Ratanga Junction, with its payoff line – the Wildest Place in Africa – opened its doors to much fanfare in December 1998.
With more than 30 attractions ranging from adrenalin pumping thrill rides to more sedate kiddie and family rides, the theme park was designed to offer something for everyone, transporting guests into a magical realm where one’s day-to-day trials and tribulations were easily forgotten.
And the much-loved theme park did do that in spades, but unfortunately not in sufficient numbers to cover the high capital costs and operational overheads and the park incurred huge losses in the early years.
When Rabie Property Group bought into Century City in 2004 acquiring the undeveloped land and associated rights, Ratanga was part of the package.
Since then they have downsized the operation, closed the park during off season, added an all-year round conference facility and managed the theme park.
All these measures did help turn the park around financially but not sufficiently to justify its continued existence.
Worldwide what drives repeat business to theme parks are new rides and attractions.
However, the revenues generated by Ratanga could not support the high capital costs involved in bringing on any new rides.
Property development is Rabie’s core business and since inception we have repeatedly said that the theme park land would be redeveloped when the land was required.
That time has now come and Ratanga Junction will close its doors permanently at the close of business on 1 May 2018.
Until then, however, it is business as usual.
Ratanga’s very popular function facilities will continue to operate right up to the end and inquiries for end of year functions and exclusive corporate days are flooding in.
But what will replace Ratanga?
An exciting and vibrant mixed use development created around the existing waterways and comprising residential, offices, hotels and other leisure facilities including a large public park, is planned.
Planning is still in the early stages, however, and the first developments are not expected to be finalised and launched before the second half of next year.
Die-hard Ratanga fans will be pleased to hear that there is some light at the end of the tunnel with negotiations well advanced to relocate some of the smaller rides and attractions elsewhere in Cape Town.
Watch this space…
* Maggie Rowley is the marketing and communications manager for Rabie property.