Warner Bros. Movie World

Warner Bros. Movie World is a theme park on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Owned and operated by Village Roadshow's Theme Parks division, the park opened on 3 June 1991. It is part of a 154-hectare (380.5-acre) entertainment precinct, with the adjacent Village Roadshow Studios film studio and nearby Wet'n'Wild Gold Coast water park, among other properties all operated by Village Roadshow.

Warner Bros. Movie World
Warner Bros. Movie World logo.png
Slogan"Hollywood on the Gold Coast"
LocationOxenford, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
Coordinates27°54′26.17″S 153°18′45.54″E / 27.9072694°S 153.3126500°E / -27.9072694; 153.3126500Coordinates: 27°54′26.17″S 153°18′45.54″E / 27.9072694°S 153.3126500°E / -27.9072694; 153.3126500
ThemeWarner Bros. and related DC Comics properties
OwnerVillage Roadshow Theme Parks
Opened3 June 1991; 29 years ago (1991-06-03)
Operating seasonAll year round
Visitors per annum1.3 million in 2007
Area154 ha (380 acres)[a]
Attractions
Total17[b]
Roller coasters6
Water rides1
Websitemovieworld.com.au
StatusOperating

The park's theme is based on Warner Bros. and related DC Comics properties. Jointly developed by Pivot Leisure, Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow, the park was designed by C. V. Wood in 1989 to adjoin the existing film studio complex. Movie World is Australia's only film-related theme park, and the oldest of the three Warner Bros. theme parks worldwide (the other two located at Madrid and Abu Dhabi). It recorded 1.3 million visitors in 2007 and ranked third in yearly attendance (behind Sea World and Dreamworld) for Australian theme parks.

The park contains movie-themed rides, attractions and shows. Various costumed characters regularly patrol the park to interact and take photos with guests. Each afternoon, characters participate in a parade along the park's Main Street. The park hosts several seasonal events annually, such as the Halloween-themed Fright Nights and Christmas-themed White Christmas. DC Rivals HyperCoaster, opened in 2017, is the most recent among the park's six operating roller coasters.

HistoryEdit

Park set-up and openingEdit

Hollywood interest in Australian film and actors grew rapidly during the 1980s. Italian-American film producer Dino De Laurentiis, aware of industry buzz over the 1986 film Crocodile Dundee and having worked with many Australian actors and directors in recent years, visited the county that year.[3] With De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (DEG) and aided by a $12 million Queensland Government investment,[c][4] he commissioned and constructed a film studio in Oxenford, near Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast, Queensland.[3] The studio was to produce the science fiction action film Total Recall. However, amid financial instability caused in part by a series of box office bombs such as 1987's Million Dollar Mystery, De Laurentiis left the tanking DEG in December 1987, production on Total Recall halted, and $3.4 million worth of studio sets were dismantled.[d][3][7] Village Roadshow, who had an established partnership with Warner Bros. in Australia, bought out DEG entirely in 1988, and by July that year the newly cemented Warner Roadshow Studios (now Village Roadshow Studios) had opened.[3]

 
The Fountain of Fame, Movie World's entrance plaza

In October 1988, Village Roadshow acquired a large lot of swampy land adjacent the studio complex from investment company Ariadne Australia (who had been crippled by the 1987 Black Monday stock market crash). The following month, Village Roadshow persuaded Warner Bros. to acquire 50% of the studio, and a theme park provisionally named Warner World was announced to be built on the recently acquired land. Warner Bros. moreover recognised the value proposition in the theme park than in the studio.[e][3] In July 1989, the two companies entered a joint venture to develop the park with Pivot Leisure, part-owners of a property trust in the local marine mammal park Sea World.[f][13] Village Roadshow had recently acquired the nearby Wet'n'Wild Gold Coast water park as well.[17] That year, they commissioned C.V. Wood to design the theme park. He had six park designs in his portfolio at the time, including Six Flags Over Texas and Disneyland.[18] He modelled the layout on similar parks such as Universal Studios Hollywood and Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park.[19] The park was scaled such that guests could visit all attractions in a single day, even during peak periods,[18] and to support up to 13,000 daily guests.[20] The 16-month park construction relied on labour from local workers as much as possible,[19] and cost an estimated AU$120-140 million.[18][20]

