Elizabeth and I recently went to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey. While this comes nowhere close to a whiff of a whisper of a shadow of hanging out a WDW, I thought you might like to hear about our experiences anyway. And now here we are!
JENN: Please welcome back the World’s Greatest Traveling Companion, Elizabeth!
ELIZABETH: So, where should we start?
JENN: Remind me again how you found out about Six Flags Great Adventure?
ELIZABETH: Well I think I had been researching the best amusement parks, and Great Adventure came up as one that had a lot of roller coasters, and you mentioned that your grandmother lived close by. And since I’d never been there, it seemed like a good idea.
JENN: So I’m thinking we’ll start with Safari Off Road Adventures, since we did that first?
ELIZABETH: Sounds good!
JENN: When I was a little kid, this was one of those drive-through safaris, but it was recently revamped into something not until Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
ELIZABETH: Yes, I can only imagine that was their inspiration.
JENN: The main difference, I’d say, is the lack of theme. That is to say, Kilimanjaro Safaris is set up so that you only see portions of Africa. SORA goes all over the globe.
ELIZABETH: Including North America! There were bears! Asian bears too, if I remember correctly.
JENN: Yup! Black bears and brown bears.Fun fact: black bears can be dark blue. Also, lions and tigers. So: the trifecta.
ELIZABETH: And there’s a station in the middle of the ride where you can get off and feed giraffes. There was a lion cub at the station that was completely adorable.
JENN: Ah, yes, that’s another difference. There’s a stop-over in the middle. They also had a bunch of snakes and lizards. Unfortunately the giraffe feeding was an upcharge.
ELIZABETH: We saw an anteater trying to escape! He was so cute.
JENN: Ah, yes, that too! How would you say it compares to Kilimanjaro Safaris overall?
ELIZABETH: Hmm, well, the transitions were less seamless than Kilimanjaro, but I did really like the opportunity to stop and look at animals at my own pace for a while. I’d say SORA was more education-based, while Kilimanjaro might be more fun more kids with the plotline about capturing poachers and such
JENN: Oh, they’ve tossed the poacher plot line since you were last there. I can’t say I mind.
ELIZABETH: Oh really? Did they replace it with anything?
JENN: Nah, you’re just looking at animals. It’s awesome.
One unfortunate thing about SORA by comparison, though, is that there isn’t the same level of naturalism that Kilimanjaro provides. Fences and barriers are obvious, although enclosure sizes were pretty decent. I guess you need WDW money to recreate environments so perfectly.
Shall we move on to the main event? Namely, roller coasters?
ELIZABETH: Yes! The main event! Sometimes I think I should spend more time on other rides at amusement parks, but then I remember how awesome roller coasters are.
ELIZABETH: So, I think the first one we did was the Runaway Mine Train?
JENN: Correct. Not much to this one, although that makes it great for newbies. I’d say it’s more intense than Big Thunder Mountain Railroad but much less intense than Expedition Everest.
ELIZABETH: If I remember correctly, they said it was the first roller coaster at the park, and it made a good starter since there aren’t any loops and it’s quite gentle.
JENN: Indeed. Ultimately a good time but perfectly skippable if you’re in a hurry.
Next up: Bizarro. This used to be called Medusa, which I still maintain is wrong. Roller coasters and ships should not be renamed. A pretty good coaster, though. Nice swoopy drop. Interesting fire effect.
ELIZABETH: Yes! I had forgotten about the fire so it was a bit of a surprise for me.
JENN: I believe El Toro was next? Theme Park Insider polled this as the #1 coaster in America, and while I wouldn’t call it my personal ultimate favorite, I can definitely see why.
ELIZABETH: Yeah, I would definitely rank it near the top for wooden roller coasters (which I often find too rough). It was nice and fast, unlike a lot of other wooden roller coasters that feel more leisurely.
JENN: Well, it was a hybrid – the track itself was metal, which is what allows for such a steep first drop angle. The first couple of drops in succession were amazing – very intense. You didn’t get any recovery time between.
