Amusement parks and theme parks have always offered an array of fun diversions for their guests beyond rides. Often games and other tests of skill have been a part of that lineup, with various devices allowing guests to try their hand.
|The Giant Wheel (now
the Big Wheel) has always been an icon at Great Adventure and while the
ride itself has barely changed, the area behind it has evolved.
Initially when the park opened in 1974, the Giant Wheel existed without
any fencing or barriers preventing guests from approaching the spinning
wheel from the rear.
By 1976, a landscaped plot was created allowing for a more secure exit for the Giant Wheel as well as a colorful garden space for passing guests. Over the years the Enchanted Forest Gifts and a stand for tattoos were added adjacent to the new green lawn. At one point in the early 1990's, the spot was supposed to have become a "stage" which would have hosted a robot show with the likes of Sci-Fi, an interactive mobile robot that premiered at Great Adventure in 1987.
|For the 2002 season,
the park began construction on a new remote controlled cars game.
Throughout the park's history there were sets of remote controlled cars
and boats scattered in various locations which were quite popular
This new remotes game would be at a central and highly trafficked spot at the base of one of the park's most visible landmarks and directly across from one of the park's largest and most popular restaurants. This new remote control area was designed for "off road" vehicles and featured a variety of hazards embedded into the concrete as challenges for the 4x4 trucks.
|The 4x4 trucks were
something new compared to other remote controlled vehicles in the park.
The large tires and lifted bodies allowed them to navigate the obstacles
but would still sometimes end up flipping on their sides or backs,
sometimes from traversing the embedded obstacles, and sometimes from
running into each other.
Guests needed to exchange cash for a special game token to play. One dollar provided one token which allowed for a couple of minutes of runtime. The controls included a steering wheel, gas pedal, and a forward/reverse shifter. An audible engine sound could be heard from the control unit when driving the 4x4's.
The novelty of remote controlled vehicles had really worn off with the new millennia and the availability of better remote controlled vehicles for home use. Like the other remote controlled vehicles that had been around the park, eventually it was time for them to be retired.
|At the end of the 2018 season,
after years in the park, the trucks were removed and the spot they
occupied vacated. By 2022, the control units and token machines
were eliminated signaling the ultimate demise of the remote control
In 2023, the spot got a new lease on life with the introduction of the Alphabet Garden. The area's fencing and concrete edging were both painted green, a mound of fresh topsoil added, and twenty six different species of foliage starting with the letters from A to Z were planted.
|The concept of the Alphabet
Garden began as part of the Safari Exploration Station which opened in
the entrance/exit to the Wild Safari Park. Added to the hands-on
and educational mini-park in 2009, the garden featured a variety of 26
plants, each represented by one of the letters of the alphabet.
The Safari Exploration Station's Alphabet Garden closed with the discontinuation of the area at the end of 2010. Thirteen years later this special garden resurfaced in the theme park on the former site of the Remote Controls Big Wheel 4x4 Trucks.
|Original Spotlight: June 10, 2023. GAH Reference#: GAME-2002-001