The most disappointing park visit but still the best birthday present I could’ve asked for!
March 16, 2019
On my birthday I have always wanted to do one thing- visit a theme park. This dream finally came true last year on my 18th birthday. That week, my family took me back to South Africa, where we once lived about 12 years ago. It was really nice being back, and we were staying with our long time friends from there (the same ones that we met up with at Europa Park in the summer of 2017). I was turning 18 years old and would then be considered an adult, so I thought my birthday would be a good time to visit Gold Reef City theme park.
We got to the park at around 11:45 AM. Because of South Africa’s crime problem, the park closes very early at 5:00 PM so we did not have that much time there. Entering the park has significant advantages and disadvantages:
- People that are visiting on their birthday get a free entrance pass! This is a very nice gesture that I have not seen in other parks.
- There are separate admission prices for guests that do not plan on riding anything! At other parks that my parents took me to when I was younger, they would’ve had to pay the same price as I did just to sit around and wait for me. The fact that Gold Reef City has this is really convenient and I really think every park should do this.
This sounds like a good deal, but was it was not really played out well. While my twin brother and I got free passes, we still had to wait in line and everyone else had to wait in a different line to get theirs. This was probably the most disorganised entrance I have ever seen. The line just to get tickets was horrendously long, and to make matters worse they kept closing ticket booths. It ended up taking almost two hours just to get inside the park!
Finally, we were inside the park and made it to our first ride, Anaconda. It may look like a B&M at first, but interestingly enough, it is actually from Giovanola and is currently the only inverted coaster they have ever built!
As you can tell from the image, the scenery around the park is incredibly gorgeous, something that I did not expect. Anaconda had a really long line but I figured, “it will probably take around 45 minutes but, oh well.” I was wrong about that and I ended up waiting for much longer that I thought I would. The coaster was only running one train so it took forever. Despite signs warning guests not to cut, everybody was doing it. At one point, some people ahead of us got into an argument with some of the really rude guests. After I finally got off the ride I felt better. Anaconda is truly an underrated coaster. It is one of the most intense coasters I have ever ridden, and it rides just like a B&M. Now if only the line wasn’t so long and I could ride it again…
We then proceeded to the park’s powered coaster. This also had a ridiculously long line and the station was nowhere in sight. It was a long ride and only ran one train, so after standing in the same place in line for a few minutes we decided to forget this coaster and head to Tower of Terror instead.
If there is any coaster that I am afraid to ride, it would be Tower of Terror. Everything about this ride is sketchy from the twisted vertical drop to the fact that it supposedly pulls 6.2 gs. Seriously, just look at the drop on this thing!
I was finally going to conquer my fear of riding this bizarre and sketchy coaster. Besides, the line appeared to be only ten minutes….
Approximately three hours later:
I was fooled! The line looked short, but it was moving at less than a snail’s pace. Once again, the ride only ran one train. Despite the ride being a one-trick-pony and having fast dispatches, each cycle was actually really long and the one vehicle that was used could only fit eight people! What a disaster! The coaster had multiple slow parts but I do have to admit that watching this coaster was entertaining. I also noticed that the track section before the elevator lift had wooden supports, technically making it a hybrid. After a while, I began feeling exhausted and delusional, either from the intense heat of the day or from patiently waiting. After what seemed like forever, it was finally our turn to ride.
The train started creeping along that “hybrid” section with random janky transitions, before slamming hard into the lift mechanism. The scariest part of the ride was at the top, when it was slowly creeping into that horrific drop. Unlike a dive coaster, it goes straight into the drop, providing absolutely insane airtime all the way down. The g force in the tunnel did not feel like 6.2 gs and I felt it to be a bit underwhelming, and the ride was pretty much over after that. I finally did it! It had one of the best drops I have ever experienced, but probably the worst throughput of any coaster in the world!
After this we had some lunch. I don’t remember what I ate but all I remember as that it was surprisingly delicious. I also noticed that the park is actually very well themed. I went for a walk around the kids area and even tried to get on the park’s kiddie coaster, a wacky worm. Unfortunately this is one of those parks where they don’t allow people to ride the kiddie coaster if they do not have a kid with them. After having no luck getting the kiddie credit, my brother joined me as we looked for other rides with shorter lines. The park’s mine train had a long line so we walked to Golden Loop, and to our surprise it actually was a 10 minute wait!
Golden Loop is a classic Schwarzkopf shuttle loop, and one of only two operating models that uses a weight drop system to power it’s launch. The coaster ended up being way more fun than I thought it would be and I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, the park was already closing and we wouldn’t have time to get all the credits. Taking advantage of the only short line in the park, I rode Golden Loop a second time. After this I tried to get to the mine train, Jozi Express, but it was already closed. This was a bummer because this coaster was a very unique one, and it looked more like a giant family coaster than a mine train. The only ride left open at the time was the Zamperla Air Race. Although the ride was fun, I left the park wanting more. This was the least amount of rides I have done in any park visit, and I only got three credits. In total, I rode Anaconda once, Tower of Terror once, the air race once, and Golden loop twice. That was it.
I do not think Gold Reef City is necessarily a bad park, but they just really need to fix their operations. Would I come back here? Perhaps, but not for a really long time and only if the park is not crowded. It’s a shame that the visit went how it did, but at the same time I am happy that I got to ride some very fun and interesting roller coasters on my birthday!