No trip to a theme park would be complete without a souvenir and most parks have a variety of locations where park trinkets can be purchased.  Often these merchandise locations sport specific themes associated with the sections of the park where they can be found.

One of the most iconic structures at Great Adventure is The Fort.  It is the Cinderella's Castle of Great Adventure's Magic Kingdom.  This oversized wooden log-clad fortress is home to two of the park's original attractions - the Sky Ride and the Runaway Mine Train. Visually striking from a distance and up close, the Fort not only houses these two rides, but also serves as home to several storage spaces in its locked-off lower levels.   

For the first two seasons of Great Adventure's operations a small unused area just under the exit stairway for the Runaway Mine Train was simply left open, without any walls or barriers to prevent people from walking under the staircase above.  In 1976, this area was repurposed into a small retail shop. After all, this underutilized area next to a very high traffic passage leading to the queues for both of the Fort's rides would offer great exposure to a merchandise outlet.

At first, simple half-walls were installed squaring off the area under the stairs creating a venue similar to an arts and crafts stand.  Initially the stand was the Woodcarver Sign Maker Shop where guests could purchase custom made signs created with a router and a sander. The smell of sawdust and freshly applied varnish caught the attention of many passing by the stall.  After a few years the woodcarver's shop moved to a new location and for one season the Fort Shop became the Old West Candle Company in 1980.

With the risks associated with power tools and pots of hot wax removed, the open stall was enhanced to become a very small walk in store by totally enclosing the area under the stairs.  Starting in 1981, the space was home to the Old West Hat Shop which transitioned into the Leather Shop in 1990, which remained throughout the 2003 season.
  For one season in 2004, the shop space was used as a security stand called Frontier Security.  The following year, coin operated massage chairs were placed in the space and became the Massage Outpost with oversized vibrating recliners.  The space featured murals of red rocks and saguaro cacti found in the southwest desert along with props like old time lanterns and horseshoes.  
  The Massage Outpost was just one of many massage chair rest areas being added all over the park at the time in an effort to boost revenue.  
  Starting with the 2013 season, the space was left empty and it has remained vacant ever since. The shops props and decor were removed and the front of the former retail location walled off.  The protective roof that protruded from the side of the Fort over the shop's windows was removed as well as the bracket which held the multiple signs calling attention to the stand over the years. 

Today the Fort Shop is barely recognizable blending in with the rest of the fort with its wood planked sides and dark brown trim which matches the rest of the building.  Maybe someday its windows and door will open once again offering guests a boutique-sized shop in the massively oversized Fort.
Original Spotlight:  October 19, 2020; Updated:  February 22, 2022.  GAH Reference#:  SHOP-1976-001 
(Update Coming Soon)