Flying through the air with the greatest ease

You’d have to be a little mad to allow yourself to be strapped into a harness, hoisted 30 metres into the air, then pulling a release cord that sends you plummeting into a free fall at up to 90km an hour, right?

Either that, or you can just be conned into it without knowing the details. Shame, that’s what I did to my best friend Christy the last time we went to Ratanga Junction.

The theme park will open on Friday (September 28) for the school holidays and is without a doubt, one of the funnest (yes, it is a real word) day out you can have with your clothes on. The ride to which I am referring above is the Sling Shot. Ratanga is probably most famous for its Cobra rollercoaster – now branded with a sponsored name but it will always be the Cobra to me – but the Sling Shot delivers a massive dose of adrenaline.

I’d done it before, and the moment we arrived I insisted we do it first. “What is it?” Christy wanted to know. I was a little economical with the details and before we knew it, we were trussed up like turkeys and being pulled higher and higher, the upturned faces below becoming smaller and smaller. When you reach the top, the ground crew gives you the signal, you pull the ripcord, and swoop elegantly out over the lake. The screaming is maybe not so ladylike and the computer generated photograph you can buy of yourself afterwards (once your legs stop shaking) is not very flattering (terror is not a good look) but once your heart rate gets back to normal, it’s wonderful. And Christy did forgive me afterwards.

Actually, going back over the pictures from that day, on most of the high thrill rides like Monkey Falls and of course the Cobra, we don’t appear to be having a good time but in a thousand words there has to be a room for a few lies. In reality, we had an amazing time; Ratanga gives you permission to act like a kid, lose your inhibitions, scare yourself in a safe environment, eat candy floss, ice cream and boerie rolls, washed down with beer, and come home tired, sweaty and satisfied.

There are dozens of rides and attractions for all ages, from bumper cars to rollercoasters (personally I find the Diamond Devil Run, allegedly the tamer one, just as scary as the Cobra), carousels to a petting zoo and mini golf, arcade and carnie games, 3D simulators, and those giant blow up balls in a shallow pool, in which you flail about like a freshly caught salmon. It is not as easy you’d think, unless you are three years old. While little ones are restricted from the big rides, they don’t seem to mind when so called grown ups want to try this one. It’s good for a laugh for the spectators at any rate.

Set aside a full day to get the most out of Ratanga because you don’t want to miss a thing. And trust me, like you on the Sling Shot, the time will fly.

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