Some of the most popular rides at many amusement parks, fairs, and theme parks are the bumper cars, with many parks installing multiple sets of these fun and exciting electric powered vehicles. Great Adventure has been home to many bumper car ride installations throughout the park's history.
|Great Adventure was once home to
two record setting bumper car rides but within five years both
attractions were removed from the park.
The Skooter (aka the original Fender Benders) was removed in 1988 during a rough period in the park's history which saw reduced attendance. The excess capacity was not needed and it was decided not to keep the ride in operation. Unexpectedly, the park lost its other bumpers (Traffic Jam) in a blizzard in 1993 just before the season started.
It wasn't until the following season that a new set of bumper cars was to be built in the Old Country area of the park on the site which had once been the location of the Haunted Castle.
|From 1984 to 1993, the former Haunted
Castle site had been made into various garden areas with its final
variation a small wall through park featuring beautiful landscaping
When Time Warner took ownership of Six Flags in the early '90s, they looked to bring themes back into their theme parks. One of the underdeveloped areas of Great Adventure was the Old Country region which was basically just a path to connect the Showcase Theatre area to the Fountain.
The Spin Meister (Enterprise ride) and the Musik Express ride featured some loosely German themed elements but the park wanted to play this up by fleshing out the area with additional theming and attractions.
Site preparation for the new bumper cars ride started in the fall of 1993 with the demolition of the botanical gardens displays. Its concrete pavers were removed and soon construction of the new attraction would soon begin.
|The centerpiece of Old Country was the new Autobahn bumper car ride housed in a solid, well themed facade which connected to several games under half timber style roof structures creating the feeling of a small village.
|The main building housing the
bumper cars featured a clock tower at its center, with four small games
booths around it. The two on the left were themed as "Stables" and the two on the right were themed as a "Farmers Market".
The buildings would feature elaborate signage furthering the theme and in-house created games extended the "Old Country" feel.
From the courtyard in front of the Autobahn, the attraction combined with the game stalls was to appear expansive. Not to lessen this impressive facade, the bumper car's queue bars were to be strategically placed behind the building in a remote and almost backstage locale.
|After having lost the
park's original Traffic Jam set of bumper cars to a blizzard, the park
invested in building a much sturdier framed structure. The
Autobahn bumpers would not utilize an off-the-shelf temporary bumpers
house but instead be comprised of steel I-beams and poured concrete.
Construction on the new facilities began over the winter and continued into the spring of 1994 with work still in progress as the park opened for the new '94 season. Many guests wondered what the two upright steel I-beams at the center of the building would become. No renderings were posted or published to illustrate the finished product so until construction further progressed, it would remain a mystery.
Over the early weeks of the season work
continued on the buildings with the roof details taking shape and
the attraction beginning to look more and more "old world" with each detail added. The
wood and steel frames began to form the gables and dormers of the Old
Country village, and other details like the fences around the area also
were given the same half timber details.
As for the two vertical I-beams, it soon became evident that the Autobahn would incorporate a tower-like centerpiece, bringing even more character to a well thought out structure that would enhance the entire Old Country section.
|As time went on more and more of the finish details were added including the clock face and stone veneer on the tower. Roof shingles and windows complete with flower boxes helped to add charm and theme that improved the feeling of what had up until that point been a jumble of rides with no cohesive idea or flow to it.
|The final details of the ride building and the games were installed in late April/early May getting ready for the onset of the peak summer season. Finally, in early May of 1994 the Autobahn complex was completed and the games and bumper cars ride were open for all the guests traveling through the Old Country.
|Original Spotlight: September 21, 2017. GAH Reference #: RIDE-1994-002.