** NEW **  
Summer 1974
With a limited number of rides and attractions during the 1974 season,
long lines for Great Adventure's most popular rides like the Sky Ride were common.
The lack of guide rails for the cable cars in the Dream Street Sky Ride station indicate that only
the lake side of the aerial ride was in operation shortly after the park opened on
July 1st, creating even longer waits as the ride was operating at only half capacity.
    Summer 1977
    Back in 1977, the Fortune Festival area of the park, located just behind the Four Tents, was home to the Gondola ride.  This antique spinning attraction lasted only one season and the entire games area itself was destroyed in an off-season fire in December 1981.  In 1982, the area was totally reconstructed and took on the name of Goodtime Alley.
Winter 1993 Summer 1976 May 1997
In this rare photo taken pre-season 1993, both the Little Wheel and the Big Wheel can be seen with their gondolas removed during winter rehabs of the wheels.  The Little Wheel would reopen as Phileas Fogg's Balloon Ride based on the film Around the World in 80 Days as part of the new Movie Town section of the park.
The Big Wheel would retain its name but feature a new sign and queue line.
During the first several seasons at Great Adventure, concert acts were performed from a simple ground level platform making for an intimate setting for guests who chose to be entertained from the arena floor.  It wasn't until the later '70s that a temporary elevated stage was used which was replaced in the early '80s by the  current permanent covered stage that exists today. Six Flags Great Adventure has offered a wide variety of attractions based on DC Comic Super Heroes starting in 1992 with the introduction of the Batman Stunt Spectacular Arena.  In 1993, the Batman: The Ride inverted coaster was added and in 1997 the largest of the Batman themed coasters was installed, Batman and Robin: The Chiller.   Several other smaller  structures like the Gotham City Water Works game, Axis Chemical Wash,  and Coca-Cola Cool Zone extended the Batman theme in this corner of the Movie Town section of the theme park.
May 1990 August 1977 August 1999
The ShockWave was Great Adventure's first stand-up roller coaster added for the 1990 season.  The Intamin coaster was part of Six Flags ride rotation program, having been previously located at Magic Mountain. After the 1992 season the ride was removed and transported to AstroWorld in Houston, Texas.  When AstroWorld closed in 2005 the ride was moved once again to Six Flags Darien Lake where it still remains today unassembled. The Great Train Ride was a very popular attraction that operated at Great Adventure from 1974 to 1980.  From a small open air station located just opposite of the Sky Ride guest departed for a round trip journey through the woods in any area which is now home to Safari Kids, Looney Tunes Seaport, and Congo Rapids.  The train ride closed when construction of the rapids ride began with all its track removed and the trains relocated to backstage storage.  The station itself remained one additional season sitting vacant and void of any hints of the miniature train ride that once amused so many guests. The Looney Tunes characters have called Six Flags Great Adventure home since 1985 after Six Flags Corporation acquired the gang along with the Great America theme park in Gurnee, IL in 1984. Although rarely seen all at once in a group photo, the family reunion pictured above shows just how big this loveable cast of costumed characters is at the park.
April 1990 July 1974 August 1981
Bugs Bunny and all his Looney Tunes friends were given a new home in 1988 when the Looney Tunes section of the park was remodeled into Bugs Bunny Land.  The revamped five acre children's area scaled to the park's youngest guests 54" and under received a $1.5 million upgrade including a dome-covered soft playground featuring fun elements and educational hands-on attractions. Building a structure as unique as the Super Tee Pee created several design and installation issues.  Under the supervision of Warner LeRoy, the perfect logs needed to be trucked from the Yukon Territory to the park which involved four changes in suppliers.  Even though the proper length logs were found, the color and texture was incorrect necessitating sand blasting and re-staining.  Once erected, the installation of the huge chandelier required extensive staging and two cranes working for one week in tight areas causing cost overruns.  Unlike a flume ride that subjects all its riders to the same basic risks of getting sprayed or splashed, the odds of getting wet on a rapids ride is often a game a chance with some riders getting soaked while others exit totally dry.  When Roaring Rapids debuted in 1981, the likelihood of getting soaked was pretty high with just a slight chance of dodging the raging waters and escaping the pounding deluge of the waterfalls.  As the photo above illustrates, sometimes riders were almost completely submerged while shooting the white water.  Roaring Rapids lived up to its motto "Ride hard and come out wet."
June 1994 May 1984 July 1983
Taking a page from Disney's playbook, in 1994 Six Flags Great Adventure (while under ownership of TimeWarner) copied the practice of having a major attraction "exit through the gift shop".  Adventurous test pilots that just completed their mission on The Right Stuff Mach 1 Adventure simulator ride passed through the Flight Deck Gifts and Apparel shop which offered air and space related merchandise including aviator jackets and Ray-Ban sunglasses.  The Shirt Tales Theatre was added to the park in 1984 along with a completely rethemed and expanded children's area called Shirt Tales Land.  The troop of cuddly characters introduced by Hallmark Cards last only one season and were quickly replaced in 1985 by the Looney Tunes characters who joined the Six Flags family through a licensing agreement which was part of the acquisition of Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, IL.  The theater was removed after the 2004 season to make way for Balin's Jungle Land and the rest of the Golden Kingdom. The shows at the Americana Music Hall (now Showcase Theatre) always proved to be big hits with park guests.  While many of the productions included singers and dancers performing golden oldies or current hits, 1983's Errol Manoff's Fantasy Factory Show presented a larger than life ensemble cast of puppet stars from stage and screen.  One of the acts included Dolly Parton (pictured above) complete with her legendary physique - at least until the two cactus characters hug her.
