Solid Gold Adrenaline!
Located on the site of a former goldmine in Johannesburg, South Africa, Gold Reef City features a number of attractions that pay tribute to its mining roots – but none are as fearsome and spectacular as Tower of Terror. Following the ride’s relaunch last summer, Park World talks to the man that helped engineer it.
Tower of Tower uses an authentic lift tower repatriated from a former mine nearby, and is one of two such structures that punctuate the skyline at this park in the Ormonde area of Johannesburg (the other gives access to a mine exhibit). Essentially the attraction is a vertical drop rollercoaster, with a subterranean dive as the car races beneath the ground and then back towards the loading station.
The ride originally opened in 2001, but following after an overhaul in 2007 was officially relaunched last summer.
Featuring a 50-metre plunge, 300-metres of track and delivering extreme G-forces, Tower of Terror is short, sweet and intense. Whereas the ride used to feature a traditional coaster lift hill, now riders are hoisted straight to the top of the tower via a vertical lift installed inside the headgear.
The ride was initially designed by Nauta Bussink, but built and engineered on-site. For Tower of Terror – the remix, two local suppliers of lift winding equipment, Hoist-tec and Coilmec, were brought in to assist, adding to the ride’s mining industry credentials. The new open-style seating was provided by SAT Rides of Germany. Jacobs, of Manchester, England, completed the ADIPS inspection.
As a result of these changes, the ride offers increased throughput and also a new level of interaction between riders and spectators. Those standing in the queue line waiting for the next ride get a tantalising view of the passengers as the eight-seater car shoots up the tower, then engages with the track at the top ready for the drop down.
According to project manager Dave Ashby, Gold Reef City’s director of mechanical design, one of the biggest challenges was keeping the ride within acceptable limits. “It now reaches close to 4G in the tunnel,” he highlights. “We also spent a lot of time getting the control system right so the car is safely locked into place at the top of the tower before the latch is released.”
Originally the ride was designed to accommodate two cars, but now the single eight-seater car travels so quickly – up to 90km/h – that the idea was shelved. Performing approximately 25 cycles an hour, that provides an hourly capacity of around 200. Given the ride’s niche appeal, that is just about sufficient for Gold Reef City guests.
The park’s other rollercoasters include a Runaway Mine Train, also built-on site, a Schwarzkopf Shuttle Loop and Anaconda, an inverted coaster by Giovonola. But none are quite as intense – or unique – as Tower of Terror.