Dreamworld set to reopen after $70m lifeline



WORK will start on a new multimillion-dollar rollercoaster within weeks as Gold Coast theme park Dreamworld celebrates a return to business after a six-month closure.

Dreamworld will finally reopen to the public on Wednesday for the first time since being forced to close the doors on March 23 as the coronavirus pandemic took hold of the country.

Skeleton crews have remained onsite to perform maintenance and care for the park's menagerie of animals, with the bulk of the workforce set to return from a lengthy hiatus in the coming days.

While rivals Village Roadshow, which operates parks including Sea World and Movie World, have already returned to operations, Dreamworld has delayed its resumption following a challenging year featuring not only the COVID-19 shutdown, but also the delivery of harrowing findings in to the 2016 Thunder River Rapids tragedy and a court case judgment due to be handed down later this month.

The lengthy shutdowns cost both theme park companies millions of dollars, a problem exacerbated by a Federal government decision to pull funding packages at the last minute.

However, with a $70 million loan from the State Government, Dreamworld has a new lease of life ahead of the traditionally busy September school holidays.

Construction of a new $32 million rollercoaster, reaching speeds of more than 100km/hr, will start next month with the attraction on track to open late next year.

The park's newest ride, the Sky Voyager "flying theatre" has been remodelled with an American-themed experience, while WhiteWater World, which will likewise reopen on Wednesday, has also been given a major refurbishment.

COVID-safe plans will limit attendance to 50 per cent - about 5000 people, per day, while other measures have been introduced to ensure social distancing for rides, queues and shows.

Dreamworld chief operating officer Greg Yong said it was good to be back.

"Dreamworld is looking forward to welcoming our valued team members back into our Parks. They are the heart and soul of our business and are keen to make new memories for all of our guests.

"The safety of team members and guests remains Dreamworld's priority and key focus for all aspects of the parks reopening plans."

Dreamworld is one of the Gold Coast's biggest employers and among the staff returning to duty on Wednesday will be candy shop team leader Marianna Nissel who has been at the park for 37 years.

"It has been my life and I really love it," she said.

"I love meeting new people and can't wait to invite all our guests back."

The Buzz Saw rollercoaster is undergoing maintenance until December, but most other rides and attractions will be open from Wednesday.