Many theme parks are built on or around a body of water and offer boats of various types as part of their rides and recreational lineup. Whether big boats providing transportation or small boats offering a more personal ride experience, watercraft of all shapes and sizes are often part of the fun.
From the earliest plans for Great Adventure, a
wide variety of boats were included in the designs which would make use of the
park's network of lakes and waterways. As the initial overall
makeup of Great Adventure changed, the plans for the
Enchanted Forest Theme Park still included a flotilla of small personal watercraft
to be located on the waterway behind the Best of the West Restaurant in the western themed Rootin' Tootin' Rip Roarin' area of the park.
Boats were featured in the pre-opening brochures and postcards for the park as well as the opening season map for 1974, though they never actually made it into the park that year. Although the docks which were to be used to load and unload passengers was constructed on the shoreline behind the Log Flume attraction, and boats were acquired in 1974 and stored on property, the attraction never actually opened.
|The lake on Great Adventure's property was man made and was constructed years before the land for the park was acquired from its previous owner, the Switlik family. After the land was acquired there were several legal issues over ownership and use of the lands and lakes which took years to sort out. That uncertainty over ownership prevented the work required to make the waterways usable for boating and other entertainment as many tree stumps lurked just below the waterline having been simply cutoff just below the surface of the water.
The Boats attraction planned for Great Adventure included a used fleet
of small watercraft purchased from Europe which were brought to
Great Adventure along with many of the park's other rides. The small
fiberglass boats were battery powered and rechargeable. An interesting note is they were
originally coin operated, with coin slots located beneath the steering
wheels, requiring users to deposit coins or tokens for a set amount of minutes of
use. Whether this feature would have been used by Great Adventure is
The sleek fleet of boats would have been low to the water and accommodate one or two passengers. A small propeller could be found in the stern of the boats enclosed in a protective metal cage that lessened the chance of personnel injury by the spinning blades. Navigation lights mounted on the bow and stern of the boat hinted that the attraction could have operated after dusk especially with some low level lighting around the shoreline.
The boats were stored in a backstage area in buildings that were part of the Camp Wanda scouting facilities where today the Bizarro roller coaster stands. Eventually, after not being used for several years the boats deteriorated and were disposed of though it is not known whether they were sold or simply discarded.
After the park took ownership of the remaining Switlik property as part
of a court ruling in 1982, the waterways and additional acreage became
available to Great Adventure. During the off-season of 1982-83,
the lakes were drained and cleared out of debris. The large
Switlik Lake became the Great Lake and home to the Water Ski Spectacular
and its newly constructed Great Lake Grandstand. The
smaller waterway behind Best of the West was finally opened to water
traffic with the introduction of rental Paddle Boats which operated from
1983 through 1987.
Although the sleek speedboats originally planned for the park never became a reality, remnants of this once planned attraction can still be found today with the small remains of the docks which would have welcomed avid boat captains and their crews.
|Original Spotlight: July 14, 2020. GAH Reference#: RIDE-1974-005.