It’s a New Zealand stalwart, but does anybody have the guts to power rank the rides at Rainbow’s End? Fully grown man Sam Brooks does.
Last Friday I decided to go to Rainbow’s End to belatedly celebrate my birthday with two friends, one of whom had never been to Rainbow’s End before, because his childhood was deprived of the best theme park that New Zealand has to offer. I believed because it was a weekday and during the school term, it would be mostly empty and a free for all. This was mostly the case.
I decided to do a completely subjective ranking of rides. There are things you should know about me: I do not like being scared or made uncomfortable in any way whatsoever. Should I be allowed to go to a theme park? Yes. Theme parks are made for people of all shapes and sizes (but if you’re not tall enough for some of the rides you can literally go to hell).
Should I be allowed to rank the rides? Maybe not. But let’s not let that stop me, shall we?
Some of these rankings will be based on previous visits to the park. I have been to Rainbows’ End less than ten times in my life but more than five times, as a preteen, as a teenager, an adult, and once for my mother’s work Christmas party where they rented out the entire park for the night and got pretty rowdy.
12. Family Karts
I have been on the Family Karts before. I have also been a passenger in a car that is driving to Wellington, multiple times in fact. These are equal experiences, except the trip to Wellington takes slightly longer.
11. Scorpion Karts
Disappointing. It’s less a race and more going round in a circle trying hard not to bump other people and make the ride attendant mad at you.
10. The Fear Fall
I went on this when I was 12. You go up, see the sights of Auckland, wait for the drop, and then it drops you. I do not enjoy it. If you enjoy it, power to you. Do your own rankings. This is where it sits for me.
9. The Power Surge
I have been on this before, but did not go on it this time because I’d had half an icecream and didn’t want to throw up that particular half of an icecream. But from what I remember of my one time on it, someone I went to high school with was the operator and I made a snarky comment about them, and was afraid that they would arrange my death somehow. I can’t recommend doing this.
You go upside down lots. There’s lots of spinning. If that’s your thing, power to you.
It is not mine.
8. The Invader
I feel like I went on The Invader when I was last here, but cannot remember. It seems fun.
7. Motion Master
This was closed when I went there. I do like moving chairs and interactive, 3D-ish films, so this is where this goes. If I remember correctly, the line tends to be long and it tends to be scheduled awkwardly, so this is also when it goes.
6. Bumper Cars or ‘Dodgems’
I will never call this ride ‘Dodgems’. PC culture has gone too far, and I put my foot down here. I call them the Bumper Cars because the point of them is to to BUMP, not to DODGE. They are the Bumper Cars and will remain ever thus in my brain and hopefully everybody else’s.
Since I last went here, the cars have become less whiplash-y and the experience less like a neon-coloured Mad Max. While this was presumably done for people’s safety and health, it has made the ride slightly less fun. However, it is fun to get unresolved aggression out in societally accepted methods, and the Bumper Cars let me do that. Thanks, Rainbow’s End!
5. The Gold Rush
ACTUALLY QUITE FUN? I remember being terrified of the Gold Rush, because of the guy who screams ‘look out!’ while coming at you, and always being scared that he was going to crash into me. This is insane, because it is a ride and it operates literally hundreds of times a day and thousands of times a week, ten thousands of times a month, and so on and so forth. That man has never crashed into anybody, let alone me the many times I’ve been on the ride.
Regardless, it took me until my early twenties to not bury my face in the lap bar for the entire ride.
4. The Rollercoaster or ‘Corkscrew Coaster’
It’s a classic. Forty five seconds of going fast and upside down and round and round. This is on the bloody advertising for a reason. It’s the $15 wine of theme park rides; it’s not gonna change your life, but it’s also not going to traumatise you and it’s going to do the bloody job.
3. The Log Flume
Readers, this is where I need to impart some terrifying and shattering news.
The Log Flume as we know it is no longer, or more accurately, The Log Flume as I know it, is no longer. The Log Flume I remember was actually kind of terrifying, with its 90s era ‘Polar Pop’ branding fading more and more as the years went on, and when the Log Flume takes its inevitable shift from terrifying enchanted forest to slightly more terrifying spooky cave, it made me laugh over my fear.
This is no longer. Now there is a vague pixie and pirate theme, which does not work. It’s not scary. It’s not revealing. The plot twist of going into a pirate cave from an enchanted forest makes no sense, narratively, and it’s not even spooky enough. How does the goegraphy of this work? Do the pixies and pirates co-exist? Do the pixies rob from the pirates? Is there an ecosystem of pirates and pixies?
Most importantly, the terrifying animatronic frogs welcoming us to the ‘enchanted forest’ and telling us “WAIT GO BACK!” are no longer.
This ride is chill. You can sit and chat with your friends. You can make fun of things. At one point you can reach out of the ride and splash them, which I did both times, because I am a child and a monster at heart. If there’s three of you, it makes you arrange yourselves in the log awkwardly and intimately.
I also like the indignity of getting wet, which is probably linked to some unthinkable damage in my childhood, but lets not think of that.
However! I can’t in all good conscience rank it as my favourite ride, because the changes are not to my liking.
2. The Stratosfear
Oh fuck this ride you guys. Fuck going upside down. I think I actually said, “I hate this, I hate this, I hate this, I hate you.” Whether the ‘you’ was my friend who wanted to go on it, myself or the ride itself, I won’t know.
Still, it was very fun! I do not regret going on it one bit! Humans are full of contradictions, sorry!
1. Bumper Boats
I love the Bumper Boats. They were only operating seven at the time we went on, and pity the four children clearly under ten years old who got stuck with me. I might not be able to drive a car, or ride a bike, or do anything that requires me to practice or learn or take some kind of test to figure out how to do it, but I can maneuver a Bumper Boat through the Eye of the Needle.
If I like getting wet, then I like getting other people wet more. Again, probably some unfathomable damage in my childhood linked to that, but it’s best not to think too much about that when ranking theme park rides.
This is probably a controversial ranking! If you think that: I challenge you to a Bumper Boat ride, a thing with no discernable winner or loser, to decide the ranking.
Otherwise, deal with it. The Bumper Boats are the best ride at Rainbow’s End. It lets you get your aggression out, get your butt wet, and make little kids wet. Also it’s the ride I’m best at, as if that was a thing you could be, or a thing that matters.
Unranked/ Inappropriate For Me To Go On:
I am a 27 year old man and did not go on any of the rides in Kidz Kingdom, which is aimed at children under eight. There is, according to the Rainbow’s End website, a ride called The Dixie Chickens, which I assume is a completely unlicensed rip-off of popular country group The Dixie Chicks, and I hope that it’s where three chickens sing ‘Not Ready to Make Nice’. I think that is an appropriate and educational attraction for children, and I don’t want to facts to relieve me of that belief.
There used to be a dragon kind of rollercoaster that went around Kidz Kingdom that I think is no longer there. RIP Dragon Rollercoaster.
AA Driver’s Town
Similar to Kidz Kingdom, this is aimed at children under twelve. However, as a 27 year old man with a learner’s license that expires in a year, this might be a good place for me to learn how to drive. Alas, I did not choose to be educated in what appears to be a mini-town where you drive around and follow the rules.
I instead chose the highly educational Bumper Cars and Scorpion Karts.