• Spring for a great adventure

    My family was in the mood for something fun and exciting to do for Spring Break this year so we loaded up the RV for a road trip to spend a couple of days at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ. We drove through the night and arrived at the park about an hour before opening. This is the largest of the Six Flags parks and includes a Wild Safari that you can drive through or take a ride on the park's Safari Express. Either option is an additional charge although most season passes include the drive through Safari.

    Since this is early spring for the north, it is not unusual for amusement parks to have their water rides and attractions closed. Most shows also only run during the peak summer months, so we were only able to experience some of the rides and attractions. We saved the Wild Safari for our next visit to the park.

    Since we bought season passes and were getting them processed before the end of the month, we got a free parking pass for the season. With a normal rate of $20 per car or $25 for buses and RVs, it was a nice touch and helped keep the cost of our trip down.

    From the parking lot, it is hard to miss the 456 foot tall Kingda Ka roller coaster. Since its construction in 2005, it has continued to retain the title of the tallest roller coaster in the world. It also held the record for the fastest roller coaster at 128 miles per hour until 2010.

    Who wants to stay in the parking lot looking at the skyline when there is so much fun to be had in the park? Let's head into the park! One change this year is the separation between the metal detectors and the admission turnstiles. That appeared to make it easier to get through the front gate, especially at park opening. We also appreciated the partnership between Six Flags and Discover. A quick flash of our discover card allowed us to use the much shorter Discover turnstile for an orange carpet experience.

    We're always looking for the best deal when we travel and this trip was no exception. Season passes were the best deal for us, so we went to get them processed. Having had season passes at numerous parks, we found that this was the easiest, most efficient season pass processing that we have ever experienced.

    Season pass holders also get early entry into the Boardwalk section of the park, enabling them to get in line early for Superman Ultimate Flight and Green Lantern. Both of those roller coasters tend to have long lines during the day so it's best to ride them early on if you don't want to wait for an hour or two. Superman is by far the best flying coaster that I have ridden to date. Throughout a majority of the ride you have a sense of flying through the air and the course is laid out well.

    Green Lantern was next on our list. It is a stand up coaster that was relocated to Six Flags Great Adventure in 2011 from the former Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. This ride is very smooth with some great elements and a few surprising moments of air time. It is a great addition to the park. Before getting in line for this ride, I was finally able to meet one of my friends and coworkers from ThrillNetwork.com, Leo C. This is his home park and he joined us for this ride.

    Not to be missed in the Boardwalk is the Parachute Training Center. This is a gentle ride that takes you up 250 feet with great views of the park before bringing you back to earth, simulating a parachute drop. If you don't mind vertical spinning, you can take a spin on The Twister located next to it.

    You will also find plenty of food to eat, games to play, and stores to shop in along the Boardwalk. In this area you can enjoy attractions that are available for an additional fee including the Sky Coaster Dare Devil Dive, Slingshot, go karts, and a rock climbing wall.

    Adjacent to the Boardwalk is The Golden Kingdom. Here is the aforementioned Kingda Ka roller coaster, a Splash Water Oasis for the kids, the Safari Express, as well as numerous shops and food stands.

    On the way to Plaza del Carnaval, you'll want to stop and check out Coasters & Candy. How can you go wrong with two of my favorite things?

    In this section of the park you will find two wooden coasters, Rolling Thunder and El Toro. The two pictures are both of El Toro, which is my favorite wooden roller coaster. It has the tallest drop of any current operating wooden coaster at 176 feet at a remarkable 76 degree vertical angle. The big, steep drop contributes to it being the fastest currently operating wooden coaster hitting a top speed of 70 miles per hour. It is no wonder that this coaster continues to remain at or near the top of the list for every recognized wooden coaster poll.

    Next we head over to Frontier Adventures. Here you will find more places to eat, a log flume, Northern Star Arena, two roller coasters, and Bugs Bunny National Park with rides for the little ones. You can also board the Skyway cable cars that will take you over to the Lakefront section of the park.

    We picked up lunch at Best of the West restaurant one day. They have a great family meal deal with 12 chicken strips, fries, and four drinks. The food was good and while it was a good deal for $40, we saved even more with a $5 off coupon from our season pass coupon books. Add to that the 5% discount from using our Discover, we were all full and satisfied at less than $9 per person after taxes.

    Bizarro is one of the roller coasters in this area. It was the first floorless steel coaster produced and remains the best in its class with a nice surprise of air time and smooth elements throughout the course. There are some fun themed elements throughout the queue line to observe while you wait in the fast moving line so be sure to take a look around.

    Also located in this section is the classic Runaway Mine Train family roller coaster that has been here since the park opened in July of 1974.

    Moving on, we head back across the park and arrive at Fantasy Forest. One ride that is a must is Houdini's Great Escape. It is a certainly a unique experience and one we will certainly talk about for years to come. I don't want to ruin your fun by describing it in detail. If you are prone to vertigo like I am, be sure to have a motion sickness pill handy as you may need it after this. I would do it again regardless, it was that good.

    You will also find a carousel that dates back to the 19th century, a giant teacup ride, and a few more dining choices. You certainly can't miss the Great Lake Grandstand that offers shows presented on the lake during the summer season.

    We continue our adventure in the park by walking past Dolphin Discovery, a summer show featuring dolphins ,and into the Lakefront section of the park. The centerpiece of this section is Skull Mountain, an indoor dark coaster. While it was an enjoyable experience, we have been on a few dark coasters and would have liked to see some creative theming inside the ride. That would have added greatly to the ride experience. Also in this section is the other station for the Skyway cable cars, the Jolly Roger spinning ride, and Buccaneer, a traditional swinging pirate ship. There certainly is a nice balance of amusement rides at Six Flags Great Adventure.

