Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey, USA
Great Adventure has always been a park that I didn't care for. My last visit to the park was 2005 or 2006, when Kinda Ka was new. The ride had been closed for a while because they couldn't figure out how to get it working after building it. I read on the website that it was finally open, so I took off from my old home in State College, PA, and drove six hours only to find that it was closed.
Since then I moved to the southern part of West Virginia. Great Adventure was much too far for me to attempt a visit, and frankly, I was so disappointed in the park for so long that I didn't really care to visit anyways.
But I still really wanted to try out Kinda Ka, and the other new coasters that the park built since my last visit, including fan-favorite El Toro. I planned a New Jersey beach vacation to Wildwood, taking my mother and aunt along. I had always wanted to go to Wildwood, so this was to be this years big week-long vacation. Great Adventure was only two hours away from the hotel, so I figured I would take the advice of the many people on CoaterBuzz and give the park one more chance. I have been told repeatedly that the park has turned around.
I booked my hotel months ago, around January. I was sure that the new drop ride would be open by mid-June. Surely it would. Surely. I mean how long could it take to attach a track to an existing structure anyways? Surely I would get to ride Kingda Ka if I book my hotel and requested vacation time and saved up my hard-earned money for mid-June. Surely.
As the weeks approached, I watched intently every day to see if it may be possible for me to ride Kinda Ka this time around. The closer it got to my vacation, the less likely it seemed that my Kinda Ka dreams would come true. Internet videos of the new drop ride testing were posted on Friday. My vacation began on Sunday. I watched the internet for signs online that the ride would open, and thus Kinda Ka would be open while I was in the area. It did not look good at all.
I bought my park ticket a month ago, so I might as well have used it. At least I could try out El Toro.
So I rush through the morning to get to the park. I planned to go on a Thursday, on purpose, because I have always encountered huge crowds at this park, and Thursdays always seem like the best day to go for low crowds at any park. I wanted to try and find the right day to go without having to get a FlashPass.
I pulled into the parking lot, paid the ridiculous $25 parking fee, and found a spot close to the entrance. My first disappointment was noticing a sea of teenagers as far as the eye could see in all directions. Busloads of them were walking towards the park entrance. I like kids, but thousands of them screaming and showing off in front of each other is kind of annoying, plus they take up space in line. I shrugged it off and proceeded to the front gate.
I got in line for the mandatory metal detectors that keeps everyone safe. There were only about ten screaming teenagers in front of me, but it took forever to get through. The security person opened my wallet and counted my money, oddly. She then checked each one of my keys and was thrilled to find a bottle opener that contained a small folding knife attached to my key chain. She informed me that I could walk the dangerous half-inch long knife to my car, get back in line, and try again, or I could allow her to keep it forever without returning it back to me at the end of the day. I let her keep it. Safety first. I shrugged it off.
It took a half an hour to get into the front gate. I knew Kinda Ka would probably not open today because the park was building an exciting new attraction around it. I shrugged it off and sprinted to El Toro. It was a half-hour after the park opened, and El Toro was closed. I thought that maybe it was just not ready to open so I waited in the line outside the queue. About ten minutes later, I hear an announcement that the ride is down. "Will this be down all day," I wonder to myself. I shrugged it off, and moved on.
I decided not to sprint anymore. What's the use in sprinting if there is not an exciting destination to sprint towards? I walked to Madusa, I mean Bizarro. I already rode Madusa back in the day. Bizarro is the same ride, except it is themed to Superman's nemesis and supposedly has some added special effect.
As I walk towards Bizarro, a pack of teenagers are walking away from Bizarro. I overhear one of them scream, Bizarro is closed too!" to one of his buddies. I thought that he must be kidding, so I go there anyways, only to find it to be true. I asked the ride attendant guarding the ride entrance why it is closed, and he replies that a speaker is not working. I shrugged it off.
At least the painful kiddy mine train was open! After about a twenty minute wait, I boarded a very painful and bumpy mine ride. No Sir, I don't like it.
Where should I go now? What rides might be open? I walked to Green Lantern. 45 minute wait? Nope. I walked to the Skyscreamer really tall swing-in-a-circle ride. Long line full of teenagers.
