Harry's Corner: Skyway
As far back as the early 1970's, the initial plans for Great Adventure's theme park included aerial cable rides which were meant to serve as both relaxing experiences and as a mode of transportation. Three separate sky ride attractions were originally proposed for the park but due to planning modifications and the lack of readily available equipment, one double cable loop sky ride system was decided upon and installed at Great Adventure when the park opened in 1974.
Originally named the Sky Ride, today's Skyway takes guests on a scenic trip high above the treetops. The ride traverses Great Adventure starting at either the western themed Fort in Frontier Adventures or the rather simplistic station located near Skull Mountain. Four passenger gondolas are loaded in one of the two stations, engaged onto a high strength cable and pulled up and over several support towers which reach a maximum height of 104 feet. Once the cars reach the opposite station they disengage from the cable and are unloaded. From here the process is repeated and the cars sent back to their starting point for continuous shuttle trips throughout the day.
Several historically significant aerial cable car rides were combined to make up Great Adventure's Skyway. The mechanical portions of the ride found in both stations were originally part of the Ore Bucket attraction at the now defunct Freedomland in Bronx, NY. Also from Freedomland are the top portions (or "T" sections) of the support towers which contain the movable rollers that support the dual sets of cables. Freedomland's towers were not tall enough to get to the needed height above Great Adventure's trees so additional steel was used for the main vertical portions. Some of the steel came from the towers of the Sky Ride attraction that operated at the 1964/65 New York World's Fair and additional materials came from nearby steel manufacturers. If you look closely at the towers today, you can see where the different sections of steel were welded together in order to get the cables to their needed height.
Also acquired from the New York World's Fair Sky Ride were 112 of that ride's gondola cars. These roomy cabins in the sky were used until the late 1980's when they were replaced by newer and lighter-weight gondolas which once operated at Great Adventure's sister park, Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, IL. The same set of cars can still be found on the Skyway today dotting the sky overhead with all the colors of the M&M Candies.
A one-way trip aboard the Skyway today is just as enjoyable as the first day it opened. A favorite of all age groups, a relaxing journey high in the air offers one of kind vantage points of the entire Great Adventure theme park and its lush surroundings and lakeside setting. If you decide to take a trip on the Skyway, be sure to keep in mind that there are two side by side cable rides. If you are boarding from the Fort side, take note of the split queue line leading to the second story load station. If both sides are in operation, select the shortest line on the stairs. And if you are boarding from the Lakefront station, there are two separate queue lines with entrances at opposite corners of the ride. Pick the smallest line for the shortest wait and you'll have your head in the clouds before you know it!
Until next time, have fun taking in the view!
Six Flags Great Adventure Historian