Being scared witless is pure fun for the whole family at the Gold Coast's theme parks, writes Dylan Cleaver.

There was a moment, just before the Batwing Spaceshot operator pressed green for go, when I wondered what would happen if my mother-in-law, seated two to my right, was not strapped in.

But before that smirk could properly form, we were propelled 60m into the air with g-forces measuring 4.5, before being dropped equally rudely back to a few feet above terra firma.

For some, this might have been a moment to contemplate mortality. For me, it was an opportunity to reflect on how much my holidays had changed. It didn't seem that many years ago that a good holiday meant a beat-up backpack, a budget flight and a guidebook that let you know just how old and other-worldly the buildings and artefacts you were staring at were.

Now the backpack has gone, the choice of airlines has reduced and the European and Asian guide books are, in themselves, treasured artefacts.


Family holidays are an altogether different beast, so I was kind of glad when the M-i-L was indeed safely strapped into her Batwing seat - good babysitters are hard to find these days.

Warner Bros Movie World was the second part of a Gold Coast fun-park trilogy, which started at Dreamworld and ended at Sea World. Everyone will have their favourite parks and we were no different. Movie World nudged it by the width of one of Catwoman's whiskers.

There is really not a lot wrong with it. Ages 5 through to 61 were thoroughly entertained. After spending the entire day at Dreamworld earlier in the week, we'd decided we would be more select at MW. No chance.

We left the gates at closing, rain teeming, brand-new Tweety Bird brollies up, wishing we had another hour. Fearless 5-year-old wanted one more ride on the Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster; more circumspect 7-year-old wanted another crack at the dodgems. The parents wanted another crack at the jaw-dropping Green Lantern Coaster (well, one of them did), and the grandparents looked like they wanted a drink (it's hard to keep a tight rein on the oldies these days).

It's not all about the rides, though many are thrilling and terrifying in the sort of way that leaves your mild-mannered wife using the foulest language known to man. There's a 4D theatre, a movie-set main street and shows that range from neat to naff.

Not that Dreamworld and Seaworld lagged far behind. Dreamworld has a phenomenal range of rides, with portentous names including The Claw, The Tower of Terror II, The Giant Drop, The Buzzsaw, The Cyclone and the stomach-churning Wipeout. The ToT II warrants further analysis.

As you get closer to boarding, the beating heart soundtrack escalates to the point where a panic attack seems right and proper.

There's the impressive Tiger Island enclosure (the clue is in the name) but, really, Dreamworld is all about the rides. (Tip: avoid The Wiggles Big Red Car. The queue moves at glacial pace and the incessant strains of "Toot-toot chugga-chugga" are too much for some parents.)

Seaworld takes a different tack. It's more about the shows and the sharks.

A blockbuster roller coaster, Storm, has just opened and the park is better for it. I'd suggest that Seaworld is a better entree to the other parks than a dessert, only because it has fewer out-and-out thrills.

The dolphin and seal shows are smart productions, the aquarium is terrific and although time doesn't quite fly as it does at the two other parks, you won't leave much before closing time.

Dylan Cleaver travelled with assistance from Gold Coast Tourism.