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Year 3 - Photo #16 - October 23, 2014:

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October 1976

 

Added to Great Adventure in 1975 as part of the park's Fun Fair expansion area, two new food facilities joined the roster of eateries built to accommodate
guests' big appetites. The pair of ornately decorated side by side stands were originally named the Pizza Filling Station and Hot Dogs! Hot Dogs. Over
the years the menus and appearance of the buildings would change many times over until the two stands were merged together and rebranded as the
HBO Backlot Commissary in 1993.

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Daved,

It is over-simplified to say we took time to "Stop and smell the Roses" back in those days, because, compared to our parents, we really didn't. For us, it was rush from line to line to hit the Big Rides, with only short breaks in between... Today the Short Breaks have been built into the BIG RIDES and there is NO discussion of smelling anything but the food vendors who work the lines.

 

Fall follage travel thru an area here in Indiana that has drawn tourists for years is down big-time again this year, not due to a lack of "COLOR", but due to changing tourist goals for folks who wnt to do "Other" things with their weekends and/or Fall vacation time. Reality, and Nature are losing priority to artifical and cyber in the minds of the leisure-seeking Americans.

 

The question in my mind is whether 6 Flags Marketing forcasters are planning for these coming changes, or waiting to see which way things will go, and reacting to the new directions (WHOOPS,Too Late !!)

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Daved,

It is over-simplified to say we took time to "Stop and smell the Roses" back in those days, because, compared to our parents, we really didn't. For us, it was rush from line to line to hit the Big Rides, with only short breaks in between... Today the Short Breaks have been built into the BIG RIDES and there is NO discussion of smelling anything but the food vendors who work the lines.

 

Fall follage travel thru an area here in Indiana that has drawn tourists for years is down big-time again this year, not due to a lack of "COLOR", but due to changing tourist goals for folks who wnt to do "Other" things with their weekends and/or Fall vacation time. Reality, and Nature are losing priority to artifical and cyber in the minds of the leisure-seeking Americans.

 

The question in my mind is whether 6 Flags Marketing forcasters are planning for these coming changes, or waiting to see which way things will go, and reacting to the new directions (WHOOPS,Too Late !!)

Al, you apparently have a lot more faith in the current Six Flags senior (corporate) management than I do. I am very much of the belief that there is little (if any) long range strategic planning being done for ANY of their parks and certainly not at the park level. The days of the theme park veterans (Larry Cochran, Dan Howells, Ray Williams, and the like) running Six Flags with a unique vision and understanding the markets in which the parks operated, really came crashing to an end when Premier Parks bought Six Flags in whole from Time-Warner. The real leaders of Six Flags (again, the veterans who were with the company from the beginning), were quickly ushered out and in came a group who even faster began spending money they did not have and completely diluted the Six Flags brand by acquiring and branding too many parks, too quickly as Six Flags parks that were not anywhere near being up to the level of what a Six Flags park was at the time. A number of these parks have since been sold, however, the damage to the brand as a whole continues. You'll hear many on here say that the Mark Shapiro years were not good for the company, but I'd have to say that I'm of the belief that he was the only CEO since the days of the veterans that had a clear vision of what the parks needed and, unfortunately, didn't have the funds to implement his vision as a result of all the reclass acquisitions that were made under the Premier group.

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I haven't kept up with the changes in leadership AND ownership since the Cochrane team bit the dust. I do see, on almost a daily basis, the results of the "bush-league" Park expansion efforts that failed rather miserably.

 

In Louisville we have an urban Park that had been operating as a third-rate local theme ride center, next to the State Fair Grounds and Freedom Hall (think Basketball), Since about the mid 1980's...6 Flags bought it in 1997, played "musical ride shuffle" in and out with rides and locations until the corporate bankruptcey in 2009. It is now operating as a joint venture by a local investment group with tax-advantages granted by the local govt. AND the State Fair Board that still owns the land the park sits on and conducts the State Fair and many other events on the property during the year. In this configuration it is in its second year of operation... unsure if it will survive as the taxpayers may pull the plug on the support from taxes soon... Kings Island is 120 miles northeast. 6 Flag Mid-America is 250 west in StLouis all others even further away. 6 Flags lost a lot more than money when they got into the small park operation... they lost the image of a "class operation" and became 'super-carnival's', nothing more.

