An Original Park Attraction

 



As an original park feature, Great Adventure's Lion Sign had assumed numerous roles during its 33 years at the park.  Designed by Great Adventure's creator Warner LeRoy, the larger than life lion started its career as a park icon marking the entertainment center's entrance way.  For many early park goers, the Lion Sign was the first glimpse of the fantasy world that awaited them.

     
     
   
     
For six seasons, Great Adventure's entrance way on Route 537 in Jackson, New Jersey was watched over by the "King of the Jungle", the park's original Lion Sign marquee.  The two part sign consisted of a 3-D lion sculpture and 2-D pennant banner.  Together they stood majestically at the base of the Great Adventure highway overpass welcoming carloads of guests as they embarked on their fun-filled day.

The Lion was constructed of layered plaster molded around a wooden and wire mesh frame.  Standing on his hind legs and towering over twenty feet tall,  the lion grasped with his front paws a white metal pole representing the stick of a pennant.  The bright red banner, constructed of metal, flowed over the lion's hairy mane and draped its way to the ground. Colorful light up letters using a font style featured in the park's original logo spelled out the words "Great Adventure".
     
In the late 1970's, after having been acquired by Six Flags Corporation, the park decided to update the roadside signage and replace the Lion with its new rainbow-style logo. 

The Lion Sign was carefully disassembled, removed from its concrete foundation, and relocated to the middle of the parking lot for the Safari Hospitality Center - a small complex of buildings providing a rest stop for guests that just completed their journey through the Safari Park.
     
     
     
Sporting a newly styled coat of fur, the Lion Sign resided here for several years. 

In 1993, GA's park map hinted that the Lion Sign would be moved inside the theme park to mark the entrance of a new section of flat rides called "Fun Fair".  Planned for the former spot of the Shockwave rollercoaster,  the plans for this section of the park never materialized.  In 1995,  the Lion Sign was moved once again, this time from the Safari Hospitality Center parking lot to the entrance roadway of the Wild Safari Animal Park. 

It was replaced in the parking lot with fiberglass animals previously used in the theme park's original miniature golf course.
 
     
As part of the relocation, the illuminated "Great Adventure" letters were removed and the banner was changed to display a simple painted "Wild Safari Animal Park" sign.  Also gone were the ground level trailing ends of the pennant banner, which had been replaced instead by a brick pedestal.

Over the years, the Lion Sign was repaired and repainted numerous times.  The photo on the right below shows the type of ongoing damage caused by weather and age.  Here the internal chicken-wire type mesh is visible through the gapping hole in the lions head. 
     
 
     
     
The Lion's last paint scheme featured a dark mustard yellow coat accented by a chocolate brown mane.

The photo below shows the location of the Lion Sign in relation to the Wild Safari entranceway.  A redesigned traffic plan for 2007 meant the redirection and widening of the Safari's approach road.  With the needed changes, the Park hoped to use the Lion for another new assignment.
     
     
     
New for 2007, the Safari Hospitality Center was refurbished, expanded and reintroduced as the Safari Exploration Station.  Original plans called for the Lion Sign to be relocated once again and placed amongst a menagerie of props in this new educational exhibit.
     
Unfortunately, the Lion Sign met its demise when workers attempted to move it from its post outside of the Wild Safari Animal Park.

 After more than three decades of bearing the elements and standing guard at Great Adventure, the Lion was too fragile to withstand this latest transfer and was damaged beyond repair and destroyed.  These photos show the the Lion laid to rest on a flatbed trailer near the park's maintenance center.

Hopefully someday the Park will decide to recreate this wonderful icon which impressed so many guests throughout the years.

     
The pin below is one of the few items produced featuring the Lion Sign. The photo below shows some of the Lion's many paint schemes.
   
     
THEN:    NOW: 
Six Flags Great Adventure's current highway sign features the blue wave banner logo first introduced in the mid 1990s.
     
  The last location occupied by the Lion Sign, the area to the left of the Wild Safari ticket plaza, today is vacant.