One of the biggest challenges in parks is to offer a break from the heat of the summer sun, with rides and attractions often becoming too hot for riders to enjoy on sunny days without a covering.
Kingdom was created at Great Adventure, it took over the area that had
been the original park entrance plaza. From the first design of the area
created by Randal Duell and Associates, the heart of the kids' section
was a trio of rides which were to be tied together with a central
covering which offered some protection from the sun. Since the area had
no trees a shade structure of some kind was a necessity.
The original three rides that were concentrated at the kiddie land's core included the kiddie boats (Great Cruiser), and two circular car rides manufactured by Hampton Rides. The two circular vehicle rides (Cars!Cars! and Dune Buggies) were often referred to as "umbrella" rides as they both included large overhead canvas coverings providing their own shade for their riders.
|Kiddie Kingdom later became Shirt Tales Land in 1984, followed by Looney Toons Land in 1985, and in 1988 the area became Bugs Bunny Land after a remodeling and upgrade. The central design of the area changed with the original hexagonal wooden roof removed replaced by a new, much larger shade structure. As the two umbrella rides were self-shaded, these were switched out with two non-covered rides that often had to close in inclement weather. One of the car rides was replaced with the Kiddie Scrambler ride and the other car ride was replaced with the Lady Bugs ride. Along with the kiddie boats ride which remained in place, the new canopy not only covered the three rides but also the queue lines for each attraction.
|For the 1988 season opener, the canopy roof was not yet installed but would be added before daily operation started that year. The large blue, modern three legged structure spanned all three rides, with a raised central tent like roof. The flooring of the area was a green padded mat, and at the center was a small kiosk with storage for cleaning equipment which featured funhouse mirrors as well as a plaque dedicating Bugs Bunny Land titled "Memories." The hand painted sign would be replaced with a more formal and permanent bronze plaque in 1990. Spotlights mounted at the base of the canopy's legs illuminated the underside of the white canvas ceiling giving the structure a modern appearance.
|In 1992, Six Flags
was acquired by Time Warner, and a big push was made company-wide to
bring the "theme" back into their theme parks. Six Flags Great Adventure
saw many upgrades and changes as part of this new focus, with special
emphasis on the Time Warner properties like the DC superheroes and
As part of the upgrades to Bugs Bunny Land, a giant tree stump was added as a new entrance portal to the land. As a match to this new theme element the Bugs Bunny Land canopy got a tree structure of its own under the center of the covering. This tree stretched from ground level to just short of the canopy with numerous branches reaching across the white canvas, each one terminating just below the roofline. A leafy matted paint pattern was applied on the underside of the canopy which blended in with vinyl leaves which were attached to the tree's three dimensional branches.
|With the tree and its
leaves in place under the canopy, the entire outer tubular structure was
repainted green to further extend the new forest motif the refurbished
Years later, fiberglass sculptures of Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird were added into the branches of the tree. These simple statues didn't move or include audio, but they were often the first things to catch the eyes of the parks' smallest visitors.
The tree and leaf design brought some much needed color and coolness to the canopy. The addition of the tree and leaves was simple but effective for creating a friendlier feeling.
|The Bugs Bunny Land canopy lasted right through the end of the 2004 season when Bugs Bunny Land closed to make way for The Golden Kingdom in 2005. The canopy and tree were demolished along with the rest of Bugs Bunny Land as part of the new construction. After years of providing protection from the sun and adverse elements of weather, two of the canopy's three rides (the Lady Bugs and Kiddie Scrambler) were re-themed and incorporated into the new Golden Kingdom.
|Original Spotlight: March 22, 2020. GAH Reference#: KIDS-1988-003