The next attraction I went to was the guest service window. I wanted to ask if Kingda Ka was going to open at all today. The grumpy lady behind the window told me of course not. She also informed me that the new drop ride will not be ready until mid-July. I shrugged it off and walked to the Flash Pass building. My day was going to get a lot better.
The nice young boy working the entrance to Flash Pass tried a few times to talk me out of getting a Flash Pass, oddly. "They are calling for thunder storms all day long," he said more than once. "We can't give you a refund if the rides close for thunder storms." He also told me many times, "The park is really not so busy." I should have listened to him, because later in the day, wait times were zero minutes for most rides.
I opted for the Gold Flashpass, which cut my zero minute wait time in half. As soon as I bought my Flash Pass, I was informed that both El Toro and Madusa, along with a few other rides that I didn't know were down, were now open. Isn't that convenient? If all rides were open when the park opened, lines would have been shorter, and perhaps they would not have rented as many Flash Passes. I shrugged it off.
And from that moment on, my day at Six Flags was slightly fun. I consider that moment to be the beginning of my Six Flags visit. Consider this to be the beginning of my trip report. From here on, it's not a play-by-play, rather I will give my general impressions...
El Toro. New to me. I heard a lot about this ride. It's at the top of many coaster polls. I had high expectations. It did not disappoint. I rode many times, and while the back is the most intense, I prefer the front.
It wasn't the very greatest roller coaster I have ever been on. I still prefer the Beast for the length and sustained excitement. El Toro's exciting moments were quick surprises, which were really fun. It was very smooth and very intense. I liked it a lot.
Bizarro. Somewhat new to me. This used to be Madusa, but was rethemed. I rode Madusa previously, and enjoyed it a lot. Of course Bizarro is just as fun as a coaster, however, I expected some kind of fire effect on the ride, which I did not see. I also expected some sound coming from speakers on the train, which I didn't not hear. The obstacles that were put along the course were kind of interesting. I thought that the retheme would improve the ride, but it was pretty close to being the same kind of experience that it used to be. Great ride anyways.
The Dark Knight indoor mouse coaster. New to me. Imagine a standard mouse coaster like the ones at Hersheypark and Busch Gardens Tampa enclosed in a building with a few scenes depicting Gothem City building facades. I don't think I saw Batman or the Joker at all in this ride. It was kind of lame. I think it would have been cooler if the theme were removed and the coaster put outdoors, because the theme is a failure, and this is coming from a huge Batman fan.
Green Lantern. New to me. I've yet to visit Kentucky Kingdom, so I never got to ride this when it was there. I was excited to give it a shot and compare it to Cedar Point's Mantis, because they both have similar, but not identical layouts. I was first kind of worried that I would not be allowed to ride, because I saw a sign that read that all earrings would have to be removed. For me, that would be nearly impossible without losing my earrings because of my particular jewelry's design. I noticed the people coming off the ride and noticed that no one was fidgeting with their earrings. I found out from a guy coming off the ride that it was not an issue; that they didn't tell him to take his out.
I rode in the front, one time. It was a really fun ride, and probably more fun than Mantis, however, it was painful to my tired, overworked feet. I really enjoyed it tough. It was interesting to me that I was somewhat familiar with the layout except a mirror image. This made it predictable but different.
SkyScreamer really high swing-in-a-circle ride. New to me. Fun! I think it's 260 feet high, so it's very thrilling just being held up there by some chains an a seat. Scary and fun. Not too intense. The park looked really nice from this height.
Safari Off-Road Adventure. New to me too. This took a lot of time, but it was a great break from riding the coasters, and a great getaway from the crowds. You board onto a large army truck type vehicle with about 20 or 30 people, and it drives you around the old Safari that people used to be able to drive their cars around. This is a much better arrangement, in my opinion, because it's nice to let someone else do the driving, plus, you get a narrator. Halfway through the ride, you are let off in an up-close animal area where you can see giraffes, reptiles, farm animals, and more. This area also has a few pay attractions, like feeding giraffes and a small zip line over the bears. The halfway stop also has a gift shop, restrooms, and a snack bar. Oh, and all the animals were really cute.
