A museum paying tribute to the history of Great Adventure has long been an idea which we have wished for at GreatAdventureHistory.com. Thanks to Dolores Oswald at Six Flags Great Adventure, we were able to make our dream a reality when we were given the opportunity to partner with the park in setting up an exhibit to celebrate Great Adventure's 40th Anniversary.
|It was the first week
of May 2014 when an email popped up on my iphone asking if I
might be interested in assisting the park in setting up a mini museum in July
to celebrate their upcoming anniversary. As an idea which we
bounced around our website forums for years, half jokingly and half
praying for, the answer could not have been more definite - ABSOLOUTELY!
Several weeks later, after an ideal location had been secured in the red and white Dream Street Tent, another message asked if I was available to come to the theme park to check out the future museum space. The messaged proclaimed "We're doing it!!!!".
I happened to be in Hurricane Harbor when I got the message and quickly made my way the the tent. Our museum adventure was about to begin.
The museum would take up the space recently vacated by Season Pass Processing. The area afforded us a quarter of the square footage of the tent and a preliminary plan was drafted to fill the space.
|With a general idea of what we
wanted to present, our hunt for artifacts and memorabilia began as we
searched high and low through various departments, storage areas, and
Wherever we went we were welcomed by truly accommodating team members which opened up their stashes of incredible pieces from Great Adventure seasons gone by.
|As a fanatic of Great Adventure's
history, being able to explore and see so many things related to the
park made me giddy with excitement. Each time we would explore I
felt like a child waking up on Christmas morning. If I had to give
a dollar for every time I said "Oh my God" to Dory, she would be a very
wealthy lady today.
On more than one occasion I know I had to be reeled back in to face the reality that not everything we saw could be brought into the museum. Oh well, there is always next time for us to use the Joust-a-Bout boats!
After each stop and storage local we would determine what we would like to use and a master inventory list was complied. We knew what we wanted, and soon it would be time for us to gather everything up and move it in.
|Back at the
museum a new coat of paint freshened up the museum space. A quick
walk through allowed us to discuss and visualize where everything we had
found would be positioned.
Shortly thereafter, some of the historic treasures started to arrive outside the tent and an early pre-park opening visit allowed me to drop off parts of my collection and various pieces of equipment.
table/bench combos allowed us the opportunity to have multi-level
display surfaces which took up a relatively small amount of floor space
in the main portion of the museum. Three small offshoot rooms
(originally used as guest recording studios back in the 80's and 90's)
were the perfect setup for themed rooms - one dedicated to shows,
another the Safari, and a third for Hurricane Harbor.
The next couple of days were spent transporting items into the museum. We quickly learned that even the smallest amusement park prop can be extremely heavy. While the Calypso ride vehicle weighed a bit, it proved to be no match for the Monster Spin car which took a team of people to get it in place.
On the morning of July 1st we were greeted by the
museum's biggest prop - the back car from Rolling Thunder's green train.
Even though the car was positioned upon two moving dollies, it still was
incredibly heavy and difficult to roll around. Our initial plan
called for the car to be located in one of the small rooms with a large
reverse point of view mural behind it. This would have allowed
guests a photo-op "aboard" this recently removed coaster. However,
because it would have been impossible to get the car into the room and
because the car was on rollers, we had to change our plans and place the
car in the main display area. In the end, this allowed guests a
chance to check out the ride vehicle in detail, something which proved
to be very popular.
Other goodies delivered that day included several original IMAX film reels from the simulator theater including Dino Island and Superstition, pieces from the Safari Park, and blueprints of the Fort and Rolling Thunder.
|Positioning all the items in the
museum stretched into the evening as all the pieces from our artifact
hunts and personal collections came together.
Photos of everything in the museum were taken that night so that all the appropriate informational tags and descriptions could be prepared and printed for the next day's grand opening.
|On July 2nd, the sign shop
started to deliver all of the graphics which we had submitted to
supplement the displays. These signs included our outward facing
Great Adventure History Museum signs as well as numerous photo collages
representing all of the additions and milestones from the initial park
construction through each decade up until today.