 
Main Street before the 2008 roof construction

The opening ceremony held on 2 June 1991 was attended by more than 5,000 people, among them celebrities such as Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell.[20][21] To mark the occasion, Queensland Premier Wayne Goss cut novelty film reel with Eastwood and Bugs Bunny.[20] That evening, a special edition episode of Hey Hey It's Saturday ("Hey Hey Goes to the Movies") was shot on-location; host Daryl Somers interviewed many of the celebrities in attendance such as Eastwood and Russell.[22][23] The park opened to the general public the following day, 3 June.[21] Between 400 and 500 new jobs were created at the park upon its opening.[24][18] The initial guest admission fee was $29 for adults and $19 for children.[18] With increased international tourism to the Gold Coast since the 1980s,[3] Village Roadshow had hoped to tap into a market with American and Japanese customers; park attractions were subtitled, and tour guides were trained, in Japanese language.[g][18] It was variously described as the world's first "movie-based theme park" built outside the United States[26] and the first "American-style" theme park since Tokyo Disneyland,[18] and was expected to draw between 1 and 1.5 million visitors within its first year.[h][27][28][25]

Early attractions, the first 10 yearsEdit

 
Police Academy Stunt Show was one of the park's opening attractions

Opening attractions at Movie World focused on education about and involvement with the behind the scenes of filmmaking.[29] Marketing slogans billed Movie World as "Hollywood on the Gold Coast" and its design was intended to capture the aesthetic of American theme parks such as Disneyland and Universal Studios.[28][30] Beyond the Fountain of Fame opening plaza, Main Street featured replicas of buildings and facades from various Warner Bros. films, such as Rick's Café Américain from Casablanca, the bank robbed during Bonnie and Clyde and the Daily Planet building from Superman.[30][27] There was a tram ride through and tour of the film studio.[21] Part of the tour was the Movie Magic Special Effects Show, which involved audience participation on a live set.[31] There were two live stunt shows, each with several performances daily: the Western Action Show[32] and Police Academy Stunt Show.[33] Warner Bros. Classics & Great Gremlins Adventure was an interactive dark ride attraction where guests would escape from a gremlin invasion of a studio set.[34] Young Einstein Gravity Homestead was a walk-through attraction based on the 1988 film Young Einstein, which featured sloped floors and optical illusions to simulate the various effects of gravity.[35] The Roxy Theatre screened 3D films.[36] The Looney Tunes Land children's area featured several rides[21] including the Looney Tunes River Ride, a dark water ride,[37] and the Looney Tunes Musical Revue, a live show.[38]

Batman Adventure – The Ride, a $13 million motion simulator ride, opened to the left of the entrance on 23 December 1992.[12][39][40] The four-minte film portion of the ride, directed by Hoyt Yeatman and produced at the Dream Quest Images animation studio, featured props and setpieces from Batman Returns.[41] McFadden Systems, Inc. manufactured the ride's motion platform and Anitech designed the 20-person simulation capsule.[42] The ride was widely anticipated[12][43] and immediately popular upon opening.[44][45] More than 12,000 people visited the park on 30 December, setting a new single-day attendance record.[46] In 1995, the Western Action Show was removed[32] and eventually replaced by The Maverick Grand Illusion Show that September.[44][47] On Boxing Day, 26 December 1995, Lethal Weapon – The Ride opened as the park's first roller coaster.[48] The $16 million Suspended Looping Coaster manufactured by Vekoma[49] was the first of its kind to feature a 765 m layout with a helix (or "bayern kurve").[50][51] It was Australia's first steel inverted coaster[52][53] and its construction required more than 600 tonnes of steel.[54]

