A classic attraction found in amusement parks and theme parks around the world was the shooting gallery. Certainly any park with a wild west themed area was bound to have a place where guests could test their marksmanship the safe way with guns shooting beams of light and activating targets.
Tucked away in the Rootin' Tootin' Rip Roarin' section of Great
Adventure was the Shoot Out shooting gallery. The building was located
inside the pathway of the Log Flume next to Best of the West restaurant. Like most
park shooting galleries, the Shoot Out featured a western themed array
of targets which guests shot at with rifles mounted to countertops.
The rifles were coin operated, with a certain number of shots for a
The location of the Shoot Out may seem out of the way to today's park guests, but during the park's first seasons it was actually in one of the busiest areas of the park with huge crowds at the Great Arena and Best of the West swarming this popular area of the theme park daily.
Direct access to the Shoot Out building was possible before the Best of the West kitchen and backstage areas were expanded in the late 1970's. Prior to these additions guests could cross the Log Flume bridge, walk to the shoreline under the restaurant, and head left to the shooting gallery.
Throughout the seasons, the Shoot Out featured a western desert scene
with rocks and sand on the floor. The targets were little red bulls eyes
that would activate the object next to them. The back wall was an
old west casino with piano player, bottles and other props along the
wall all of which also had the targets to activate them.
Activating the various targets produced sounds, lights and motion depending on what the object was that was "hit". The piano player was most often the target of choice since hitting his target would bring the figure to life, playing an old western song on the piano. Other targets caused animals to pop out of holes on the ground, or dart into their holes. A series of soda cans would pop up off the ground with a burst of compressed air when their targets would get hit.
With constant use, the targets would become unresponsive and require replacement periodically. The props would also begin to wear out over time, with bulbs burning out or actuators becoming unresponsive. Over the years as the popularity of the Shoot Out declined (mainly due to the increase in popularity of video games), the maintenance on the game became more infrequent and furthered the decline in its popularity.
Aside from the Shoot Out game, part of the building was used for other
things including a hat shop for a short time, and as an early location
for Season Pass Processing.
Because the building was so far off the beaten path it was difficult for the hat stand to make substantial money and was removed by the end of 1976. In 1981 the park intended to use the hat stand location as a season pass processing outlet.
Both the hat stand and pass processing were short-lived, however the cabinetry and tables installed for these facilities lasted until 1990.
An early criticism after the park's first season was that there were not
enough restrooms and the western section was the only one two offer two
facilities- one by the Runaway Train and one in the Shoot Out building. These facilities were larger than most others in
the park and helped alleviate the waiting crowds from the Great Arena
shows. These also served as the primary restrooms for guests
dining in the neighboring Best of the West restaurant.
The cavernous restrooms remained nearly unchanged since opening. In the 1990's while Six Flags was owned by Time Warner, thematic elements were added all around the park, and the restrooms received decorative posters on the previously barren walls. The posters were reproductions of ads for wild west shows, reminiscent of the earliest shows held in the Great Arena.
Over time the restroom facilities became less frequently used, opening only for concerts. Today, they are rarely open, with the park instead bringing in port-a-potties to supplement the existing restroom facilities beside the Fort.
Shoot Out Building Names and Features
Through the Years
1974: Shoot Out - Hats & Hats - Restrooms
1975: Shoot Out - Restrooms
1976: Shoot Out - Hat Stand - Restrooms
1977 & 1978: Shoot Out - Restrooms
1979 & 1980 : Western Shoot Out - Restrooms
1981 & 1982: Western Shoot Out - Season Pass Processing - Restrooms
1983: Western Shoot Out - Restrooms
1984 to 1993: Shooting Gallery - Restrooms
1994 to 1999: Western Shoot Out - Restrooms
2000 to 2007: Restrooms
The shooting gallery closed for the 2000 season with the last shots
being fired under the name Western Shoot Out.
The Shoot Out building saw some new life for just a couple of seasons as Fright Fest became a huge event in the late 1990's and early 2000's.
In 2000, the building was incorporated as a part of a "Brutal Planet" walkthrough. A maze of corridors were installed under the building's roof overhang with guests walking on the wooden planks where the gun stations were located. Tarps were hung over the counters blocking off the guests' view of the targets behind them. The walkthrough never ventured into the target field.
In 2004 the building was once again part of a Halloween attraction when "Doom & Gloom by the Log Flume" was added as a last minute addition for Fright Fest in order to handle the huge lines.
The changing tastes of guests have lead to the demise of all the park's
shooting galleries over time. Shoot Out was the first of many
shooting galleries in the park's history. The success of Shoot Out led
to the addition of the Safari Shooing Gallery (in Fun Fair), Chicago Shootout (next to the Big Wheel), and a shooting gallery that occupied one of
the buildings in Hernando's Hideaway for a short time. The shooting
galleries lost their popularity after video games became the "big thing"
of the 1980's. Now, even the arcades that popped up around the park have
disappeared as more sophisticated games are available for home use.
Aside from storage, the Shoot Out building has remained unused for a decade. Even the restroom facilities have been closed and locked for several seasons. Hopefully at some point a new attraction can be added to this original park structure.