October 1980 August 1974 June 1976
The premiere Oktober Fest celebration in the autumn of 1980 was an extensively themed event which brought the best of Bavaria to Six Flags Great Adventure.  To make the festival as authentic as  possible, the park imported a Festhaus as well as several traveling  beer and food stands from Germany which added old world charm to the event.  Great Adventure even went so far as to set up a Deutsche Schule or German School to teach the locals how to properly order their beer and pretzels in true Oktober Fest style. Warner LeRoy designed Great Adventure as not only a fun and exciting place for families to enjoy all his headline rides and attractions, but also an escape from the hectic and noisy cities.  One important feature of his park layout was the seemingly random placement of park benches under the tall trees of the Enchanted Forest theme park.  For many, being able to take a break and just sit and relax was as welcomed as riding the Giant Wheel or taking a spin on the Flying Wave. Although the Carousel had to withstand harsh weather conditions for almost 100 years when it was part of the traveling fair circuits in England, a glamorous structure was built at Great Adventure to protect the ride.  Twelve candy cane columns support an oversized roof that generously covers the rides circular plot.  During initial construction, oddly, the Carousel itself was erected first and then the canopy assembled above the precarious ride. 
June 1976 January 1987 February 1984
Originally introduced as the Pretty Monster in 1974, this colorful octopus style ride was relocated in 1976 next to the Yum Yum Palace
and reinstalled at ground level leaving behind its metal platform and themed perimeter fencing.  Repainted and renamed the Dream Street Dazzler, the ride continued to operate until the end of the 1977 season when it was replaced with a more modern version known as the Monster Spin.
Snow blankets Great Adventure almost every winter just like in this photo of the Ultra Twister from 1987.  But soon the short winter days will welcome the sunshine and warmth of spring and Great Adventure will once again reopen for another season of fun.

Here is wishing everyone at GreatAdventureHistory.com a very
Merry Christmas and Wonderful 2015! 
Starting in the 1980's Six Flags Corporation began purchasing rides that could easily be constructed and enjoyed at one park for several seasons and then dismantled and reintroduced at another park as a brand new attraction.  Great Adventure's Sarajevo Bobsled was one of two identical coasters added with such intentions (the other was added to Magic Mountain  in the same year).  The Intamin designed ride operated from 1984 to 1988 at Great Adventure, was relocated to Great America as Rolling Thunder from 1989 to 1995, and was then added to Great Escape in 1997 where it still can be experienced today.
September 1977 July 1976 June 1976
The popularity of Great Adventure often caused long lines of traffic as guests waited their turn to enter either the Safari Park or Enchanted Forest parking lot.  For the first several years Route 537 was a simple one lane undivided highway with the option for drivers to use the shoulder lane to handle the extra volume of anxious and excited guests.  The Flying Wave was one of Great Adventure's original attractions located in the Strawberry Fair section of the park.  This ride and its neighbors featured thousands of miniature lights which made the entire area glisten in the evening as a focal point of the Enchanted Forest.  For the first few decades of operation the ride did not have a "Flying Wave" sign outside its entrance and as a result most guests simply referred to this twirling machine as "The Swings". The Alpen Blitz roller coaster was one of three rides installed for the 1976 season (along with the Musik Express and Super Sidewinder).  The electric powered coaster was manufactured by Schwarzkopf and imported from Europe for a three season run.  By the end of the 1978 season the ride was removed and temporarily stored next to Lightnin' Loops.  The ride site became  home to the Haunted House attraction for the fall of 1978.
September 1976 August 1974 November 1974
In an effort to increase park attendance after the busy summer months, Great Adventure hosted The Fun Olympics in 1976 based on the hit ABC show Almost Anything Goes.  The road show was held in the park's Great Arena and featured local towns competing against each other for a $6500 prize.  Although not televised, the games did make use of the props and equipment from the TV show.  The tradition of holding The Fun Olympics continues today as an interdepartmental employee competition. Height restrictions on rides have always been a regulation which small  children needed to deal with when visiting Great Adventure. During the park's first several seasons animal-themed height indicators like the tiger above at the entrance to the Runaway Mine Train shared the bad news of "Sorry, you have to be as tall as my paw to ride."  Note the small sign that also states "This ride not recommended for:  Guests with heart conditions, Elderly guests, Expectant Mothers."  This photo was  taken long before lawyers went out of control! Great Adventure wrapped up operations of its inaugural season on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, December 1, 1974.  Originally slated to close several weeks earlier, the season was extended in the hopes of trying to capture additional attendance and revenue which was lost given the park's delayed opening day on July 1st.  In the six months that the park was open, 1.3 million guests visited Great Adventure.
