Six Flags is one of the largest theme park chains in the country, and is considered the budget chain by some due to their inexpensive “membership” prices and their willingness to clone rides. Six Flags parks often look identical, with a good number of the same rides being found at all their parks; from Batman B&M inverts to Joker 4-D freespins, clones are common. At Six Flags St. Louis, I found the ride collection to be mild, but the new entry procedures to be wonderful. How would one of the chain’s main parks stack up, then? Well, when I visited Six Flags Great Adventure, I was in for a treat.
By Justin S. Landers
Six Flags Great Adventure is in Jackson, N.J., and boasts the tallest roller coaster in the world and one of the best wooden coasters ever built, in my opinion. The park features all the upgrades found at Six Flags St. Louis – new metal detectors that allow most bags to pass through effortlessly, and thermal scanners for temperature readings. Entry was a breeze, crowds were non-existent, and I was off to an exciting start to my day.
This park is massive. It features 5 B&M inverts, and all of different styles:
- Batman – a clone of the B&M invert
- Superman – a clone of the B&M flying coasters found at many Six Flags
- Green Lantern – a stand up roller coaster
- Nitro – a B&M Hyper coaster with a layout that reminded me of Six Flags Over Georgia’s Goliath
- Bizzaro – a B&M floorless, which gives me hope that Green Lantern will be safe from conversion
The park also features the world record holder for the tallest roller coaster in the world. Kingda Ka is over 450 feet tall, beating out Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point by over 30 feet. Beyond beating Cedar Point’s record, Kingda Ka is almost an exact clone to Dragster. A hydraulic launch sends riders flying down the straight track to climb a massive tophat before coming straight back down the other side.
Then there’s El Toro, an Intamin pre-fabricated wooden coaster – which means that it was built off site, unlike most wooden coasters that are cut and built on-location with each piece measured. This monster of a wooden machine quickly became my number one wooden coaster. The first drop is extremely steep, and the roller coaster features rolling hills with some of the most intense airtime I have ever experienced. The ejector-style airtime throws riders out of their seat at every opportunity.
There are a handful of other awesome coasters at the park: two indoor coasters, including a wild mouse that is fairly well themed to “The Dark Knight” movie. There was even a prop mid-ride that looked like it was straight from the movie, with a trailer that read “sLAUGHTER” just like the famous car chase scene. Skull Mountain was the other indoor coaster, which takes you into a man-made structure shaped to look like a skull mountain. This sure did not feel like the budget chain park I grew to expect from Six Flags. This park was more reminiscent to my time at Six Flags Magic Mountain, another park the chain seems to care about immensely.
The flat ride collection was typical – except for one standout. “Zumajaro: Drop of Doom” is a drop tower that is attached to the worlds tallest roller coaster. You drop 400+ feet with three “towers” attached to the front of Kingda Ka. There is also an awesome sky car system in the park that takes riders from one side of the park to the other, making travel time between the two sides minimal and less exhausting all at once. A tall Ferris wheel stands out above the shaded tree lines of the park. There were trees everywhere in the park and a lake in the middle, giving it a lively environment, unlike the concrete playground that is present at most Six Flags parks.
Food options were plentiful, with almost every restaurant being open. The one restaurant that I was sad to see closed was their speciality Mac and Cheese shop. There were also plenty of drink stands open, making it easy to get refills on my drink plan throughout the day. Being that I had recently visited Dorney Park—where I struggled to get drinks due to long lines—this was a welcome surprise.
In fact, not only did I not stand in line for drinks all day, I didn’t stand in lines at all. Every ride the entire day was a walk-on, or a one-train wait at best. When I made my way to El Toro, I was able to get five rides in without leaving my seat. No walk around, no station wait, I just sat on the train. It was a theme park day in paradise, even if it was a little hot.
Mask enforcement was excellent, with operators making announcements that masks must stay on at all times and refusing to send any train where a guest was not wearing their mask. I saw multiple employees just walking through the park cleaning and asking people to put masks on if they were not wearing one – something that did not seem to have to be requested often. In those times where I would have to wait for one train, guests seemed to mind the social distancing markers and follow their recommendations. This was the theme park experience I hoped every park would offer in these trying times.
Overall, Six Flags Great Adventure is a top-tier park. It stands above the other Six Flags parks on a different level, one that I would put few Six Flags parks into. It felt as though the staff cared for what was going on, were attentive to detail, and willing to do what needed to be done in order to enforce the new policies in place. Guests were mindful of each other’s personal space, and the park felt like a safe, clean environment to spend the day in. With a stand-out ride collection, good employees, and great policies in place, Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey was just that – a Great Adventure.
29-year-old Justin Landers owns Just Shoot Light Multimedia Productions. He has been involved in the amusement and theme park industry since 2013 as a freelance photographer and videographer. You can follow him on Instagram @Inverted_Therapy and Just Shoot Light on YouTube.