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Six Flags safari to be a park ride

11:59 PM, Aug 30, 2012

Asbury Park Press

Written by Amanda Oglesby

 

JACKSON — The largest drive-through safari outside of Africa is about to undergo a dramatic transformation.

 

Though Six Flags Wild Safari’s 38-year history as a drive-through ends Sept. 30, the animal park will be reborn in 2013 within adjacent theme park Six Flags Great Adventure, company officials announced Thursday.

 

The overhaul will begin in October, once the Wild Safari’s gates close for the final time. The theme park company will then begin its merger of the 350-acre animal park with the 160-acre theme park, giving rise to the largest theme park in the world, Six Flags officials said.

 

In its new form, called “Safari Off Road Adventure,” visitors will enter through Great Adventure, then board open-air, all-terrain vehicles to see the park’s animals.

 

Safari Off Road Adventure is scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend 2013. Officials said the new attraction will not raise ticket prices for Great Adventure.

 

Devin Goodman, 44, of Lawrenceville said Thursday that he enjoys the safari in its current form.

 

“I would try it before I criticize it,” Goodman said, while in the Safari with his twin 6-year-old sons. “I just can’t envision it being better than the experience that we’re used to.”

 

Now, all drivers must keep their car windows closed as they meander through herds of giraffes, rhinos and bison. The open-air vehicles will enhance the experience, and bring the sounds and smells of the safari’s 1,200 animals to visitors, said Harry Applegate, historian and author of “Images of America: Great Adventure” and GreatAdventureHistory.com.

 

“The original intent of the entertainment facility was the safari, and theme park came afterward,” said Applegate.

 

In its past, the Wild Safari had as many as 2,000 animals, including species no longer housed there, such as pygmy hippopotamus and camels, he said. In a previous era, cars were permitted to drive through the baboon enclosure, where the monkeys would climb on dashboards and windshields.

 

“They were pretty destructive,” Applegate said. “There would be auto parts all over: windshield wipers, weather stripping.”

 

“I’m sure there are a lot of logistical headaches involved with letting people drive their own vehicles through,” said Jim Futrell, a historian with the National Amusement Park Historical Association and author of “Amusement Parks of New Jersey.”

 

Futrell said he witnessed people in the past feed the Wild Safari’s animals from their cars, which is prohibited.

 

“I think it (the change in design) is an interesting way to keep the attraction going,” he added.

 

Though the Wild Safari has undergone some minor past changes, such as adding an Australian-themed section and later a white tiger area, this will be its first major overhaul, Applegate said.

 

“It’s great to see them enhancing a classic component of Great Adventure,” he said. “I’m glad to see it’s staying around, albeit in another form.”

 

Six Flags officials announced the changes to the Wild Safari, in addition to changes at the company’s 13 other North American parks.

 

“What we’re doing is expanding the footprint of the park … to create one big mega park, which will be the biggest in the world,” said Jim Reid-Anderson, Six Flags president and chief operating officer. “It will also provide an educational experience that we were not able to give before as people were driving through the park on their own.”

 

The new design includes an area to feed and, for an additional fee, zip line over the animals.

 

“(For) people that wouldn’t normally ride thrill rides, it will give them something to ride and share together,” said Bret Ulozas, a Jackson resident and state representative of American Coaster Enthusiasts. “If it’s done right, it’s going to be really unbelievable.”

 

Ulozas believes the decision to include Safari Off Road Adventure within Great Adventure will draw more people, and take away the inconvenience of having to leave one park to enjoy another.

 

Michelle Mirabello of Howell, who visited the Wild Safari on Thursday with her son and daughter, looks forward to the change.

 

“They needed to redo it, because it’s exactly the same from when I was a kid,” she said. “It’s going to be a nice change for them.”

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Just part, and if I had to guess it will probably be going over a predator area (tigers or lions or something like that). They have the same kind of thing at Gatorland where you zip over the gators.

 

 

I would love to zip line over the lions or tigers! I wonder how they are going to do it with all the trees in the way? I mean that's how the animals get shade. I don't think they'd want to harm the animals.

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I would hav torn down chillers observatory and move bizzaro o we to where chiller used to be. Paint it brown and green and reopen the old country, with a refurbished autobahn, gett ing rid of that dead end zone of the park. With bizzaro gone not only could thu built a better entrance to the new safari but also get rid of all the problems it causes during concerts with noise

I also would have preferred to see Bizzaro go and have a themed area to support the new addition. But I woudl have shipped Bizzaro off to another park.

Putting the Safari entrance on the Bizarro side wouldn't work. It would cut off access to the Northern Star Arena and make getting bands and acts into and out a haste. It is highly unlikely that they would move a major coaster within a park simply from a cost perspective. The next stop for Bizarro is another Six Flags park.

Not really, if the acts are brought in before opening and removed before opening the next day then you simply need a 10 ft wide path and a gate on either side. i agree it is most likely to go to another park.