October 1976 September 1981 August 1976
Added to Great Adventure in 1975 as part of the park's Fun Fair expansion area, two new food facilities joined the roster of eateries built to accommodate guests' big appetites.  The pair of ornately decorated side by side stands were originally named the Pizza Filling Station and Hot Dogs! Hot Dogs.  Over the years the menus and appearance of the buildings would change many times over until the two stands were merged together and rebranded as the HBO Backlot Commissary in 1993. Starting in the late 1970's, one of the most exciting rides at Great Adventure was not found inside the theme park but instead out in the main parking lot. The oddly configured tram cars provided guests with a very bouncy ride between conveniently located tram stops around the parking lot, at the main entrance gate, and at the Safari Hospitality Center.  The three car trams were pulled by airport-style tractors and featured a single axle located in the center of the car making speed bumps and potholes very thrilling for its unseatbelted guests. David McMillan's Fabulous Flying Tiger Show debuted on May 1st, 1976 at the Great Arena.  The nail biting production included twenty Royal Bengal and Siberian tigers, the largest of which weighed 725 pounds.  As if all those tigers weren't enough, McMillan's menagerie also included an African lion, Asian leopard, North American mountain lion, black panther, North American black bear, and a 200 pound Russian timber wolf.
July 1974  November 1974 May 1981
Rising 150 feet in the air, Great Adventure's Giant Wheel was the park's tallest structure for nine seasons.  It was first surpassed by the addition of Parachuter's Perch in 1983 which reached a height of 250 feet.  Kingda Ka, which was added in 2005, stands 456 feet- more than three times the height of the  Giant Wheel. All of the flat rides installed at Great Adventure in 1974 featured colorful paint schemes and elaborate lighting packages.  The Grand Prix raceway ride was no exception with its classic roadster and checkered flag theme.  The ride which was originally located off the patio of Gingerbread Fancy and later moved to the current site of Blackbeard's Lost Treasure Train retained all its glitziness until its removal at the end of the 1979 station. Roaring Rapids was Great Adventure's largest earth moving project outside of the park's initial construction.  Added for 1981, this white water rafting adventure was the world's second rapids installation.  With the closure of AstroWorld in Houston, TX, today Congo Rapids is the oldest operating ride of its type.  While most of the ride relies on natural flow of water traveling down stream, many mechanical components of the ride were needed like pumps, wave makers, and the raft conveyance system in and out of the station.
October 1976 August 1978 July 1974
The Big Fury roller coaster was intended to be in the lineup of rides available on opening day, however, due to delays in delivery the ride did not open until the final weeks of the 1974 season.  The leased coaster spent just three full seasons at the park and was removed after Great Adventure closed in the autumn of 1977.  The coaster  was replaced by Wild Rider which operated from 1978 to 1980. In 1978, Great Adventure unveiled its first major thrill ride with the introduction of Lightnin' Loops.  Comprised of two separate launch coasters, these electrifying twin shuttle loops were the first addition to Great Adventure as a new member of the Six Flags family of theme parks.  When Great Adventure opened in 1974 Dream Street was the center of all the action in the Enchanted Forest theme park.  Especially around the Carousel, the area was filled with frolicking clowns, musical acts, and magical props like the clown fire truck.  Mixed with all the colors of the Yum Yum Palace and the beauty and sounds of the Carousel ride, Dream Street was truly a feast for the senses.
August 1975 July 1974 July 1974
Long before Great Adventure offered a cafeteria for employees to take a mid-shift break, the Employee Canteen was the gathering spot for workers to rest and socialize.  Located roughly on the same spot as today's Backstage Diner (near the Parachute ride), the Employee Canteen was a simple uncovered assortment of picnic benches and chairs situated alongside banks of soda, snack, and cigarette vending machines. The original Balloonland was a circular airfield set aside from Dream Street which operated for a single season in 1974.  The balloon landing area could be accessed from a path which cut between the Dream Street Tents and by an offshoot path which bordered the Garden of Marvels.  In 1975, Balloonland was relocated
behind the Garden of Marvels when the original balloon site became home to the Fortune Festival games area.
While the Enchanted Forest's original main entrance was short-lived, several of its five ticket booths lived on long after the entry gates were removed.  In 1976, the booths were scattered across the theme park and used as information kiosks. These lasted for only three more seasons but two of the booths can still be found on property today.  One of them is located at the old Safari Park ticket plaza and the other is a security booth positioned behind the family raft slide at Hurricane Harbor.
