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article imageReview: Six Flags Great Adventure journeys through the cute and deranged Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jul 21, 2014 in Travel
Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari in Jackson, New Jersey isn’t the biggest amusement park, but what it lacks in layout it makes up for in individuality.
Why go through the hassle of expensive vacation planning and air travel when you could be one car ride away from thrills at 80 mph and the wilds of the Serengeti. Amusement parks are the perfect destinations for staycations. And Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari offers more than the average theme park attractions.
Rides and water parks are the usual draw for these destinations, but the Six Flags in New Jersey does one better with a 350-square-foot preserve. The Safari Off Road Adventure takes visitors on a tour around the world via a collection of 1,200 mostly free-roaming animals, many of which are or were on the endangered species list. The open-air, off-road trucks seat 30 and are helmed by knowledgeable and passionate guides who show a true love for their work. Visiting in the late spring/early summer means there are quite a few adorable babies staying close to their mothers, but venturing out just enough to catch a glimpse of them and perhaps snap a photo or two.
Rhinos cool off at Safari Off Road Adventure in Jackson  New Jersey
Rhinos cool off at Safari Off Road Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey
The tour is divided in two parts with the option of disembarking at Camp Aventura to view the reptiles, birds and other small animals, as well see three of the park's newest lion cubs. You can also feed some giraffes (for an additional fee), and pick up some refreshments for yourself. The latter is recommended as it's one of the cheapest places to purchase water inside the gate. In total it takes about an hour to complete the journey, which is actually one of the day's most praised highlights. Finally, the rules say if you see the tiger Kingda Ka during your visit, you must ride the rollercoaster that is his namesake.
A curious anteater at Safari Off Road Adventure s Camp Aventura.
A curious anteater at Safari Off Road Adventure's Camp Aventura.
As a self-proclaimed thrill seeker and rollercoaster junkie, riding Kingda Ka was high on my list of "must rides" so abiding by the laws of the mini jungle would not be a problem. It is the tallest and second fastest roller coaster in the world, as well as one of only two strata coasters in existence. It's nearly 30 feet taller than Cedar Point's Top Thrill Dragster and 13 mph faster. But the race-inspired adrenaline rush has one distinct advantage over its successor – it's smoother. The design of the rides is nearly identical, creating exceptional G-force that presses passengers into the backs of their seats. Kingda Ka, however, rattles excessively, reducing the enjoyment. It's still a rush, but may be accompanied by a headache afterward.
It all starts here at Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari
It all starts here at Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari
Generally amusement parks require a lot of patience, waiting in long lines for a ride that will last less than a minute. But Great Adventure's biggest attraction spent most of its day offline until mid-July as the contractors tried to complete the already delayed Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom, which is built into the Kingda Ka's tall frame. The rollercoaster was usually back online in the early evening, though the wait times and continued pauses in operation could be frustrating.
The park is smaller than most, making the maze-like design annoying. It's impossible to do a complete circuit around the grounds as you can at many other theme parks. Most attractions are located at a dead end that requires guests to backtrack in order to visit other sections. Thus the layout is not the most intuitive, though you will easily achieve your daily step goal. Fortunately lockers are located outside of all major attractions and for $8 you can transfer your belongings from one locker to another for the entire day. At peak hours certain sections may be sold out, however a two-hour limit and a little patience usually provides a swift resolution.
Nitro climbs 233 feet before reaching speeds of 80 mph.
Nitro climbs 233 feet before reaching speeds of 80 mph.
The remainder of the 10 coasters are standard offerings. The Superman's horizontal seating arrangement provides a unique experience meant to simulate flying, though only being able to look down rather than ahead may irk some riders. The surprising stand out is The Dark Knight, which is an indoor roller coaster. The ride begins in a darkened room with a short film featuring Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and produced especially for the attraction. The coaster consists of individual cars that seat four. On a dark track illuminated by glow in the dark art, guests are taken on a 1,200-foot path of sharp, 180-degree turns and short, unexpected drops through the deranged playground of The Joker.
There are three levels of the Flash Pass offered ranging from $45 to $110 per person and can reduce wait times by up to 90 per cent. But with wait times averaging 30 minutes or less on a Saturday, the added expense didn't seem necessary. Still, the attractions highlighted here were worth the trip and price of admission even if it's not an experience that requires repeating in the near future.
Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari
Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari
More about six flags great adventure, Safari Off Road Adventure, Jackson New Jersey, Kingda Ka, the dark knight
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