With Summer fast approaching, what's the best way to get into Australia's theme parks multiple times for the least money?
Photo: Phalinn Ooi
Short of getting gainful employment on the grounds, you're going to have to pay something to get into theme parks. Here's a state by state breakdown of the best deals for those keen on summer fun with an eye to repeat visits.
If you are only able to visiting once it doesn't make sense to pay for a long-term pass, as you're simply wasting money. However, it's also significantly harder to score a discount on entry this way.
I also apologise in advance if I miss out any parks; omissions should not be taken as a personal insult. As far as I can see while there's local interest in a Tasmanian theme park, there's nothing of particular scale in TAS, NT or the ACT.
Queensland is clearly the most competitive market for theme parks across the entire nation, and that means that competition between the big two of Movie World and Dreamworld is pretty fierce.
Movie World's best deal is the combination offering with Wet 'N Wild and Sea World, where you pay (currently) $99 Adult/$79.99 for access until the 30 June 2014. There are also some cheaper deals available for those deemed "local" to the theme parks, which broadly covers the southern part of Queensland and some parts of far northern NSW.
Dreamworld's offerings are a little more complicated. The Holiday World pass is cheapest, but only covers a 21 day span; if your time in Queensland is limited it currently runs for $79.99 for kids and $99.99 for adults. Better value if you plan repeat visits would be the Unlimited World pass, currently $109.99 for adults and $79.99 for kids, good until December 2014. That covers Dreamworld, SkyPoint and Whitewater World.
The Platinum Pass is broadly similar with a two-year span and a variety of discounts if you're bringing intermittent visitors along during your birthday month. It would seem sensible to look at your likely holiday plans over such a long period of time before dropping $189.99 or $169.99 for adults or kids respectively. You could get value there — but it's just as likely that you could waste money spent better elsewhere.
One catch here for both sets of parks is that it is incredibly common to find "online bargain" claims on web sites selling tickets. There are some deals that will bundle in additional entertainment options with these passes, but actual price cuts appear to be incredibly thin on the ground. Many sites simply sell multi-visit tickets for the same price the parks themselves offer them for.
New South Wales
There are smaller attractions throughout New South Wales — I feel obliged for personal reasons to point out Wauchope's Timbertown for example — but in terms of larger venues there's not a lot of choice. Sydney has Luna Park, which offers a flat $99 annual pass irrespective of your age, or indeed whether you buy online or at the park itself.
Sydney's Wet & Wild has yet to open, but has already drawn some criticism for its single admission pricing regime, which works around your height rather than any other factor.
If you plan repeat visits, however, the Season Pass, which covers you for the 2013/2014 "season" — through to April 2014 — currently sells for $124.99 according to Wet & Wild's web site.
Melbourne's Luna Park offers tickets that are good for a 12 month period after you buy them, but only for a single day visit. $47.95 for adults (over 13 is an Adult in Luna Park speak), $37.95 for kids, and family passes are also available.
Glenelg still has a theme park (sort of) with Magic Mountain having been replaced by the Beachouse, where most rides are sold on a single use basis; there's no unlimited daily pass I could discern from the Beachouse web site, although you can buy "unlimited" time packs that top out at 100 minutes for $48.
Perth's Adventure World offers season passes for adults at $155.50, defining an adult as anyone 14 years or older; younger kids will pay $130.50. Adventurous seniors get the best deal there, with an annual pass costing only $60.
Know of a theme park we've missed, or a deal we've omitted? Let us know below!
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