July 1974 November 1997 May 1974
Looking from high above Great Adventure's original theme park entrance one could easily see the park's main thoroughfare, Dream Street, which stretched from the main gates all the way down to Gingerbread Fancy. Attractions captured in this unique photo are (clockwise from the top) the Carousel, Ride-a-Rama, Garden of Marvels, Hot Air Balloon, park exit, tram circle, ticket booths, Dream Street Tents, Skyride, Happening , and Yum Yum Palace. A second First-Aid facility was added to Six Flags Great Adventure's theme park when Adventure Rivers opened in 1991. Because of the remote location of this water slide packed area and its distance from the main First-Aid station, a medical annex was built just in case there was an emergency at this end of the park. The station remained open up until Adventure Rivers was removed at the end of the 1998 season. Probably one of the most low-key structures built as a part of the original Enchanted Forest was the Western Shoot Out building, nestled within the Log Flume's track next to the Best of the West Restaurant. The building's foot traffic was greatly reduced due to the expansion of the neighboring restaurant's kitchen facilities which cut off direct access to the Shoot Out and weighed heavily in its demise. The Shoot Out building was demolished early in the winter of 2013 for the installation of Safari Off Road Adventure attraction.
July 1989 July 1974 July 1977
On this July 4th Weekend let us remember three things that the Great American Scream Machine's trains reminded us we enjoy as United States citizens - Spirit, Liberty, & Freedom.
God Bless America!
The main entrance to Great Adventure's theme park was not always located where it is today. For the first two seasons, in 1974 and 1975, the ticket booths and entrance gates were located just down from the Four Tents on Dream Street (approximately where the arch to the Golden Kingdom now stands). While the ticket booths and turnstiles were removed after 1975, the ticket taker canopy remained through the end of the 1977 season and its canvas cover offered shade for a caricature stand and numerous merchandise carts. Since its debut as one of the largest show venues ever installed in a theme park, Great Adventure's Great Arena has played host to a wide range of shows and performers over the years.  Pictured above is a stage coach and team of horses getting ready backstage behind the arena before their act.  This stage coach was used for many years following the Great Arena shows including as a photo opportunity prop when it was positioned in front of the Fort during the 1990's.
May 1974 May 1974 January 2000
With just a little over a month until the grand opening, workers all around Great Adventure's Enchanted Forest labored tirelessly to construct the park's buildings and assemble all the rides and attractions.  The Giant Wheel arrived at Great Adventure from Europe where it was a headline attraction at the Holland Tulip
Festival, having been selected for its flower petal-like lightning patterns and colorful cars.  Pictured above, a worker toils on tightening bolts near the hub of the wheel some 75 feet over  what will become the Strawberry Fair section of the park.
Behind their fancy columns and beneath their colorful awnings Great Adventure's original food stands were very basic box-like structures.  The one story facilities were made to look twice as tall with the installation of a false wall around the perimeter of the building's roof.  On the outside, cloth tarps were draped to form a protective cover over the serving counters positioned around the building, while on the inside the false walls hid the ventilation and utility ducts up on the roof tops.  Eat! Eat!, which later became Mama Flora's near the Big Wheel, is pictured under construction above. Six Flags Great Adventure officially opened its third gated park on May 27, 2000 when Hurricane Harbor premiered on a 45 acre site situated along Route 537.  An in-depth storyline and a ton of tropical themeing transported guests to an imaginary hideaway first discovered by factious inventor and explorer Copernicus T. Potter.  From the originally planned ticket booths (pictured above) to thrilling water slides, guests were immersed in an oasis of watery excitement.
May 1974 October 1977 August 1979 
The Super Teepee was one of Great Adventure's most unique structures and an example of how Warner LeRoy imagined the Enchanted Forest to be filled with oversized structures that made guests feel as if they were in a land of fantasy. Constructed long before the days of treated timber, the huge logs were imported from the Yukon Territory and unfortunately rotted over time.  The Super Teepee operated as the Best of the West's primary merchandise location through the end of the 2006 season, remained standing but not open in 2007, and was removed in the spring of 2008. Fifty years since its debut at the New York World's Fair, Great Adventure's Skyride is still going strong.  Imported from Flushing Meadows, New York, the parts of the attraction that originated at the Fair include the equipment found in the ride's two stations - the powered drive unit and tension assemblies, as well as the original fleet of 112 four passenger gondolasThe ride's six support towers are from  an aerial ride once found in the now defunct Freedomland USA in the Bronx, NY. Great Adventure's Safari Park was once home to tall trees and lush foliage that filled its many sections.  Most of the trees within the animal reserve have fallen victim to severe weather or to the animals which call these acres home.  Many different attempts were made over the years to protect the trees including cages around the tree trunks or barriers to keep the animals away, however, nature finds a way - especially when it involves some tasty leaves or crunchy tree bark.
May 1974 September 1993  May 1974
In the spring of 1974 a helicopter assisted in stringing the first set of cables across the park for the Sky Ride.  The cables for each side of this dual ride, which first premiered at the New York World's Fair in 1964, stretched over 4500 feet.  With a diameter of one inch, the cables were initially supported by six towers which reached upwards of 104 feet into the clouds.  The Sky Ride celebrates its 50th Anniversary in 2014. When Batman The Ride was introduced in 1993 it featured the most extensively themed queue line to date at Great Adventure.  The waiting area, Gotham City Park, included over 42,000 square feet of sod, over 950 trees and shrubs, and 300 tons of decorative stone.  The wrecked police car which appeared to have plowed into a fire hydrant was the real deal formerly serving the city of Orlando, Florida. To a guest watching a performance at Great Adventure's aqua arena the pool may appear to be a simple semi-circle.  However, it is actually a perfect circle with a diameter of 80 feet.  The performing platform is located just short of center stage with several holding pens behind it in the rear portion.  The large pens were needed in the early years to hold ten dolphins while diving shows were performed in the front section of the pool.
