After spending three days exploring cultural sites around Durban, and then a day to enjoy the sights of Cape Town, it was finally time to enjoy the first theme park of the trip! Ratanga Junction is part of a larger complex called Century City and is the smaller of the two major parks in South Africa when compared to Gold Reef City in Johannesburg.
When it comes to this park, there is a bit of bad news. Unfortunately, the owners of the park have decided to close it down in favor of redeveloping the land for expanding the retail area of Century City. The scheduled final day is May 1st, 2018. Having known this ahead of time while planning this trip, I knew that I wouldn’t have many opportunities left to visit the park. With the water shortage, I was also a bit worried about the potential that some of the rides would be closed due to the management not being that concerned about maintaining the rides because of the pending closure.
There was good new upon arrival. Outside of the gate there was a Ride Status sign with the different rides posted, and the ones that I wanted to experience today were all open! So it was time to go in and explore the park.
Upon walking into the front gate, I found that the park had a lot of landscaping to it with tropical plants, and it added to the atmosphere of the park. The park also had some great design to it with the buildings, including some areas with a roof over some of the paths and common areas, which I imagine goes a long way to help keep park visitors cool on the hotter days in Cape Town.
The park featured a blend of rides that would appeal to people of all ages. There was also a blend of activities for the younger kids such as playground equipment and bouncy castles. What was surprising was how long the line was for the swinging ship ride called the Congo Queen. It may have possibly been the longest line in the park.
While strolling through the park, I had a chance to enjoy a Savanna hard cider, and it was one of the first moments in which I really thought about the price of beverages and food in South Africa since this was at a theme park. At a cost of 29 Rand, this cider was close to $2.50 in US Dollars. There is not a single theme park that I can think of back home in the States where you could buy an alcoholic beverage for anywhere near that price! Heck, you would be lucky to find a dive bar in the States with prices like that!
The first ride that I experienced was Bushwacker, a Vekoma junior coaster that may have been one of the more decorated coasters from the way that it felt like it was nearly surrounded by the bushes and tropical plants. While not the most intense coaster I have ever ridden, it was a certainly a crowd pleaser as many who came off of it had good things to say about it.
If there was a ride that I was the most surprised to see open, it may have been Monkey Falls, the park’s log flume. While I was happy to experience the ride, I would have assumed that because of the drought and the upcoming closure of the park, this would have been an easy candidate for being closed. Perhaps the water they used for it comes from a different source that made it non-potable.
As for the ride itself, this may have been one of my favorite log flumes I have ridden. The ride offered a great length with three different drops and offers a visually pleasing appearance. As for the wetness factor, you’d get decently wet but not drenched.
Another great aspect of Monkey Falls was the way the ride “interacted” with the paths of the park, as you could walk right alongside it.
There was also a platform that was elevated higher than most of the flumes layout, giving an excellent vantage point of the ride.
The biggest ride in the park is the Cobra, a Vekoma suspended looping coaster. One of the things that stuck out about this ride is its queue. Upon entrance into the line, the first room you go through has several windows, and in each of the windows was a snake that you could view. From there, you would walk though a path that would wind through the supports of the coaster while enclosed in what felt like a cage. Both of these gave a neat touch to this coaster.
As for the ride itself, it is the extended version of a Vekoma SLC, so it had the extra helix. While SLC’s don’t have the best reputation for being the smoothest of all coasters, this was actually one of the smoother SLC’s that I have ridden. I did eventually come back to take a second lap on the front row. The vast flora added to this ride, as was the case with several of the other rides in the park.
Overall, Ratanga Junction was a really nice park, and it is a real shame that this park is going to be closed. If the park was going to be open in the future I would happily come back to visit again as it offered excellent scenery, and several fun rides as well. Upon exiting the park, I made a short stop to Century City for lunch before heading back to the apartment for a short break. The day was not yet done, however, as I would go for my first live sport experience of South Africa in the evening.
See more of 2018 South Africa Trip:
1: Flight to Atlanta & Delta Flight Museum / 2: Arrival to South Africa / 3: First Day in Durban /
4: Second Day in Durban / 5: Last Day in Durban / 6: V&A Waterfront / 7: Cape Town City Sightseeing Tours /
8: Table Mountain / 9: Ratanga Junction / 10: Rugby at Newlands Rugby Stadium / 11: Cape Town Walking Tours /
12: Cape of Good Hope / 13: Boulders Beach Penguins / 14: The Last of Cape Town / 15: Cape Town Water Shortage /
16: Sightseeing Around Johannesburg / 17: More Johannesburg Sightseeing / 18: Botswana Day Trip /
19: Kruger National Park, Day 1 / 20: Kruger National Park, Day 2 / 21: Kruger National Park, Day 3 /
22: Gold Reef City Resort & Amenities / 23: Apartheid Museum & Rand Show / 24: Gold Reef City Theme Park /
25: The Return Home