Thousands of Australian families have had their Boxing Day plans ruined after theme parks at one of the country’s premier tourist hotspots shut down following a night of wild, stormy weather.
Most of the Gold Coast’s major theme park draws were closed on Tuesday after a stormfront smashed into the beachside metropolis and tourism mecca.
Warner Bros Movie World, Wet’n’Wild, Dreamworld and WhiteWater World all announced a temporary shutdown for clean-up and maintenance work following a night of weather that downed powerlines and damaged properties across the coastal strip.
“Due to severe storm damage, Wet’n’Wild will unfortunately not be open today,” the park’s operators announced on social media on Tuesday morning.
“We hope to reopen as normal tomorrow and will provide an update on our website and social media.”
People generally reacted positively to the news on social media, congratulating the operators on prioritising safety and staff welfare.
“I am glad the parks are taking the safety and wellbeing of guests into consideration ahead of profits,” Daniel Adin wrote following Dreamworld’s announcement of its shutdown.
“All rides will have to be checked and tested after every stoppage after severe weather interruptions to operations.”
“I was driving pass the park last night,” Tallis Boland wrote.
“The whole way from Tweed Heads to just before Brissy (Brisbane) looked like a war zone.
“I hope everyone is safe and the damage is manageable.”
Dreamworld offers visitors a view of exotic animals, including tigers, in addition to rides.
Karla, a representative from the park, said the animals were “safe and sound” after the storm.
“We look forward to welcoming you back again soon,” she said.
Village Roadshow’s SeaWorld remains open.
Power utility company Energex warned on Boxing Day morning the damage from the wild weather was “catastrophic and widespread” and some customers would likely be without power for days.
Wind gusts of up to 106km/h whipped through the seaside tourist hotspot late into the evening on Christmas Day, felling trees and sending debris flying through the street.
More than 120,000 homes and business were without power at 11.30pm on Monday after 300 power lines were downed by the storm.
“This is an extremely dangerous situation,” the power utility said on Boxing Day morning.
“If you need to be outside, watch for fallen power lines – report any you see ASAP to triple-0 or 13 19 62, stay well away and warn others.
“Never, ever assume that a downed power line is anything other than live and dangerous.”
Photos posted by the company to social media show power lines down and trees falling over others.
“Our network has been demolished in some areas: More than 500 sections of power line are on the deck, and hundreds of poles are seriously damaged or snapped, and at least one high-voltage concrete pole has been snapped,” the company said.
“There’s no easy way to say this, but some customers will not have power for days – we’re looking at catastrophic and widespread damage on the scale of a cyclone.”
The Gold Coast will suffer a financial hit from the Boxing Day shutdown, with the theme parks collectively bringing in millions each year in revenue.