Theme parks often use very authentic equipment as props for shows, utilizing things that are often crafted with great care (and expense) to set a scene from a distant time or place as a part of an entertainment spectacle.
|As a part of the amazing
spectacle presented in the Great Arena when Great Adventure opened in
1974, a series of complex acts was created with horses and actors
performing stunts and tricks. As part of the western portion of the show
an authentic Stagecoach was used which carried stunt performers dressed
as cowboys guarding travelers through the "old west" and fending off
danger. The Stagecoach was drawn by a four horse team. Not
only did the horses need to pull the overweight coach, but also a pair
of drivers perched in the driver's box, a full load of passengers in the
body of stage, and an assortment of luggage and props atop the roof.
Of all the roles the Stagecoach played at Great Adventure, its assignment in the Great Arena show was its most stressful. With an average of five shows a day, the stage was pushed to its limits - just like in the old west.
|In an early commercial for Great Adventure, the Stagecoach momentarily was featured in the midst of a "shootout" with a stunt performer falling off the back of the roof, suspended by one leg. It always looked like an amazing/crazy stunt and like it could have been incredibly painful for the stunt performer.|
|The Stagecoach was used in the park's Great Parade for the 1977 season, making its way down Dream Street with performers on top and inside. The parade was used as an advertisement to lure guests to the Great Arena. The route lead from the Strawberry Fair area of the park, all the way down Dream Street, through the Best of the West area, and into the Great Arena. As this was a much simpler and slower paced journey, only a two horse team was used.|
|Once the Great Parade
was retired, the Stagecoach took several years off and was kept in
backstage storage. Over time the Stagecoach was refurbished to
replace worn out parts and keep it looking good. The refurbishment was
part of getting it ready to be used in a new show for the 1985
The refurbished Stagecoach was very authentic in detail, handcrafted with wood panels. The Stagecoach featured the familiar "Wells Fargo & Co. Overland Stage" name, along with a "U.S. Mail" sign, reflecting the use of stagecoaches for delivery of mail, merchandise, and people to distant locations on the American frontier.
|In 1985 the Stagecoach was used
as a backdrop and prop for a new comedy show. It was setup on Dream Street in
front of the planter that blocked the street detouring guests into the
adjacent games area. The show space was a simple setup with just the
Stagecoach, a few simple benches, and a small cast of characters.
With Time Warner's purchase of Six Flags in 1991, the chain took on a new mission, restoring the theme to their theme parks. Great Adventure was spruced up all over, bringing additional theme elements to existing areas, and introducing new themes to previously un-themed sections.
Great Adventure's western section was already fairly well themed but the area was expanded to include the adjoining southwestern themed passage near Rolling Thunder as well as a section of Dream Street to become a much larger "Frontier Adventures." As part of the theming enhancements the Stagecoach was reintroduced as a prop/photo opportunity in front of The Fort on a new observation area made of concrete pavers.
Unlike other park thematic props like the Batmobile, Six Flags Bus, and the S.S.Flags sailboat, guests were encouraged to load into the Stagecoach to fully experience it. A wooden tree stump was even placed outside its door to help guests get in and out of the coach. The Stagecoach remained a feature for three seasons from 1992 to 1994.
|The Stagecoach went back into storage for several years and reappeared in 1997 with the addition of the Legend of Venom Gulch show which took place in the queue area for the Viper roller coaster. When the show went away at the end of 1998 the stage once again went into storage in a backstage area but never was reintroduced. It is believed that the old time Stagecoach no longer resides at Six Flags Great Adventure.|
|Original Spotlight: September 27, 2021. GAH Reference#: ATTR-1974-010|