It had been 13 years since TheWife and I set foot in Great Adventure (tad bit of trivia, our first date was a trip to Great Adventure, since The Monkees were in concert there that evening).Â So, despite having formerly been “masters” of navigating the place (meaning in those years we went there way too often), we no longer had any idea what was still there, or what to expect.
Now, I don’t know if it was because of the “holiday” week of July 4th, but we were simply amazed by the lack of people in the park.Â Throughout our day there, we had to wait on line for a grand total of 2 rides, well actually I had to wait on line for 2, as the girls did not go on the Batman Roller Coaster, so the only real line we had to wait for was the Log Flume.
While planning this excursion I was pleased to see they had implemented a “FlashPass” program (similar to FastPass for those familiar with Disney World and Disneyland).Â What was disappointing, was to find out that their FlashPass was not included with your theme park admission, and actually cost $36 (for the first person) and up.Â Fortunately, I opted against this additional cost, and since the lines were short to very short for most of the rides we were interested in, this really would have been a waste of money.Â I guess if you want to spend your day on the big roller coasters (Great Adventure may very well be one of the best Roller Coaster Parks I have been to, with Rides like Kingda Ka (World’s Tallest and Fastest Roller Coaster), the now somewhat dated Great American Scream Machine, and many others.) If you intend to spend the day with rides such as those, then perhaps the extra money may be worth it on a crowded day, as the lines can wind up being an hour or more each, but if you are not a thrill seeker, or are going with children in tow where you will be spending more time on smaller rides, the additional expense may not (and most likely won’t in my opinion) be worth it.
There is far less advertising around the park than there was when I last went.Â That is not to say there isn’t any, but years ago, you couldn’t look in any direction before without seeing a sponsored by sign, or advertisement.Â However, the concessions now are all “brand named.”Â Where you had the ice cream palor and Pizza Stand, you now see a Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, a Papa John’s Pizza, and so on.Â This is not necessarily a bad thing as some of the food was actually better than the junk I remember, but the blatant advertising of it is something of a distraction (to me at least).
It is obvious that they are taking some cues from Disney, and renaming section (or worlds or whatever you want to call them), in a very similar fashion.Â It now sports a “Movietown Section”Â (think Disney-MGM studios), a couple of Looney Tunes section (think Magic Kingdom Fantasyland and toontown), the only things original is the new Wiggles World section.
Speaking of Wiggles World, my daughter was greatly disappointed with this.Â Now she has for the most part outgrown the Wiggles, and the stated age range for the area is like 2 – 6 years old, but at 7 I thought she would find some interesting things here.Â One ride.Â That was it.Â Everything else was clearly for the closer to 3 or 4 year old.
The park was clean, although some parts looked a bit old and tattered and a bit dated.Â Though they like to bill themselves (or they did in ads some years back), “Bigger than Disneyland and a whole lot closer,”Â they don’t hold a candle to Disneyland (and are a world away from Disney World).
Our favorite rides of the day were Congo River (formerly Roaring Rapids) which is a large “boat” of 8 people riding down the “rapids.”Â They use blocks to help shorten the ride a bit, and took away some of the “scenery” around the ride, but since this ride is about going down the rapids, and getting wet, it is still a fun ride.
Movietown Water Scene (Formerly SplashwaterFalls) is similar to any “Flume” ride, except the boat holds far more people than most, there is only one drop to the ride, but that one drop will get you soaked.Â The exit of the ride, also gives you a second opportunity to get soaked as it goes directly over the “splashdown” point of the ride.
The Log Flume, yes another water ride (seeing a trend).Â This old favorite has been around since almost the beginning of Great Adventure 45 years ago, and it shows.Â It is tattered, and worn looking.Â But it still gets you wet, and is still a fun ride for people of all ages.
The Runaway Train was the largest roller coaster that LatteGirl could go on (at 44″ she is either 4″ or 6″ shy of the remainder of the big coasters).Â It was larger and faster than anything she has ridden thus far.Â She absolutely loved it.Â Like the log flume, the exterior of this ride looks a bit weather worn, but since it is supposed to be part of an “old mine” it actually doesn’t look as “odd” to be dull and worn as the Log Flume.
Some tattered appearance around the edges aside, tt is still a great amusement park in its own rights, and while I wouldn’t tell anybody not to go to the park, I wouldn’t base a vacation around it either.Â For a daytrip (or two with their “bounceback passes”, which give you a second day in the park for $15), it is certainly worth it.Â If you are a roller coaster enthusiast, you will LOVE it, but for everybody else, it is a good place if you like an amusement park.