Australia's Wonderland, Kings Island’s Long-Lost Sister Park

February 06, 2020

Australia's Wonderland

For 19 years, starting in 1985, Kings Island had a sister park Down Under. Originally called Australia’s Wonderland, the park opened on December 7, 1985, as the sixth member of the Kings Entertainment amusement park family. At 219 acres, it was the largest amusement park in the Southern Hemisphere. The park’s design was based mostly on Canada’s Wonderland, also a sibling of Kings Island, although Australia’s Wonderland shared much design and theming elements from the rest of its North American counterparts.

A lot like Kings Island

For example, it had a Beast roller coaster. Called Bush Beast, its logo was remarkably similar to that of the original Beast at Kings Island. It was designed by Curtis D. Summers, who had been part of the design team for Kings Island’s Beast. The Australian version, though, was much closer in execution to the big wooden coasters at California’s Great America (Grizzly), Kings Dominion (Grizzly, also), and Canada’s Wonderland (Wild Beast), all designed by Summers. The Beastie, a smaller wooden coaster, was the near twin of KI’s Beastie (now the Woodstock Express). The Aussie’s also had an antique car ride similar to KI’s.

Logo for Bush Beast at Australia's Wonderland

Like the KI version, the Beastie was located in Hanna-Barbera Land, one of the park’s original themed areas along with Goldrush, Medieval Faire (later renamed Old Botany Bay), and Transylvania. In 1988, a water park was added, somewhat ironically called The Beach, the name used by one of Kings Island’s local competitors. It pre-dated KI’s waterpark, Water Works, by a year. Weirdly, that park would later be called Crocodile Dundee’s Boomerang Bay, ater the popular Australian movie character, for a few years in the early 2000s. Australia's Wonderland, meanwhile, added a wildlife park in 1990.

The park is orphaned

In 1992, Kings Entertainment sold its assets to Paramount Communications, who had decided to establish an amusement park business to help promote their movie and TV properties. The six North American parks were part of the deal, but Australia’s Wonderland was not. Kings Entertainment only had a minority stake in the park and sold it to local investors, who in turn sold it to a Malaysian holding company called the Sunway Group a few years later. In 1997, the name was changed to Wonderland Sydney. Sunman held onto it until 2004, when they abruptly closed it. 

Most of the rides were demolished, with some moving to Sunway-owned parks in Malaysia. One coaster, the Demon, lives on as Zoomerang at Alabama Adventure in the U.S. It’s similar in design to KI’s Invertigo. 

Today, the site is an industrial park occupied mostly by warehouses behind one of which can be found the remnants of the old theme park. The area is unofficially known as the Wonderland Boneyard. The main road through the complex is called Wonderland Drive.

In 2014, property developer and former Wonderland employee Ammar Khan announced plans to resurrect the amusement park on a plot of land in Western Sydney not far from where the original park once stood. As of 2020, ground has yet to be broken on the project.

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