On Boxing Day 1997, Looney Tunes Land reopened as Looney Tunes Village with several new rides manufactured by Zamperla[55][56][57] and Marvin the Martian in 3D opened at the Roxy Theatre[58] as the world's first animated 3D film.[52][59] Boxing Day 1998 saw the opening of the Wild Wild West (now Wild West Falls Adventure Ride).[60] The $18 million flume ride manufactured by Hopkins Rides was at its time the largest single ride investment in Australia and featured an approximately 400 m (1,300 ft) wide, 32 m (105 ft) tall artificial mountain.[61][62] The ride was originally to be called Rio Bravo after the 1959 Western film of the same name,[61] but was renamed to tie-in with the 1999 film Wild Wild West.[63] In their 1999 annual report, Village Roadshow identified Wild Wild West as a crowd-pleaser and attributed it to a spike in attendance that year.[64] In 2000, Young Einstein Gravity Homestead closed[35] and the Looney Tunes Musical Revue was relocated to make way for a new attraction.[38] Opened on Boxing Day, the attraction was Road Runner Rollercoaster, Movie World's second coaster and a Junior model manufactured by Vekoma.[65][66] It was Australia's first junior coaster.[67][68]

The 2000sEdit

During 2001, the Maverick Show and Great Gremlin Adventure attractions closed[47][34] and the Looney Tunes Splash Zone was added to Looney Tunes Village.[69] Two new attractions opened on Boxing Day: Batman Adventure – The Ride 2, a refurbishment of the original ride, and the Harry Potter Movie Magic Experience.[70][69] Although the new version of the Batman ride used the same sets and physical components, a new 3D film was added to the ride experience, with Mark Hamill providing voice work for the Joker.[71][39] Built on the Gravity Homestead's footprint,[35] the $2 million Harry Potter attraction was a direct tie-in to the film series' first film, the Philosopher's Stone, and featured a walk-through Diagon Alley replica and a live owl show.[i][72] The following year, it was updated with the release of the Chamber of Secrets[73] to feature various set-pieces from the film such as the flying car and creatures of the Forbidden Forest.[74] Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster, the park's third roller coaster, opened on 17 June 2002.[75][76] The $13 million indoor Wild Mouse coaster manufactured by Mack Rides was themed to the 2002 film Scooby-Doo.[75][71] The ride features ghost train elements and an elevator lift, followed by a coaster section.[75][77]

 
The Official Matrix Exhibit existed at the park from 2003 until 2007

In 2003, the Harry Potter attraction closed and was replaced by The Official Matrix Exhibit in September;[78] the walkthrough attraction featured props from the Matrix film series.[79][80] While the park was closed on 5 December 2003, a fire caused more than $1 million in damage to Wild West Falls' upper section;[81][82] the ride was repaired and reopened several weeks later.[83][62] By 2005, Village Roadshow had announced expansion plans totalling $65 million for their Gold Coast parks, in which Movie World would receive a share with two new attractions.[84][85] The Marvin the Martian film closed and the Roxy Theatre was refurbished for its replacement, Shrek 4-D.[86] Opened on 17 September,[87] the film experience used several effects such as smoke, moving seats and animatronics.[88][86][89] The second attraction and the park's fourth coaster, Superman Escape, opened on Boxing Day. The $16 million Accelerator Coaster manufactured by Intamin[90] was the park's first major thrill ride in about a decade;[85] it was ranked 16th among steel coasters on Mitch Hawker's 2006 "best roller coaster" poll.[91][92] As a result of the coaster's construction, the Special Effects Show closed and the Musical Revue moved again.[31][38]

Batwing Spaceshot, a $5 million Space Shot manufactured by S&S Power, opened on 20 December.[93][94][95] During the year, Village Roadshow acquired Warner Bros.' stake in their theme park division but maintained the latter's license and branding.[96][97] In 2007, the Matrix Exhibit was replaced by bumper cars and the County Fair Fun 'n' Games arcade.[80] Looney Tunes Village was renamed to Kids' WB Fun Zone and two new rides were added.[98][99] At the year's end, Village Roadshow published specific park attendance for the first time;[100] Movie World had received 1.32 million visitors that year.[101] Police Academy Stunt Show drew its final curtain call on 30 April 2008 after 16 years and 18,000 performances; the enduringly popular attraction was among the world's longest-running stunt shows at the time.[102][103][104][105] Plans for a $7 million Hot Wheels-themed replacement[100] were scrapped; instead, the $10 million Hollywood Stunt Driver opened on Boxing Day.[106][107] A cast of 10 stunt drivers was selected from more than 200 applicants, and in preparation for the show, the venue was renovated to increase its stage area and seating capacity from 1,400 to 2,000 guests.[108] According to Parkz's Richard Wilson, its premiere was marred by a rushed release.[109] The Musical Revue was replaced by a new live show, Looney Tunes: What's Up Rock?.[110][111] In October, construction of a roof over Main Street was completed.[110] The 4,000 square metre (43,000 sq ft) roof supplied by MakMax Australia was designed to improve guest protection from the elements and provided for a 2,000-person capacity venue for functions and events.[112][113]

