Posted in: Resort
Holidays with Kids magazine - Spring 2012
Three Days of Family Thrills and Spills
by David Thorndike
Family holidays can be pretty challenging when you're travelling interstate with three kids under five. On top of the endless questions and frequent bathroom stops, there's the pressure of constant supervision as the little adventurers try and dart off every time they see something new (which is about every 10 seconds). That's why the right accommodation choice at the other end of your flight is so important. Parents want (no, make that need) a holiday as well, so to be able to relax and enjoy themselves while the kids are kept totally occupied and having fun, has to be top of mind when looking around at resort options. We're glad to say, we reckon we've found the perfect place.
Paradise Resort is set on five acres of prime Gold Coast real estate, only a short walk to Caville Avenue and an even shorter walk to the beach. Not that you'll get to either unless you're staying for more than a week, as you'll be hard pressed to pry the kids away from all the facilities and activities available at the resort itself.
For starters it has one of the best water parks we've ever seen. There are several water slides, water cannons, water jets and a huge spill bucket right at the top of the giant two story structure. The bucket is filled every few minutes, collecting hundreds of litres of water that is pumped up from the base area, before tipping it all out again and soaking everyone and everything in its drop zone, much to the delight of every child underneath. There's only a very shallow base of water, so you can't swim underneath the structure but that's hardly a problem as there is a large in-ground lagoon pool only a few metres away for all the swimmers; it's just on the other side of the heated spa where mum and dad can sit and relax, watching the kids in the waterpark. And if they do disappear from your sight, there's no need to get up as there is an extra pair of eyes on them at all times with the pool lifeguard on duty all day.
If you are thinking so far that this sounds too good to be 1, there's still more. The water park above has been designed for ages five to 15, but there's another one about half the size which is perfect for the zero to fours. It too has a water slide and a tipping bucket, and while there's still plenty of water flying around, there are also some nice quiet areas around the edge where babies and toddlers can sit in the shallow water and splash about.
If your kids actually get tired of the waterpark or if you're unlucky enough to catch a miserable day weatherwise, Paradise Resort has one of the best kids clubs going around. Called Z4K (Zone 4 Kids), it caters for ages zero to 12 and is fully supervised, with two separate areas based on age. Daily session times are 10are to 2pm and 4pm to 8pm, with bookings essential as places fill up quick. There are a heap of organised activities and games as well as plenty of free time to run around the themed indoor rooms, ride on the pedal karts, shoot some hoops, or just sit quietly and draw or paint.
Lunch and dinner for the kids is served during the Z4K sessions, which mean that parents actually have four complete hours off to do their own thing. Now while you might not want to be tempted away from the spa or the bar, Bistro Zagame's has a fantastic selection of meals to choose from if you want to relax and share a meal with just the two of you present (probably for the first time in years). If you would rather dine alfresco, the Poolside Cafe; Bar on the other side of the wall is open till 10pm daily and does a fantastic pizza.
Now while it might sound strange, we reckon our kids were just as excited to see our room as they were to see the waterpark. We stayed in the colourful King Bunkhouse room which has a full size bunk bed as well as a junior bed in one section of the apartment, with a wall behind the bunks acting as a privacy screen from the queen size bed at the other end. There is also a full bathroom with shower/bath, toilet and vanity, a small kitchenette and a large verandah (ours was overlooking the pool and waterpark) where it was extremely pleasant just to sit and read. The kids had their own TV as well as PlayStation console in their area, while there was another large LCD TV on the wall in our room.
We were a little apprehensive before we got there regarding the junior bed as our 18 month old; Keira was still in a cot at home. We had explained our fears to the staff when we booked and were pleasantly surprised to see that they had been thoughtful enough to set up a porta-cot in our room as well, just in case it was needed. Luckily, Keira loved her big bed' as much as she loved being in the same room as her big brothers, and we didn't hear a peep out of any of them all night. Of course it could also have been because they were totally worn out from a very active day.
An easy half hour drive from Paradise Resort, Dreamworld is the perfect family day out, no matter what age your children. With a great mix of fun themed lands, animal experiences, live shows, rides, shops and restaurants all set on over 30 hectares, you will be hard pressed to see it all in just one day.
With our three kids being five years and under, we headed straight for Wiggles World upon arrival to catch the first Dorothy the Dinosaur live show. Together with Wags the Dog and Captain Feathersword, our brood were soon up the front near the stage, dancing and singing with forty other little ones all having a great time. Live shows are fantastic for kids, but especially so when the characters make a huge effort to interact with their young audience like this one does.
After the show we took a ride in Dorothy's spinning tea cups, before moving across to the DreamWorks Experience' where we got to have our photos taken with Shrek and Fiona, as well as King Julien from Madagascar. A couple of more rides here and then it was time to head over to Tiger Island and see the big cats do their tricks. While this was a highlight for me, our kids were fascinated with the newest residents of Tiger Island, the young cubs Ravi and Baru. Their enclosure has a glass wall right along the front which allows for a perfect viewing point for the young ones and they can sit within a couple of inches of the cubs here an watch them frolic around the pen.
From Tiger Island we skipped back through Wiggles World and then jumped on the free steam train to get to the next land, the Australian Wildlife Experience. There's plenty to see here as well as the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of Australia's favourite animals, including being able to cuddle a Koala, pat a kangaroo and watch the crocodiles being fed! The steam train takes you from here around the Big Brother Studios and back to the Dreamworld main entry point, which has the Dreamworld cinema complex as well as cafes and an olde fashioned candy store.
As we headed back to our car, we noticed Dreamworld's sister park, Wet+nbsp;n Wild just on the other side of the car park. And while it invitingly beckoned to us to come and have a look around, a whole day had already transpired and little feet were starting to stumble. Next time.
On our final day we checked out of Paradise Resort nice and early, very sad to say goodbye, but excited by the prospect of one last stop before our flight home. Only ten minutes before Coolangatta airport, just off the highway is Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, and we were keen for a few more wildlife encounters before we left. For whatever reason, Queensland is much less strict than NSW zoo's when it comes to interacting up close with the animals, and for young kids this means giving them an experience that we just can get at home.
We managed to pat some more kangaroos, give a feed to hundreds of brightly coloured lorikeets, get a family photo with a koala, hold a snake and watch a terrific bird of prey' flight show. Currumbin has also introduced a fantastic Aboriginal Dance show, which had the kids mesmerized through the sounds of the didgeridoo and the slow singing/chanting of the performers.
There are also plenty of keeper talks and other animal shows on at various times throughout the day and it pays to check out everything online before you visit so you can plan ahead and not miss out on anything. Our flight times approached all too quickly and we had to depart mid-afternoon to return the rental car and check-in our luggage. It was a whirlwind few days and there was always more we wanted to do and see. I guess that's why so many people keep going back to the Gold Coast every year.
Full article and images available in the Spring 2012 issue of Holidays With Kids Magazine.