    Make sure you don't overlook Blackbeard's Lost Treasure Train. This is a classic Zierer family roller coaster with a train that is 20 cars long. Yes, you heard me correctly, 20 cars. This is the longest roller coaster train I have ever seen and my entire family had a blast on it.

    After finishing up the rides in the Lakefront section, we headed into Adventure Seaport. Here you will discover Looney Tunes Seaport and Safari Kids Area. Both places have a variety of rides for your younger thrill seekers. During the summer time you can also cool off on the Congo Rapids ride. You certainly can't miss the hyper roller coaster, Nitro. Standing at 230 feet tall with a first drop of 215 feet, it is an exciting coaster with a nice balance of air time and intensity. In Adventure Seaport you will also find a safari souvenir shop and a variety of food stands.

    Right around the corner is Movietown. There is a shop, a restaurant, two coasters, Movietown Arena, and Showcase Theater. The Dark Knight Coaster is a Wild Mouse coaster with a twist. It is highly themed to a subway from a Batman movie and located entirely indoors. This is our new family favorite mouse coaster and we were fortunate to be able to experience it a few times during our trip.

    Right across the plaza from it, behind the Batmobile, is Batman The Ride. It is a standard steel inverted coaster that is nice and smooth with a good balance of intensity.

    Next we move on to Adventure Alley. This area is easy to find with the 150 foot tall Big Wheel as its center piece. You will also find classic rides such as a scrambler and bumper cars here. More shopping and dining is available .

    The new for 2012 Sky Screamer is under construction and coming along nicely. It is sure to be a thrill as you swing 24 stories in the air when it opens in late spring.

    We have circled our way back to Main Street and the entrance to the park. You can do any last minute shopping here and pick up a sweet treat or two as you get ready to leave the park for the day. Or are you ready to take another trip around the park and ride some of your favorites again?

    Either way, a day at Six Flags Great Adventure is exactly that, a great adventure with a nice blend of amusement park and theme park with plenty of thrills, rides, and excitement for kids of all ages. We were certainly overly pleased with the fair prices we found on merchandise and food at our first full experience with a Six Flags park.

    Visual Check. All clear. Have a safe trip home!

    Please check out the video overview of our trip to Six Flags Great Adventure.

    Comments 10 Comments
    1. Leo C -
      More clear and concise than I ever am. I like the pace of the story with the pictures.

      The changed skyline in 2012 from the Main Street fountain.

      It was a pleasure to ride the Green Lantern with you to get you another credit. The Blackbeard Treasure Train is a nice two cycle double figure 8 family coaster. I usually get a cycle every visit. Having Runaway Mine Train with its one lift for so many years I didn't realize for awhile many of the primitive Arrow mine trains had multiple lifts. I thought Rolling Thunder ran well for the opening of the season. El Toro is a beast. Bizarro is pretty good. I appreciate site members coming to check out my homepark. I wish it wasn't as cold but I'm glad you had a good stay in New Jersey. I wish you could have seen the Golden Kingdom in its full glory. It's in its second season in smaller capacity since the tiger show arena and captivity pens got rearranged as a small animal exhibit.

      I'm sure when Antoine is back from vacation he'll join in our bowing to this nice picture of NITRO.
      Usually NITRO runs out to a lake but the hurricane at the end of last summer broke the dam and drained that lake.

      Was one of Great Adventure's coasters your 100th credit?

      A pic from the first day of my new season that same week. The new Skyscreamer swing tower is in the background.
    1. Hank -
      I REALLY enjoyed reading your story!
    1. Rick B -
      Thanks, gentlemen! We planned it so that El Toro was #100 for me. I'm right on track to hit 125 this year.
    1. Leo C -
      Sweet! It worked out. El Toro as a 100th credit: OLE!!!!
    1. Rick B -
      Ole! Too bad I forgot to get a picture taken with my 100 sign. Oh well, I do have PhotoShop and can make it happen. It looks like Josh B is way better at PhotoShop than I am anyway.
    1. Leo C -
      I thought about your sign while I waited in a half filled first row queue. They really rush loading Toro. They just about jog doing it. Since they are half way between Philadelphia and New York I may say they run the loading like a New York minute. I'm not sure if it could have been pulled off with how strict they run it. Maybe if you had a zip up pocket you could immediately put the camera back into.
    1. Antoine -
      Small intermission from my vacation. Yeah I liked that picture of Nitro and the full write up of the park. It is a great park and I think one of the best out there too. I am actually ashamed to say that I have never been on Houdini's Great Escape though and I haven't the faintest clue why either. I'll have to change that in June for sure!
    1. Leo C -
      My shame Antoine is I never went to the tiger show when it was at the Golden Kingdom. I went to the one at Clementon Park for years. I'm sure I last rode Congo Rapids 5 years ago.
    1. Thunderhawk -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rick B View Post
      Thanks, gentlemen! We planned it so that El Toro was #100 for me. I'm right on track to hit 125 this year.
      My hat is off to you for picking the best wooden coaster in the world for your 100th credit. My 100th credit was... *sigh*... Rebel Yell left side. El Toro was my 82nd credit. It's okay though. Ravine Flyer II was my 200th and it was amazing.

      I went to the Tiger Show in the Golden Kingdom its last year. I thought it was very well done and it is a shame they no longer run it.
    1. Antoine -
      Quote Originally Posted by Leo C View Post
      My shame Antoine is I never went to the tiger show when it was at the Golden Kingdom. I went to the one at Clementon Park for years. I'm sure I last rode Congo Rapids 5 years ago.
      Shoot, you doing better than me. I'm not sure if I rode Congo Rapids at all this decade! The last time I can honestly remember being on it was with a HS crush of mine way back in 1995. I may have been on it since then, but I am drawing a blank on when.