The new Safari Off Road Adventure opens at Six Flags Great Adventure
Written by Bobbie Butterfield
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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