The 2010s-presentEdit

 
Green Lantern Coaster has one of the world's steepest drop angles

2011 saw the closure of two attractions; Looney Tunes River Ride in February[37] and Batman Adventure – The Ride 2 in October.[39] Showtime FMX's MotoMonster Xtreme show temporarily replaced Hollywood Stunt Driver from 26 June through to 18 July 2011 as alternative winter holiday entertainment.[114] Green Lantern Coaster, the park's fifth coaster, soft opened on 16 December before officially opening on 23 December.[115][116] The $10 million El Loco coaster manufactured by S&S Worldwide features a 120.5° drop angle–the Southern Hemisphere's steepest and world's third-steepest.[117][118] Lethal Weapon – The Ride closed in January 2012 for a $2 million refurbishment. The coaster received a new train manufactured by Kumbak with lap bar restraints and on-board audio.[119] It was renamed Arkham Asylum – Shock Therapy and its station building was extensively rethemed; the adjacent courtyard (Lethal Weapon's former queue area) was turned into a mock-jailhouse exercise yard, and the building transformed into an Arkham Asylum overrun by the Joker and his cohorts.[120] The ride reopened in April.[49]

Housed in the former Batman Adventure - The Ride 2 building, Justice League: Alien Invasion 3D opened on 22 September 2012 and incorporated world-first animatronics and 3D projection technologies.[121][122] The $9 million interactive dark ride attraction was manufactured by Sally Corporation, with additional technologies provided by Alterface, Threshold Entertainment, Bertazzon and others.[123] The Hollywood Stunt Driver stunt show closed and was replaced by Hollywood Stunt Driver 2 on 20 February 2014, a revamped show that features Showtime FMX motocross riders who perform more thrilling stunts than before.[124] The Junior Driving School, where riders navigate a miniature replica of the theme park, opened at the Kids' WB Fun Zone on 12 September. Built on Looney Tunes River Ride's footprint, the ride was planned to open in 2013 but was delayed as Village Roadshow reallocated investment towards an expansion of Sea World's Polar Bear Shores attraction.[125][126] Festivities and a parade commemorated the park's 25th anniversary on 3 June 2016.[127] The DC Comics Super-Villains Unleashed interactive precinct opened on 24 September, built on the site of the former Boot Hill Graveyard. The area's main attraction is Doomsday Destroyer (its namesake the DC villain), a Suspended Twin Hammer thrill ride designed by Intamin.[128]

 
DC Rivals HyperCoaster is Australia's tallest, fastest and longest coaster

Planning and development applications for the park's sixth coaster were submitted by November 2015 and vertical construction began in April 2017. DC Rivals HyperCoaster opened on 27 September 2017. At a total cost of $30 million, it remains the single largest ride investment in Village Roadshow's history.[129] With Tower of Terror II's 2019 closure,[130] DC Rivals HyperCoaster remains Australia's tallest,[131] fastest[132] and longest roller coaster.[133] An Aquaman film exhibition opened on 13 December 2018 and featured props and costumes from the film.[134] Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster closed for an extended maintenance period from July to November 2018. During this time, the ride was refurbished with new projection mapping technologies and other special effects.[135] The rebranded Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster: Next Generation opened on 15 December.[136] The WB Studio Showcase, opened on 1 November 2019, exhibits props, sets and costumes from numerous Warner Bros-distributed films such as Suicide Squad, Mad Max: Fury Road and A Star Is Born.[137] Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the park temporarily closed from 22 March 2020[138] and reopened on 15 July at 50% guest capacity with various social distancing and sanitisation policies.[139][140]

