Case Study:
Gold Reef City
Theme Park Heritage Tour

Gold Reef City is one of few environments in which today's visitors can gain a broad understanding of Johannesburg's history, through guided tours of the role of gold in our past, present and future. In a purely historical context, Gold Reef City is a living museum of much significance - one with the ability to educate many of the country's youth as to South Africa’s common heritage.

Gold Reef City Theme Park recently embarked on a major upgrade which has included the creation of a “Heritage Tour”. Visitors can choose to take part in the tour upon entrance to the theme park. If they choose to go on the tour, Tour Guide personnel will accompany them on their journey to discover and experience the beginnings and history of Johannesburg, the City of Gold!

Name Gold Reef City
Contact goldreefcity
Installation Sonic Factory
Programming J. Petrie





DMX Machine

Show Control


Project Overview

A number of venues included in the Heritage tour required a variety of technological upgrades to bring them up to the standard that visitors would expect from Gold Reef City theme park.

These venues include a 90 seat theatre called Rich Beginnings, a shed housing a Gold Pour demonstration, three houses, built and decorated in the style of the late 1800’s mining era, and a visit underground to an original old gold mine located in the Theme Park

Gold Reef City is a living museum of much significance
AV Consulting firm, Digital Fabric, headed up by Gavin Olivier, chose Alcorn McBride as the preferred supplier of Audio, Visual, Lighting and Show Control Equipment for all the Heritage Tour venues. As the official representative of Alcorn McBride in Southern Africa, Sonic Factory was appointed to supply the equipment and provide the Show Control programming services. The basic requirement of each venue was to be able to select and play a video or audio clip in one of 5 languages as well as control house and themed lighting. Each of the venues are operated independently of each other and are programmed to automatically start up at the beginning of each day and shut down at the end of each day. This is achieved by a simple battery backed up daily timer module connected to each venue’s Show Controller.

Language selection is made by the tour operator using custom stainless steel button panels. Each of the 5 buttons on the outside select one of the following languages: English, Afrikaans, Mandarin, German or Zulu. Once the selection has been made, the operator then presses the centre “Show Start” button. The only venue at which this doesn’t apply is the mine tour, as it mostly consists of sound effects.

Venue 1 - Rich Beginnings

This small theatre is used as an introduction to the Gold Reef City Heritage Tour. An Alcorn McBride DVMHD plays a High Definition video out to a Christie DS+60 projector. The resulting image is displayed on a 4 meter wide Definition fixed frame screen. The DVMHD audio is routed through a Symmetrix 322 DSP and then on to 2 self powered Quest QSA400 speakers. Show Control is achieved by an Alcorn McBride InterActivator. The only lighting requirements here are to control house lights which are dimmed by a Helvar dimmer which is controlled by the InterActivator.

Venues 2, 3 & 4 - Mine Houses

These 3 houses are replicas of those that existed in the 1890’s. Visitors can see a typical mine Manager’s house; the house of an artisan or foreman and that of an engineer and his wife, the schoolteacher (Emily Dowse, who was a schoolteacher at the time).

From an AV perspective, each house consists of an Alcorn McBride Show Controller, a DVM7400/A, two 42” Plasma displays, a Xantech Distribution Amplifier and Atlantic Technology in-ceiling speakers. Once again, a language select button panel allows the tour operators to select one of five videos.

Venue 5- Gold Pour

One of the public’s favourite venues at Gold Reef City has now been completely revamped and made to look like the shed it would have been.

In contrast to the previous tour venues, there is no video element here, but instead, the visitor experiences a 5.1 Surround “Theatre of the Mind” audio experience. However, an Alcorn McBride DVM7400/B video machine is still used as the AC3 audio playback device. This digital audio stream is decoded into its 6 separate analogue channels by a Midiland ADS4000 decoder. From here, the DSP is provided by 3 Symmetrix 322 processors. The signal then passes through 3 Quest QA2004 power amplifiers and on to a Quest HPI-8 loudspeaker system. Show Control is provided by an Alcorn McBride InterActivator and a DMX Machine.

Once the operator has made his language selection on the Show Control Panel, the “Show Start” button then dims the house lights, plays the selected audio and begins a programmed lighting script written into the DMX Machine. As the story unfolds and the operators begin pouring the gold, the process is illuminated, focusing the attention of the audience onto the “stage”.

Once the audio show is over, the house lights are dimmed back up and a themed lighting state is maintained. The visitors are then given the opportunity to touch a gold bar as the exit the venue. Prior to the next show, the operator makes his language selection again which in turn resets the house and theme lighting to a pre-show state and readies the system for the upcoming show.

Venue 6- Mine Tour

The underground tour begins in an enormous shed containing one of only a handful of complete Whiting Steam Hoists left in the world. A corridor leading through the shed to the mine lift deck contains an array of information pertaining to the visit ahead and a video of the history of the gold deposits in the Johannesburg area is displayed on 3 Plasma displays. This video is played from an Alcorn McBride DVM7400. Show Control is provided by a V16+ and a DMX Machine. Two AM4 audio machines provide audio sound effects. All audio, video and lighting is run by looped sequences which are triggered at the beginning of each day by a daily timer and shut down at the end of each day. Hidden Atlantic Technology AW424 speakers mimic the original machine shop environment and a DMX controlled smoke machine with synchronized lighting effects create high pressure steam effects. Once the visitors have seen the steam engine, they advance to the end of the corridor, pick up helmets and torches and proceed to the mine yard before descending underground. The trip down the mine takes visitors 220m below the surface.

Hidden speakers (Atlantic Technology AW424’s) create pockets of ambient mine sounds including voices speaking a language developed by miners called ‘fanagalo’, squealing wheels, drills, chisels, rock falls and the like. The audio in each audio pocket comes from Alcorn McBride AM4/A’s. Simple looped playlists were created which loop the audio files continuously as soon as power is applied to each machine. Power to the AM4’s is switched off at the end of each day and on again at the beginning of the day.

3300 S. Hiawassee Rd.
Bldg. 105
Orlando, FL 32835

407-296-5800 Contact Sales Show Control Blog Facebook