It’s as close as you’ll get to a theme park in the Blue Mountains, making it a hotspot for tourists; but don’t let that turn you off. Here are my tips for getting the most out of your visit to Scenic World.
With around 1 million visitors annually, there’s one certainty about Scenic World in Katoomba: other people.
That thought alone deterred me from going until, after three years of living in the Blue Mountains I bit the bullet and, with husband and toddler in tow, visited one of Katoomba’s most famed attractions.
We rode the world’s steepest railway, we zoomed up the steepest cable car in the southern hemisphere and we peered precariously through the transparent glass floor of the Scenic Skyway, 270m above the Jamison Valley.
Now, after having visited numerous times over the last few years, I can attest that Scenic World deserves its place at the top of most Blue Mountains visitors’ itineraries, providing a great half-day adventure filled with fun, history, nature and the comforts of a very well run tourism operation.
But there are some local insights you could benefit from knowing to help you get the most out of your visit…
Be an early bird
As with any theme park, arriving at sparrow’s is the best way to avoid line-ups and crowds. Scenic World opens at 9am, 365 days a year. Get there when the doors open and you’ll also have first dibs on the front seat of the Scenic Railway, which chugs you down the mountain at a 52-degree angle (or 62 degrees if you adjust your seat to ‘thrill-seeker’ mode). Set your alarm!
I used to think going to Scenic World on a misty or rainy day wouldn’t be worth it, but I was pleasantly surprised when visiting recently on one such poor-weather day that it was still a lot of fun. As our guide explained, the Scenic Railway goes below the thermal line, so even in a whiteout you can often see some views. Once you’re in the valley there is very rarely fog and you can appreciate the rainforest surrounds and historic stories just as you could on a clear day. But – be sure to pack a good quality rain jacket. The rainforest canopy protects the boardwalks from some but not all rain. There are ponchos for sale in the shop if you forget your coat. Also, have a read of Scenic World’s own wet weather itinerary suggestions.
Views from the Scenic Skyway are likely to be affected in misty weather, so you might consider skipping this part when buying your tickets. But if you’ve pre-booked, the ride is still fun (you can reach out and literally touch the clouds) and there’s a walk you can do to Katoomba Falls if you feel like getting some fresh (if damp) air. Keep an eye on weather in Katoomba here.
Take your time
Since the weather in Katoomba is often fickle, you might find misty mornings transform into brilliant, sunny afternoons. If you do arrive at Scenic World early only to be greeted by a view-obscuring fog, remember tickets allow you to come and go as you please, all day long – until 5pm and even later during summer school holidays. Consider tweaking your plans so you can take advantage of the afternoon sunshine. You might want to stroll the boutiques of Leura or sample the best coffee in the Blue Mountains while you wait for the mist to clear, or check out these other Blue Mountains experiences.
Ticket prices range from $18 for children (4-13 years; kids under 4 are free) to $35 for an adult. This gives you a full day of unlimited rides on the cableway, skyway and railway, plus all-day access to the walkway.
A few options for saving money include:
- Family pass: $88 – 2 x adults and up to 5 children under 14 years old
- Annual pass: Adult $99; Child $39 (aged 4-13; children under 4 are free); Family $239 (2 x adults and up to 5 children under 14 years old). Annual passes also include a 15 per cent discount on additional tickets, food and beverage and retail purchases.
- School holiday early bird pass: Every NSW school holiday period, visitors arriving onsite before 10.00am can purchase a discounted Early Bird Pass.
- Skip the railway and walk down to the Scenic Walkway via Furber Stairs, then take the Cableway back up to the top at a cost of $16 per adult, $10 per child (aged 4-13 years) or $42 per family. To access Furber Stairs, from Scenic World take the Prince Henry Cliff Walk (access from boardwalk at rear of main plaza).
Get art and about
A magical time to visit Scenic World is during April/May for the annual Sculpture at Scenic World exhibition. Both local and international artists feature in the exhibition, which is located in the rainforest through which the 2.4km boardwalks of the Scenic Walkway weave, plus in a handful of other locations in the Blue Mountains.
The 2016 exhibition runs from 8 April to 8 May and features 33 local and international artists. Since this is a very popular time for visitors, my tip about “being an early bird” applies for this period more than ever.
What are your tips for getting the most out of the Scenic World experience? Please share in the comments!
- Address: Cnr Violet Street and Cliff Drive, Katoomba, NSW 2780
- Phone: 1300 SKYWAY or +61 2 4780 0200
- Web: scenicworld.com.au
- Opening hours: Scenic World is open every day of the year between 9am and 5pm (later opening hours during summer school holidays)
- Wheelchair access: Scenic World’s main building along with the Skyway and Cableway are wheelchair accessible. Discuss your individual needs with staff on arrival.
- Cards accepted: All cards
Images: supplied by Scenic World.
The author was a guest of Scenic World.