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That's it Al. I know you mentioned you haven't been to GA since around 1985... If you were to go today, you really wouldn't recognize it. There is absolutely no balance to the place relative to rides, shows, and attractions. It's rides... Excuse me, roller coasters with little to no ambiance to be found. You'd recognize The Fort and (on the outside, but not the inside) what was once the Yum Yum Palace (called The Great Character Cafe beginning with the Time-Warner years and this year renamed the Yum Yum Cafe). There is no Conestoga Wagon, no TeePee, no Moon Flume, no dolphin show and few, if any, shows in the majority of the show venues (they sit empty, available for rental to large groups). Landscaping has taken a total dive as has food service, most of which is contracted out to vendors. There is advertising (not subtle advertising/sponsorships ala the Disney parks) that is in your face everywhere. I have always loved this park like no other, but it simply is not the place that it once was, nor is it the place that it could have been.

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Daved

Depressing, my friend, but true, I am afraid. What is being sold at this point is the illusion of of "fun" as remembered by those who are doing the selling. The fact is they are not making the investment in the reality of an organized approach to the Theme Park concept. Instead the outcome is a giant "Midway" Canival that can be shuttled between geographic locations to preserve the illusion of "NEW and UNIQUE" with each change of site. They are Large and Expensive, but actually no different than the typical traveling carnival ride show.

 

I don't have a photo of it, but Let me tangent into another area now.

Did you ever see the huge Catfish that hung around the lakeside of the Best of the West, begging food from the guests (and employees). Some of the fish measured at least 6 inches between the eyes.. big fish. We would take a bunch of bread or crackers and toss some off the balcony to draw the fish to the surface..they would splash and make all kinds of noise to get attention.. Guest kids would get all excited and we could count on the fish being fed well for an hour or so. There was a rumor or two floating around (no pun intended) that certain Security Guards on the late night shift did indeed catch some of these Catfish using old Hotdogs for bait, and enjoyed more than one "Fish Fry" at the Employee Chow Hall on an overnight shift.(AND that the employees griped that their FF's tasted and smelled like fish for the rest of that day, if the cook didn't change the oil in the fryer quickly).

Edited by mayor al
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Year 3 - Photo #17 - October 29, 2014:

2014_10_29.png

November 1974

 

Great Adventure wrapped up operations of its inaugural season on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, December 1, 1974. Originally slated
to close several weeks earlier, the season was extended in the hopes of trying to capture additional attendance and revenue which was lost given
the park's delayed opening day on July 1st. In the six months that the park was open, 1.3 million guests visited Great Adventure.

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That's awesome the park was open so late that year. It would have been nice if they had kept the antique cars or gotten another antique car ride. They are what I think is the perfect example of a family ride.

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That first Fall, after Labor Day, we cut back to weekend openings and lost most of the summer crew of kids as employees. Lots of older adults hired in, and a much smaller work force was sceduled to cover the Park for the Saturday and Sundays in the Fall operating days. It "Felt" different to be working at G A that Fall. It was the first "Off-Season" for all of us, but still having guests in each week-end allowed us to test (in Security) some of the training plans that there haf been no time to develop during the chaotic Summer.

The Permanet workers formed a much smaller team than the Summer force had been, and even with the smaller crowds on the weekends, they were kept running most of the 'Park-Operating Hours'. One guy covered the whole Western area until noon when a second would be added. Same at the Strawberry End. No Tent Guards and One floater on Dream Street for the Fountain and Dolphin Pool. Remember the Main Gate was by the Tents and One guy would cover all that plus the tram unloading area outside the Entrance Gates. With one more at the Safari entrance, and the three Gated entrances and a Motor driver, three in the office, we had roughly 15-16 people in the whole Park at Mid-day on a Fall day that first yeat....not many guys for the size of the crowds.

