One of the staples of any theme park experience is the food, and Great Adventure aimed to please with three major restaurants and several smaller food facilities including Tower of Pizza which was a food stand located across from the Bandstand.
|Built with the
initial construction of the park in 1974, Tower of Pizza was designed to
serve refreshments for the crowds in the Bandstand area of the park. The
Bandstand was one of the Enchanted Forest's major show venues with
constant entertainment from the time the park open until closing each
day, and the area was filled with music and guests all day long along
with the smell of pizza baking in the ovens.
The way the park was originally configured meant Tower of Pizza was the closest eatery to the park's entrance and exit. Guests entering the park might be drawn towards the music of the Bandstand and through to the Rootin' Tootin' Rip Roarin' area of the park with the incredibly popular Log Flume and Runaway Mine Train, making the restaurant a popular first stop for lunch as guests entered the park past the Four Tents.
Restaurant Names Through the Years
1974: Tower of Pizza
1975: Bandstand Cafe
1976-1977: Band Stanza
1978-1985: Band Stanza Hamburgers
1986-1988: Band Stanza Hamburgers and Pizza
1989-1990: Band Stanza Burgers & Roast Beef Sandwiches
1991-1993: Band Stanza Jumbo Hotdogs
2004: (Standing but not operating)
2005: Showtime Cafe
2006-Present: Looney Tunes Camp Kitchen
|Over time the Tower
of Pizza changed names several times as the menu offerings changed. The
Tower of Pizza name only lasted through the 1974 season, becoming
Bandstand Cafe in 1975 and the Band Stanza (Hamburgers/Hamburgers & Pizza/
Hamburgers & Roast Beef Sandwiches/Jumbo Hot Dogs) from 1976-1993. The
restaurant was generally a second string food location in the park,
often operating seasonally.
For 1994 a big update was in store changing over to a McDonald's restaurant. This was one of the first name brand restaurants in the park, serving a limited selection of the famous McDonald's hamburgers, McNuggets, and french fries. As a McDonalds location the restaurant was only open peak season (generally Memorial Day to Labor Day) and while it was popular, there were many complaints about the pricing. While guests expect higher food prices inside a theme park, having a real basis of comparison (especially when a McDonald's was just down the street) made the price differences all too clear.
|After ten seasons,
the McDonald's was closed at the end of the 2003 season and the
signage removed. The restaurant sat unused (at least as a point of
sale), though the park's Food Service team used the building for storage
and for preparation of food during that time. The kitchen was used for
the park's vendors of popcorn and cotton candy and food and drinks
were prepared inside though not sold through the service windows.
For the 2005 season the restaurant was finally re-opened as the Showtime Cafe serving a limited snack menu. After just one season as Showtime Cafe the restaurant went through another change as it along with the Bandstand were incorporated into the new Bugs Bunny National Park children's area for the 2006 season, this time taking on the name Looney Tunes Camp Kitchen.
As part of Bugs Bunny National Park, the Looney Tunes Camp Kitchen was repainted in the same warm color pallet as the rest of the attractions in the area. The queues for the service windows were updated with new wooden railings to match the rustic look of the National Park theme.
The restaurant menu was expanded beyond just the basic snack food to more kid-centric food choices like chicken strips, hot dogs and french fries. With the changes in park level and corporate management, the initial vision for the Camp Kitchen changed and it became home for a very short time to the new "Brunch with Bugs" program.
restaurant a beautiful patio area was constructed back in the earliest
days of the park, with a lattice fence and elegant light fixtures
(matching the building's and Bandstands) and trees that were planted
when the patio was built that offered shade from the summer sun. The
patio was a remnant of the early days of the park when several of these
fenced off areas were added for the sales of beer.
The local liquor laws require that the beer be consumed within a limited area, and Band Stanza along with Liberty Square Pizza and Big Wheel Burger were some of the few locations in the park where beer was sold. Each of these locations had matching steel roll down doors on the back counters where the beer taps were located. When not in operation, the roll down doors could be locked preventing guests and employees from unauthorized access to the beer.
|The patio area was a
perfect location for private events including the Brunch with Bugs and
birthday parties with its proximity to the children's rides of both Bugs
Bunny National Park and Balin's Jungle Land. To improve the patio
further a shade structure was added, creating shade in the spring when
leaves were still coming in on the trees, as well as offering protection
from falling flowers, leaves, and animals for diners below. Though the
area was ideal in many ways, the events planned for the space were often
moved to Character Cafe or Best of the West to offer protection from
wind and rain as well as air conditioning for hot summer days.
The restaurant has had many menu changes over the decades, even serving as the park's Glatt Kosher outlet for one season. The Looney Tunes Camp Kitchen has continued to serve through today, though with limited hours and menu. The limitations of foot traffic to the Bandstand area have diminished the number of guests visiting the restaurant in a day, though on peak summer days guests (especially those with children) are quite happy to grab a bite to eat and a drink from this Great Adventure original.