With the new safari, can we expect safari discoveries to return next season? Also does anyone know what the 3rd big announcement is supposed to be?

The zip line adventure over the safari.

  1. Safari is added to the park and rehabbed
  2. HH gets a new side
  3. Zip line attraction (most likely an up-charge)

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The Safari Off Road Adventure is looking very promising to be a hit! I hope this is the first of many phases of the theme park getting TLC to its themeing and liven up the areas. Not for nothing but as much as we needed the flats this season (Which I do appreciate), they pretty much just placed the flats in the old ride pads and called it "Adventure Alley". I hope Adventure Seaport, Boardwalk, Movietown and Golden Kingdom are in there future plans.

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Within hours of the announcement, butthurt Disney fanboys got their panties in a bunch, crying that it was a Kilimanjaro Safari ripoff.

It is a Knock off of it. but then the safari in general is a knock of of their own Jungle cruse. You can spin this change in so many ways; This is a safer alternative, It's more environmentally Friendly. Fewer vehicles will put less stres on the animals. etc. But the Disney fans have little to worry about after they expand again with Avatar I'm sure it will get it's reports back. Even if it doesn't the parks are completely different.

And 2013 is batman's 20th anniversary and in 2014 SFGA will be 40!!! so i think they will get a giga drop tower on kingda ka and a new coaster! a wing coaster

I don't think the managers have any clue what else to do with the property. I think this ride may have been planed to be a bigger attraction. but they pushed it's time frame out to try and over shadow gatekeeper. For some reason I think Managers at SFMM think they are in competition with CP.

 

I doubt we would see a giant drop and a high price tag coaster in the same year.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My concern with this new off road tour is that it could end up like the old Animal Kingdom Boats, not being able to keep up with the crowds and end up with overflowing lines during peak times. Another thing I see is that the park stating this tour will be "included with admission next season". I find it interesting they say "included with admission next season" instead of just saying it

"will be included with admission". To me it sounds like they have already planned to keep the off road tour free with admission only for a limited time before they start charging an additional fee. That wording just doesn't sit right with me.

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Today I visited Disney's Animal Kingdom for the first time since about March, and I got there just as the parade was about to start, so I made a beeline to the back of the park to get away from the parade crowds (that park should NEVER have a parade, the paths are too tight). When I got to the back, I saw that Kilimanjaro Safari was a a walk on, so I decided to ride while I waited for the parade to pass. I've only done it once or twice before (back when they had the "Little Red" story line) and now this was the first time without it. I really wanted to see if it was as bad as I remembered it...not that it's BAD, just very disappointing compared to the Safari at Busch Gardens and Great Adventure's Safari, and sure enough it was as disappointing as I remembered it being. You only see a few of each type of animal, and while the habitat is nice and the walls nearly invisible, it really doesn't hold a candle to BGT or SFGAdv's versions.

 

I am more anxious than ever to see what GA does with the "new" version and just having the modern invisible barriers like BGT and DAK will make it a better experience. People seem to think that it would be impossible to do it better than Disney does, but actually the bar is set pretty low.

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^I mentioned this to John Fitzgerald when we met in early August. With what Great Adventure has planned it has the potential of being much better than the other versions of themed Safaris. If they can manage to mix the well stocked Safari with a true off road adventure, they are sure to have a hit. It always seems that you have to "hunt" for animals at Disney (and Busch), even though it was initially promoted as "not just having animals, but whole herds of animals". I've rarely seen herds of anything at either Disney or Busch, but Great Adventure really does have whole herds of almost every animal. Combine this with the added bonus of them encouraging animal interations with the people in the Safari trucks and it sure sounds like a winner!

 

The running joke when we've gone through Disney or BGT's safari is a take off of the line from Jurassic Park - "now, you do plan on having animals in your animal park, right?"

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It's a shame they took out the water part of Rhino Rally.

 

Here is a link I found of the company that is rebuilding the surplus trucks for GADV. http://www.easternsurplus.net/

Edited by The Master
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Thanks 29, you don't even need a CDL to drive a 2 1/2 ton version in most state, even CA. Though they only have 170 HP and a top speed of 55 MPH, they are no speed demons.

 

Hopefully the trucks will have roll down clear vinyl sides for cold, windy, and rainy weather. It's NJ, not FL and the weather is usually crummy in NJ. Even King's Dominion's old safari monorall was enclosed with HVAC and VA is a hardiness zone warmer than NJ.

Edited by The Master
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  • 2 weeks later...

According to the Six Flags Great Adventure website:

 

Due to the planned construction from the fall of 2012 into the spring of 2013, Six Flags will be suspending all animal education programs until the completion of the renovations. This will include the 2012 Fall/2013 Spring Journeys in Learning and Biology Experience Programs. Six Flags fully anticipates both of these programs will resume for the 2013 fall semester. At that time, both programs will be redesigned and offer new and exciting experiences not possible before the renovations.

 

This would seem to be an indicator that next year's Safari experience will be more than just new trucks!

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