
But there are only so many times you can ride the Dora’s Carnival Carousel with the two year old before one of you gets bored, so you turn to the live action shows for entertainment. Most of the parks have some licensing agreement with a major studio allowing appearances by a teenager in an oversized animal costume of some description, and they’ve gone one step further than simply allowing a photo opportunity by having an all-singing, all-dancing show to give parents a chance to sit in the presence of a screaming throng of toddlers for half an hour.
Our family were lucky enough to have season passes for both major groups of theme parks, so I had the pleasure of sitting through EVERY SINGLE ONE of these shows (in many cases MULTIPLE TIMES) in order to power rank them for readers planning on taking a trip away from New Zealand’s endless winter in order to thaw out a little.
Looney Tunes Dance Party (Warner Bros Movie World)
Dance Party? More like Dance? Hardly! This ‘show’ was about as lacklustre as the word play used to start this entry. Sure, some of my favourite characters from my childhood pulled a few slick moves (who knew Foghorn Cleghorn was so flexible?) but this was more an opportunity for the park to fleece twenty bucks out of parents for a photo. That’s all, folks!
Dora the Explorer in Best Friends Day (SeaWorld)
With Australia’s history of not necessarily being the most welcoming to new immigrants, I have to say it surprised me to see a show devoted to a ten year old Central American girl which could have equally been taken by a local child. It’s Best Friends Day, which means Dora is looking for her best friend so they can have a picnic. Not her human best friend, cousin Diego, as you might expect, but Boots the taking monkey. All the favourites are encountered along the way (except Diego). Have you ever seen a puppet of a map? I have. It’s weird. Along the way, Boots has to battle crabs (not that sort of crabs, grow up). It’s simplistic. My two-year-old loved it. Then everyone danced, cos WE DID IT! Later on, Dora left me hanging for a high five, and humiliated me in front of my kids, so she gets vindictively marked down in these rankings.
Tropical Fruit Tasting (Tropical Fruit World)
OK, I’m stretching the definition of show here, but I wanted to give an idea of how lowly I rate the Looney Tunes Dance Party. This was a really lovely and enthusiastic lady with a Ph.D. in fruit talking to us about fruit, and then letting us taste some fruit. The kids ate a lot of fruit. Also we took a tour of the fruit gardens, and saw a wild snake. Tropical Fruit World used to be called Avocado Land, and grows 200 tonnes of avocados a year, so it’s a great place to visit if you want to steal a deposit for your first house
Madagascar Live! (Dreamworld)
Presented in King Julian’s Theatre in the Jungle, this is just madness. It didn’t help that the sound quality was awful, but from what I could tell, King Julian was planning a party, but Alex the Lion isn’t invited. Then the Penguins from Madagascar invite all the kids watching to come and do a limbo across the stage. Except for my two-year-old daughter, who fell over on the steps and started crying instead.
After the limboing, Alex the Lion looks like he’s going to cry too, cos he still isn’t invited to King Julian’s party. Except…. SPOILER ALERT it was all a ruse all along and he is invited. Anyway, it looks like everyone likes to move it, move it. And isn’t that the most important thing? And I had a nice salad whilst we watched the show.
Later, King Julian gave me a high five and did a little dance. Take that Dora.
Blinky Bill’s Wildlife Rescuers (Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary)
I didn’t know much about Blinky Bill before I saw this show, and to be honest I don’t think there was that much to know anyway. He’s a koala, he has a koala girlfriend, and he wanted to put on a party of some sort. And there’s a baddy, who is a tiger, or a cat, or something that isn’t native to Australia, and the Cat likes littering and stopping parties. And they all sing songs, of course. One of the songs is about teamwork! What a moral! Except it isn’t anywhere near as catchy as the Wonderpets theme, so the moral was lost on my kids.
At the end, Blinky Bill became friends with the cat, and then a possum appeared and my two year old got to poke it. It was a weird show, but a welcome respite at least from wandering around looking at pieces of fur stapled to branches and labelled as koalas.
Later, Blinky Bill gave me a high five, even though I had no idea who he was. Take that, Dora.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (SeaWorld)
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, SeaWorld gets all the shows! Yeah, they do, but there’s no plot to this one. April O’Neil and the Turtles show up in the middle of the park, and all of a sudden some of Shredder’s henchmen turn up, and they fight. That’s pretty much it. Oh yeah, and apparently the TMNT say Booyakasha instead of Cowabunga now. Didn’t Ali G make that saying ironically uncool 15 years ago? I dunno. They ate pizza at least, and apparently I’m an honorary ninja now. Turtle power!
Fish Detectives (SeaWorld)
Technically, not a show starring childhood TV characters, but what a blast. Sure, the performing sea lions (ooh, controversial, but I’m not getting into the morals of animal performers at the moment) are the stars of the show, but the real highlight is the STUNNING Dad jokes! A veritable Pun Show following the investigation of overfishing in the local harbour. The second time we saw this show the delivery of lines such as ‘if anyone can, Officer Peli can’ earned the cast a well deserved standing ovation from a packed crowd. I’d say more about this masterpiece of theatre, but I wouldn’t want to spoil all the jokes.
Dorothy the Dinosaur’s Summer Beach Party (Dreamworld)
Man, Dreamworld must have paid mega bucks to get licensing rights from the Wiggles, because they really are milking them for all they’re worth now, which is probably wise as eight months post tragedy the longest lines in the park are for the Big Red Car Ride: Journey through the Wiggle House! Stop in the Wiggle Kitchen and sing Hot Potato! Watch as the fridge and oven open and shut spontaneously! Actually…. That’s really creepy, it’s almost as if Jeff and Murray didn’t just leave the band, they died and became Wiggle Poltergeists!
Much gentler is Dorothy’s Beach Party. Dorothy, Wags, Captain Feathersword and Fairy Claire (really? Sadly, I pride myself on my Wiggles knowledge and I’ve never heard of her) take a young audience through several of the Skivied foursome’s favourite hits. Even Rockabye Your Bear is there, damnit. I hate that song with a passion. The kids lap it up.
True star of the show, however, is the young dancer dressed as Captain Feathersword. He knows all the words, he’s really getting into the dancing. Later in the day, we see him boogying down to a song about how great it is to be a hippopotamus (sadly not titled Damn It Feels Good To Be a Hippo). I wish I loved my job even half as much as he clearly loves his.
Later, Henry the Octopus gives my EIGHT high fives. A High Forty even. Take that, Dora.
Living in the urban paradise of Palmerston North, Chris is a father of two and a husband of one. He has a more in depth knowledge of the Wiggles than he’d care to admit, and can recite Planes: Fire and Rescue from memory, yet somehow has only seen Frozen once. He’ll be reviewing regularly at The Spinoff Parents in between reviews you can find him on his blog Netflix and Children and on Twitter.
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