Park layoutEdit

 
A float from the daily Star Parade

Movie World is located in Oxenford on the Gold Coast, Queensland, approximately 20 km (13 miles) from Surfers Paradise.[3][18] It is part of a 154-hectare (380.5-acre) entertainment precinct along with other Village-Roadshow operated properties including the adjacent film studio and nearby Wet'n'Wild Gold Coast, Australian Outback Spectacular and Paradise Country.[1] The park can be divided into five broad sections: Main Street, Kids' WB Fun Zone, the wild west area, DC Comics Super-Villains Unleashed and the DC Comics superhero hub.[141]

Just beyond the main gate is the entrance plaza, which encircles its centrepiece, the Fountain of Fame. Main Street continues to the north-west, with guest services, dining, gift shops and other amenities lining the footpaths. The Roxy Theatre off Main Street screens 4D films daily;[36] its current attraction is The Lego Movie: 4D – A New Adventure.[142] Main Street's main courtyard hosts the Looney Tunes Dance Party. The Hollywood Stunt Driver live show, performed several times daily, features stunt motorcycles and rally cars.[106] The Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster features a dark ride section with audio-animatronics, projections and booby traps, and a coaster section with a backwards drop at 44.6 km/h (27.7 mph) and tight, unbanked turns.[136][143] Each afternoon, various costumed characters (such as DC Comics superheroes and villains, Austin Powers, Scooby-Doo and Shaggy, and Looney Tunes characters) participate in the Streets Star parade with vehicle and movie-themed floats along Main Street and around the Fountain of Fame.[144]

Kids' WB Fun Zone is a children's area themed to the Looney Tunes cartoons featured on Kids' WB Australia.[145] The zone features several children's attractions from bumper cars to carousels and car rides.[57] Junior Driving School lets riders navigate a miniature replica of the park[125] and Road Runner Rollercoaster is a 335 m (1,099.1 ft) long Vekoma Junior Coaster.[66] A wild west themed area is located in the southern portion of the park.[141] Wild West Falls Adventure Ride, the area's main attraction, navigates a Native American village and a ghost town, and culminates with a 20 m (66 ft) splashdown drop.[62] DC Comics Super-Villains Unleashed is located along Main Street. The themed precinct features statues of various DC supervillain characters (such as Bizarro and Scarecrow) engaging in criminal acts. An interactive element lets guests purchase RFID wristbands and help the villains destroy the area. The area's main attraction is Doomsday Destroyer, a Suspended Twin Hammer thrill ride.[146][147]

The DC Comics superhero hub features six attractions. Arkham Asylum is a Suspended Looping Coaster that navigates five inversions;[148] an optional upcharge experience adds virtual reality headsets while riding.[49] Batwing Spaceshot exerts 4 g-forces is it launches riders up a 56 m (183.7 ft) vertical tower.[94] DC Rivals HyperCoaster reaches speeds of up to 115.1 kilometres per hour (71.5 mph), features a 40 m (130 ft) non-inverting loop, and has two backwards-facing seats on the last row of each train.[149][150] Green Lantern Coaster is an El Loco coaster that features two inversions, sharp outer-banked turns[118][117] and a 120.5° beyond-vertical drop.[151] Justice League: Alien Invasion 3D is an interactive dark ride with 3D screens and animatronic characters.[152][153] Superman Escape is an Accelerator Coaster that propels riders from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 2 seconds up a 40 m (130 ft) tall top hat.[154][155]

