Bumper cars can be found at nearly every fair,
amusement park and theme park around the world. This family favorite
ride gives many children their first chance to get behind the wheel and
drive, and is enjoyed by millions of people every year.
Bumper cars have been a staple of Great Adventure since the park opened
in 1974, with the park opening the world's largest bumper car ride
called Traffic Jam which ran in the park through the 1992 season when
the structure was destroyed in a winter storm.
The ride was so popular a second bumper car ride was added in 1975, known as the Skooter. Skooter, which was renamed Fender Bender, was an even larger version of the ride and operated until 1987 and the site ultimately became home to the Batman Stunt Arena.
The park was left with no bumper car ride for all of 1993 while plans were made to build a replacement, this time with a more permanent structure to replace the temporary buildings that were designed for portability so they could be used in fairs and carnivals. The new structure was created as an anchor for the newly themed Old Country section of the park.
Under the ownership of Time Warner great strides were made in the park to bring cohesive themes to areas of the park that had no theme elements as a result of the hasty growth of the park in the 1970's and 80's. Old Country was created out of an area that had originally been the Happy Feeling petting zoo and was later joined to the Fun Fair section of the park with its collection of flat rides.
The site for the Autobahn had been home to the Haunted Castle which was destroyed in a tragic fire ten years earlier. The area became a landscaped garden until it was decided to relocate the parks bumper cars with an elaborate new building for the ride and attached games buildings.
Construction began over the winter of 1993-94, with the steel structure in place by the March opening day of the park.
Through April and May the construction of the new buildings continued
with the elaborate half-timber styled facades taking shape including a
large central clock tower. As part of the construction matching
fences were added to surround the Old Country section, bringing more
thematic cohesiveness to the area.
The actual bumper car vehicles were once the cars from the defunct Traffic Jam ride.
Even the adjoining games were themed to the Old Country, with the Old Country Clockworks, Steins on the Rhine, Black Forest Bottles and Bavarian Biscuit Maker. Like the Autobahn, all featured elaborate signs that fit the style of the architecture and theme of the Old Country.
Click below for
|The area surrounding
the Autobahn experienced a major change in 1999 with the addition of the
Pendulum ride behind the buildings. The Pendulum suffered low
attendance while it was at the park since it was hidden from view to
most guests, with the Autobahn buildings hiding it.
The games in the attached structures changed over time, with different games coming and going as trends changed. One section of the games was replaced with a Relaxation Station featuring massage chairs and offering a shady place to sit and rest.
The Autobahn received a major rehab in the 2006-2007 off season, getting some new ride vehicles. The cars had bumper stickers added to them with the new sponsorship of the GEICO insurance company.
For the 2008 season, the Old Country section of the park was closed to the public. With only the Musik Express and Autobahn rides remaining in Old Country, the area was deserted after the adjacent Chiller was removed.
The Autobahn building is now used for the storage and maintenance of ride vehicles. Two of the bumper car vehicles were added to the Exploratorium in the summer of 2009 along side the "Virtual Bumper Cars"