After Philly, we took a short hop over to Jackson NJ to check out Six Flags: Great Adventure. Both Mike and I are coaster freaks and we do love checking out the biggest and baddest. When we lived in a sticks & bricks, we would try to visit Cedar Point Park (roller coast mecca) at least every 2-3 years to see what new coasters they had. Full-timing has given us the perfect opportunity to check out amusement parks we would never visit otherwise.
We have been to Great Adventure, but it’s been at least 7 or 8 years since we last visited so it was nice to check it out again. Being the beginning of July, I expected a lot more people at the park but it was relatively uncrowded which made for pretty fast lines (except at the newest and best attractions). Unfortunately it was about 95 degrees without a cloud in the sky, making for a brutal walk around the park.
Kingda Ka (tallest coast in the world, fastest in North America) is one of those hydraulically-launched coasters that starts with a long straightaway then shoots you up up up and over a tight turn and back down. We visited Cedar Point for the first one built (Top Thrill Dragster) in 2003 but this one felt faster on the straightaway. Kingda Ka reaches 128mph in 3.5 seconds WHICH IS AWESOME! If you enjoy coasters, this is definitely one to visit.
Great Adventure’s newest thrill ride is Zumanjaro, a drop ride mounted on Kingda Ka. Since it was just released this summer, it doesn’t open to the general public until noon (season pass holders can ride it as soon as the park opens). Since we were in that section of the park early in the day we decided to skip it and check out the other rides.
Superman, ultimate flight is a steel coaster that has you riding on your stomach looking down. The first uphill is extremely disconcerting as you are looking straight down with only harnesses holding you in place (as opposed to a steel car or seats). The rest of the ride is fantastic and the change in position makes the G-forces during the loops and turns very unexpected. Front seats are best for a good view, otherwise you see a lot of shoes/feet during the ride.
Nitro, a steel coaster is one very similar to Apollo’s Chariot (in Busch Gardens Williamsburg). It’s a mega steel coaster with only a lap harness and some great hills and turns. It’s smooth and a good length for a steel coaster. These mega coasters with the lap harnesses are fast becoming our favorite type of coaster because it’s smooth, fast, and doesn’t shake your head everywhere. Bizarro, a floorless steel coaster, has some great turns, rolls, and inversion. We also rode on Green Lantern, the stand-up coaster, and Batman, their suspended coaster (always ride the front seat on suspended coasters). All the coasters were a lot of fun and definitely worth riding, especially since most of the lines were no longer than 5–10 minutes. Unfortunately El Toro, their wooden coaster was closed for the day so we couldn’t ride that one.
Six Flags Great Adventure is a huge park with a lot of great rides. The major issue I have with that park is the layout. Most parks have a layout that leads you from one area to another. Not only is it difficult to find specific areas at Great Adventure, their map is almost useless. At one point Mike and I were looking at the map and a park employee came up to us to ask what we were looking for. The employee admitted the map is pretty awful and it’s just easier to ask someone how to get to a specific area.
As with all amusement parks, you cannot bring any items onto the rides. In the past, you simply put your stuff in a bin by the trains and picked it up on your way out. Six Flags doesn’t do that anymore, you have to place your belongings into a locker by the entrance of the ride. A one-time use locker costs $1 for two hours, a full-day locker costs $13. I think other parks may be doing this too now but it was a bit of a shock that we had to pay for a locker every time we wanted to ride.
These were really the only two issues we ran into at the park. The rides were great, the lines were short, and we had a good time screaming ourselves hoarse.
Mike’s perspective: Great Adventure was the closest large amusement park to Long Island where I grew up, so it was where I had been most often until leaving Lond Island at age 25. I expected to feel nostalgic upon returning, but the park has changed so much in the last 20 years that it may as well have been a brand new park—I didn’t recognize anything. It was a fantastic day and I had a blast, even with the somewhat painful weather. Nitro gets my vote for favorite ride at the park, although there were many excellent and enjoyable rides throughout the day.Mike
Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson NJ