 

Those were fun times though. One quick comment about that year. I have worked many jobs, in many parts of the U S A for many "types" of people" and NEVER...NOT EVER have I enjoyed a Company Spnsored and conducted CHRISTMAS PARTY like the ones that the management put on in the BEST of the WEST those first couple of years. If you haver ever heard of Parties that go to the extreme.. these would have matched or surpassed them for sure. Food, Booze, Companionship/fellowship They were amazing. I would not be surprised to find empty wine bottles while hiking around the Safari area even today. We found people sleeping in animal barns, in the warehouse, and in the First Aid treatment rooms after the Party. They were Outstanding, whether the accent was "Kings English. Texas Drawl, or a mixture" the Radio chatter those evenings was hysterical, I wish I had recorded it.

al

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Year 3 - Photo #18 - November 5, 2014:

2014_11_05.png

August 1974

 

Height restrictions on rides have always been a regulation which small children needed to deal with when visiting Great Adventure. During the
park's first several seasons animal-themed height indicators like the tiger above at the entrance to the Runaway Mine Train shared the bad
news of "Sorry, you have to be as tall as my paw to ride." Note the small sign that also states "This ride not recommended for: Guests with heart
conditions, Elderly guests, Expectant Mothers." This photo was taken long before lawyers went out of control!

 

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It's interesting to see the track of the coaster in the picture with nothing else in the background like all the other rides that are there now.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Year 3 - Photo #19 - November 14, 2014:

2014_11_12.png

September 1976

 

In an effort to increase park attendance after the busy summer months, Great Adventure hosted The Fun Olympics in 1976 based
on the hit ABC show Almost Anything Goes. The road show was held in the park's Great Arena and featured local towns competing
against each other for a $6500 prize. Although not televised, the games did make use of the props and equipment from the TV show.

The tradition of holding The Fun Olympics continues today as an interdepartmental employee competition.

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Year 3 - Photo #20 - November 21, 2014:

2014_11_21.png

June 1976

 

The Alpen Blitz roller coaster was one of three rides installed for the 1976 season (along with the Musik Express and Super Sidewinder). The
electric powered coaster was manufactured by Schwarzkopf and imported from
Europe for a three season run. By the end of the 1978 season

the ride was removed and temporarily stored next to Lightnin' Loops. The ride site became home to the Haunted House attraction for the fall of 1978.

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The Alpen Blitz roller coaster was one of three rides installed for the 1976 season (along with the Musik Express and Super Sidewinder). The

electric powered coaster was manufactured by Schwarzkopf and imported from Europe for a three season run. By the end of the 1978 season

the ride was removed and temporarily stored next to Lightnin' Loops. The ride site became home to the Haunted House attraction for the fall of 1978.

 

 

This is THE single ride that I wish I had ridden before it was removed from the park. Interestingly, I must have been blind because I distinctly remember looking for it during my first 1978 visit and I am sure I had to have walked right past it during my 1977 visit. Harry, do you know if this ride was leased? Just a guess here, but I have to believe that this ride was what they substituted for the never operating Jumbo Jet from the prior season (given that they were both Schwarzkopf rides).

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Alpen Blitz was purchased from Schwarzkopf in 1976. The other 1976 additions were also purchased - Super Sidewinder from Chance Mfg and Mack's Musik Express (although that was purchased through Hughes Enterprises). The Jumbo Jet (along with the Enterprise -first version) and Troika (AKA Wild Flower) were all leased with an option to buy from Willy Miller's Continental Park Attractions. When the Jumbo Jet didn't work out, they provided the Super Cat as a replacement which opened towards the end of 1975.

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Year 3 - Photo #21 - November 29, 2014:

2014_11_28.png

July 1976

 

The Flying Wave was one of Great Adventure's original attractions located in the Strawberry Fair section of the park. This ride and its neighbors
featured thousands of miniature lights which made the entire area glisten in the evening as a focal point of the Enchanted Forest. For the first few

decades of operation the ride did not have a "Flying Wave" sign outside its entrance and as a result most guests simply referred to this twirling

machine as "The Swings".

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Year 3 - Photo #22 - December 5, 2014:

2014_12_05.png

September 1977

 

The popularity of Great Adventure often caused long lines of traffic as guests waited their turn to enter either the Safari Park or Enchanted Forest
parking lot. For the first several years Route 537 was a simple one lane undivided highway with the option for drivers to use the shoulder lane to

handle the extra volume of anxious and excited guests.

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