One big problem with the Safari though is that the road is extremely bumpy in some places. Near the end of the ride, the truck hit a pothole so hard that it hurt my back for the rest of the day. It was still fun though and maybe they could fill in the potholes someday to make this attraction even better.
The following rides were not new to me. Briefly...
Skull Mountain is really fun for it's size. I'd love to ride it with the lights on. The waterfall effect was not working. I noticed a few small black light displays throughout the ride this time, which were not there a hundred years ago when I last visited the park.
Nitro was nice. It was very intense in the helix; enough to cause me to delightfully gray out. It's interesting to see what led up to the much more fun Diamondback at Kings Island.
Superman was a lot of fun. I still find the riding orientation to be awkjward, but it feels a lot safer and more secure than the Vekoma flyers like Kings Island and Six Flags America has. I rode in the middle, and found the pretzel upside-down inverted loop-on-your-back to be kind of pleasant. Kind of short, but it's a lot of fun.
The Saw Mill Log Flume was okay. I live for log flumes. I love them. I love to ride them over and over and over again. The flume at Great Adventure is nice in that it is a classic. I love it. It feature two splashless drops after the first lift hill and a large drop after the second lift. The problem with the ride is that it needs some maintenance attention. Going up each lift hill is very bumpy, for some reason. Also, there was a huge pothole going down the second drop that really hurt. It is a huge pothole and very noticeable. A piece of scrap attached over the pothole would fix that problem right away, as far as understand. I still rode the ride four or five times.
The Houdini ride is still an awesome illusion. I wish more parks had a ride like this.
Where did I eat? I never had Johnny Rockets before, so I tried it. It was pretty good, but they don't have pickles. No big deal. I got a milkshake instead of a soda pop, so I paid a lot more. It was over $20 for my meal. No big deal. I enjoyed it.
Later in the day I ate at an Asian food restaurant in the boardwalk area. It is not on the park map online, so I don't know for sure the name of it, but I think it was called Chicken Express. The service was excellent. The chicken nuggets were not very good, but were replaced with some delicious General Tso's chicken by a very friendly man who appeared to be the manager or even owner.
Overall impressions of the park...
I had an okay time, even though Kind Ka and the new drop ride were still not open for the season. The park is extremely expensive with the $25 parking fee. The rides and buildings seem run down and in need of replacing. El Toro's station is very cramped and has a terrible design which required people to push past each other to gain access into the back of the station. The layout was confusing in the middle of the park.
The food was expensive, but pretty good. The ride selection was decent. The Safari ride was a great getaway from the park.
I will probably never return to this park, because it is so far from home, and I just don't see it as a good value. I have a great time at Cedar Point, Kings Island, and Kennywood. Six Flags Great Adventure didn't have the same fun vibe that I get from other amusement parks. The Flash Pass worked fine, but I probably should not have rented it.
No rain all day, by the way. Also, even though it doesn't mean that no one was working on the new drop ride while I was there, I didn't see any construction going on at all all day long. Could Kinda Ka have been opened while I was there? I don't know, but I kingda don't care at this point. I'm just going to shrug it off.Last edited by LostKause, Monday, June 16, 2014 10:15 PM
We made our first trip ever on the Friday before Memorial Day. There were some lines (about 30 mins for Nitro & El Toro at the peak of the day), but overall the park was not crowded. Not many cars in the lot but lots of buses. When the buses left, the park was empty.
The trees make it a nice park, and I am sure it was even nicer in some areas (Movietown) before the trees were removed for attractions. Overall, it is very poorly laid out with several one-way in-and-out areas and many of the buildings look their age and feel dated. One area of the park (Old Country) has been entirely closed off now.
The $25 parking fee is sky-high. HOWEVER, Six Flags offers a season pass good at all parks WITH parking for $105 (at Great Adventure). If you are going to visit any Six Flags three times during they year, that is a HUGE bargain.
El Toro was down several times during the day when we went, but still got about 10 or 12 rides on it. Kingda Ka opened around 4PM that day. I think everything in the park was open that day except the incomplete drop tower.
