Gold Reef City10th April 2005
We began the day by leaving our bags back to our rental car, before returning to the hotel reception to check out. We tried a different restaurant for breakfast, a safe distance away from the Mr Six impersonator, and although the meal was more expensive it proved to be well worth the money.
George elected to sit out the first ride of the morning on Anaconda while he waited for his breakfast to settle. I was more interested in determining whether my opinions of the ride on the previous day had been accurate. By the bottom of the first drop I was already sure that they were. For me at least, Anaconda was worth the trip to South Africa alone. The trip would have been even better if Terror of Terror had been operational, but after careful deliberation I now consider that as an excellent excuse to make a return trip. At some point in the next few years I want to visit Australia, and one possible routing is to use South African Airways; London to Johannesburg to Perth. A very sensible option, don't you think?
We took three more coaster rides (one on Jozi Express and two on Anaconda) before making our way back over to the Ferris Wheel. While checking my photographs the previous evening, I discovered that the majority of those I had taken on board the Ferris Wheel had not come out at all, due to the camera being in the wrong mode for the conditions. In work we refer to this sort of blunder as a ID-10-T error, and that it was. I was very glad of the opportunity for another go.
Getting a feel for a country in just three days is not always easy, but one of the things I had picked up was that all the locals were very eager to be as helpful to their guests as possible. Even still, I was absolutely astonished when the ride operators on the Ferris Wheel, noticing what we were doing, offered to send the wheel round at the slowest possible speed to give us time to focus our shots. This is not a privilege I have ever had in any park, nor one I've ever expected to get in any park anywhere in the world, and needless to say I made the most of it to get some particularly good angles of Tower of Terror. I made a point of tipping the staff members for their trouble.
The slightly unreal feeling continued back at Anaconda, where one of the maintenance staff spotted me taking a photograph of the manufacturer plate on the ride and struck up a conversation with us. Despite his somewhat limited English, Ivan did his best to tell us all he knew about the ride. He told us that the wheel guards, visible in a pile in the corner of the station, had only been removed temporarily and would be reinstalled on the train after some maintenance work was complete. He seemed rather surprised that we had travelled all the way to Johannesburg to ride the coaster he looked after, but seemed oddly gratified at the same time. We could have talked for longer, but time was getting on. We had earlier made a decision to leave the park around 3:00pm, so that we would have time for another stop in Chariots Entertainment World before our flight. We bid adieu to Ivan and departed.
Chariots Entertainment World10th April 2005
Getting back to Chariots Entertainment World proved to be absolutely trivial. Johannesburg has the eminently sensible system of having pictures of aircraft printed on the airport road, making it impossible to get lost, and we already knew how to get to our destination from the terminals. We had allowed for problems on the journey, but there were none, giving us a full two hours to explore the entire Caesars Gauteng complex. The place could easily have been transplanted from Las Vegas, with a ceiling painted and lit to look like the outside sky in early evening, not to mention the indoor cobblestoned path past the various shops within. The casino itself was reasonably substantial, if not as big as some of the Vegas offerings. Just like Vegas, there was a theatre showing local acts, though those on offer didn't appear to be quite the calibre of Cirque du Soleil.
The purpose of our stop, however, had been for another try on Roller Coaster, and like our other visit it did not disappoint. We spent a long time trying to get good pictures but were only moderately successful, as the ride only runs when there are passengers on board and that only seemed to happen every half an hour or so. As it was, I only got one attempt, and I did my best.
All good things, though, must come to an end. Less than an hour later, we were in the absolutely packed departure area of Johannesburg International Airport waiting to check in for our flight. Three hours after that, we had left the civilized world behind and were returning to London. My in-flight entertainment system was actually working this time, but I was too tired to make much use of it. Shortly after dinner I managed to drift asleep, and the next thing I remember was being ninety minutes from landing.