Pizza and hot dogs are perhaps the most popular food for fair goers, so when Great Adventure added the Fun Fair area, it made sense to add a pizza and a hot dog stand. Though cosmetically changed over the seasons, the restaurants have been park favorites since 1975.
For Great Adventure's second season, increased capacity was needed all
around, with additional rides and attractions being added along with
more facilities like restrooms and food outlets. With the huge expansion
to the park known as Fun Fair, additional facilities were added to
compliment the new rides.
Two new restaurants were added serving traditional fair foods as part of the theme of the new section. The twin restaurants were the Pizza Filling Station, and Hot Dogs! Hot Dogs!, and they featured dining at outdoor tables beneath the trees. The two new restaurants increased the number of restaurants in the park and helped to ease the lines for food.
The names of the restaurants went through several changes over the seasons, with the Pizza Filling Station becoming La Pizzeria for many years.
Hot Dogs! Hot Dogs! was a relatively short lived name, though the
restaurant generally sold hot dogs and french fries for several seasons.
In 1987 Splashwater Falls was introduced across the way from the
restaurant, and the name was changed to Splashwater Snacks.
In 1992, the Fun Fair area became Action Town, but really big changes would be in store for the following season with the creation of Movietown.
While Six Flags was under Time Warner ownership, creating cohesive
themed sections in the parks was a priority. They looked to use the vast
catalog of Warner movies and companies in the parks and help promote the
companies as well as create interesting and exciting experiences in the
At Great Adventure one of the most ambitious theme projects was undertaken with the creation of Movietown.
|Plans were created to utilize the existing structures, and the two restaurants were joined to create the HBO Backlot Commissary. Original plans were very elaborate, and when construction took place things were scaled back. Even the scaled back plans created a unique and immersive dining experience in the park, with movie sets and props surrounding the dining area between the two buildings.|
During the 1992-93 off-season all of Movietown was a construction area with the existing buildings and rides getting facelifts as the new themed area was created. The centerpiece of Movietown was Batman: The Ride, but everything in Movietown was part of the show.
While the new coaster took shape behind it, the HBO Backlot Commissary makeover was going full speed ahead. The facades of both buildings were updated and improved, with new profiles. The two buildings were linked with a new marquis which served as the entrance to the dining courtyard created between them.
As opening day of the 1993 season approached, the new facility really
started to take shape. The impressive marquis was fitted with new signs
and neon, taking on the look of a theater marquis similar to the
animated promo spots for HBO.
One feature of the marquis was a traditional letter board which allowed plastic letters to be posted so the messaging could be changed as necessary. The letter board would go on to feature the slogans that HBO used in their advertising like "Just you wait!", "It's not just TV, it's HBO", and "Something special's on"
The final touches on the restaurants were in place as spring arrived.
New signage and lighting helped to complete the update. The back
sides of the buildings received almost as much attention as the fronts
with Gotham City style building facades being added to the back corner
facing the exit of Batman: The Ride and the side of the other building
facing the Batman Stunt Arena.
|While the building makeovers were impressive, the really unique and elaborate part of the Commissary was the new courtyard dining area. The walls around the courtyard were designed to look like move sets with most facing inward, but one section facing out toward the new coaster, and showing the back of the set. This section featured props and equipment used in movies creating the feeling of a real studio experience for guests. The restaurant walls featured frames for displaying movie posters and could feature classic films or movies slated for release that summer (all Warner Brothers films of course).|
The courtyard was outfitted with brand new tables, chairs and umbrellas
in bright colors to match the HBO logo. The chairs were all "directors
chair" style canvas with the HBO logo on them.
With the Commissary's proximity to Batman: The Ride and the Batman Stunt Arena, big crowds stopped to have lunch and become part of the movie experience. Just beyond the courtyard the twisting track of the coaster could be seen (and heard) over the walls.
|In the following seasons changes to the HBO Backlot Commissary included menu changes as the food choices and vendors were changed. The props slowly were removed as they succumbed to the elements and vandalism. The tables and chairs proved to be inadequate for the thousands of guests that visited, and required replacement with more durable furniture.|
|Flipping the HBO Commissary Scenery|
|Though it was designed to have the back side facing into the courtyard, the section of scenery that makes up the wall was reversed in 1998 and the props were removed. The support structure which had been designed to house props and create a backstage feel now faces towards Batman: The Ride.|
|After Six Flags was
sold by Time Warner, the new owners let the theme elements throughout
the park deteriorate. Some things were removed as license fees were
deemed too expensive and trademarked names and logos were removed. The
HBO name was removed and the restaurants became known as the Backlot
The once elaborate Backlot became a generic patio and saw fewer and fewer guests as tables were added to the area in front of the restaurants and with no scenery there was no reason to venture inside the courtyard. Once again vendors changed with Papa Johns Pizza coming in along with Dippin Dots.
|Some of the most elaborate theme elements of the backlot facades have been the signs, with an old west theme for some and a city street scene for others, making them look as though they were random sets from various films.|
|Restaurant Names Through
|Today the Backlot
restaurants are secondary facilities, operating limited hours and
sometimes remaining closed if park attendance is low. With the removal
of so many attractions in Movietown and the closure of Old Country the
flow of guests through the area has dwindled making the area something
of a ghost town beyond Batman: The Ride and the Dark Knight Coaster.