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Gold Reef City's battle for business during coronavirus pandemic

By Sameer Naik Time of article published Feb 20, 2021

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One of Joburg’s biggest tourist attractions, Gold Reef City theme park, said it battled to attract customers during the Covid-19 pandemic, despite its best efforts to ensure the safety of guests.

The theme park was given the go ahead to open its doors in December, having been closed since lockdown began in March. But a few months on, the theme park said it still struggled to attract guests.

“It has been extremely difficult to attract customers,” said the theme park’s marketing manager, Feron Somiah.

“However, our strict adherence to Covid-19 regulations has been an important factor and helped make our visitors feel at ease when they are planning a visit to Gold Reef City theme park.”

Gold Reef City is struggling to attract customers.

The theme park has worked endlessly for months to ensure the safety of guests and has followed strict Covid-19 protocols .

Somiah said the theme park “has implemented multiple Covid-19 protocols as per government gazetted regulations that include: reduced entry capacity, temperature screening on entry, social distancing markers in all queue lines, sanitising stations and sanitising of high volume touch points throughout the theme park”

“As an additional measure, we have introduced social distancing queue controllers who roam the park to manage any queues and a security team to enforce the wearing of masks at all times. Visitors that do not comply are asked to leave the premises.”

The theme park wouldn’t disclose how much money it has lost or how many guests have visited since reopening, but said it was badly affected.

“Like so many other businesses, we have experienced a massive negative impact and this has resulted in challenging operational conditions,” Somiah said.

It’s not just Gold Reef City that has battled for business. Theme parks around the world are struggling to welcome back guests and have taken huge financial knocks.

Disney World theme parks in particular have lost billions of dollars due to the closure of theme parks for lengthy times during the lockdown, while they have also had to lay off thousands of employees.

Gold Reef City said all their rides remained open. “Fortunately, no rides have had to be shut down. As is usually the case even pre-pandemic, the odd ride is temporarily closed due to maintenance,” the spokesperson said.

Despite battling financially, theme parks from around the world have been using indefinite closures as an opportunity to build new attention-grabbing attractions that might eventually boost their limping revenue.

Saudi Arabia will this year unveil the Falcon's Flight coaster, which will be the fastest, tallest, and longest free-standing coaster in the world. Dubai has this month also unveiled 460-foot Bollywood Sky Flyer, crowned as the tallest swing ride in the world.

In Beijing, a new theme park from Universal will open in May. A replica of Orlando’s beloved Incredible Hulk coaster will anchor its Transformers Metrobase-themed land, complete with its hair-raising zero-g barrel rolls.

Then there's the Dragon Slayer, a new ride putting Adventureland Resort-in Altoon, Iowa, on the map.

In Florida, the world’s theme park capital, an additional record will soon be set: Iron Gwazi, the new steel-and-wood thriller opening later this year at Busch Gardens in Tampa, will be the world’s steepest and fastest hybrid coaster, with a 200-foot drop and 76 mph speeds.

Gold Reef City, too, has a new ride for thrill seekers to enjoy.

The Storm Chaser is a new ride at Gold Reef City.

Called the Storm Chaser, it has the highest fear factor rating in the theme park.

“We also have something new and exciting coming soon so keep your eyes posted on our social media pages,” said Somiah.

The Saturday Star

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