List of attractionsEdit

Name Section Type Manufacturer Opened
Thrill rides
Arkham Asylum – Shock Therapy DC Comics superhero hub Suspended Looping Coaster Vekoma 26 December 1995[j] [148]
Batwing Spaceshot DC Comics superhero hub Space Shot S&S Power 20 December 2006 [94]
DC Rivals HyperCoaster DC Comics superhero hub Hypercoaster Mack Rides 22 September 2017 [150]
Doomsday Destroyer DC Comics Super-Villains Unleashed Suspended Twin Hammer Intamin 24 September 2016 [128]
Green Lantern Coaster DC Comics superhero hub El Loco S&S Worldwide 23 December 2011 [118]
Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster Main Street Indoor Wild Mouse Mack Rides 17 June 2002 [143]
Superman Escape DC Comics superhero hub Accelerator Coaster Intamin 26 December 2005 [154]
Wild West Falls Adventure Ride Wild West Log flume Hopkins Rides 26 December 1998 [62]
Family rides
Justice League: Alien Invasion 3D DC Comics superhero hub Interactive dark ride Sally Corporation 22 September 2012 [152]
Junior Driving School Kids' WB Fun Zone Mini-cars Unknown 12 September 2014 [125]
Looney Tunes Carousel Kids' WB Fun Zone Carousel Unknown September 2007 [57]
Road Runner Roller Coaster Kids' WB Fun Zone Vekoma Junior Coaster Vekoma 26 December 2000 [156]
Yosemite Sam's Railroad Kids' WB Fun Zone Miniature railway Zamperla December 1997 [57]
Kids' rides
Looney Tunes Splash Zone Kids' WB Fun Zone Water play area Unknown December 2001 [69]
Speedy Gonzales Tijuana Taxis Kids' WB Fun Zone Children's car ride Zamperla 3 June 1991 [57]
Sylvester's Pounce 'n' Bounce Kids' WB Fun Zone Frog Hopper SBF Visa Group September 2007 [157]
Sylvester and Tweety Cages Kids' WB Fun Zone Aerial carousel Zamperla December 1997 [57]
Shows and entertainment
Hollywood Stunt Driver 2 Main Street Stunt show N/A 26 December 2008 [106]
JL 52 Batmobile Main Street Photo opportunity N/A N/A [158]
Looney Tunes Dance Party Main Street Street show N/A N/A [159]
NYFA Australia - Hot Sets Main Street Film set tour N/A N/A [160]
Roxy Theatre Main Street 4D film theatre N/A 3 June 1991 [36]
Streets Star Parade Main Street Street show N/A N/A [159]
Tom and Jerry Meet and Greet Main Street Meet and greet N/A N/A [161]
WB Studio Showcase Main Street Film exhibition N/A 1 November 2019 [162]

Events and guest featuresEdit

 
The annual White Christmas event

Movie World currently holds two annual events: Fright Nights during the Halloween season and White Christmas during the Christmas season.[163] During Fright Nights, the park sets up various maze attractions, street parades are performed by Halloween characters and night rides are offered on several coasters and attractions.[164][165] It is a consistently popular event, with around 7,000 guests attending each Fright Night evening in October 2017.[166] The park offers a paid Fast Track priority pass[167] and free virtual queueing via mobile app on select attractions.[168] Mobile ordering and virtual queueing via AirService is offered for select food outlets.[169] The Star Tours began in July 2016 and offer a behind-the-scenes look at several attractions. Included in the experience is a climb up Arkham Asylum's lift hill catwalk, Fast Track passes, priority seating for the afternoon parade and other features.[170][171] A climb experience up the 282 steps of DC Rivals HyperCoaster's 61.6 m lift hill began in September 2018.[172]

In celebration of the park's first anniversary in 1992, a daily parade featuring Bugs Bunny and other Looney Tunes characters was held each afternoon from 1 June. In addition, on evenings from June 20, the park presented Illuminanza[k]—a sound and light show featuring Batman and Catwoman—followed by screenings of Batman Returns at the Roxy Theatre. Celebrations concluded by 19 July.[174][175] Easter 1994 was celebrated at the park from 1 to 10 April with the $200,000 Bugs Bunny Megga Easter Party event. An evening parade with more than 140 cast members concluded with a fireworks display.[176] Movie World celebrated its 10th anniversary on 3 June 2001. An anniversary celebration event hosted by B105 FM was held on 4 August. More than 1,000 people attended the event and were treated to live performances by Human Nature, Invertigo, A Touch of Class and Joanne Accom.[177][178] Its first ever Halloween-themed event, Halloween Family Fun Night, was held on 31 October 2006 and offered guests night rides on several attractions.[179] The sold-out event was immediately popular with more than 7,500 attendees, such that it was extended into the following evening.[180][181] It has since become Fright Nights, an annual tradition.[166] In celebration of DC Comics' 75th anniversary in 2010, Movie World held a DC Heroes vs. Villains parade that ran during the June–July school holiday period.[182] Later in the year, the park's first annual White Christmas event began.[183]

