Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore’s latest romantic comedy was filmed during June and July of 2013 at South Africa’s Lost City at Sun City. Scenes were shot at the resort’s animal park, within the Palace of the Lost City hotel, on the hotel’s pool terrace and in the Crystal Court restaurant.
Teen star Bella Thorne played Barrymore’s daughter in Blended. Thorne diligently chronicled her African adventure online, posting pictures of herself cuddling lion cubs, holding a baby crocodile and twirling in a friend’s arms at Cape Point on Instagram. On June 8, 2013 she tweeted: “Cape Town is stunning. #GreatFood #GoodShopping #BeautifulViews.”
Both Sandler and Barrymore also visited Cape Town during a break in filming. Sandler turned heads at Hudson’s, a burger place on Kloof Street, while Barrymore prompted gasps when she unrolled her yoga mat next to 25 other at the popular Hot Dog Yoga Studio in Sea Point.
On a more serious note Adam Sandler was attacked by a cheetah while on a private safari on one of his off days. On David Letterman Sandler explained “I went there and they let me in with the cheetah. They said I could feed the cheetah water with my hands, and so I did it …something went a little bit wrong.” In a video clip of the incident, Sandler can be seen crouching near the water when the cheetah suddenly jumps on his back. One of the rangers in the camp then runs over to get the animal off his back.”What happened was they said you’re not supposed to bend down low by the water and that’s why he got mad … I played it off real good … (but) I was very nervous,” he said. “I swear to God when he jumped on me all I was gonna do was let him eat me, there was not one part of me that was gonna fight back. I was like, all right this is how I’m dying.”
The interview may be viewed on Youtube.
While on the subject of getting hurt Blended shows the stars riding ostriches. Riding an ostrich takes a lot of skill but amateurs are welcome to try their luck in Oudtshoorn, in South Africa’s Karoo. Ostrich farms abound in this semi-desert area.
The Lost City at Sun City:
Most people consider the Lost City at Sun City to be South Africa’s family friendly version of Las Vegas. Developed by hotel magnate Sol Kerzner (the man behind Sun International, Atlantis, One and Only Hotels) in the late 70s this area of South Africa allowed gambling which was banned throughout the rest of the country. Being relatively close to the large metropolitan areas of Pretoria and Johannesburg Sun City soon became a popular holiday / weekend retreat.
The Lost City was inspired by a fantasy lost African tribe and there are 4 large resort hotels in addition to a timeshare complex. The most luxurious hotel is the 5 star Palace of the Lost City with 338 rooms and suites. The Cascades Hotel has 243 rooms, the Sun City Hotel has 340 rooms, and the Cabanas has 380 rooms. This makes a total of 1,301 total hotel rooms.
Having stayed at each of the hotels the Palace is by far my favorite… the entire property, inside and out, is fantastically decorated and the restaurant options are superb.
Amenities at the Lost City include a number of swimming pools in addition to a manmade lake named “Waterworld” where guests can parasail, water ski, canoe, wind surf, jet ski, paddle ski, or relax on a boat cruise. At the “Valley of the Waves” waterpark there are adrenaline pumping tube rides and slides. Other activities on offer include tennis, squash, horse riding, mountain biking, quad biking, clay pigeon shooting, archery, zip lining, and balloon safaris.
Sun City has 2 casinos and for golfers there are 2 Gary Player designed 18 hole courses – the Gary Player Course and the Lost City Course. Watch out for crocodiles in the water hazards! We are not joking…
Day and night time safari drives can be undertaken in open 4×4 vehicles in the adjoining Pilanesberg Game Reserve which is home to Africa’s Big 5 wildlife species – elephant, rhino, leopard, lion and buffalo. Having said the above I do not consider this a prime wildlife viewing area by any stretch. There is some game but it is too touristy and crowded for my tastes. Parasailing behind your safari vehicle, although shown in the movie, is not an offered activity.
Sun City’s Superbowl Arena has hosted various concerts (Elton John, Queen, the Beach Boys) and a number of Miss South Africa and Miss World pageants over the years.
The Palace at the Lost City at Sun City is definitely worth a visit if you are looking for a 5 star casino / golf / family resort style property to relax at for 3 or 4 nights at the end of an African trip. As for what to do while there I would spend my time soaking up the sun by the pool; I would play some golf, and spend an inordinate amount of time sampling the incredible food on offer. I would forego all wildlife viewing activities – enjoy a safari elsewhere in South Africa – Sabi Sands, Madikwe and / or Phinda would be superb.
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Interested in visiting South Africa?
If you are interested in visiting Sun City it could easily be incorporated into a wonderful South African family vacation. I would start with 3 nights in Cape Town. Considered one of the world’s most beautiful seaside city’s you can explore Table Mountain, the Cape Peninsula, and the historic winelands, hang out with penguins, take a boat ride to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent many years imprisoned, or even partake in a great white shark cage dive. My favorite place to stay would be in a superior sea facing room at the Twelve Apostles Hotel. As Ultimate Africa guests enjoy a 4th night free of charge and if space is available the hotel will upgrade you to a 1 bedroom suite as well. Continue by air to the Kruger / Sabi Sands area for South Africa’s best wildlife viewing for 3 nights. Enjoy day and night wildlife viewing drives in your open 4×4 vehicle and professionally guided walks tracking Africa’s Big 5 wildlife species. There are a number of great Sabi Sands properties – Dulini Lodge and Savannah Tented Camp offer a superb 5 star experience and are both a great value. Singita, Lions Sands Ivory and Londolozi are my favorites when money is not a concern. Finish the trip with 3 nights in a luxury room at the Palace at the Lost City in Sun City – a fun 10 day get away.
Prices for the above trip start at US $5,200 per person + international flights in 2014.
Ultimate Africa founder and president