Harry's Corner: Oldies But Goodies!
By far the oldest ride at Great Adventure is the Carousel. Prior to arriving at the park in 1974 the Carousel traveled the European fair circuit as part of the Jimmy Williams Traveling Show Company in England. Constructed in 1881, the ride was purchased by Great Adventure's creator and designer Warner LeRoy and was installed as a centerpiece in his Enchanted Forest theme park. Although somewhat modified from its earliest days of operation, guests today are still delighted while whirling about on one of its 24 hand-carved horses or 12 colorful cockerels.
With its two stations located on opposite ends of the park, the Skyride has been traversing Great Adventure since July 1974, quietly whisking guests across the park aboard one of its many four passenger gondolas over 100 feet in the air. Known today as the Skyway, the components of the attraction are actually a composite of an aerial cableway ride acquired from the 1964/65 New York World's Fair and a similar one from the defunct Freedomland USA in Bronx, New York. The view from the Skyway may have changed over the last four decades but this classic still provides for some wonderful panoramic vantage points for admiring the park.
Another original attraction that started its life prior to debuting at Great Adventure is the Giant Wheel, today know as the Big Wheel. The 150 foot tall Ferris wheel ride was imported to the park from the Netherlands where it was featured at the Holland Tulip Festival in the early 1970's. During your next nighttime visit look up at the ride and catch a glimpse of the floral lighting patterns on the sides of the wheel reminiscent of its days at the flower show.
In 1974, two of Great Adventure's headline attractions were the Log Flume (known today as the Saw Mill Log Flume) and the Runaway Mine Train. Both of these rides were custom designed for Great Adventure, taking advantage of the park's beautiful landscape and scenic waterways. To this day both continue to be very popular with park guests, providing the same thrills and wonderful family fun that has made them so appealing through all these years.
Lastly, today's Swashbuckler ride first welcomed guests as the Super Roundup on opening day 1974. Typical of smaller rides that travel the carnival routes, the Swashbuckler's longevity at Six Flags Great Adventure proves that not every ride needs to be a record-setting thriller to be loved by visitors. The compact and portable nature of this ride has allowed it to "stand" the tests of time by being relocated about the park over the years to accommodate newer additions, each time being welcomed back by the open arms of anxious riders.
So there you have it - a classic six-pack of Great Adventure rides that have entertained guests for as long as the park is old. Next time you are feeling a little nostalgic consider visiting one of these terrific attractions. After all, 40+ seasons of happy riders can't be wrong!
Until next time, hoping all your adventures are great,
Six Flags Great Adventure Historian