ELIZABETH: It’s definitely a good one for raising your arms and feeling the drops.
What was our next one after that?
JENN: Nitro, yes?
ELIZABETH: I think so!
JENN: We were going to do Skull Mountain but it was down briefly so we did Nitro instead. Nitro was my favorite!
ELIZABETH: Yes! That was another good one, for mostly the same reasons as El Toro.
JENN: It reminded me of Apollo’s Chariot at Busch Gardens Williamsburg – very swoopy with lots of airtime.Each drop kinda propelled you into the next and made you hang there a bit before you dropped again. Love that!
ELIZABETH: That momentary feeling of weightlessness is the best part for me. So Nitro gets top marks.
JENN: I think we did manage to do Skull Mountain next? It was okay. Kinda like Space Mountain without all the stuff that makes Space Mountain awesome. You know. Lighting. Effects. More than a couple minor twists.
ELIZABETH: Hahaha, the mismatched theming was oddly adorable. There was a bizarre pumpkin Halloween thing at the end, which clashed horribly with the Indiana Jones theme of the outside I thought.
JENN: Yeah, whoever designed it wasn’t really sure what they were going for. It’s an okay ride, especially for beginner riders. For everyone else I say: eh. Skip.
JENN: Next up is Green Lantern, which I found disappointing. The concept – you stand up during the ride – is nifty. The execution is spotty. Once the novelty of standing wore off I found myself underwhelmed. It was short and really kinda tame.
ELIZABETH: I think it would have been more impressive if the coaster itself had been more interesting. But yes, there was a loop and a couple inversions, but nothing exciting
JENN: Absolutely. On the other hand, I found Superman, which you ride lying down, to be more interesting, largely because of a better track. It wasn’t anything major but the combination of a simulated flight position and nice smooth drops made it fun.
ELIZABETH: And you can’t see where you’re going, which is different.
JENN: Haha, yeah – I had pretty much no idea where we were headed the entire time! The bit where we looped and flipped onto our backs was interesting.
ELIZABETH: I personally found it made me nervous having all my weight on the shoulder straps, but yes, that was fun.
JENN: K, that brings us to our final ride: KINGDA KA.
ELIZABETH: Which, while awesome, took waaaay too long to wait for.
JENN: We waited in one helluva line for that thing but I think it was worth it for a first and only ride.
ELIZABETH: Although we did get to watch people get dropped off Zumanjaro while we waited.
JENN: Which is as close to a drop tower as I intend to get, thanks. At least the Tower of Terror has other distinguishing features.
ELIZABETH: Yes, it looked too intense for me.
JENN: Kingda Ka is, however, pretty amazing. Much less intimidating than it looks, which is nice.
ELIZABETH: How fast is it supposed to take you?
JENN: 128 mph in 3.5 seconds when you first launch.
ELIZABETH: It ripped the bobby pins out of my hair!
JENN: I don’t know how much that speed depreciates when you go up the hill, but you go down the other side in a 418 ft series of spirals. By the time you get up there, though, you’re already going so fast that there’s no real bodily impact. So I was just like WHEEEEEEE!
ELIZABETH: Yeah, I hardly felt the drop really.
JENN: The most anxious part of the entire thing for me was briefly thinking your glasses were trying to escape from my pocket. Incidentally, if you wear glasses, take ’em off and secure ’em before you ride.
ELIZABETH: Ah yes, I’m sorry I had to do that to you
JENN: No worries! I just didn’t want to fail you!
ELIZABETH: Yeah, PSA: they wait until you’re strapped in to tell you to take them off which I thought was unfair. Lucky you were there, because I had NO suitable pockets.
JENN: Yeah, that’s information that would’ve proven useful earlier.But I DID NOT lose your glasses on Kingda Ka, and all was well!
ELIZABETH: It was! The ride is very short, because after the spiral drop, it’s really just slowing down.
JENN: Yeah, that’s my one complaint – I’d say actually ride time is somewhere in the area of 20 seconds.
