Adventure Rivers at Six Flags Great Adventure


The Adventure Rivers section of the park was added in 1991, and was the first new themed area to be added since 1979.   The Adventure Rivers section was a pre-cursor to the Hurricane Harbor waterpark that would be added in 2000, but was included in the price of park admission and required no changing facilities since swimsuits were not required (or permitted) for riding.

Several other parks around the country like Six Flags Over Georgia, King's Dominion and Hersheypark built similar attractions which were also later replaced by full scale waterparks.

One of the most interesting things about the Adventure Rivers area was that it was the first area of the park to use more modern materials including paving blocks and stamped concrete which are found throughout the park today.

In 1999, the Adventure Rivers area was replaced by the park's second children's area, Looney Tunes Seaport, and the slides were removed.   Koala Kanyon remained until the 2006-2007 off season when it and the Riptide Hydro Flume were removed.   The only remaining attraction is the Congo Rapids which was built prior to the addition of Adventure Rivers. 
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General overview of Adventure Rivers
In fall of 1990 the area around the Hydro Flume was closed off, and a sign was posted announcing Adventure Rivers complete with artists rendering of the new area went up.

A few interesting notes about the rendering versus what would be built as Adventure Rivers is the placement of the children's area that would become Koala Kanyon at the front of the section in the area that would eventually become home to Skull Mountain.   The Skull pictured as part of that children's area suggests that the theme would have been very different from Koala Kanyon (perhaps the old Six Flags "Skull Island" name was being considered?).   Also notice all three towers seem to have an Asian look to them, though they ended up taking on varied themes when constructed.

The area slated for development was still heavily wooded.   After the Great Train Ride was removed several years before, the only attraction to occupy the space aside from the Flume were remote control cars and boats which had just been relocated the year before when Shockwave was added.
In spring of 1991, construction of Adventure Rivers was still in full swing, with the park targeting an early June opening.    The North America and Africa slide towers were up and appeared to be nearly complete on opening day, while the more complex Asia tower was still just in the early stages of construction.

The massive size of the area meant the addition of huge expanses of new pavement and fences, as well as fairly elaborate landscaping to screen the area from adjacent sections and add a lush semi-tropical feel.

The effort to add theme elements to the Adventure Rivers area marked the park's first serious attempt at adding a themed attraction in several years.   Previous years additions of Condor, Great American Scream Machine and Shockwave led one member of the American Coaster Enthusiasts to ask park president Ray Williams "if Great Adventure is a theme park, what is the theme", to which Mr. Williams replied, "The theme is 'fun'".   The next season with the addition of Adventure Rivers, the park was brought a little closer to its Theme Park roots.    In the following years when Time Warner purchased and ran Six Flags, the idea of bringing themes back to the park sections continued as new scenery and landscaping were added to other areas.

The addition of Adventure Rivers was one of the park's attempts to move away from the teen-oriented thrill rides to more family friendly attractions and clientele.   After some difficulties with bad crowds in past years the park was in a rebuilding phase, trying to win back guests who had a negative impression of the park.
Besides the new slides and water elements added to the new section, a gift shop was also constructed.    The Rivers Edge Trading Post was a shop that would sell all the necessities for a day in the sum and water, including towels, sunscreen and T-shirts.  

The elaborate entry portal at the front of the area featured rock fountains on either side of the pathway, as well as a log structure which held the sign.

In some of the surrounding pictures you can see the brand new log fencing in place which still stands today.

Stacks of pavers await placement along the paths as workers level the ground in preparation.

The framework of the Asia tower is built up with the crane, as the sections of yellow tube sit in the back areas awaiting assembly.   The sheer number of yellow slide tubes hints at the massive size and impressive appearance the Asia tower will have when it is completed.
As opening day draws ever closer, the final pieces are going into place.   The fences and a good deal of the landscaping is set, and the basic concrete structures of the jumping fountains are ready to receive their outer layers of decorative stucco.

Some of the light posts are in place around the area, and reflect the themes of the slides they are placed alongside. 

One of the final pieces to go into place is the log structure spanning the Adventure Rivers entrance portal.   With the final pieces of the slides in place, the need to bring cranes and other large vehicles through the entry portal is diminished, minimizing the possibility of an accident with an over-size vehicle trying to go under the logs and damaging them.   Throughout the park there are trees and other structures that bear the scars of large trucks trying to make it through tight spaces.

Technical Information
  Opened: June 1st, 1991
  Cost:   $4 million

15 acres – largest new area added to the park

Slide Manufacturer:

Bill Crandall’s New Wave Rides of Arlington, TX

Capacity of Adventure Rivers: 7,700 guests per hour

Entranceway contains 50,000 lbs of artificial rock into its stone structures, waterfalls and pools.

6500 lbs of timber
20,000 lbs of bolts and fasteners
9,000 lbs of reinforcing steel
  Nearly a mile of fiberglass
5,300 gallons of gel-coat
Rides pump a total of 3,800 gallons of water per minute.
Koala Kanyon – ½ acre children’s area themed to Australia’s Snowy Rivers
  The finishing touches are going into place as the end of May approaches.

The twin rock formations at the entrance are already pumping water through the waterfalls.

Some of the last minute changes still happening are the addition of the sign to the portal, and repainting of the Hydro Flume canopy to fit its new Asian theme as the Irrawaddy Riptide.

The jumping fountains are already running just beyond the fences of the nearly completed section.
Roaring Rapids received the name Congo Rapids as part of its inclusion in the Adventure Rivers section of the park.   Nothing else was changed except the name.