Shortly after noon, we unlocked the doors to our new exhibit and the museum was open to welcome its first guest. In true retro-Great Adventure style, one of the classic Foghorn Leghorn height signs from the 1980's greeted guests at the front door. The sign read "I say.. I say.. You must be this tall to ride this ride" but luckily that didn't confuse anyone.
|The museum was
presented in a fashion that allowed guests to revisit each period in
Great Adventure's history decade by decade with the earliest years
further broken down into Construction, 1974, and 1975 to 1979.
Photo boards hanging from the ceiling illustrated every major attraction
added to the park as well as numerous events and celebrations.
Below the signs on the corresponding tables were numerous items which
represented several of the events or features from those years.
Pieces included blueprints, a control panel from the Joust-a-Bout, and a
scale model of Adventure Rivers.
Positioned around the museum were additional displays such as souvenir memorabilia which was sold at the park over the years, original park signage, ride vehicles and props, as well as an information desk where visitors could ask questions, sign a guest book, check out employee yearbooks, and watch a loop of classic Great Adventure television commercials.
|Even though the museum was officially open, over the first several weeks additional features were added to the lineup of items on display. Sci-Fi The Robot made his debut by the Fourth of July and stood tall in the lobby area welcoming guests. A pictorial arrangement of park logos through the years were added to the lobby walls and a Right Stuff Mach 1 Adventure kiosk including the ride's complete preshow and simulator movie were presented on a monitor for park pilots to reminisce about their past adventures breaking the sound barrier.
|One of the last additions to the museum was a display for Great Adventure's newest park Hurricane Harbor. As the facility with the shortest history, items for the water park were the hardest to acquire as most of the park's signage and props are still in place. In the end we were able to secure some incredible artwork of the elaborate props which dotted Hurricane Harbor's landscape during the first several seasons.
|The Great Adventure History Museum was initially set to operate daily from noon to 4pm from the start of July until July 13th. The exhibit proved to be very popular during its two week run and its operating calendar was extended by an additional two weeks with a revised closing date of July 27th.
|One of the nicest parts of the
museum was something we didn't bring into the exhibit. It was the
great people who visited and the stories about the park which they
shared. Repeatedly, so many guests went around the room pointing
to the props or photos while exclaiming "I remember that!" or "Holy cow,
I forgot about that!".
It quickly became evident that the Great Adventure History Museum succeeded in transporting guests back in time for a trip to revisit past memories and cherished experiences that they had with their family and friends. All the stories gave credibility to the park's old marketing slogan:
Great Adventure -
Where You're Part Of The Fun!
|On Sunday, July 27.
2014 the Great Adventure History Museum closed its doors after a
successful run. Even with a rather short operating calendar with
limited hours, we had the opportunity to welcome thousands of guests who
took a moment or two to drop by to relive some Great Adventure history.
Local residents, out of state guests, season pass holders, day visitors, current employees, past park alumni, senior citizens, little children, teens, families, ACErs, Great Adventure fans, GAH website members... and the list goes on. We could not have asked for a better audience.
|In the days following the museum's closure we carefully packed everything up, but before doing so, extensively photographed the exhibit. Please enjoy these pictures of the Great Adventure History Museum.
|Now, the Great
Adventure History Museum itself has taken a place in the roster of
past Great Adventure attractions. I can't express how happy I am
to have been involved with the creation of this exhibit.
There are so many people to thank in helping us make the museum a reality. I won't attempt to list everyone because I know I will end up missing someone and I would hate to do that. Instead I just want to extend a huge thanks to everyone I had an opportunity to meet in preparing for this exciting project as well as those who offered their time and support. We could not have done it without all of you.
And last but surely not least, a special thanks to Dory Oswald for taking the initiative of getting the museum off the ground and for putting up with me when I am sure I was acting like a little kid in a really big candy store!
|SAMPLING OF INFORMATIONAL SIGNS
|SHOWTIME - A
SALUTE TO GREAT ADVENTURE'S SHOWS
Click the logo above to view one of our four audio/visual presentations prepared for the
Great Adventure History Museum.
|SAMPLING OF GREAT ADVENTURE TRIVIA SIGNS
THE ROLLER COASTERS OF
SIX FLAGS GREAT ADVENTURE TIMELINE
(FROM THE 2015 GREAT ADVENTURE HISTORY MUSEUM ENCORE)