Back in October 2012 I figured that at some point, in the then near future, that the Ratanga Junction theme park (located near Cape Town and built using funds from the global financial crisis of 2001) would probably be closed and demolished. The theme park had just lost two of its major attractions to land that had been carved out and handed off to office-block developers. It couldn’t be much longer I thought, so I decided to pay a visit to the wounded park and take a few photos for posterity.
In reality the bleeding theme park continued running for another six years and only now has proper disassembly of the park begun. I’ll eventually go back and try and recreate some of these images with whatever comes to replace Ratanga Junction, but for now here are a few titbits :
The Ratanga Junction sign boards/map boards summed up the state of Ratanga Junction at the time: sweating the asset. Monetary input was so tight the administrators didn’t have money to update the map boards by printing new boards when details changed, and more importantly, entire subsections of the park disappeared. Here the board is metal with a plastic/vinyl covering on which the salient information has been printed. The missing section of the map was physically cut out of the vinyl. Additional references to the ill-fated rides, in the bottom right corner, have been blacked out with insulation tape.
Ratanga Junction was designed to be an immersive experience; entering the park was supposed to be like being whisked away to a foreign land. This approach relied on one suspending one’s sense of disbelief and to aid that the park prevented patrons seeing anything outside of the park’s boundaries…
Of course, when the park’s limbs started getting chopped off, the illusion of a foreign land died very quickly – and ironically those visions were replaced with images of things to come.