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Jungle Habitat

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Here are two interesting videos of Jungle Habitat in West Milford New Jersey that closed shortly after Great Adventure's Safari opened.

 

First, a great video of the park. It's interesting to see how similar their elephant area was to Great Adventure's:

 

And sadly, here's a presentation of the abandoned park in November 2007:

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Wow, I had no idea there was still so much left up there!

 

You know, it's really a shame Warner Brothers could never commit to their theme parks. First it was Jungle Habitat, which they had even announced they were going to expand into a full fledged theme park and never did (and then ended up closing), then when they bought Six Flags and really turned the parks back into themed experiences, but then lost interest and sold them off.

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Wow that place was pretty far darn north, that may have been a problem. With GAdv is more in the middle of the state where alot more people can get there (ie Philly, South NJ, Del, would have had a long drive to there). So GAdv is in a much better spot.

Edited by The Master

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Wow, I had no idea there was still so much left up there!

 

I always knew the place was just left abandoned but I thought some type of development might have occurred by now. Just like the castle in Hamburg, this place isn't that far from where I work either. I may never make it back from lunch! :rolleyes:

 

 

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Some friends and I have been up there a few times after first learning about its existence from Weird NJ. It was an interesting place to walk through when we were there. I know the are has come unde a much more watchful eye within the last few years as have most of those sites up in the West Milford area, so going is probably out of the question anymore with frequency. Certainly looks like it was an interesting experience as safari's are always fun and entertaining.

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I know Phil has it on his to do list for future fly-overs, so we should get some interesting shots of the ruins.

 

That reminds me, I need to send Phil a message about a fly-over.

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Awesome Phil's flyovers are always fun to take a look at. And I am sure Jungle Habitat would be interesting to take a look at from that perspective.

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Yes, Jungle Habitat IS on my shoot-list for the next nice day that I am in the area. I have sporadic pictures here and there of the area in general with of course the airport as the main element, but none of just the ruins.

 

I believe that the access roads to and from West Milford/Greenwood Lake were the demise of this park. My Dad tells me of a colleague of his said he waited on line for literally hours, just to get IN, and were even diverted onto the airport's taxi-way/runway because there were too many cars and just not enough parking areas. IMO, the only way that this park could have survived, especially if they were to expand, was if one of the two-lane roads was opened-up to a 4-lane thoroughfare.

 

I was there once as a child with my Mom and Grandmother, and we did drive thru the Safari. I distinctly remember the bumper to bumper traffic going thru in a HOT, un-airconditioned car. I also got to ride an Elephant and a Camel. Then my buddy and I drove there to explore back in the early 90's, when the huts, buildings and really neat bamboo/stick/whatever bridge was still intact. I only wish I took pictures back then like I do now wherever I go..... :(

 

GAcoaster - So, where's that message about the fly-over ??? :D

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It is too bad that the attraction did not survive as it was a great idea, just a bit ahead of its time really. If it wasn't for the fact that the place is in such dissarray now and the surrounding areas were so built up I would have said it would be nice to see it open at least in some way again.

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Jungle Habitat was first to offer the drive-thru safari park AND Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes gang to New Jersey audiences. Look at the size of Tweety's head! :blink:

 

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I didn't know that, but it is pretty nifty. Certainly is interesting to see how that safari's history and our park have a certain piece of their history entwined. :)

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Here is another video of Jungle Habitat:

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type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="350">

 

 

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Thank's for the update about the Jungle Habitat book coming out. I was never there back when it was open, but I would to love to go and see the ruins one day soon. A place like that would have to be a trip after the first frost this year to get rid of some of the growth in the woods, and it probably would be alot nicer in the Fall. I remember when our Safari's Big Cats were free roaming with the cars, but they never seemed to come close like the Jungle Habitat pics. I always liked going thru the gates when they worked, going into the diffrent area's in the Safari. Maybe it's time for a Safari Spotlight.

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I think for the times noone probably even though anything about the lions that close to the cars. Today there woulf be a huge uproar if something like that happen with lawsuits over damage to cars and emotional distress with animal rights groups getting shots in and it being blown up. Damn we live in an uptight world huh!

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The Monkey section was always the worst. If you went in with a vinyl top, it was half gone when you came out. They would also bend or break antenna's. One of the best things was having one sit on your mirror like a perch while feeding it cookies or whatever snack you had at the time. Diffrent world nowaday's though.