ELIZABETH: So it’s worth it for one ride, but I wouldn’t wait multiple times for it in one day
JENN: Indeed. I think the only other thing we rode was the Houdini ride? Which had an interesting premise but no follow through.
ELIZABETH: Ah yes, I was hoping for something like a dark ride.
JENN: There’s a pretty good pre-show where you’re supposed to be performing a seance for Houdini. Then in the actual ride area it turns out to be nothing more than one of those rotating houses that make it look like you’re spinning upside down.A dark ride would’ve been way better. A shame – the idea has promise. As it is, though: skip.
Where does that leave us? Food was lackluster. Edible but kinda on the level of your average middle school cafeteria.
ELIZABETH: Mmm, yes, the only interesting thing was the caramel apple funnel cake sundae.
JENN: Which was delicious, but WOAH. I’m all set on funnel cake for the near future.
ELIZABETH: Yeah… I think I was still digesting it 24 hours later.
JENN: Basically there is nothing gourmet happening here. Fair food. Decent fair food, sure, but that’s about all you’re gonna get so be prepared.
Another point: HOLY LINE-JUMPING, BATMAN.
ELIZABETH: YES. I’ve never seen so much in my life.
JENN: I don’t think we stood in a single line that wasn’t plagued by anywhere from one to three separate people/groups “catching up to their party.” GET YOUR PARTY TOGETHER BEFORE YOU ENTER. And for the record, NONE of these were small children who may have needed a bathroom break.
ELIZABETH: Grown adults/teenagers, always.
JENN: Technically this is against park rules, but I only saw it enforced once.
Any other thoughts? I’d say Six Flags Great Adventure is by no means worth a special trip. This is NOT Walt Disney World, for a wide variety of reasons that should be evident from the above.
But if you’re in the area and have some time, go for it. Though only if you like roller coasters. If you don’t, there’s very little for you here. Or, wait. The safari might be worth your time if you don’t like coasters. Hopefully you like both!
ELIZABETH: I agree. We didn’t go on many of the other rides, but then again there weren’t very many that weren’t kiddy things.
Well I think that wraps it up!
JENN: Indeed! Thanks for swinging by in the metaphorical sense! Hopefully we’ll go on another adventure soon!
Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall and on Instagram @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email email@example.com. See ya real soon!
I REALLY want to do one of those Safaris. I've been wanting to go to Busch Gardens in Tampa. They have a good one, right?
Hmm, y'know – I'm not sure. I want to say yes. My uncle lives near there; maybe I should check it out!
I've gone to Great Adventure every summer since I moved to New York! But the last time I went I had a lot of bad experiences … line-jumping, unruly stupid kids and enabling parents, and waiting for Kingda Ka FOREVER before being told it was being shut down for the day, which was a HUGE bummer. Even though I love El Toro and most of the coasters there (did you go on Bizarro? I like Bizarro), the park has gotten less and less exciting each time and just a bigger reminder that Disney does everything better. I'm probably going to skip the trip this year.
Yeah, that about covers it – if I hadn't been able to stay at my grandmother's I wouldn't have considered it worth the money for a hotel stay. Good coasters, though – we did go on Bizarro and it was definitely worth the time. Hope you got to go on Kingda Ka eventually; it's pretty awesome.
Popping in to say that I grew up going to BG in Tampa for years and I totally recommend it! Their safari ride (Rhino Rally) is pretty similar to Kilimanjaro Safari. There used to be a really fun river portion that was taken out a few years back, but it's still great!
I'm intrigued – river portion how?
I'm not so much a roller coaster person, but that safari sounds so fun! I actually audibly squealed at that anteater picture…
He was totally adorable!
My husband just went to Great Adventure with his campers last week and he said he liked the safari better that Kilimanjaro in Animal Kingdom! That can be grounds for divorce, right?
As him how he liked the lion enclosure. If he says SORA's was better, you should probably just kill him in his sleep.
He liked being able to get that close to the animals. Looks like I have to kill him. Sad. But on the plus side, think of all the Disney trips I can take with his life insurance money!