El Toro lives up to the hype. I found Nitro better than Diamonback because of the 2 sharp diving turns and the full upward helix (Diamondback is only 3/4 of a helix). Bizarro and Skull Mt are nice rides too. The mine train is a great example of poor arrow transitions. It rides like a haywagon on square wheels.
The cable skyway there deserves special mention. Cable skyways are becoming rare, and they have a double version. They were even running all 4 cables of their amazing cable skyway, which was a site to see. This ride is 50 years old now as it was originally at the '64 worlds fair. It is nice that they have kept it operating.
The Off Road Safari is a great attraction for everyone. It is long, and good break from the coasters. Lots of up-close moments with the animals. I was surprised this was not an upcharge attraction considering the former drive through safari had a separate fee.
This park once had a some fantastic of flat rides, which have been removed (Jump, Evolution, Wave Swinger, Enterprise, Music Express, Frisbee, Breakdance etc).
The staff was very friendly and the park was clean, which I did not expect there. The only big negative of our visit is that they held everyone at the fountain until 10:30 then let the crowd stampede to whatever ride they were going to. It would make more sense to allow them to disperse through the park before the rides open rather than creating a mob like that.
Overall I would give this park about a 6.75/10. Pluses - good coaster collection, friendly employees, nice setting with lots of trees, clean, bargain season pass, rare skyway. Minuses - date buildings, poor layout, average flat ride collection, few live shows.Last edited by super7*, Monday, June 16, 2014 5:04 PM
^^ I hate the way Great Adventure does their entry at the beginning of the day. They don't indicate which gates they're even going to open, so if you line up at the wrong gate, you have to merge with another line, ticking everyone off. Plus, that rope drop herding thing IS stupid. I'm a fan of the park, and their season pass with parking is a tremendous deal, but their entrance procedures are disorganized and irritating.
That about sums up my experience at most Six Flags parks. "Better than sitting as home in front of the TV, but not by much." Though our family did have a great day at SFFT a few weeks ago (given that the only adult ride we wanted to get was Iron Rattler).
if you have a gold pass you get early entry so you dont have to deal with the stampede
Lost Kause - - - > I like the honesty and details of your report...but I was wondering if you could expand more on your time in Wildwood. I love that area (Not only for rides) and I wanted to know what you did and what you thought.
After I create my Wildwood video, I will write up a trip report here and post my video along with it. The short of it is that I had an amazing time at Morey's Piers. The atmosphere there was like if Kennywood was a carnival on the beach.
I haven't even started to make the video yet. There are a lot of clips, and it's probably going to take a while to make. Hopefully I'll have it done in a few days.
Thanks for the lengthy and detailed trip report. Sorry to hear that Zumanjaro and Kingda Ka were down. The next time I get exited about a new Intamin installation, I think I will schedule a trip for the year or two after it's opens.
I've learned to appreciate smaller parks more in the last decade or so. Morey's Piers and Wildwood are pretty high on my to do list. I'm sure that your video and TR will only add to my excitement. Thanks in advance.
Nice trip report. SFGadv is my home park, nice to read a park review from someone who doesn't go all the time and pointing out things I have been saying for yrs. SFGadv bldgs. have looked run down for yrs. and something you didn't mention was how cruddy the lake grandstand looked, another disgusting area of the park. e sorry you missed out on Ka. that's the 2nd best ride in the park behind el toro. you sure you heard correct of mid july for zumanjaro? I was at the park 3 days ago, and the said mid june? well I hope your info is wrong.
at least the park was open when you went. I planned a 4 day trip 2 weeks ago for coastermania at cedar point, and lost 2 days because of the water main break. and it took me 8 hrs each way driving from NJ. and on a side note, TTD was down all week and for coastermania.
if you have a gold pass you get early entry so you dont have to deal with the stampede
SFGadv early entry is a complete and utter JOKE. They let you in 10 min early and have ZERO attractions open. they need to get with the program and do what Disney, Cedar Point, Dorney, Kings Dominion, Universal, and many other parks do, and let you in early 1hr , to minimum 30 min, and have some rides opened for the season pass gold customers.
