Daniel

 

NAME: Daniel 
 
OCCUPATION: I currently have just finished my HSC and this year I will be travelling overseas to work at Cedar Point amusement park as a ride operator.
 
Wow I am so jealous, I have always wanted to go there. Especially to go on Millennium Force, Top Thrill Dragster and Mean Streak. Yeah, Cedar Point has always been the ultimate sort of theme park destination for me and to have the opportunity to go work there is just absolutely fantastic. I couldn't be any more excited. I've actually never been on Mean Streak, as I've only been once to Cedar Point and there were so many other rides to go on, but Millennium Force and Top Thrill Dragster are just out of this world. It actually turned out that my favorite park in the ride was Maverick, because it was just absolutely out of control from beginning to end. I loved that feeling of an out-of-control roller coaster ride.
 
TOWN/SUBURB/CITY/COUNTRY CURRENTLY RESIDING: Blacktown, Sydney
 
TOWN/SUBURB/CITY/COUNTRY YOU GREW UP IN: Blacktown, Sydney
 
If you worked there, when did you work there and in which area? I had never worked at Wonderland. I had always wanted to while growing up and had hoped to work there when I was old enough, however the park closed when I was around 12.
 
As a customer how many times do you think you went there? I went to Wonderland so many times that I literally cannot put an amount on my visits. In my fourth year of primary school, I used to go literally every day from Monday to Friday after school. I remember every day I would wait anxiously for the bell to ring at 2:55 and as soon as it did, I would say goodbye to my friends and run down to the pick-up area where my grandmother would pick me up and we would drive straight to Wonderland. It was very quiet at this time and I would go on the rides as many times as I could before the park closed for the day. We had season passes and I lived very close to Wonderland, so I would go all the time and it would be hard for me to estimate the amount of times I actually visited the park - Hundreds and hundreds of time, most likely even more.
 
Wow you were so lucky: Absolutely! I really do consider myself lucky because I got to see and experience Wonderland far more than any other person was able to. I'm glad that I was able to experience Wonderland so thoroughly and that it became an important part of my childhood.
 
What is your earliest memory of Australia's Wonderland? I have many memories of Wonderland, but my very first one was when I rode the Beastie for the first time. The Beastie was the smallest roller coaster in the park and I was only 4 years old when I rode it for the first time. I was with my family and rode the Beastie for the first time with my cousin, who was the same age at the time. I distinctively remember sitting in the front seat of the Beastie and looking at the chain as you approached the lift hill and listening to the click-clack up the lift hill. I remember being very, very excited to go on this ride …… we didn’t have any sort of amusement parks in Sydney and this was the first sort of amusement park I had ever been to, and it turned out that I really loved roller coasters. I distinctively remember not wanting to get off the ride and being very upset that the park was about to close for the day and that we had to leave and I wouldn’t be able to ride the Beastie again that day. I remember feeling so strongly that I did not want to go home and just remain on this roller coaster for as long as I could!
Eventually, we obviously did have to leave and I was able to ride the Beastie around 13 times that day. Not only is this my very first memory of Wonderland, but it’s the first memory I have, period. I can’t think of anything from my childhood any earlier on, than my first day at wonderland and the first time I went on a roller coaster. Overall, I still remember detailed things about Wonderland, such as the music, the rides, the staff, the characters ….. the whole nostalgic experience!
 
Tell us the funniest thing that ever happened to you or you saw at Wonderland: Wonderland reminds me of a great deal of laughter. I have many memories on Snowy River Rampage of laughing at each other getting soaked and wet, and overall I didn’t like to get wet, but this ride was so much fun and would always have a great deal of fun on it.
 
So did you ever to go "The Beach"? I only ever went once! I was very young and I could only go on the tube rides (wasn't tall enough to get onto the big slides), and I just never went again when I was tall enough.
 
 I also used take friends of mine who had never been, every now and then. I had one particular friend who was really scared of heights and I tricked him going onto numerous rides. Once we were lining up to ride Bush Beast, a ride that he definitely would have been scared of, and I had told him that it was another ride.
 
Couldn't he see the roller coaster while you were standing there in the queue house? What did you tell me that he was waiting for?  This is partly why it was so hilarious, because he believed me so easily! I remember running up to the ride and thinking "surely he is going to recognise that this is the line for this big wooden roller coaster?" - but he never did! Well, until we were going up the lift hill :)
I told him it was some smaller ride that went in between the Bush Beast and it was small and boring and that's why you couldnt see it. This friend of mine had never been to Wonderland or ever heard about any of the rides there, so he was completely in the dark! I think he just didn't expect me to lie to him, and I even told a little tale that I would never lie to get him onto the roller coaster and he believed me. I can easily remember his expression of terror and fear when he realized that I had indeed, lied about the roller coaster! Haha! I had felt it was necessary because it was the only way to get him on!
 