July 1989  June 1980 June 1984
As the world celebrates the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, we look back to a time when Great Adventure played host to the
 Stars of the U.S.S.R. - a variety show that featured the "singing and dancing and beautiful, vibrant native costumes, rich in Russian culture."  The show was presented in the park's Showcase Theatre from July 8th to August 20, 1989.
Great Adventure has always been a place that stays on top of the latest trends, fads, and entertainment offerings.  Starting in the summer of 1980 the park featured a photo-op kiosk themed to Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back which opened in May of that year.  While the replicas of Darth Vader and C-3PO were far
from accurate, the photo stand which allowed guests to have their picture taken in a set from a galaxy far, far, away proved to be very popular.
The Sarajevo Bobsled ride was installed in 1984 and named as a tribute to that year's Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.  The ride was removed towards the end of the 1988 season and was replaced by the Great American Scream Machine.  Initial renderings for the new Arrow looper featured the Bobsled's station incorporated into the new ride's queue house, however the station was leveled when the Bobsled was removed.
December 1987 May 2001 April 1974
Even though the holidays may seem to have us all running around in circles, we wanted to stop and take a moment to wish all our GreatAdventureHistory.com family a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2014! Often in theme parks merchandise and snack locations are renamed and relocated to take advantage of the latest trends or changes in traffic flow around the park.  In 2001, Nitro Ride Gear made its debut just outside of the entrance to the new B&M coaster Nitro.  Previously, this stand had been used as Batman Collectibles when the Batman Stunt Show premiered and most recently as a security booth. Great Adventure's Traffic Jam bumper cars was one of the first installations in the Enchanted Forest theme park.  Long before most buildings were constructed or the concrete walkways poured, the portable ride was erected in the park's Strawberry Fair section near the base of the Giant Wheel.
June 6, 1979 October 31, 2004 May 1974
Like the proud father of newborn twins, Six Flags Great Adventure general manager Larry Cochran watches as the first two trains of the brand new Rolling Thunder racing roller coaster ascend the lift hill for the inaugural lap around the 3200 foot track circuits. Note the five car trains which were an original feature of the ride when it opened on June 6, 1979 at 11 a.m. Knowing that building the world's tallest roller coaster takes time, Great Adventure's construction team got a jump start on the massive 456 foot Kingda Ka tower by breaking ground on the project  in the summer of 2004.  By the time the park closed on Halloween day
of that year vertical construction was well underway.
When the Jimmy Williams Famous Steam Roundabout made its way stateside and was installed at Great Adventure in 1974,the ride kept true to its traveling fair heritage.   Its assembly included a trailer mounted center hub supported on four large over the highway tires.  The ride which originated in England even included a boiler plate emblem of the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom.
August 2005 May 1974 May 2000
The Temple of the Tiger arena opened with the Golden Kingdom in May of 2005 and was instantly a huge success drawing capacity crowds to its high energy tiger shows.  Within two months of opening, the stadium was expanded by approximately 35% with the construction of six extra rows of seats added to the back of the arena.  The modified design also included access to these benches via new staircases near the stadium's back corners. Great Adventure's Garden of Marvels was a massive undertaking and introduced G-scale model railroading to the United States.  While ground preparation work continued in the park, a testing layout for the large scale LGB trains was constructed near the assembly building for the Garden of Marvels.  The layout allowed the workers to experiment and evaluate different types of roadbeds as well as engine pulling power and traction on the inclined railways. The Pendulum ride, a Huss Frisbee, was added to Great Adventure as part of the park's 1999 War on Rides.  Placed in an odd location
behind the bumper cars ride in the Old Country, the Pendulum  was all but blocked out from the main midway by the extra wide Autobahn ride.  Even though the ride did feature several thematic elements such as decorative spikes and an overall early European weaponry motif, several planned features like a massive battleaxe sign at its apex as well as a castle themed loading platform never materialized.
July 1985 August 1979 December 3, 1973
The Musik Express was added to Great Adventure in the spring of 1976, possibly having been originally operated at the 1964/65 New York World's Fair.  The spinning ride entertained guests for 32 seasons before closing at the end of 2007 along with the rest of the shuttered Old Country section of the park.  Although the ride structure still stands, the ride's cars have been removed for several years, most likely relocated to Six Flags Magic Mountain for parts on their Flash: Speed Force ride. The Garden of Marvels miniature village was constructed by Dutch artist Arthur Thuijs and operated at Great Adventure from 1974 to 1978 under of five year contract with the park. At the end of the agreement the model buildings were all removed and an 18 hole miniature golf course took over the hilly terrain.  Only the manmade mountains and waterways would survive the removal of the village, but even those were destroyed during the summer of 1989 when the site was cleared for the Shockwave coaster which opened in 1990. Revised plans for Great Adventure, the most elaborate and impressive entertainment complex in the northeast area, were presented by Charles H. Stein, Chairman of the Board of Hardwicke Companies Inc., and Warner LeRoy, President and Designer of Great Adventure in 1973.  The early artist rendering of the theme park, above, would remain true to the as-built park with few exceptions.
