Australia's largest theme park – Dreamworld – reopened on Saturday, 10 December, after remaining closed for almost two months due to the Thunder River Rapids ride crash in late October. Craig Davidson, chief executive of theme parks at Dreamworld owner Ardent Leisure Group, said reopening the park was an emotional moment.
"Today the smiles of Dreamworld staff sit atop heavy hearts. We are pleased to be reopening our doors but our hearts and thoughts remain firmly with the families who lost loved ones in the tragic accident on the 25th of October," Davidson said.
However, according to reports, the park witnessed lesser crowd than its usual summer Saturday attendance figures. A spokeswoman said that by 11:30am local time, 1,200 people had entered Dreamworld, with another 700 people at the adjacent WhiteWater World site.
The Gold Coast park was closed in October after two victims were thrown from the Thunder River Rapids ride and two were trapped inside. Cindy Low (42), Kate Goodchild (32), her brother Luke Dorsett (35) and his partner Roozbeh Araghi (38) lost their lives in the incident while two children escaped when the ride suddenly flipped.
Davidson said that safety had always been the park's priority and because of the tragic incident it has been more rigorously done. He added that a thorough safety review of all rides was ongoing.
"Every single attraction open today has passed an unprecedented multi-level safety review, encompassing Workplace Health and Safety Queensland's audit, Dreamworld's internal engineering review, (infrastructure consultancy) Pitt & Sherry's independent review and the external peer-review by U.K.-based theme park safety specialists LTC," Davidson stated.
Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Steven Ciobo also welcomed the park's reopening.
He asked locals to "continue to visit the Gold Coast and the city's theme parks".
"Gold Coast theme parks are an enduring and essential part of Queensland's A$23b ($17b) tourism industry," Ciobo said in a statement.
The theme park was first opened in 1981 and has hosted at least 30 million people. The tragedy on 25 October was its first fatal accident.