I also remember once when riding Space Probe, seeing someone playing a prank on their friend. The girl was obviously afraid of heights and they had blindfolded her (it was her birthday), and told her that they were going on a kiddie ride. She was in for a big surprise!
 
I bet, I wonder what she thought while she was queuing up and hear all of the warning signs and stuff on the TV's that they used to have in the tunnels. Well, thats exactly what I thought! Surely she could have put it together! But just like my friend, I guess she must have never been to Wonderland and knew the rides and their themes. For all she knew, she could have been queue-ing up for wizards fury or zodiac!
 
Overall, when I visited Wonderland at most, the park was near the years where it was about to shut down, and many days after school were very quiet.
 
Did you ever talk much or befriend any of the staff there? If you were that much of a regular they would have recognised you?  Yes, I do remember talking to some staff there! Unfortunately, I can't any of their names, but if I saw their faces, I would definitely remember. I remember a few of the people who ran the Bush Beast, Space Probe and Demon. They would recognize me and talk to me when I visited the park, but I never caught their names! I really wish I had though. I do sitll remember what they look like though. It’s hard to explain the sentimental memories you have for all the little things about the park, such as the themes of each section and the music and rides, and characters and shows.
 
What was your favourite ride and why? My favourite ride would probably have been the Bush Beast. I remember growing up that I wasn’t tall enough for a while to ride the Bush Beast. I had managed to get onto all the other major rides (bounty’s revenge, demon, space probe), however I was never tall enough to get onto the Bush Beast. (
 
That's interesting as Bounty's Revenge and Bush Beast had the same height restriction. 122cm, Some ride operator wasn't doing their job properly! Yes, very possible! I remember numerous times in the same day being able to get onto Space Probe with one operator, but then another saying I wasn't tall enough. Same thing happened with Bounty's Revenge. I never thought much of it, I didn't realize at the same that some operators were being lax about letting kids on ......
I just thought "Great! I can ride!!!" I remember every time we visited when I was very young, running up the sign to see if I was tall enough and being incredibly sad every time I found out that I could not ride. My mom would always tell me that I should eat my vegetables to grow, so then I would be tall enough!
 
What a smart mother: She thinks so, too :) She says I wouldn't have been able to ride Bush Beast as soon as I did if it wasn't for her advice! So I took her advice and would eat as many fruit and vegetables as I could in the hope that I would be tall enough to ride Bush Beast, and sure enough that day eventually came! I was so incredibly excited, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t know how many times I had gone on the Bush Beast, but it was a lot. My highest record to ride it in one day was 24. I would always sit in the back seat and as soon as the train would come back into the station, the ride operator would lift up the lap bars, check them, then send the train off again! I also find it interesting that to this day, I love salads and vegies
 
Wow 24 rides and in the back too, didn't end up with a headache or anything like that? You know, quite remarkably, I never did! Like I said before with Maverick being my favorite ride and loving the out of control feeling, I loved the way Bush Beast would toss you around! I knew every kink and bump and push in the track, so I would always know when to brace myself or let myself get tossed around . I would always stay till the park closed on the Bush Beast and meet up with my grandmother at the same spot in Gold Rush (the spinning fountain wheel thing). Afterwards, we would always stop at McDonalds for an ice cream cone. It was daily tradition :)
 
Were there any rides that you were scared of? If so why? Oddly enough, I had a bit of a fear of heights and still do. However this fear seemed to be non-existent when I was riding any of the roller coasters. Initially, the space probe scared me a lot, and I could never quite get over my fear of Bounty’s Revenge (the swinging pirate ship), however I would always ride it yet it still scared me quite often! 
 
To be honest this was the ride that scared me the most too. I think it was the hanging upside-down that really freaked me out Absolutely. Also, I always would look down and notice the ride was above water, and that would scare me too! And I never liked quite how tight the restraints would come down on you, but I guess they had to for the ride to be safe. This is one of the rides I didnt ride as much, but the last time I visited Wonderland, I went on this ride and had a really good experience with it.
 
Oddly enough, the ride that I would get the most scared on was the zodiac. My cousins would always tease me about this because its just a gentle ferris wheel sort of ride, but I would always freak out that the cable might snap or something, and I hated it when the gondolas would spin around. No matter how scared I was of anything, I would always go on the ride, though. I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I ever chickened out from any ride J
 
Did you ever get stuck on any ride(s) If so what happened? Once actually, on the Space Probe, the carriage sort of got stuck up the top and we were stuck up there hanging for a while! I don’t know what the problem was, but after a while, the train just dropped and no one was expecting it!
 
