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Gold Reef City

Home > Johannesburg > Accommodation | Day Trips | Family | Places of Interest | Theme Parks
by Nadine (subscribe)
I live in South Africa and love to explore all my beautiful country has to offer - I just don't get to do it as often as I would like! I also have an aromatherapy site which you can visit at
Published April 17th 2016
Gold Reef City
Parking Entrance to Gold Reef City

Johannesburg started out in 1886 as a small mining town in the Witwatersrand area. As the gold veins were depleted and mining ceased, Johannesburg remained and grew into a thriving, independent metropolis. Gold Reef City Theme Park is centred on this gold rush era and is located on the site of a decommissioned gold mine that saw its last mining activity in 1971.

Balloon Wheel
Children's ferris wheel with adult version in the background

The rides in the Theme Park are largely focused on the gold rush era and are divided into three categories: Kiddies rides, Major rides and Thrill rides. The Thrill rides are those that attract the adrenaline junkies and include The Tower of Terror, Anaconda, UFO, Miner's Revenge, Dream Boat, Golden Loop, Jozi Express, Raging Rapids, and Runaway Train.

Tower of Terror
Riders on the Tower of Terror

The Tower of Terror is one of my personal favourites and has a fear factor rating of 10. This ride seats eight people in two rows, although the front row is by far the best seat. It takes you quickly to the top of a mine shaft via a track and an elevator. The various locks and jolts add to the anticipation of what is to come, and bringing to the forefront of the mind exactly what you have got yourself into. Once you reach the top you are left in suspense for a few endless seconds, staring down into the gaping black hole below you, before you are plunged down a 50m mineshaft at 100km/h into utter darkness. The ride ends quite quickly as you are brought out the other end and slowly creep towards the exit. For thrill seekers, a trip to Gold Reef City would not be complete without at least one turn on this ride.

anaconda rollercoaster

The Anaconda is my next favourite ride and, with a fear factor rating of nine, this is not for the faint of heart. It is a suspended rollercoaster that dangles your feet in the air, or the sky, depending on your progress along the winding, looping route. This is another great treat for adrenaline junkies. The rollercoaster slowly ascends to the highest point of 34m before dropping you at a speed of 90km/h, as it loops, twists, and turns through 5 inversions along its 745m long course. It is a 1min 40 second ride packed with screaming and swallowing your own breath. While the maximum G-force is 3.5 it includes a zero-G roll, plunging you from weightlessness into shoe-falling-off suction.

Miners Revenge
Miner's Revenge

The fear factor eight rides include the Golden Loop and Miner's Revenge. The Golden Loop is a classic rollercoaster that propels the rider to a nearly instant speed of 85km/h within the first 3 seconds. The rider is taken around a loop before travelling 40m vertically up the other end, only to reverse the route and travel backwards along the rollercoaster, past the starting point, and vertically up the other end. The Miner's Revenge is a great ride for those who like to get wet. It takes you up and over while at the same time rocking the seats until it swings you upside-down. On a few of these swings, you get suspended upside-down while water is sprayed up at you. It is wonderful relief from the South African sun, but there are less adrenalin filled ways to get soaked at Gold Reef City.


The remaining thrill rides have fear factors of seven and six. The Dream Boat is not as relaxing as it may sound. While not the most adrenalin inspiring ride, the Dream Boat rocks you past the horizontal, giving the feeling of weightlessness a few times. The UFO is slightly out of place in the 19th Century setting, but it is a great ride that has you standing in cages before spinning you and tipping almost vertically with nearly nothing but the centrifugal force keeping you from falling on your face. The Jozi Express is a standard rollercoaster, which has its thrills and share of screams, but sadly no inversions.

The track is 702m long and takes you to heights of 24m at a speed of 68km/h. The Runaway Train is another standard rollercoaster, but what sets this apart from the Jozi Express is that it takes you over other rides and through simulated underground mines where you have the opportunity to wave at riders on the Log Ride as they begin their journey, in a calm that belies the coming thrills for both parties. Finally, the Raging River Rapids are possibly the wettest of the thrill rides (depending on where you sit and who you have for company). The free floating raft seats eight and takes you down the river, under waterfalls, around bends, over rapids and through "caves" leaving you, most likely, soaked to the skin.

There are a number of Major Rides, which are good recovery rides for the adrenalin seekers, and exciting for the less adventurous riders. The Log Ride is always worth fitting into your visit. This takes you floating through a simulated underground mine (the same one that the Runaway Train travels through overhead), through a forest and up two hills which then send you back down into the water. This ride guarantees that you will get wet somewhere along the way, whether it is from the spray of hitting the water, or the trapped water gushing backwards over your feet and chair. Then, if you need to escape the heat of the midday summer sun, the 4D Theatre has a showing every 15 minutes. You get a pair of 3D glasses and the seats move as you travel along the route. The shows vary throughout the day, so you could go three or four times during your day and have a new experience each time.

Bumper car; Mouse Trap
Mouse Trap bumper cars

For the children, Kiddies Corner is the place to be and the place you are most likely to be until the rides close at 5pm if they have anything to say about it. The rides for the little ones include Dragon Ride with dragons going up and down in a circle, the classic Carousel, Elephant Ride with "flying" Dumbo's, Safari Train on an oval track, Mouse Trap the must-have bumper cars, Cups and Saucers where children can control their own spin, and Flintstones a circular undulating route.

Shongololo children's rollercoaster

For the adrenalin junkies in training, there is the Shongololo (the Zulu name for a millipede) which has a couple of thrills for young riders, and Pit Stop where children ride in cars and take corners at exhilarating speeds. The Hippodrome is an excellent break from the heat of the day, where children can work up a sweat on the various inflatable jumping castles and the "bumper boats". Finally, the Farmyard gives an educational injection into a child's day with the opportunity to look at the animals and read the fun facts posted all over.

19th Century home
Dowse House Bedroom

For the non-riders, there is plenty to fill the day. The Heritage Tour takes you through 19th century houses (including the Outhouse). The commentary describes life at the time for the different classes. It is startling to see how life has changed in barely more than 100 years.

Gold Mining museum
Crush Miners' Museum

The Crush Miners' Museum has a display of the bunkers that the miners had to sleep in and the conditions they lived and worked in. To delve more into the working conditions experienced by the miners, there is the Underground Mine Tour which takes you 75m under the earth into the decommissioned mine. From here you have the opportunity to follow the process of refining the gold. The tour ends with the final product molten gold poured into bars. There are a variety of museums throughout Gold Reef City, including the Bullion Coach Museum where you can see the heavily fortified coaches that were used to transport the gold mined in Johannesburg along the railway to Durban and Cape Town.

Gold Reef City Hotel
Gold Reef City Hotel

If you would like to continue experiencing a taste of the life and times of the Johannesburg gold rush, the Gold Reef City Hotel is located in the Village complete with the architecture and relics of the time. You can even go as far as to have your wedding ceremony in the chapel across the road from the hotel.
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Where: Northern Pkwy & Data Cres, Johannesburg, 2159, South Africa
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