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Guest warnerleroy
Jungle Habitat was first to offer the drive-thru safari park AND Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes gang to New Jersey audiences. Look at the size of Tweety's head! :blink:

 

scan0034.jpg

 

I wonder if those costumes still exist or if they were ever re-used at GADV when they introduced the Looney Tunes Characters

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I read though some of the comments people made about Jungle Habitat. I actually almost worked there. My old animal director, George Grey was the head guy there, and our Vet, Dr. Martin Dinnes from California was there also. Alot of the Wardens at GA came from there also. Charlie Hull, Lion2, Bob Chandler (Wolfe) Lion Zero, Jake Callure (spelling) Lion 12? David Barnes Lion? He actually worked for me at first in the Elephant /Rhino barn. Ron Morris, Lion? and his girlfriend/wife Chrystal Morris, she worked Happy Feeling Petting Zoo.

Edited by Gary Hill

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Interesting. I figured with such a specialized field there was a lot of crossover. I know even within the theme park industry there is a lot of crossover, with people going from one park to another and one company to another as new opportunities open up. Within the zoo/safari park segment it must have been even more competitive with each park trying to hire away experienced people from the others.

 

Did you know anyone with the Lion Country Safari parks at Kings Island in Cincinnati or Kings Dominion in Richmond? I'd guess they were run a little differently since they weren't drive-through.

 

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The second year we had a fellow, that was a lion warden that came from a park in Virginia. I can't for the life of me remember his name?

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The second year we had a fellow, that was a lion warden that came from a park in Virginia. I can't for the life of me remember his name?

 

 

gary, i seem to recall a guy that came there the second year we were there and worked with the cats, his name was jim. i don't remember his last name but he was a very good artist. he drew some of the best animal drawings i had ever seen.

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From NorthJersey.com:

 

It was a jungle up there

A look back at Jungle Habitat made the pages of this newspaper last week, and it made me think back about my own memories of that early-day theme park. And it will also be 40 years ago this spring that the animal park opened in West Milford.

I know that because I was there the first day it opened. For those of you unfamiliar with Jungle Habitat, it was opened by Warner Bros. in an attempt to move into the theme park business similar to Disney. It sprawled over 800 acres with 26 miles of roads within the park. The entrance was off Greenwood Lake Turnpike, near Marshall Hill Road. Composed mostly of a drive-though safari, it had a small amusement park about halfway through the route.

 

Now for reasons that escaped me at the time, my parents, who were known for impetuous acts, decided the morning Jungle Habitat opened that we should go. So we made a quick stop at the store for snacks and filled a cooler with ice and soda. Good move. We headed up Route 23 in our Chevy station wagon with 327 cubic inches of Detroit's finest engineering under the hood. The car had no air conditioning, but that's no big deal buzzing up a highway on a nice late spring day.

 

We turned off Route 23 onto the local roads of West Milford. When we got to the Greenwood Lake Turnpike, we came to a halt. Traffic was backed up on all the roads for miles. The 50-mph speed limit sign mocked us. Still, it wasn't too bad. We had cold drinks and open windows.

 

After about three or four hours, we made it to the entrance. And we were reminded we had to keep our windows closed. That's bad. We ventured into the jungle. We did see some elephants up close, but the tigers and lions kept their distance lounging in the shade. What I did think was real cool were the animal wardens armed to the teeth guarding an overheated vehicle in the lion section. The lions were not the least bit interested, however.

 

We are able to keep the windows partially open most of the time. The man-eaters were kept in separate enclosures. Through the rest of the park the most dangerous beast was a peacock.

 

Then our journey was over. It was fun, and I was glad we went. However, the dirty looks by the nearby residents directed at us tourists spoke volumes. The entire northern end of West Milford ground to a halt every day. People could not get out for a loaf of bread. Within a couple weeks the town shut the park down and told Warner Bros. to go back to the drawing board. Several huge parking lots were constructed within the park to allow for traffic to stack up inside rather than nearby roads.

 

But fatigue quickly set in, and people lost interest in Jungle Habitat. Great Adventure had opened in Central Jersey, with a safari and a full amusement park. Jungle Habitat paled by comparison, and by the end of the 1976 season, it closed for good.

 

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