Saturday, March 24, 2012

Rainbow’s End

Today we went to the Rainbow’s End theme park in Manukau, Auckland, to help our niece celebrate her tenth birthday. I’ve lived in New Zealand for 16 and a half years, most of that in Auckland, but somehow never visited the park before. It was a nice day.

The park opened in 1982 and sits on around 9 hectares (about 22 US acres), which makes it bigger than the theme park outside of Chicago that I worked at in high school (it was only 6ha, or16 US acres, though it seemed much bigger)*. By comparison, the public areas of Disneyland occupy some 34ha (85 US acres). Rainbow's End is open every day except Christmas Day.

The park bills itself as “NZ’s Premier Theme Park,” but, frankly, if there are any other true theme parks in New Zealand, I’ve never heard of them. So, the question to my mind was, how “premier” was it?

The first surprise was the admission: Like other major theme parks, there’s one admission fee that covers all rides. That fee is $49 per adult (today, about US$40.13), but—and this was the surprise—they also offered an $18 “Spectator Pass” (US$14.74) for folks not riding the rides. I never saw that at an American park, though maybe they’re doing that now, too (I haven’t been to a US theme park in more than a dozen years).

This Spectator Pass suited me perfectly, since I wasn’t going to go on any rides. I’m getting over a gout attack, so not getting around all that well at the moment. However, I’m actually leery of rides altogether because a dozen years ago I had an inner ear infection with vertigo; ever since I’ve avoided anything that might make me even a little dizzy (the effects of the infection lasted two years, so it’s kind of hard to forget). In any case, the real point was to be there for our niece.

So, I spent my time experimenting with using my iPhone to take photos and videos of the kids on the rides. The results were okay (and only for family, which is why none are with this post—plus, it was a dark, overcast day, so I didn't even bother trying to take any general photos). The photos I take with the phone are certainly good enough to post to this blog (and I already have, after a little enhancement in Photoshop, as they tend to be too dark). I realised that once I upgrade to a newer model, with its higher-spec camera, I won’t need to carry a digital camera and video camera for family events and such.

My second surprise came when we ate lunch: The food was surprisingly good and fairly reasonably priced. Coffee and ice cream were also good. Some beverages were a little pricey, compared to shops outside the park, but not obscenely so. But did I mention how surprisingly good it was? I don’t think I’ve had theme park food anywhere that was as nice, actually.

The park itself was in good condition, clean and seemingly well-maintained. I saw park employees frequently, including sweeping up, and that speak well for them, too. The park is smoke-free, apart from designated areas.

All in all, it was a nice place, and we had a great day. Fans of theme parks, or simply New Zealanders like me who haven’t been there before, should definitely go. I honestly don’t know if I’ll have any reason to go back, but I’m really glad I’ve now been there. It’s one more thing I can check off my “to do” list.

*Correction: The entire theme park is now 123 hectares, or 304 US acres; a waterpark is 6ha, or 16 US acres; no wonder "it seemed much bigger"—it was. So, in fact, it is much larger than Rainbow's End. I wrote that post at the end of a tiring day, just before going to bed, so I blame fatigue. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.


Roger Owen Green said...

sounds nice. I haven't been to hat many parks either, but I've never seen a separate price for non-participants of the rides.

BTW, I thought your post was going to be about Henry Mancini's Moon River.

Rob said...

Where did you go to High School? I live in Zion, IL which is pretty close to Six Flags in Gurnee.

Arthur Schenck said...

Roger: Ha, no, this time my post title was crushingly direct and literal. I suppose I could have added a word like "visiting" to make it clearer, but I was really tired by then, so my headline creativity failed me.

Rob: I went to Mundelein, which is not far at all from Gurnee and Marriott's Great America, as it was called then. I worked there during its opening season, 1976.