Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Muppets 1, Wiggles 0

We've taken to negotiating with our three year old, or possibly she's taken to negotiating with us, it's never clear who's got the upper hand on these deals. It usually has something to do with bedtime. She's generally pretty good with most things, but bedtime must be fought with every fibre of her being, until, through sheer exhaustion, she collapses within close proximity of her bed. We then take off our cricket pads and hockey masks and resume our evening of entertainment. It's like milking a cobra in Wiggles pyjamas.
In the lead-up to her third birthday, our biggest carrot has been Wiggles World. We had a holiday booked to go to the Gold Coast to see relatives and celebrate her birthday, with the idea of taking her to see The Wiggles at Dreamworld. For several months, we bartered her good will in return for a trip to see her childhood stars.
So, finally we get to Queensland and with various family members in tow, we get to Dreamworld, spend an hour waiting outside just to get in the front door, and finally arrive at Wiggles World.


I've seen my fair share of theme parks. A lot of Disney, a few Universal, a couple of others. On the whole, it's been a pleasant experience, and for the most part I've applauded people's efforts. But I gotta say, Wiggles World sucked a little bit of ass.

OK, to be fair, I am not the primary target audience, although for the primary target audience to get to Wiggles World, they're gonna need a couple of us non-primary target audience. But even our very own primary target audient wasn't that impressed by Wiggles World.

Let me break it down: Wiggles World had one dark ride (indoor carriage ride), one teacup ride, two play areas (indoor and outdoor) and a cafe.

So once you'd ridden the dark ride and taken a spin on the teacups, it was up to you to make your own fun.

There was the character greet area as well, but I didn't actually see any characters in the time we were there.

After one aborted start on the teacups, I took/tricked/coerced/forced 3yo to go on the Big Red Car ride, the solitary dark ride in this themed world. It was a 50 minute wait (on a low-average crowd day) in a moderately themed space, a Wiggles video playing on a screen, brightly painted facades and fences. We watched as Big Red Cars crawled out of the ride, disgorged their passengers, picked up more and disappeared back into Wiggle House. We worked out that they had three cars on rotation, which didn't seem that many, considering we were still waiting after 50 minutes, but in retrospect, they probably needed to keep the lines full to soak up some of the visitor's time so they didn't stumble into and out of the ride in five minutes and then realised that there was nothing to do for the next four hours.

Finally, we boarded our Big Red Car and set off on our tour of Wiggle House.


I don't want to spoil the ride for anyone who hasn't ridden it and has not yet had the pleasure, but frankly, there's nothing to spoil.

The ride goes like this: Upon entering the ride, a wiggle on a TV screen (wow, just like at home!) tells you to sing along with the songs as you travel through Wiggle House. OK.
So we enter the Wiggly Kitchen, where a wiggle on a TV screen (just like at home!) tells you to sing "Hot Potato".
Then we enter the Wiggly Lounge room, where a wiggle on a TV screen (just like at home!) tells you to sing "Wake Up Jeff".
Then we enter the Wiggle Somewhere, where a wiggle on a TV screen (EVERYBODY!: "Just like at home!") tells you to sing "Wags the Dog".
Then we enter - I don't know, the bathroom? - and a wiggle on a TV screen (Everybody scull!) tells you to sing a song with Henry.
Then we enter the Wiggly Garden and a wiggle on a TV screen (…. I give up) tells you to sing along with Dorothy. And takes your picture.
Then we get out.

So, to recap, you go all the way to Queensland, then Dreamworld, and line up for another 50 minutes JUST TO SEE A WIGGLE ON A TV SCREEN.

Unless you live in Queensland, then your trip is a little shorter, but with the same crappy destination.

Don't take my word for it: upon exiting the building, my three-year-old's response was a forlorn and somewhat confused, "I want to do something else now…"

Frankly, I was disappointed almost to the point of anger. I mean this is something we had been offering as an ultimate prize for good behaviour, and after that I felt like we'd been leading her on.

A couple of rubbish moving props don't cut it in this day and age, and not even having the Wiggle characters existing in the space is terrible form. They've got authorised cartoon forms that could have been incorporated into the scenes. The humour and wackiness of Wiggle House from televised adventures has been replaced by an empty, sterile third-generation copy. As my 3yo sat stony-faced in the Wiggles Kitchen, I couldn't help but think "Are there props not working? Should something else be happening that we're missing? What 3yo would enjoy this?". I was waiting for characters to make appearance from the fridge or outside a window, but instead all we got was a scene reminiscent of the scene from "The Sixth Sense" where all the kitchen cupboards are abruptly yanked open.

We did finally get her onto the teacups, which she enjoyed, but the fun she got from her day at Dreamworld came from other areas of the park, mainly the Nickelodeon Central section, with its broad range of character-themed rides for smaller children. We finished the day in much higher spirits than we started, because eventually we got to enjoy the kind of thrills and enjoyment that were offered by the promotions for Wiggles World. We just had to leave Wiggles World to get them.

Wiggles World looks like it's been shoe-horned into a small area of unused space between existing lands. I have no idea what proceeded it. If that is the reason for the lacklustre range of attractions, I must say, "Why build it there? Why not use a large plot of land on the outside of the existing park?" They did it for Whitewater World. There's no reason they could have expanded out and allowed Wiggles World to expand in size and quality, with the opportunity for further growth in the future.

Even with the space available, much more could have been done. There was plenty of walking room amongst all the attractions, and space taken up by just a play area or just a cafe could have been used much more extensively. The land itself was on a gradual slope, so there was an opportunity to incorporate multi-storey, multi-use buildings without causing issues with disabled access.

Luckily, we were fortunate enough to get to Seaworld on one of our last days in Queensland, which is the home of Sesame Street Beach, which contains about six rides, a live performance theatre, characters to meet and greet and a water-spray play area for kids on hot days. And probably a food shop. Not sure.

3yo had a fantastic day at Sesame Street Beach. She rode most of the rides, watched a lively show with many of her favourite muppets, and got to meet Elmo, Zoe, Ernie and Bert personally.

Since coming back from Queensland, she still often talks about going back to see Ernie and Bert.
Wiggles World don't even rate a mention.

one - zip to the muppets.

No comments:

Post a Comment