Every park needs an entrance to control the flow of traffic as well as to set the tone for the park that lies beyond, and impressive structures have often been created to serve this purpose.
|Great Adventure's Safari was an important part of the overall park complex, initially as popular or even more popular than the Enchanted Forest theme park. In the 1970's traditional zoos began to be looked on as passť as the public began to recognize that animals should be in larger habitats that more closely resembled their native environments. Around the world safari parks began to sprout up, inviting guests to go through areas where the animals ran free while the people were confined to vehicles. Warner LeRoy's vision for Great Adventure meant that not just any Safari would do, so he set out to create the "World's Largest Drive Through Safari outside of Africa".
entrance was required for the world's largest safari, so a massive toll
plaza was constructed. The entrance plaza was able to accommodate eight
lanes of traffic to handle the huge crowds that were expected.
Four small ticket sales booths were connected with a massive roof structure which provided shade and shelter from the rain for guests and employees. The entire structure was clad in rustic rough-hewn log sections to give it the "wild" appearance of a safari hut. The other structures in the Safari were clad in the same log veneer.
|To top off the plaza a giant set of "SAFARI" letters were added to the top of the roof. The letters were also clad in rustic wood to continue the feel of the Safari motif. In the 1990's the roof was re-shingled to replace rotten wood and the "SAFARI" sign was painted with yellow and black stripes to make it stand out more. During the short-lived "Winter Lights" events the "SAFARI" sign was re-created in lights (guests drove through the Safari entrance as part of the drive through light show without entering the Safari park).
|For the 2004 season, the original "SAFARI" letters were removed and a new, more colorful sign was added to the roof of the plaza. This new sign reflected the "new" name given to the Safari as it officially became "Six Flags Wild Safari" to help in creating the three separate park identities at Six Flags Great Adventure.
seasons there have been many minor changes to the entrance plaza, with
updated signs each year as prices and ticket packages changed.
Starting around 2010, the entrance plaza's role changed from being just a ticket sales window to also serving as the ticket taking window. Prior to this time, tickets were sold at the plaza but collected at the foot of the Safari entrance. Guests with pre-purchased tickets and season pass holders were allowed to bypass the plaza. With the new configuration, ticket checks were now done upfront at the entrance plaza.
|To compliment the entrance plaza, banners were always hung from the flagpoles mounted on the front corners of the building. Throughout the seasons those banner have been changed several times, sometimes being simple animal prints like zebra stripes or giraffe spots, and other times being more traditional flags with animals on them.
|Decorative paint and trim touches on the toll booths have also changed over time, with colorful little details adding visual interest to the otherwise simple structures.
Throughout thirty nine seasons, the Safari entrance plaza has welcomed
millions of guests as they began their adventure, getting up close and
personal with the hundreds of free- roaming animals inside the park.
After all those seasons, the Safari remained the "World's Largest Drive-Through Safari Outside of Africa", and on September 30, 2012, the final guest driven vehicles passed through the gates as the Wild Safari closed for a transformation.
For the 2013 season, the Safari was combined into the theme park with the new "Safari Off-Road Adventure" tour which will use special vehicles to transport guests through the animal habitats.
|To supplement the ticket booths,
an additional booth was added sometime after 1976, allowing for a ninth
traffic lane into the Safari. This extra booth was one of the original
Enchanted Forest ticket booths that had been removed when the theme
park's entrance was relocated.