Thursday, July 29, 2010

Traveling Thursdays: Great Adventure Amusement Park



Disneyland has always been my favorite theme/amusement park, but since I grew up on the east coast, sometimes I had to settle for less. As of 1974, another option appeared on the scene besides Hershey Park: Great Adventure in New Jersey. This batch of photos is from a visit during the summer of 1982 before I went off to Indiana for college.

One of the coolest things about Great Adventure was that they had a drive-through safari, kind of like what they had in the classic horror flick “The Omen.” I remember that cars with vinyl tops were not allowed through, as the baboons (or some other animal) enjoyed ripping them up. Imagine driving through a street and the animals being able to come right up to the car. Looking back on it, this is really a wacky idea. Apparently, the 4.5 mile drive-through safari is still open today and contains about 1200 animals (and I’d like to know who takes THAT census!!).





At the time, the ferris wheel (called “The Giant Wheel”) was the biggest one in the world. Who says size doesn’t matter?? In addition, Great Adventure had a double sky ride that was originally from the 1964-65 New York World's Fair.



Two years after this photo was taken, the Haunted Castle was the scene of a very tragic accident. Eight teens were killed in a fire when one ignited his cigarette lighter in the dark rooms and it ignited the polyurethane padding on the walls. There was no emergency lighting, no fire extinguishers, no emergency exits, and no fire sprinklers.



The log flume attraction was tons of fun, and of course you had to pay to get the souvenir photo of you and your pals going down the huge drop:







Like Knott’s Berry Farm, there was a photo studio where you could dress up in old time costumes:





I don’t have too many specific memories of Great Adventure, other than thinking it was really cool that first summer that I went. It was clean, it was colorful, and there were a number of fun things to do. From what I have read, the original concept by founder Warner LeRoy (1974-1977) made it sound like an east coast version of Disneyland. By 1977, Six Flags had taken over and most of the ambitious initial plans were changed.

Follow my updates on Twitter. See more travel photos at my regular website.

6 comments:

TokyoMagic! said...

What fun pics! Thanks for sharing these.

So is the double sky ride from the fair still at this park? And did the Haunted Castle reopen after the fire?

Connie Moreno said...

I agree with TokyoMagic. Very cool!

Katella Gate said...

I remember the Haunted Castle accident from the time and was shocked that there were no provisions of any kind for the safety of the guests. I have no idea how they got away with it except payola.

trickortreat said...

I always look so stupid in the "souvenir of me screaming" photos, but you look pretty normal. About what year was the Haunted Castle fire?

Davelandweb said...

Chris - Not sure if the Skyway is still there or not; this 1982 trip was the last time I went to Great Adventure.

TrickorTreat: I believe the fire was in 1984.

ericpaddon said...

I have not been to Great Adventure in well over 25 years despite living only about 30 miles from it or so but this era I do remember well, especially when Jerry Lewis used to do the commercials singing a catchy jingle for the Park.