Ratanga Junction: Then

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 :

Welcome to Ratanga Junction – October 2012
COME TO RATANGA JUNCT – December 2006 – thank you Arnold van der Walt

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.

What happens when new things made-to-look old get old ? A Hippo from Hippo’s Hollow in surprisingly good condition for a 12-year old ornament.
New old-things getting old…
The Congo Queen ride.

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…

A sign of things to come – a different view of the Congo Queen ride.

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.

“Exciting hospitality offerings” are coming soon… (look how happy their mascots are)
Remnants of an unknown ride and The Diamond Devil Run.
Better times: part of the building in the lower-centre is present in my photo above on the right.
Spooky Voodoo Bridge – leading to a newly-constructed car park.
Spooky Voodoo Bridge back when it did go somewhere.
Entrance to The Cobra roller coaster – renamed to “The Cape Cobras” in support of corporate sponsorship (from a company that no longer exists).
The original, un-sponsored entrance (2006).
The disused railway, now overgrown.
Maggie’s Park (female primary mascot) looking over disused railway line and new car park.
The Ratanga Junction Arena
A “lobby” area. 4×4 CRT public displays were obsolete, even in 2012.
A “window” on the disused cinema building.
Patrons enjoying Monkey Falls