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The new Safari Off Road Adventure opens at Six Flags Great Adventure

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Published: June 17, 2013 at 10:39 AM

Historically, Six Flags Great Adventure featured a drive-through safari with an entrance separate from the main entrance to the theme park. This was closed late last year in order to pave the way for a new Safari Off Road Adventure with vehicles and tour guides provided by the park.

The Safari Off Road Adventure officially opened on May 25, 2013 and is accessed from the Frontier Adventures section of the park, near Runaway Mine Train and Saw Mill Log Flume. Riders board one of 18 safari-style open-air vehicles seating 30 people. These trucks are painted with zebra stripes and topped with a canopy. To add to the air of authenticity, drivers are outfitted in safari gear. (The promotional literature hypes onboard videos depicting a fictitious conservationist family but I paid no attention to this so will cut to the chase.)

Prior to entering the boarding area, park guests are required to have their photographs taken against a backdrop depicting a safari vehicle and giraffe. From the boarding area, the truck makes a turn and follows a winding gravel path before entering the animal preserve. It negotiates varying and sometimes hilly terrain, from gravel to dirt to grass to asphalt. At one point it traverses a pond. The ride was so bumpy that I found it difficult to hold my camera steady or jot down notes. Where appropriate, the driver pulled off the path to get closer to the animals.

Safari vehicle photo IMG_1299_zpsfe37b359.jpg

According to the park, there are more than 1,200 animals inhabiting this preserve. I don't know how many actual species are represented but saw a wide range of animals including, but by no means limited to, white rhinos, bison, giraffes, elephants, bears, ostriches, lions and tigers. Although the safari is divided into sections, zebra seemed to be almost everywhere. Appropriately, the didgeridoo section near the end of the journey contains kangaroos and emus. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable about the animals and I picked up tidbits of information here and there, such as the fact that the way to determine the gender of an ostrich is that males have black feathers. Tigers, unlike most felines, like the water, are good swimmers, often entice their prey into the water and kill them while their victims are drowning.

elephant photo IMG_1276_zps4cc3053d.jpg

zebra and giraffe photo IMG_1285_zpsb69a4fa5.jpg

The safari adventure includes a stop at Camp Aventura, where adventurers can purchase refreshments, use the rest rooms and get closer to some of the animals. All passengers must disembark at this point; those who wish to continue the journey without further interruption have to line up for the next available truck whereas those who wish to hang out at Camp Aventura may do so for as long as they please and pick up another truck later. For an additional charge not specified in the literature, park guests can feed the animals. In hindsight I'm sorry that I elected not to spend time at the camp, as a tour guide later told me that giraffe feeding typically takes place between 2:30 and 4:30pm.

camp aventura photo IMG_1289_zps6cf772ec.jpg

Having had to get off the truck on which I began the journey, I continued on a different truck with a new tour guide equally knowledgeable as the first. Our journey was somewhat delayed by the fact that bears were too close to the fenced gate separating the bears from the lions, so that we had to wait until the coast was clear before the gate could be opened to allow our vehicle to proceed.

brown bear photo IMG_1304_zps90e3400d.jpg

I thought that the new safari adventure was a great way to see the animals while sitting back, relaxing and actually learning something. Because the park incorporated the terrain used for the old drive-through safari into the main theme park, Six Flags Great Adventure is now the largest theme park in the world, with 510 acres. The safari is included in the price of admission to the park. And now that the Safari Off Road Adventure has been open for a couple of weeks, the wait time to get on has decreased, unless I just happened to pick a good day on the second go-round. It was my intention to do the safari as soon as it opened but there was a three-hour wait; this past Saturday, the wait was just over an hour. I would recommend this attraction to anyone visiting the park. It's a great addition to Six Flags Great Adventure and something that can be enjoyed by families and people of all ages.

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Readers' Opinions

From James Rao on June 18, 2013 at 3:35 AM
Thanks for sharing, Bobbie. Is the ride "bumpy on purpose" like Kilimanjaro Safaris, or is it just rough terrain? Further, is there some attempt at a story (you mentioned a "fictitious conservationist family" - is their story carried throughout the attraction?), or is there no thematic pretense at all - you're just going for a park administered ride through a zoological area?
From Rob Pastor on June 18, 2013 at 8:51 AM
Nice report.
From Russell Meyer on June 18, 2013 at 8:59 AM
I haven't had a chance to check this out yet, but hopefully will later this summer. This is another example of Six Flags at least trying to appeal to more than just coaster junkies. The old "ghetto safari" as I called it, was a disaster that caused more vehicle damage than smiling faces. Creating a more authentic safari experience in park-maintained vehicles is a good choice, but I wonder if financially it is sustainable (the old safari had a separate admission). Six Flags has minimal animal-based attractions, so I would hope that they have experienced staff and personnel to maintain the animals year-round. Six Flags has jetisoned animal attraction in the past (big chunks of Discovery Kingdom, Six Flags Worlds of Adventure (former Sea World portion was closed and the remaining park then sold to Cedar Fair, and even the coming and going of animal attractions at SFGAdv---Dolphin and sea lion show among others), so I would hope that this attraction does not meet a similar fate or simply become a vcitim of disinterest and poor maintenance.
From Bobbie Butterfield on June 18, 2013 at 11:17 AM
In response to James, the ride is bumpy due to the rough terrain. The story of the fictitious Wilds family is supposedly carried throughout the ride but I didn't really pay attention, as I was focused on looking at the animals and listening to the guides; there was a voiceover, presumably from the Wilds family, in the loading area that I found almost inaudible.

In response to Rob, thanks!

In response to Russell, I too wonder whether maintaining the safari off ride adventure will prove to be economically feasible. I would expect it to be only marginally profitable if at all, by attracting more guests to the park and possibly motivating them to spend money at the stop-off point of the safari. However, I could be wrong and hope that I am. Realistically, the safari isn't going to be a big attraction for season pass holders or other repeat visitors. I admit to being one of those coaster junkies to whom Russell refers. There is a coaster-based website which allows me to keep a record of every coaster I've ridden and how many times I've ridden it - so I know that to date, on my combined visits to Six Flags Great Adventure I have ridden El Toro 80 times. Am I going to do the safari 80 times?

From 69.141.194.66 on June 19, 2013 at 1:35 PM
You said its included in price of the regular park. Are you allowed to but tickets to the safari itself with out haven't to do the other park or do you have to buy a park ticket to do the safari?
From 98.227.60.180 on June 19, 2013 at 1:49 PM
This article was sublime! I loved it. I felt like I was on the safari when I was reading it. And I love the pics you include Bobbi. That tee shirt gives me the giggles. I wish you would tell us what people say to you in that shirt. Do they follow you?
From Bobbie Butterfield on June 19, 2013 at 8:05 PM
To 69.141.194.66, as far as I know you have to buy a ticket to the park to go on the safari but there's plenty of other stuff to do in the park and if you purchase the tickets online they're cheaper than at the gate.

To 98.227.60.180, I'm glad you liked the article. That's as close as I've ever gotten to an elephant that wasn't in a cage. As to the T-shirt, I get a lot of looks but not many comments on it although I did get one on the same day that I went on the safari. I was in the loading station of Nitro and some guy said "You know what you're doing, do you? Then maybe you can tell me the best place to sit." I said "The back, trust me; the airtime is better" and he did sit in the back. I love this T-shirt and would be eternally grateful if the great Robert Niles would send me another one so I'd have one to wear while this one is in the laundry basket.

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