Australia's theme parks, most of which are clustered on the country's Gold Coast, offer a wide variety of experiences. These range from world-class roller coasters, through to water rides that will leave you drenched, and even enormous marine-life exhibits. In this article, we take a look at the 10 very best theme park rides and attractions in Australia.
We'd love to know if you agree with our choices. You can rate and review all of the attractions at Australia's major theme parks by visiting our theme park guides section, which feature detailed information on rides and restaurants at Dreamworld, Warner Bros. Movie World, Sea World Australia and Adventure World.
10. Arkham Asylum - Shock Therapy (Warner Bros. Movie World)
Originally opened in 1995, this Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster was the first inverted roller coaster to open at an Australian theme park. It was themed around Mel Gibson's Lethal Weapon franchise, stood at 109 feet tall and hit a top speed of 55 miles per hour during its 2,510-feet circuit.
The ride received a much-needed overhaul in 2012. The newly-renamed Arkham Asylum - Shock Therapy is themed around the psychiatric hospital that appears in a number of DC Comics stories. The ride's storyline centres around Batman's enemy The Joker escaping from the asylum, with other criminally insane characters such as Harley Quinn and Killer Croc also featuring.
As part of the conversion to its new name in 2012, the coaster received all-new trains from manufacturer Kumbak. These are equipped with an on-board audio system to help bring the Arkham Asylum - Shock Therapy storyline to life. The ride also features an updated queue line, with the entrance being located next to the Superman Escape roller coaster.
Full details Arkham Asylum - Shock Therapy guide
9. BuzzSaw (Dreamworld)
BuzzSaw made its debut on September 17, 2011, and is located in the Town of Gold Rush area of Dreamworld. The ride is a Maurer X-Coaster, the same model used for the Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit at Universal Studios Florida. It features a compact circuit that is traversed by riders in just 50 seconds, with the major elements being a 151-feet-tall vertical lift hill, a heartline roll and a steep drop back into the station.
The coaster features a backstory based around a number of unexplained occurrences Gold Rush, which are said to date back to the late 1800s. BuzzSaw derives its name from the industrial machinery that is said to have killed a sawmill worker as he attempted to burn down his employer's building.
Full details: BuzzSaw guide
8. Wild West Falls (Warner Bros. Movie World)
Wild West Falls is a traditional "shoot-the-chutes"-style water flume ride, with a western theme. It features 8-seater boats, which traverse a rapids-style circuit that passes through scenes including a ghost town and an Indian settlement. After entering the Rio Bravo mine, the boats are carried to the top of a 66-foot drop, before plummeting down into a splash zone below.
One of few heavily-themed water rides in Australia, Wild West Falls is guaranteed to leave riders drenched.
Full details: Wild West Falls guide
7. Giant Drop (Dreamworld)
The Dreamworld Tower, which hosts the Tower of Terror II roller coaster, dominates the skyline at Dreamworld. In addition to the coaster, it also boasts this enormous Intamin Giant Drop ride.
Riders board one of two 8-seater gondolas, before being lifted to the top of the 390-foot structure. They then plummet at speeds of up to 84 miles per hour back to the ground below.
Full details: Giant Drop guide
6. Green Lantern Coaster (Warner Bros. Movie World)
Green Lantern Coaster, an S&S El Loco model, features the steepest drop of any roller coaster in the Southern Hemisphere. It hits a top speed of 41 miles per hour during its 1601-feet circuit, with the trains plunging down a 120-degree first drop. Opened in December 2011 at a cost of $10 million, it includes two inversions and subjects riders to forces of up to 3.5G.
The ride is the third roller coaster in the world to be based on the 2011 movie starring Ryan Gosling and the comic books that preceded it.
Full details: Green Lantern Coaster guide
5. Jet Rescue (Sea World Australia)
Sea World Australia (unrelated to the SeaWorld parks in the US), is known for its combination of top-class marine-life exhibits and traditional theme park attractions. Of the latter, Jet Rescue is perhaps the headliner.
A relatively rare Intamin launched motorbike coaster, Jet Rescue is themed around a mission to save a seal. Riders straddle jet ski-style cars, which are launched to a speed of 40 miles per hour before racing around a series of sharp twists and turns.
Full details: Jet Rescue guide
4. Superman Escape
Superman Escape is an Intamin Acclerator roller coaster, which blasts riders up to a top speed of 62 miles per hour in just 2 seconds. Whereas most coasters of its type begin with a simple launch out of a station, Warner Bros. Movie World has seen fit to add an opening sequence based in a collapsing subway station.
Superman himself appears on the scene to launch riders to safety, sending them racing around a relatively short 2,490-feet circuit.
Full details: Superman Escape guide
3. Shark Bay (Sea World Australia)
Shark Bay holds the distinction of being the largest man-made lagoon system in the world. As its name suggests, it is dominated by the Shark Lagoon, which houses a variety of species of the ocean predator. Adjacent to this is the Reef Lagoon, which hosts tropical fish alongside smaller sharks and rays.
Guests can view the sharks and fish from above ground or through underwater windows, and can also get up-close to a variety of creatures in the attraction's Touch Pools.
Full details: Shark Bay guide
2. Justice League: Alien Invasion 3D (Warner Bros. Movie World)
Justice League: Alien Invasion 3D is an interactive dark ride designed by the Florida-based Sally Corporation. Guests queue for the attraction through an area designed to resemble the Hall of Justice seen in the DC Comics Justice League series, where "live" newscasts starring Vicki Vale report on an impending alien invasion of the earth. After passing through a "high-tech scanning device", they then enter a pre-show area. This hosts an animatronic version of Cyborg in his test lab, with Batman "beaming in" from the Justice League Watchtower Command Center that is orbiting the planet.
As with many of Sally Corporation's other creations, riders board vehicles that are equipped with laser guns. In this case, the vehicles are themed as "tactical assault vehicles", and pass through scenes set in Gotham City at the height of the invasion.
Justice League: Alien Invasion features 3-D movie footage, 16 animatronic figures and 20 themed vehicles. Riders are challenged to shoot as many aliens as possible, before receiving a score at the end of the ride. Eight large-scale screens are used to display the 3-D action, with an original music score being used as part of the soundtrack.
Full details: Justice League: Alien Invasion 3D guide
1. Tower of Terror II (Dreamworld)
The immense Tower of Terror II is a steel shuttle rollercoaster which blasts guests using an electromagnetic launch system at speeds of 100 miles per hour up a 377 feet tall tower. The ride car (dubbed the "Escape Pod") reaches a maximum height of 328 feet, before plummeting back down into the station below.
Originally, guests faced forwards on the Intamin-built coaster, meaning that they had a view of the sky as they were fired towards it. In the revamped Tower of Terror II (which debuted in 2010), they instead start facing a "dark void" before seeing the ground rapidly recede away from them. They then see it rush back towards them as they drop back down into the station, experiencing weightlessness both on the launch and on the fall.
Tower of Terror opened in January 1997 and is one of Dreamworld's headline attractions. Although some rollercoaster fans dispute its status as a "true" coaster due to its short circuit, it is often listed as the fourth fastest roller coaster in the world. Six Flags Magic Mountain hosts the only other Intamin reverse freefall coaster in the world, Superman: Escape from Krypton.
Full details: Tower of Terror II guide
What do you think?
Is Dreamworld's Tower of Terror II really the best theme park ride in Australia? Share your own opinion in the comments below, and get rating and reviewing rides and restaurants in our theme park guides section.