February 1999 October 1974 July 1980
Medusa was the world's first floorless roller coaster when the park opened for the season on April 2, 1999. The B&M thriller was just one of more than 25 new rides added to Great Adventure as part of the monumental  "War on Lines" - a $42 million dollar investment in the park which increased its ride count by 50%. The Super Teepee was by far Great Adventure's most unique shopping experience offering a wide array of Western, Mexican and Indian souvenirs.  As described in the park's pre-opening press release, "the (Super Teepee) structure was dominated by its 60 foot tall chandelier.  Twenty feet in diameter, it resembles an Indian rope hanging, with carved eagles, feathers, skeletons, and bows and arrows displayed on it." The Schwabinchen ride, known in the industry as a Mack Hully Gully, was originally introduced at Great Adventure as part of the Fun Fair section in 1975.  The ride operated until the end of the 1986 season when it was removed to make way for Splash Water Falls.  To many surprised guests it was reintroduced on July 31, 1993 as the redecorated El Sombrero ride near Rolling Thunder in the  Mexican  themed region of Frontier Adventures.   It was removed for good at the end of the 2001 season.
August 1978 July 4, 1974 June 30, 1974
Prior to the installation of the Ultra Twister ride in 1986 with its accompanying walkway and bridge across Lahaway Creek, the Runaway Mine Train's site was totally secluded except for a path that encircled the Great Arena.  This area was further developed in 1999 when Medusa was constructed. The Spirit of America played a big part in Great Adventure's grand opening on July 4th, 1974.  A fife and drum band complete with tri-corner hats made its way up Dream Street from the park's main entrance into the Enchanted Forest where it entertained patriotic guests around Great Adventure's sparkling fountain. The official opening day of Great Adventure is sometimes a confusing thing with numerous dates floating about as to when the park first welcomed guests.  The first official preview day was June 30, 1974 for invited guests and Jackson,, NJ residents.  The park opened for business on July 1, 1974 for a three day soft opening leading up to the park's grand opening on July 4, 1974. The rest is history!
June 25, 1974 June 26, 2004 May 1992
With less than a week until Great Adventure's grand opening, Warner LeRoy provided a VIP tour of the park for investors and New Jersey state representatives including then governor Brendan Byrne.  In this photo, Warner takes the group for a trip around the upper perimeter of the Great Arena which was still under construction at the time. Located in the Safari Hospitality Center, Park-A-Pet was an 80 pen kennel located just outside of the Safari Park entrance.  Guests traveling with their animals were able to drop their pets off for the day where they would be offered fresh water and supervision, as well as any owner-provided food.  The pet stop operated in this stand-alone building until June 2004 when it was closed and demolished for the construction of the Kingda Ka tower. The original Batman Stunt Show premiered on June 13, 1992.  The newly constructed 3200 seat arena was home to five daily shows performed on a 180 foot Gotham City set.  Three story facades of Wayne Manor, City Hall, and the Axis Chemical Plant reached heights up to 45 feet.  Wayne Manor featured a keystone engraved with the numbers 1974, a tribute to the year Great Adventure opened.
August 1998 Memorial Day 1991 October 1974
In the late 1990's Movie Town was at the height of its popularity with its extensive offerings of thrill rides and entertainment.  Gotham City Water Works, a highly themed water gun game, joined other superhero attractions including Batman The Ride, Batman and Robin - The Chiller, and the Batman Stunt Spectacular. On this Memorial Day let's take a moment to remember all those brave men and women who gave their lives so that we are allowed to enjoy ours. For 39 seasons the Conestoga Wagon stood parked next to Great Adventure's massive Fort in the park's western themed section.  When this oversized snack stand originally opened, guests were able to walk completely around the structure and admire the Conestoga from all sides and all angles.  Expansion of the restaurant's kitchen facilities in the late 1970's saw the addition of a square building adjacent to the rear of the wagon in the area pictured above.
June 1974 Various Seasons  May 1989 
While the Runaway Train is not an extreme scream machine by today's roller coaster standards, when it first opened in 1974 it did provide an exciting ride.  An early article quotes park management as saying the ride was "so wild we had to close it and take some of the bumps out it.  The velocity goes up so fast you get jerked out of your seat and we had a few sprained necks." Ever since Great Adventure's main entrance was relocated in 1976, large information boards have always been on display in the park's outer mall area.  Though the style of the signs has changed over the years, the information has typically included such things as ticket prices, upcoming events, ride information, and future concerts. Great Adventure's largest remote control game area was located in Lahaway Creek in front of the Fort.  Originally appearing in 1980, "Yacht Club" remote boats remained at the park through the 1984 season.  In 1985, the small remote sailboats were replaced with super-sized four foot Navy vessels when the attraction was rechristened "Battleship Cove."  These remotes were removed at the end of the 1991 season.
