30th January, 2013

A Short History of Sea World on the Gold Coast

Over the past few decades, Sea World has steadily become one of the most popular theme parks on the Gold Coast, and the following is a brief look at its short history.

The Surfers Paradise Ski Gardens

In 1958, Keith Williams opened the Surfers Paradise Ski Gardens, which for the most part consisted of water skiing shows. In 1971 the Ski Gardens moved to the Gold Coast area known as The Spit, just across from the major Surfers Paradise resorts, and after a major dredging operation, a new and improved water ski lake was established.

Sea World

One year after the Surfers Paradise Ski Gardens opened up on The Spit it underwent a massive renovation, and in the process also changed its name to Sea World. The big changes saw the introduction of dolphins and a variety of other marine exhibits, as well as the addition of a huge public swimming pool, restaurant and gift shop.

Swallowing Up the Competition

In 1965 the Gold Coast had its first major marine animal park open, called the Seaquarium, and its focus was predominantly on marine rescue and rehabilitation. The Seaquarium soon changed its name to Marineland and thrived as the Gold Coast’s major marine life park. However, following the emergence of Sea World, who were slowly but surely introducing dolphins and marine exhibits of their own, it soon became clear that only one marine life park would survive. In 1976, Sea World’s Keith Williams reportedly paid $1.2 million to buy Marineland, effectively swallowing up Sea World’s only real competition.

Growing and thriving

Following the acquisition of Marineland, Sea World would go from strength to strength over the next few decades, adding a huge amount more marine life and a number of major rides. Sea World’s first major ride came in 1978 when the Viking’s Revenge Flume Ride was unveiled, and in 1986 Sea World had Australia’s first monorail train system built. More recent attractions have included the Jet Stunt Extreme and Seal Harbour, and plans are in the works for an epic water coaster to be unveiled in 2013.


While the roots of Sea World have always been strongly connected to education, nowadays it has started to embrace the role of educator a whole lot more. Sea World has become a common destination for school field trips, offers all sorts of volunteer opportunities, and plays a vital role in helping to train the next generation of marine biologists. So while Sea World is definitely a place where you can have a lot of fun, out of all of the Gold Coast theme parks, it is by far the most educational.

Sea World has become one of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations, with the added bonus that some of the best accommodation on the Gold Coast is located within a stone’s throw of Sea World’s front gates as well. If you haven’t been to Sea World yet, or if it has been a while since your last visit, book your accommodation early and come and check out what is easily among Australia’s best theme parks.