ImpactEdit

Attendance and financial performanceEdit

During its first operational year, Movie World received 1.2 million visitors,[12] exceeding its conservative target of 1 million.[27] Warner Village Theme Parks CEO John Menzies noted that attendance at Sea World and local competitor Dreamworld was consistent with prior years. "So long as the themes are different, parks like this can [proliferate] ad infinitum", he said.[12] Nationwide theme park attendance grew 12% from 1992 to 1993, with Movie World recording 1.3 million visitors during the fiscal year.[184][176] Park general manager Mark Germyn attributed attendance growth in part due to the international market. About 25% of park attendees were overseas visitors and half of these visitors were Japanese. "We're coming on strong in the Asian markets", he said, "including Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand".[176] He further noted strong retail performance at the park, with sales of about 2.6 million units of stock across the park's 25 outlets generation $17 million in revenue.[176] In 1998, marketing manager Ken Minnikin highlighted the success of the company's "3 Park Super Pass",[l] which recorded a 20% sales increase during the Christmas 1997 period over the year prior, and noted the Gold Coast's theme park industry as a major incentive for domestic tourism.[185] By 2000, about one third of park tickets were sold via the "Super Pass" deal, although a 20% decline in attendance that year was attributed to Y2K hysteria.[186]

By the time of its 10th anniversary in 2001, Movie World had received more than 10 million lifetime visitors.[178] International visitation that year was impacted by the September 11 attacks,[71] and although visitation at the park fell slightly during fiscal year 2001, Sea World and Wet'n'Wild received increased attendance and the company's parks division posted an EBITDA rise of 23.1%.[187] In 2003, visitation by international tourists (who at the time accounted for about 40% of annual park visitation) declined by about 50%, with the war on terror and 2002–2004 SARS outbreak cited as key factors. In response, Movie World staggered operations on several rides over a daily rotating basis.[m][188] Visitation from key Asian markets to the Gold Coast had dropped by about 95%, and Village Roadshow emphasised the need to target their domestic market with discounted tickets and Shopa Docket coupons.[189] According to a 2012 IMETT Group report, the park received more than 1.32 million annual visitors during 2007 (a 5.8% increase from the year prior).[190] Village Roadshow considered Superman Escape and Batwing Spaceshot's opening as contributing factors to that year's increased attendance.[101] The park ranked third in 2007 yearly attendance for Australian theme parks: Dreamworld received 1.36 million visitors (a -1.3% decrease) and Sea World received 1.35 million visitors (a 6.9% increase).[190] By 2016, the park had received an average of 1.4 million visitors per year.[20]

The fallout from Dreamworld's October 2016 Thunder River Rapids incident, in which four patrons were killed,[191] had a significant impact on overall industry attendance and profitability.[192] By January 2017, overall combined attendance at Movie World, Wet'n'Wild and Sea World had dropped -12%.[193] The $30 million investment for DC Rivals HyperCoaster—Australia's first major theme park attraction since the River Rapids incident—inspired Village Roadshow's optimism for a financial turnaround; it was the largest single ride investment in the company's history and Australia's most expensive roller coaster.[129][194] The coaster's opening set a daily park attendance record for the month of September with 11,500 guests.[195][196] By November 2017, to cut debts after a -$66.7 million loss the prior financial year, Village Roadshow sought to sell the 154 ha Oxenford precinct's land through a 90-year leaseback agreement.[197] The land was purchased the following month by LGIAsuper for $100 million.[198] Village Roadshow posted a narrow profit margin of $200,000 in August 2018 and noted that while April school holiday theme park attendance was inhibited by the 2018 Commonwealth Games, July results were strong with high season pass sales and reduced debt through asset sales and share entitlements.[192] In February 2020, Village Roadshow posted an EBITDA increase of 7% to $39 million for the financial half-year and overall attendance at their theme park properties rose 12% to 2.58 million; these results were attributed to a 6% ticket price hike, increased visitation and continued success of Movie World's annual Fright Nights event.[199]

