After years and years of going to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ to enjoy the thrills of its top roller coasters, I now started visiting with my young kids and discovering an entirely new aspect of the park. This is a follow up of my previous review, geared towards visiting Great Adventure with 3-year olds. By now, my sons are 5 and 7 and they want to try bigger and faster rides. So if you’re wondering what to do with children of kindergarten / first grade age, here’s an overview of a great Six Flags day.
The Safari off-Road Adventure is one of the top attractions of the park, but the lines can get extremely long. Your best bet is to arrive early, when the park opens, and head right there. We usually go right from the fountain and take the Skyway gondola to the Safari entrance. If you go outside of the summer break and can get there at opening, not only you avoid the big lines at the entrance but your wait for the Safari can be less than 15 minutes. By the time you’re back, you’ll already see an hour-long line.
This is a ride for all ages. You can take small toddlers on your lap, but adults will enjoy it as well! But at 5-6 years old is when kids start to really appreciate what they see, because they’re already familiar with those animals. Most of the animals in the park are varieties of antelopes, but they’re indeed varied, and children will love spotting unusual colors or big antlers. Ostriches will often wander near the truck. Zebras and rhinos are also fun to watch, but the excitement starts when you get to the massive elephants. Along the way, the guides add a lot to the experience with their combination of information and funny things. The giraffes near Camp Aventura are also fascinating, and during that stop the little ones can feed the giraffes from their hand.
The lions and tigers habitats are interesting and there’s a lot of cool information you’ll learn from he guide, although the fact that they’re behind big fences make it less “real” than the other animals that roam freely and would often approach the side of the truck. The black bear area is also very fun because those lovable teddy bears tend to do many fun activities, like climbing, playing with their cubs, bathing and so on. The brown bears that follow them are a bit more static, although their ferocity is hidden behind cute lovable fur. The ride ends in the Australian section, there children will love watching the kangaroos relaxing in the sun or hopping around.
When you get out of the safari ride, the Runaway Mine Train is right next door and it’s a great introductory roller coaster. Your children might’ve already tried the tiny coasters in the Safari Kids section, but this is a real ride that takes you up and down and around turns, without any flips or loops though. You have to be 44″ to ride it, which children will probably be when they’re 5-6 year old. Beware that this is fast and sometimes rough, so make sure your child is the brave type that wants to try bigger rides.
Next door is also the Best of the West restaurant, one of our favorites, with a variety of kids fare and barbeque, and they also serve beer. If you’re here around lunch time, you can relax a bit on the deck while the kids are looking at the turtles below (and “illegally” feeding them).
Since to get back across the park you go by the Bugs Bunny Park (which is perfect for 2-4 year olds, so your child overgrew it by now), and then the carnival games (yeah… better to avoid that), I advise taking the Skyway gondola back. The gondola is a fun ride by itself, because the children feel like flying and they get a great view of the entire park.
Near the other Skyway station, you can do the bumper cars, always a children favorite. They might want to try it even before they meet the height requirements, so don’t forget to tell them to walk up straight, slightly on their tiptoes… fluff up their big hair… and if it’s a colder spring or fall day, put a loose hat on their head. Also here is the Ferris Wheel which, like the Skyway, gives them a great view of the park. Again a ride for all ages and check out the line because it varies a lot from very short to quite long.
Next to Skull Mountain it’s the big Safari Kids area, that connects with the Looney Tunes Seaport. Between them, they have more than a dozen tiny rides which are more like miniatures of the big rides in the park. We covered them in our previous review and I can tell you that by the time they’re 5 or 6, they won’t be crazy about them especially if they’ve been regularly going to Great Adventure for some time.
Finally, what I think it’s the coolest ride for little children and also an adult attraction, is Justice League: Battle for Metropolis, which is at the very end of the park, past the Movietown area. The lines can grow quite long but it’s worth it… Try to find some time when the lines doesn’t extend outside of the building. Inside, you ride inside a car armed with a laser gun which you use to shoot at various targets. There is a lot of movement as the car navigates between smoke, fire, rolling barrels and hard-braking trucks. But most exciting is the simulated movement where, equipped with 3D glasses in front of a very realistic screen, you feel like you’re speeding around Gotham City, following a monster truck or navigating a subway tunnel. Very exciting and you shoot at drones, robots and bad guys the entire time.
As I tell all my friends, it’s best to get a Gold season pass during the fall sales (usually when the season ends, as well as around Thanksgiving). At that time, you can get them around $75-80/person, which is covered by just 2 visits, plus you don’t pay $25 parking every time and you can also use them at the Hurricane Harbor water park.
If you’re looking to rent a house at the shore, check out ShoreVacations.com, Jersey Shore’s biggest vacation rentals resource. It lists hundreds of rental homes and condos from Sandy Hook all the way down to Cape May (including Belmar, Point Pleasant, Seaside Heights, Ocean City, Long Beach Island, Atlantic City or the Wildwoods). It’s a one-stop website for planning your Jersey Shore vacation, featuring beach information, weather updates and more! And of course, it has a full list of all the Jersey Shore events this year.