Access to Congo Rapids was initially only through the Adventure Rivers main entry with the old path past the platforms of Lightnin Loops closed off by bamboo plantings.   Eventually the foot traffic through the bamboo led the park to reopen the pathway.

As part of the Adventure Rivers construction, a building that was a combination restrooms, changing rooms and mini First Aid station was constructed near Koala Kanyon.   The changing facilities offered showers and there were small banks of lockers available, despite the fact that it wasn't necessary to change into swimwear.   The addition of a First Aid station suggests they anticipated possible scrapes and bumps from kids in Koala Kanyon.

 The block of shops and food stands near the Rapids were the only food outlets for the first season.
Press Releases
and Press Photos
Great attention to detail was found throughout the Adventure Rivers area with nicely themed signs and other little touches everywhere that made the section more than just a collection of waterslides.

Thatched roofs, colorful paint, and a general fresh appearance of the pavement and landscaping made the area one of the standouts in the park.   The addition of water rides was a huge success with crowds.   The park's water rides always had some of the longest lines in the park, and the additional capacity created by Adventure Rivers helped to alleviate the wait times.
A great deal of attention was paid to the landscaping of the section, with dozens of new bushes and plants added in an effort to replace the woodlands that had been removed to build the new attractions.

In addition to the trees and bushes, the Landscaping Department added lush lawns and beautiful seasonal flowers.   The swan topiary which still sits in the park today was originally a landscape accent piece from Adventure Rivers.

To add more color to the area, bright banners were placed throughout the Adventure Rivers area.  

The Hydro Flume was given a rich red, green and gold paint scheme in its makeover to become Irrawaddy Riptide.   A matching bridge was added as a way to cross the flume trough.   That bridge would remain as one of the obstacles to get into the Looney Tunes Seaport until the end of 2006 when it was removed with the Flume to make way for the 2007 addition of Wiggles World.

The Rivers Edge Trading Post was added as part of the Adventure Rivers area, and featured all the necessary supplies for fun in the sun.   The Trading Post would later go on to serve as the gift shop at the exit for Skull Mountain.   After the initial popularity of Skull Mountain wore off, the shop went through various phases, often being neglected, finally becoming a temporary tattoo stand, before finally finding new life in the 2007 season as the Wiggles Gift Shop.
In a media event, the park invited members of the Polar Bear Club to come out for an early season dip on the slides of Adventure Rivers to kick off the 1992 season.

An existing structure that was incorporated into the Adventure Rivers section was the Lightnin Loops Cafe, which was renamed River Bank Cafe in 1992 as part of the efforts to bring themes to the park by then owners, Time Warner.  

Also for the second season of Adventure Rivers, Andre's River Fries was added.   The new restaurant was even given a back story to make it fit the theme of the adjoining North American Rivers slides.

Andre's River Fries was more or less forgotten after the Adventure Rivers slides were removed, since it sat on a dead end path.   Later it became Chippy's, and was rarely open except on busy days in the peak season.  In the spring of 2007 it was given a new lease on life with its makeover as the Yummy Yummy Cafe as the area received a makeover to become Wiggles World.
The seasonal nature of water rides meant that the Adventure Rivers area had a very limited season of just over 3 months each year.

Some of the examples of the theme elements that made Adventure Rivers unique included the small details of themed signs and even the TV monitors that stood in the lines for the slides which along with the fences and light posts reflected the theme of each slide and attraction.

The second season of Adventure Rivers in 1992 also brought the addition of Captain Jack's Burger Grill.   The additional restaurant was needed to handle the crowds that filled the area which had limited food options.   Captain Jack's would eventually get renamed the Nitro Grill when Nitro was added in the 2001 season.  

The Adventure Rivers slide towers were removed in the 1998-1999 off season to make way for Looney Tunes Seaport.   Great Adventure was left without a water park area for a season until the addition of Hurricane Harbor as a full scale, separate admission water park in 2000.

Koala Kanyon, the final remaining element that was created as part of Adventure Rivers, was removed in the 2006-2007 off season after a year of sitting unused.
Remnants of Adventure Rivers
Up until 2007, the three circular spots where the jumping fountains used to stand remained in the pavement next to Skull Mountain. The attraction marker in the sidewalk in front of Justice League Headquarters is still in place. The wooden fences that were built around the slides and fountains are still in place, thought they have been repainted several times in varying colors.
The original 3 dimensional sign for Captain Jack's is now located in Hurricane Harbor After the rock waterfall was removed to build Skull Mountain, the fiberglass rocks made their way into the Fright Fest Hayride. Until the removal of the Hydro Flume in 2007, footings for some of the Adventure Rivers slides still stood in the retention pond.

An ad for New Wave Rides, manufacturer of the slides for Adventure Rivers.

The large center picture is of the North American Tower. 

An interesting note is the address of the manufacturer is Arlington Texas, (then) location of Six Flags corporate headquarters.

Several suppliers and manufacturers of products for the theme park industry seem to have chosen to locate their headquarters in Arlington.

Picture and descriptions from the 1993 park guidebook.
Then: Now:
In 1992 as Andre's River Fries In 2007 as the Yummy Yummy Cafe
In 1992 as Captain Jack's Burger Grill In 2006 as the Nitro Grill
In 1991 as the Rivers Edge Trading Post In 2007 as The Wiggles Gift Shop
Before: 1991 After: 1992
Before: 1989 During: 1991
After: 1999 Now: 2007
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