Reception and incidentsEdit

At the 1994 Australian Tourism Awards, the park won the Major Tourist Attraction category.[200] The 1998 awards saw Village Roadshow win the Tourism Marketing and Promotional Campaigns category.[185] At the 2002 IAAPA Awards, Movie World received an honourable mention in the "Best Supervisory Training Program" category.[201] ReviewTyme's Dominic Lacey (writing in 2018) complimented the park's ambience and immersive themed areas. He considered the ride and coaster line-up the park's strongest asset but lamented that in recent history, focus had shifted away from movie-themed attractions and experiences and more towards thrill rides. He found the staff to be friendly and efficient with ride operations, and thought the park overall offers a good whole day of entertainment.[202] Finder.com.au's Chris Stead (writing in 2020) thought the park was laid out well in a compact area but offered minimal shade from the heat and suffered from long queue times during peak periods. He thought that children aged six to ten would have a limited experience unless they were tall enough to brave the bigger rides, and that the park was best suited to adult thrill-seekers or families with teenagers.[167] Both reviewers found the day's entertainment expensive,[202][167] but ReviewTyme's Lacey suggested a multi-pass would offer the best value.[202]

The only notable incident at Movie World occurred on 15 March 2015 and involved Green Lantern Coaster. One car of a train became detached from the rails when a wheel mechanism broke.[203] Although riders were stranded on the ride for several hours and had to be rescued by the fire brigade,[203] there were no major injuries.[204] A subsequent investigation revealed a design flaw in a bolted joint on the wheel assembly.[205] S&S Worldwide redesigned the flawed components, the ride was tested and it reopened to the public on 16 December.[204][117]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

Notes

  1. ^ The park is part of a 154-hectare (380.5-acre) entertainment precinct, which includes several other properties owned and operated by Village Roadshow.[1]
  2. ^ Total number of rides only. The park's website lists 30 total attractions including shows, parades and other experiences.[2]
  3. ^ The Government bought the land outright and leased it back to DEG.[4]
  4. ^ DEG's version of the film had Bruce Beresford attached to direct with Richard Dreyfuss and Patrick Swayze in contention for the starring role. Following DEG's dissolution, Carolco Pictures picked up Total Recall's production and the film was released to box office success in 1990, directed by Paul Verhoeven and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.[5][6]
  5. ^ The Warner Bros. license has since been used for several similar theme parks: Warner Bros. Movie World Germany (now operating as Movie Park Germany), which opened at Bottrop-Kirchhellen, Germany, on 30 June 1996;[8][9] Warner Bros. Movie World Madrid (now operating as Parque Warner Madrid), which opened at Madrid, Spain, on 6 April 2002, and;[10] Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, which opened at Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on 25 July 2018.[11]
  6. ^ In December 1984, property developer Keith Williams sold the park to the Sea World Property Trust—a joint venture between Murphyores, Pivot Leisure and Wardley Australia—for $35.77 million.[12] The joint-venture agreement between Pivot, Village Roadshow and Warner Bros. for Movie World's development was announced in July 1989.[13] By April 1992, amid a mounting $106 million debt to the failing Tricontinental bank, Pivot's chairman Peter Laurance was requisited to sell their 66% stake in the Sea World trust to Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow.[14][15][16]
  7. ^ The park's development had been advertised to Japanese tour operators for at least 15 months before its opening.[25]
  8. ^ Park attendance in its first year ultimately reached 1.2 million.[12]
  9. ^ The fifteen live owls used in the show were housed in a $100,000 enclosure.[72]
  10. ^ Formerly Lethal Weapon – The Ride; renovated and reopened on 7 April 2012.[119][49]
  11. ^ Illuminanza returned to the park again in 1994.[173]
  12. ^ The pass allowed guests unlimited entry to Movie World, Sea World and Wet'n'Wild Water World over a four-day period.[185]
  13. ^ Batman Adventure – The Ride 2, for example, only operated each day from 10-11:15am and from 3-5pm.[188]

Footnotes

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