Large parks which draw big crowds often need vast parking areas for the thousands of guests who visit each day. The bigger the park, the bigger the parking lot, and the longer the walk to get to the entrance. Most parks offer shuttle service to help their guests get to and from their cars.
|When Great Adventure opened in
1974, the huge parking lot was separated from the Enchanted Forest theme
park with a thick row of trees to create a visual break between the cars
and the park. A fleet of trams served to carry guests from the gravel
parking lot to the original entrance drop off loop. The park's first
trams were colorful and sort of futuristic looking. The Glide-a-Ride style trams were originally built for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair like several other pieces of equipment the park acquired including the Skyride and the park's first garbage cans.
|The original "tugs" or motor units for the Trams were more than ten years old and didn't appear to have lasted very long and seemed to have been updated with "tractor" style motor units after a short time. These tractors were the same kind found on airport tarmacs pulling baggage caravans when planes load and unload. By 1979, the tram cars were replaced as well with red and white side seating cars which came as part of a sponsorship deal with Firestone Tires & Car Care.|
|The red and white Firestone Trams
lasted for several years bringing thousands of guests to and from the
parking lot each day through the 1980's. With the loss of the Firestone
sponsorship contract the signage was removed, but the trams kept their
distinctive red and white colors.
In 1990's, the park changed ownership to Time Warner and in 1993 the Six Flags chain of trams were updated with a blue and white color scheme with matching flags and confetti decorations to go along with the new corporate look.
|Just like at the park's original entrance gate, when Great Adventure's entrance was moved for the 1976 season the new entrance mall included a tram loop where the guests could be dropped off and picked up. The trams traveled across dedicated tram-only traffic lanes which divided the massive parking lot into thirds. These lanes for the trams were segregated from the lot by concrete parking bumpers strung end to end which made it impossible for car traffic to enter the tram lanes while assuring guests a quick delivery to all the fun that awaited them in the park.|
|In addition to the theme park's front gate tram stop, multiple stops dotted the main parking lot, and an additional tram spot was located at the Safari Hospitality Center. Guests wishing to experience the Safari Park's Tour Bus could take the tram to the Center without having to move their car. Once their bus tour was over, they could return to the tram stop and take the tram back to either the theme park entrance or to their car.|
|Over time, a wide
selection of vehicles were put in operation, some being imported from other
Six Flags parks and others appearing to be leased for trials at the
park. These included additional tug-pulled models, trolley style
cars, Chance Ride's Tramstar models powered by Ford, and fully enclosed
With the addition of the Hurricane Harbor water park in 2000, shuttle buses began to play a larger role in transporting guests especially given the distance and road network between the theme and water parks.
|Some of the tram
vehicles went on to a second life in the parks beyond their use as actual
For many years the "tug" tractors that had been pulling parking trams were utilized within the park to haul wheeled dumpsters around at night carrying the trash to the compactors for disposal.
The "trolley" style trams went on to become parade floats in the park carting the Looney Tunes cast as part of the Meet the Characters presentation and Summer Celebration Parade. One of them even was used as a part of the Fright Fest decorations.
|Formal "Shuttle Service Routes" were introduced in 2007 with the Red Line serving the Theme Park, Water Park, and Guest Drop-off/Pick-up stops. The Green Line offered continuous service between the Theme Park and Safari.|
|Several of the park's shuttle fleet also provided a replacement to Safari Tour Bus first introduced in 1974. These Wild Safari Tours offered an alternative to guests who wanted a chauffeured trip through the Drive Thru Safari.|
|With the advances in
technology to create vehicle wraps, the Safari tour buses and shuttles
have often been decked out in bright colors and bold patterns.
Sponsorships from the M&M Mars Candy Company has resulted in very
colorful M&M and Skittles branded wraps for the shuttle vehicles.
The remaining tram vehicles which haven't been sent to other parks or sold sit in the Employee Parking Lot waiting for their next call to service or repurposing for some other use on the property.
Today, a dedicated fleet of tram trains is a thing of the past and the only way to get from your car to the theme park gates is to walk. While shuttles still operate, they are sometimes handled by third party vehicle providers which even include school buses.
|Original Spotlight: September 20, 2021. GAH Reference#: FEAT-1974-001|