Many theme parks and amusement parks looked to the sky to promote themselves, and several parks purchased their own hot air balloons with their logos. As advertising media has evolved over time, the cost of maintaining these balloons made them disappear one by one.
Great Adventure looked to promote the park in a BIG way with not one but
two hot air balloons, one of which was the record holder as the biggest
in the world. The two colorful balloons featured fanciful designs
including the park's name in the signature font. The balloon
itself became part of Great Adventure's early logo.
The balloons were designed to be attractions in the park, taking guests high above the Enchanted Forest for a spectacular view. It was used to tour the east coast to promote the park. Warner LeRoy introduced the balloon in Central Park in NYC with an elaborate televised press conference.
The larger of the two balloons was known to the crew as "Big Balloon", and was 110' high, 95' wide and had a volume of 400,000 cubic feet of air. It could carry 4 passengers and a pilot, and generally operated with a tether keeping it in place, though it could also be used for free flight. The smaller of the two balloons had a 105,000 cubic foot capacity, and was a scaled down version of the big one. Both balloons were built by a manufacturer called Raven, and at the time they were the most elaborate balloons ever constructed.
The chief pilot for the balloons was the famous balloonist, Captain Bob Waligunda.
When wind and weather permitted, the balloons resided in "Balloon Land" next to Miniature Marvels. At one point, the balloon were to have moved over to the Moon Flume area for the 1975 season, but the move never occurred.
The park balloon was a "super pressure balloon" built to withstand a lot of wind. When new park management came in under Six Flags, a new crew was hired to operate the park balloon but they were unfamiliar with pressure balloons and they chose to only fly it in "free flight configuration" which meant that it didn't fly much at all and was shortly removed.
The larger balloon was sold to World Balloons in Albuquerque and nicknamed "The Big One". It is unknown what happened to the smaller balloon at this time.
INITIAL LIFTING OF BALLOON #N54681 AT
PRINCETON, NJ AIRPORT ON MAY 17, 1974
|NEW YORK'S CENTRAL PARK PHOTO SHOOT OF BALLOON #N54683
|Above: Excerpt from "The Great American Balloon Book" by Bob Waligunda and Larry Sheehan, 1981.
The area formerly used for mooring the
balloons was later redeveloped to become the home to the Shockwave
roller coaster and then as the Right Stuff Mach 1 Adventure and Great
American Road Race.
Balloons fell out of fashion for advertising parks at the end of the 1970's, but saw a resurgence in the 21st century as Disney and other entertainment centers added helium filled balloons to create spectacular attractions as well as aerial advertising.
Click the placard below to
Great Adventure Hot Air Balloon in flight!
SOUVENIRS AND MERCHANDISE FEATURING THE
GREAT ADVENTURE HOT AIR BALLOONS