I know the whole issue of not having a new ride open to begin the season has been discussed and the general consensus seems to be "get over it," but this business of building a new drop ride in the tower of KK during the season, which results in having to close a marquee attraction, seems like a bad move. I haven't been following that closely so I may not know the details, but is KK closed until construction on the drop ride is finished? That seems crazy to me.
I know the whole issue of not having a new ride open to begin the season has been discussed and the general consensus seems to be "get over it," but this business of building a new drop ride in the tower of KK during the season, which results inhaving to close a marquee attraction, seems like a bad move. I haven't been following that closely so I may not know the details, but is KK closed until construction on the drop ride is finished? That seems crazy to me.
since memorial day weekend, SFgadv has supposedly been opening KK on weekends only. seems when they are not working on zumanjaro.
I find it unacceptable that cedar fair is able to have banshee open and the 2 new rides at the point open and ready to go, and SF cant get a new ride open, and its after memorial day. I heard six flags America still hasnt gotten the relocated wild mouse open. .Last edited by jetsplumber, Tuesday, June 17, 2014 10:19 AM
you sure you heard correct of mid july for zumanjaro? I was at the park 3 days ago, and the said mid june? well I hope your info is wrong.
I could have heard her wrong, however, I would think that she would give me a time frame of how many weeks if that were the case. She said "mid" and gave me a month, and I am about 99% sure the month she said was July. If she were to say say Mid-June, well, we are in mid-June, and she probably wouldn't have said it. If it were supposed to open sometime in mid-June, and I asked her on Thursday, June 12, she probably would have said that it was going to open within the next few weeks. So I'm not doubting myself about what I heard.
And another month is a pretty long time to get it opened. The middle of July is halfway through their operating schedule for the year. I'll shrug it off, however, that is ridiculous.
I remember the year Kingda Ka opened. It was closed more that year than it was opened.
Six Flags already attached an Intamin drop ride to an existing structure in CA, so you would think that this time around, it would be easy, and that they would already have all the bugs worked out.
At least you did get to ride El Toro and Bizarro after all. El Toro is worth the price of admission. They removed the soundtrack from Bizarro I guess last year. Too bad about Kingda Ka. You never know when the park in its infinite wisdom is going to operate it and it does seem to be somewhat volatile. I believe that after hurricane Sandy in 2012 it remained closed for the remainder of the season. I personally love this park, for both the rides and the ride ops. (I have found the ride ops to be great and last weekend one of them approached me because she'd noticed my Coasting For Kids T-shirt.) How many parks can boast both a wooden and steel coaster good enough to be on a top ten list? The only other park I can think of with both an outstanding wooden and steel coaster is Kings Island. True, the price of parking is outrageous. But as Bunky said, a season pass with parking is a great deal. I've now been to SFGAd 8 or 9 times this season and had I not had a season pass, I would have paid over $330 for admission alone.
The security person opened my wallet and counted my money, oddly.
You're a better man than I. I would have lost my s*** had someone looked in my wallet.
Did they indicate what their reasoning was for this? Is this standard procedure?
I had a similarly intrusive experience a couple of years ago at Six Flags New England. Had brought medication in a metal pillbox so of course had to take out the pillbox to get through the metal detector. The screener demanded that I open the pillbox and then demanded to know what kind of medication was in it. I thought about asking for a supervisor - as this was an invasion of privacy - but didn't b/c I wanted to enter the park without further delay. After that I switched to a plastic pillbox but this incident left me with negative feelings about the park.
Nice TR, trav - small note: Panda Express.
Just wanted you to know...since that might not have been chicken you ate... ;~P
Actually, gator, I don't think he was talking about Panda, as he mentioned this place was in the Boardwalk area. I think he's talking about a place over by the pathway to Golden Kingdom, although I'm unsure of the name.
I'm pretty sure it was called Chicken Express. It was in the Boardwalk section near Golden Kingdom. It had big Coke umbrellas outside with seating under them. There was indoor seating and it was air conditioned. Inside, there was maybe three different restaurants, and at least two of them were Asian food. They also had a sign for water ice, I think.
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