Did you ever meet anyone special at Wonderland? Unfortunately, no. Most of the time I would visit Wonderland myself, as my grandmother would take me most of the time and she was too old to ride anything, she would just walk around the park. Apart from going by myself, I would visit the park with family and Wonderland was a time that everyone always looked forward to in being able to spend time with each other and have a lot of fun. Sometimes I would make friends with visitors or tourists and I would show them around for the afternoon.
 
Wow Wonderland should have hired you as a guide or something: I really would have loved that! It's something that I definitely wanted to do when I grew up, but as the park closed, I was never able to get the chance! If there is one park in the world that I knew better than anything, it was Wonderland. I knew every ride, every shortcut, every section and it's odd that I still remember certain details about the park to this day. I guess I had been so many times that I was bound to remember alot of it!
 
When was your last visit to Wonderland? My last visit was the Saturday night before it closed for the final time. The Friday before that, my grandmother had picked me up extra early from school so that I could spend more time at the park that day and enjoy all the rides. To this day, I remember all the rides I ever went on, including small, medium and big, and I remember my last visit to Wonderland was an extremely sad one.
 
How did the closure of Wonderland make you feel? Very sad, In my opinion, it was the worst decision to close any attraction in Sydney. For me, Wonderland wasn’t just an amusement park, but a place of memories as a child, with sentimental music and all the characters (flinstones, scooby doo etc) It was somewhere I was greatly attached to, literally almost a second home. It was somewhere I felt safe and happy, and had a lot of fun over the years. It was a sort of a refuge for me growing up, and the closure of it made me feel absolutely horrible. Seeing the park be demolished and torn down was really horrible. It was hard to see the rides in pieces, or things being demolished, as they were rides I had cherished and were attached to growing up as a child.  I still to this day am saddened by the fact the park was closed and strongly dislike the look of the business buildings now as you drive by where the park used to stand. The closure made me feel very sad, and every time I drive past it always makes me think greatly of how many amazing days and memories I had there.
 
I don't think you are alone in those feelings: Yeah, I think that was another sad thing for me, realizing that alot of people really loved Wonderland and didn't want to see it go and to see it replaced with a business park was a bit of a punch in the gut, I must admit! I was hoping for the memory to be preserved a little better, but I guess you can't really expect it to happen. It was just very hard to see all the rides being knocked down which I had spent so much time on. I really do hope one day another park similar to it opens up in Sydney, because people do love theme parks and definitely miss Wonderland! I know I do!
 
When you think of Wonderland now, what does it mean to you? Wonderland means a great deal to me. I now love roller coasters to a great extent and have ridden numerous roller coasters around Australia and the USA. It has become one of my aspirations to start a theme park in Sydney, just like Wonderland and re-create the experience that meant so much to me throughout the entirety of my childhood and young adult life. Wonderland is the place that gave me a love for theme parks. It was the first theme park I ever loved, and still means a great deal to me and I still remember a lot about the park and all the fun I had there. For me, Wonderland was the greatest place on earth! I like to think that it is because of Wonderland that I now have such a great love for theme parks, and that it is really important for Sydney to have a great theme park.
 
As I now have a great love for roller coasters and thrill rides, it is often that I can overlook the importance of smaller rides and something that will appeal to the whole family. As a child growing up, there were so many rides that I loved, because there were so many rides for kids and families! Some of my favorites were Wizards Fury, Dragon’s Flight, Jousting Ring bumper cars, HMS endeavour and Tasmanian Devil. I loved these rides just as much as the big roller coasters. I loved everything about Wonderland, the entire experience, the characters, themes and music. One day, I would love to have a theme park operating back in Sydney.
 
I have so many memories of Wonderland that I still cherish. So many times of riding the roller coasters with friends and family. So many memories of laughing and having so much fun I had never had anywhere before. Wonderland still means a great deal to me.
 
I wonder sometimes if I still would have come to love roller coasters the way I do today, if Wonderland had never existed or there had never been any theme park in Sydney. Either way, I’m very grateful I was able to visit Wonderland the amount of times that I did and create many memories that I am fond of. This year, I will be travelling overseas to the USA to work at a very large amusement park called Cedar Point, which has been globally recognised as one of the best theme parks in the world. I will be working as a roller coaster operator and am very excited for this opportunity. I always like to think that this whole experience started with Wonderland!