All of us love the fun and thrilling rides of Six Flags Great Adventure, the world’s largest amusement park which is right here in New Jersey. But once we have kids, we keep wondering when is a good time to start going with them (and of course, how soon till we can go together on Superman, Nitro, Medusa and more).
From my experience, once they’re 3 years old, kids can already have a great time at Great Adventure, and you can have a fun day together at the park. Younger toddlers can still tag alone and enjoy the sights and sounds, especially since it’s free for them, and the more courageous ones can even try some of the smaller rides. I started to go regularly with my son Colin after he turned 3, so here’s an overview of what your kids can do at Six Flags based on our own experiences. My other kid had his options were limited in the beginning, but once he passed 36″, he had access to a lot of the kiddie rides (that should be around 2 1/2).
To get started, something that kids at any age will enjoy is the Safari Off-Road Adventure. And I meant “getting started” because you have to do this first thing in the morning, otherwise even on an overcast chillier weekend day, lines build up quickly to more than an hour. Even if you go at opening time, expect to spend at least 20-30 min in line, so maybe buy your kid a new toy before to keep them busy.
I will follow up with a detailed review of the Safari, but it’s a cool and entertaining truck ride through a variety of environments. You’ll see all kinds of animals, from zebras, giraffes or elephants to lions, bears, antelopes and much more. There’s also a fun break half-way into the ride, at Camp Aventura, where you can have a snack, view up-close some small exotic animals, and of course feed the giraffes!
Since with the 1h+ ride and the wait it might already be lunch time by now, you can stop at our favorite Great Adventure restaurant, Best of the West, with a large deck overlooking the lake. They have all kinds of food for your kids to enjoy (and beer for the parents!), it’s shaded and it’s got great views (plus sometimes they have food deals if you have season passes).
A short walk from the restaurant it’s one of the two main kid areas, the Bugs Bunny National Park, which includes a variety of miniature versions of the bigger park rides. There is a mini-carousel, the small Ranger Pilots plane ride, spinning hot air balloons, the Camp Wagons (mini-Ferris wheel), the leisurely Stagecoach ride and more. There’s a lot here for toddlers and very small kids to enjoy (including the theater where they have Looney Tunes themed shows), while braver kids can try the fast-spinning Will E Coyote Canyon Blaster.
The Skyway Gondola is just a way to go from one side of the park to the other, but it’s actually my kids’ favorite ride in the park! The 4-person cars move very smoothly and go high up in the air offering the best views of the entire park. Sometimes lines get get big, so it’s better to try it earlier in the day.
If you take the gondola to the other side, you’ll be at the entrance of the other kids section (actually, it’s 2 different zones, but they’re right next to each other). And since I mentioned lines a few times, you should know that there are rarely any lines at the kids rides, both here and at the Bugs Bunny zone.
So first you have the Safari Kids, which has another set of small, kid-friendly rides, including the Air Safari planes, a mini drop tower (Jumpin’ Joey), the Safari Tours track car ride, and a small Ferris wheel. As you go over a wooden bridge to the Looney Tunes Seaport, you see a few more rides, and my son’s favorites where the Barnstormer bi-planes, and Daffy’s submarine. Braver kids can try the Taz Tornado swings, and the Road Runner railway mini coaster, which can get fast, but has only a couple of turns, without high elevations or loops.
As you walk back through the park, my son also loved a couple of coin-operated games: One has them pilot around a boat in a large pool, and the other one lets them drive toy monster trucks while jumping over crushed cars. They’re entertaining and can keep boys busy for quite a while. Near the entrance, it’s the big Carousel, which is an attraction for all ages, as well as the Enchanted Tea Cups, and next to it a big food court building.
Finally, there’s an outdoor theater with a water show, but honestly I found it a bit boring (the kid stayed through), and every time we tried it it was the exact same seals show, and it’s not something you’d want to see more than once. I hope the schedule changes from year to year.
As a few more tips about tackling Great Adventure with your little ones: The park has a “parents swap” program, where one parent can wait with the kids while the other rides a coaster, and then they can switch (inquire at the ride entrance for more information). During July and August, it’s best to go on a weekday, if possible. If you lose your kid, employees would take them to the Bugs Bunny National Park, so check the Lost Parents area there first, before panicking.
In conclusion, as soon as your kids turn 3, it’s time to get your season passes, because you’ll spend many weekends at Six Flags Great Adventure (if you upgrade one pass to Gold, for free parking and more deals, do it on the kid’s pass, so another family member can take him if needed). Get ready to spend a good few hours every time, but start as early as possible to avoid most of the crowds. Stay tuned for a full Safari Ride review, and for updates as my kids move through the age groups.
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