Winter 1993/1994 October 1974 October 1974
During the winter of 1993/1994, Great Adventure's entrance plaza received a complete makeover changing it from a simple grouping of small shops into the colonial style Main Street section of the park.  To better accommodate the larger size buildings which would outline the new thoroughfare and to alleviate crowding and traffic flow problems, the fountain walls were removed and downsized, leaving only the spray fixtures from the original fountain within a new smaller octagonal basin.  For four seasons from 1974 to 1977, Great Adventure was home to one of the largest advertising props for a theme park ever.  When weather conditions permitted, the Great Adventure hot air balloon rose high above the treetops from its mooring field which was located approximately where the Great American Road Race is today. Opening season plans for Great Adventure included two roller coaster attractions - the Runaway Train and the Big Fury.  However,  because of shipping delays from Europe, the Big Fury coaster would not arrive at the park until October.  Notice the construction worker wearing a winter jacket as he puts the finishing touches on Big Fury which would open for just a few weekends at the end of the 1974 season.
July 1974 Summer 1983 June 1981
The official opening of Great Adventure's Enchanted Forest in 1974 included marching bands, local government representatives, and a colorful balloon release for when the gates first opened to what would ultimately become the world's largest theme park! During the summer of 1983 through the wonder of a newfangled personal computing machine, for $1 guests could find out in just 15 seconds "What was happening the day you were born?". The summary of events was provided via a dot-matrix printer on perforated paper with removable tractor-feed margins. Roaring Rapids opened on June 16, 1981. As the first river rafting style water ride on the East Coast, the ride quickly attracted huge crowds. Food carts were set up all along the extended wait line which backed up past the ride's unfinished winding entrance path and partially built covered queue house.
Summer 1978 August 1983 July 1996
Lightnin' Loops was Great Adventure's first roller coaster to turn guests upside down. The ride's electrifying twin interlocking loops sped riders 45mph through two 58 foot loops - first forwards and then backwards! From caricatures, to computer portraits, to celebrity magazine covers, Great Adventure has always offered a wide variety of personalized merchandise options. In 1983, Thumb Toons allowed guests to take home custom cartoons featuring their own fingerprints as art. Starting in 1996 guests were invited to plunge into high-powered fun and experience the all new action-packed Lethal Weapon Water Stunt Spectacular. The popular show was performed up to four times daily at the Great Lake Grandstand from May 1996 to September 2001.
July 1995 Summer 1985 April 1990
Viper was added to Great Adventure's coaster arsenal in 1995, built on the former site of the Ultra Twister. Both rides featured Togo International's signature heartline rolls, although Viper proved to be a much rougher riding experience given its tight track layout. The Looping Starship opened in the spring of 1985. Originally, the word Challenger graced
the nose of the space shuttle, named after the second of NASA's fleet of orbiters. On January 28, 1986 the spacecraft was destroyed on lift-off and the name was removed before the start of G.A.'s season that year.
The Shockwave was installed in 1990 and occupied the former site of the Garden of Marvels Miniature Village which later became a miniature golf course. As seen in this aerial photo, remnants of the Garden of Marvels including the Koi Pond and inclined rampway survived the coaster being built.
May 1974 September 1980 1980's Christmas
Great Adventure acquired its antique Carousel ride from the Jimmy Williams traveling show company in England. In addition to the beautiful ride itself, the moving van which transported the Carousel from fair to fair was included in the sale. Look closely and you can see that the steering wheel is on the right side of the European truck. Great Adventure's first roller coaster for children was added in 1976 when the Screamer joined many of the other relocated rides from Ride-a-Rama in a brand new Kiddie Kingdom section. The ride was renamed as Lil' Thunder in 1979 when RollingThunder was built, and completely removed at the end of the '83 season to make way for Shirt Tales Land. From all of us here at GreatAdventureHistory.com, we would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2013!
Summer 1991 June 1996 May 1974
Long before Winter Lights was introduced at Great Adventure miniature Christmas lights could be found in the main entrance plaza of the park. White twinkling lights were festooned high in the branches of all the main gate's trees adding a whole new dimension to the area for guests exiting the park at night. Following the huge success of the themed queue for Disneyland's Indiana Jones- Temple of the Forbidden Eye in 1995, Great Adventure offered guests an immersive waiting line experience for Skull Mountain when it first opened in 1996. The queue was short-lived and removed for the installation of the Jolly Roger ride in 1999. An obvious example of cutbacks to Great Adventure's initial construction budget was the reduction from four to two ice cream sculptures on the corners of the Yum Yum Palace. This must have been a last minute decision as this photo shows the front two steel frames assembled on the roof and the two which were to be placed in the rear lying on the ground. Those two were never used.
