Through the years, Great Adventure has had a reputation of adding first of its kind thrill rides and prototypical roller coasters.  In 1976, the park offered its guests a unique family flat ride experience that was never duplicated in any other park around the world, the Super Sidewinder.


After opening in 1974, Great Adventure quickly realized that extra ride capacity was needed to satisfy the millions of eager thrill seeking guests that it was attracting.  To alleviate this issue, in 1975 the Fun Fair section of the park was added incorporating more than a half dozen new flat ride experiences.  These proved to be very popular, and the trend to expand the park’s ride line-up continued into 1976 with the addition of three new attractions. 

Also in 1976, the layout of Great Adventure was dramatically altered with the relocation of the park’s main entranceway from the Dream Street Tents area to a more centralized location further down the esplanade at the fountain.  The new entrance plaza would replace the short-lived Antique Cars ride, while the Happy Feeling petting area next to it was also vacated freeing up additional land for expansion between Dream Street and Fun Fair.  On the opposite end of the park, the removal of the original entrance provided a tract of unused land between Lahaway Creek (in front of the Fort) over to the Fortune Festival Games Square area.  The parcel closest to Fortune Festival became home to a relocated Ride-a-rama children’s section known as Kiddie Kingdom.

Two of 1976’s new rides, the Musik Express himalaya-style spinning ride and the neighboring Alpen Blitz electric-powered rollercoaster were installed adjacent to Fun Fair on the site of Happy Feeling.  The third attraction, the Super Sidewinder scrambler-style ride, was erected on the complete opposite side of the park along the banks of Lahaway Creek on the land which had served as the park’s main entranceway and parking lot tram stops for the two prior seasons.

The Super Sidewinder was one of the largest flat rides the park ever installed and was positioned on a massive circular concrete pad.  The ride, marketed as a SideWheeler, was designed by Chance Manufacturing of Wichita, Kansas.  Great Adventure’s model was the original prototype, built and tested at Chance’s Wichita factory prior to being disassembled, painted white, and shipped to Jackson, New Jersey.

The ride structure consisted of a large white box-steel central column with three arms that extended outward from its top.  From each of these three arms, another three arm subassembly was attached from above, each supporting a large circular disc-like ride vehicle which housed eight two-person seats.  With seating for16 guests per circular disc, the nine discs provided an overall ride capacity of 144 guests per cycle.

All the mechanical components of the attraction were situated above the riders’ heads, and watching the ride in motion was similar to seeing the innards of a clock ticking away.  A motor housed in the ride’s central column turned the larger set of three arms, while drive tires sandwiched in between huge circular skid track rings powered the spinning of the three subassembly arms.  While the main arms rotated counterclockwise around the central column, the three-armed subassemblies rotated clockwise, and the individual ride discs which housed the rider’s seats rotated counterclockwise.  Once the start button was engage, the ride instantly kicked into full-speed operation, compared to other rides that required time to gradually pickup speed.  Riders could easily hear the loud hum coming from the motors and spinning drive tires above them.



Technical Information
Manufacturer: Chance Mfg.-  Wichita, Kansas
Ride Model: Super Sidewheeler
Type: Prototype Model
Number of Cars: 9
Number of Seats per Car: 8
Number of Guests per Seat: 2
Number of Guests per Cycle: 144
Ride Duration: 3 minutes
Ride Capacity: Approximately 2880 Riders/Hour
Direction of Travel:
   Overall Ride: Counter Clockwise
   Arm Subassembly: Clockwise
   Disc Vehicles: Counter Clockwise
Lighting: Flourescent Tube Lights
Safety Restraint: Manual Non-locking Lapbar

The random orange and yellow seats on the Super Sidewinder featured a thin white manual lap bar without any type of locking mechanism giving guests something to hold onto as the discs twirled about careening over the circular ride pad in huge spiraling arches.  The near-miss motion of the shuffling cars made the Super Sidewinder’s name very appropriate - a “sidewinder” being defined as a heavy sweeping blow from the side.

At night the ride was illuminated with long white and yellow florescent tube lights that could be seen from quite a distance.  These bulbs encircled the arm supports and provided a Roman columns-type look to the overall steel structure.

For three seasons from 1976 to 1978 the Super Sidewinder proved to be very popular and delighted guests both day and night.  With its extra high capacity, the ride had minimal wait times with most guests only having to standby until the next ride cycle had begun.

In 1979, Great Adventure was once again set to expand with the addition of a new Spanish themed area featuring Rolling Thunder which was to be constructed on the remainder of the park’s original entrance passage from the parking lot.  The only thing standing in the way of this major expansion was the Super Sidewinder which blocked the thoroughfare that joined the existing park and this new area.

In an odd move, the park decided to relocate the ride to the absolute rear of Kiddie Kingdom.  With the parking lot behind it, the only way to access the attraction required guests to pass through this dead-end children’s section.   This put the ride at a disadvantage as teens and guests who didn’t have small children weren’t that likely to venture into that area of the park.  As such, starting in 1979, a large portion of the park’s guests never knew the Super Sidewinder even existed at Great Adventure because it was so far off the beaten path.  The only draw for the Super Sidewinder proved to be at night when guests were able to easily spot the ride thanks to its bright florescent tube lighting.

Given the ride’s remote location and its extra high capacity, at its new locale the Super Sidewinder never pulled in the number of riders it was designed to accommodate.  Even if small groups assembled to enjoy the attraction, the massive layout of the ride made each experience still seem like exclusive ride time.  By 1983, the ride’s greatest strength of high capacity proved to be its biggest weakness as no lines ever formed for the ride and it was viewed as being unpopular and not drawing enough guests to keep it in operation.  When it came time to update Kiddie Kingdom and retheme it to Shirt Tales Land for 1984, the ride was sadly removed and replaced with net climbs and ball crawls. 

Great Adventure was the only park to ever install the unique Chance “SideWheeler” ride.  The Super Sidewinder was never reintroduced into this or any other park and was ultimately scrapped several years later.