Winter 1986 March 1989 June 2005
A ride which simulated the thrills of Olympic bobsledding was introduced in 1984 with the addition of the Sarajevo Bobsled roller coaster. Ironically, real snow would have closed the attraction as the ride was shuttered during any type of precipitation including drizzle. When the Great American Scream Machine opened in 1989 the roller coaster featured the world's tallest loop. The 136 foot inversion was one of seven such maneuvers that flipped riders up-side-down on its 3800 foot track. On this Veterans Day GreatAdventureHistory.com proudly salutes all the brave men and women, past and present, who have protected and served our great country. Pictured here is a sand sculpture in the Woodland Gardens area of the park entitled "Christmas at the Front - 1944."
August 1976 May 1991 February 1994
During the summer of 1976, Marvelli's Magic Caravan rolled into town and set up shop at the Bandstand on the Lake. Guests were invited to "Join our master magician, Marvelli, and his cast of costumed assistants as they lead you into the exciting and mysterious world of magical illusions." Adventure Rivers, a 15-acre water rides section, opened at Great Adventure in 1991. The $4 million area featured three new wet-dry slide complexes ranging in height from 30 to 60 feet, a new children splash zone, and incorporated the existing Splash Down and Roaring Rapids rides. Total capacity for the entire area was 7,700 guests per hour. Great Adventure's first indoor ride was added in 1994 - The Right Stuff Mach 1 Adventure. Housed in a six story, 16,000 sq ft building resembling an Edwards Air Force Base aircraft hangar, the 100 seat simulator theater operated continuously from 1994 to 2009, after which time the motion-base seats were removed and the building gutted.
July 1983 May 1974 May 31, 2003
The Hocus Pocus Magic and Gags Shop opened in 1980 and quickly became the place at Great Adventure for unique merchandise, toys, and tricks which amused guests young and old alike. Visitors to Hocus Pocus were always being watched as they shopped by dozens of scary rubber masks that lined the upper shelves of the store. The Aqua Spectacle has long been the home for family style shows ranging from dolphins and sea lions to birds and high diving acts. The 3500 seat arena features an 80 foot diameter pool holding 430,000 gallons of converted salt water. At its peak, the stadium hosted 12 shows daily performed every hour from park opening to park closing. After three decades of snacking on vinyl top car roofs and turning the last section of the Safari into an automobile chop-shop, the Monkey Jungle remained closed in 2003. It reopened in 2004, modified with the installation of fencing which would separate guests from the mischievous monkeys.
July 1977 March 1974 March 27, 1997
How many people remember these? Gum chewing must have been very popular in the 1970's, and what did you do with your gum when it lost its flavor? You stuck it onto one of the many guest-invented gum trees around the park mostly located next to a busy queue line! The entrance area to the Safari Park was one of the first regions to be carved out of the heavily wooded Great Adventure property. Access to the ticket plaza was originally straight ahead at the end of the property's winding entry road, encouraging guests to explore the animal park before visiting the theme park. A drink stand at a theme park is not that unusual, but one located within the Safari is quite unique. In 1997, an Ice Cold Drinks stand was installed just outside of the Australian section while a small gift kiosk was positioned within the North American area- both conveniently located for all of your Safari needs!
May 1974 Winter 1981 July 1982
Located today near Blackbeard's Lost Treasure Train, a small pond was constructed in 1974 which was home to frogs and later fish. The height of the pond's stone walls originally was lower at ground level and surrounded by fencing. Taller stone walls were added in the late '70s and it is still possible to see this modification in the stonework today. The construction of Roaring Rapids required the removal of 20,000 cubic yards of dirt from a 5.5 acre site. The ride made use of 3,500 cubic yards of concrete and 32,000 lbs of reddish brown toner to color the 60 tons of fabricated rockwork. Roaring Rapids opened on June 16, 1981 and was renamed Congo Rapids when Adventure Rivers opened on June 6, 1991. In 1976, Great Adventure relocated its main entrance closer to the park's centrally located fountain. The historic style entry featured iron gates, colonial brick, and ornate woodwork. These gates would remain at the park until the 1988 season when they were replaced to incorporated metal detectors.
August 1975 May 1974 April 1974
Great Adventure's second flume ride often suffered from an identity crisis through the years. The ride had numerous names including the Hydra Flume, Hydro Flume, Moon Flume, Ride the Rapids, Splash Down, Irrawaddy Riptide, Poland Spring Plunge, and simply Riptide. Traffic Jam was installed in 1974 and was the first of six bumper cars at the park including two kiddie and four adult sized rides. The latest version is this year's new Fender Benders opening in August. The very first attraction built at Great Adventure was the Round-Up ride. It was assembled and in place before any concrete was poured and before any electrical service was available.
July 1981 March 1978 July 1, 1974
A bucket of popcorn, a box of soft pretzels, Italian ice, Juice Sippers, Icee's, Dr.Pepper, and a Coke - all classic snacks from the summer of 1981! Soon after acquiring Great Adventure, Six Flags began a park-wide campaign of enhancements and upgrades. The Skyride received a complete makeover with repainted stations, gondolas, and support columns, as well as a new sponsor - Delta Airlines. After just four short months of construction, Great Adventure opened its gates to the public for the first time on July 1st, 1974. The timeline to build the park was so short that the western area, then known as Rootin' Tootin' Rip Roarin', was still being completed.