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What Happens When A Small-Town Family Visits The "World's Largest"... Whatever!

Holiday in the Park® at Six Flags, the World’s Largest Theme Park

Holiday in the park at Six FlagsWe haven’t been to Six Flags Great Adventure, the world’s largest theme park, in more than two years. The introduction of the Holiday in the Park event brought us back to Jackson, New Jersey last week, because I love a good holiday light display (remember this one?). I wrote about our experience for the Family Vacation Critic blog, so if you’re looking for more details, head on over there.

Here, I’m sharing some photos and impressions from our visit. It’s running at five different Six Flags parks across the U.S. through January 3, but this is the first time it’s in New Jersey. I highly recommend it!

In addition to the great entertainment, including live shows, visits with Santa, and story times with Mrs. Claus, you’ll see 1,000,000+ lights, and it pays to time your visit so at least part of the time you’re there after dark.

Carousel

The Carousel at Dusk

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Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ: World’s Largest Theme Park

Daffy Duck

My new favorite hobby: embarrassing my teenager.

We’re fans of the Six Flags theme parks, mainly because their “Go Big” ad campaign clearly shows a shared appreciation for BIG entertainment. Yet, I was skeptical when I heard this spring that Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ was going to be the world’s largest theme park.

However, based on the recent addition of the Safari Off Road Adventure, the acreage is now up to 510, larger than any other theme park. Also, this park is home to Kingda Ka, the world’s tallest roller coaster. Matt wasn’t told until we got there that his job would be to ride Kingda Ka and report on the experience.

We really enjoyed the Safari Off Road Adventure, a totally reworked version of the old Wild Safari drive-through attraction which was there for years. Now, you and about 25 others board an all-terrain vehicle, which mainly travels along a paved road, but also does some off-roading. The on-board video tells the story of the fictional Wilds family, who run the outpost and take care of the animals living there.

Because it’s a new attraction, I probably don’t need to tell you that the lines are going to be long.  You want to get there when it opens to minimize your wait. On the day we went, the Safari opened at 10:30 am for season pass holders, and 11:00 am for everyone else. We didn’t know that in advance, so we had to wait a half hour anyway. Also, the animals are generally most active in the morning.

Safari Off Road Adventure

The Safari park is home to 1,200 animals from six continents, and they’re separated into different themed areas, like Didgeridoo Pass, Afrikka, and the Wilde Plains. The guides provided a lot of interesting tidbits in their narration. I learned, for example, that ostriches have two sets of eyelids, and elephants weigh 100 lbs. when they’re born.

While you’re kept at a distance from the lions, you do get really close to other animals. At one point, a giraffe came over to say hello. The Girl didn’t know whether to giggle or shriek, so she did a little of both. The Boy perfected his ostrich face by pursing his lips and looking bothered. Collectively, everyone on board went “Awww!” when we passed a mama black bear playing with her cubs.

Giraffe

Everyone: put down your phones and just LOOK at the giraffe!

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The BIG Times, May 2013

A round-up of BIG news highlights across the globe, and other BIG finds we want to share!

A FUN FIND!

I got to do something last week that I’ve wanted to do ever since moving to the Hudson Valley: tour Bannerman’s Castle on Pollopel Island in the middle of the Hudson River. In the early 1900’s, Frank Bannerman was the world’s largest buyer of surplus military equipment, and he built this castle to store it in! Public tours have started for the season. You can take a boat to the island, walk the trails, and enjoy amazing views of the castle, Bannerman residence, and the river.

Bannerman Castle

Bannerman Castle, on Pollopel Island in the Hudson River

NEWS OF THE LARGE

News which caught our attention over the past month:

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Walt Disney World: World’s Largest Theme Park

On Wednesday, we spent an exhausting day at Walt Disney World, the world’s largest theme park. Specifically, we spent 10 hours straight in the Magic Kingdom, pushing through the heat-induced crankiness and cyclical sugar lows to fit in what everyone wanted to see and do.

There’s not much new to write about Disney World. Many of us have the same photo, standing in front of Cinderella’s castle, and similar stories about our favorite rides and characters. What makes it magical is seeing it through our children’s eyes, especially if it’s their first time there.

This was The Girl’s first visit to the Magic Kingdom. I spent more time watching her face than anything else.

Her first character encounter was with Merida from Brave:

Merida

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Six Flags: World’s largest regional theme park company

Six Flags Great Escape

How to use a beach towel as a raincoat

I get worked up making sure we visit title-holding “world’s largests” for Go BIG or Go Home. I try to find a way to make all our travel fit in somehow. Usually, I can find some BIG link, however insubstantial. This time, we didn’t go to the world’s largest theme park. We didn’t even go the largest park within the world’s largest theme park chain. But we DID go to a Six Flags theme park — one within the world’s largest theme park company — so we’re counting it!

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

On paper, it was a kid’s dream itinerary for a long weekend. Three days spent at the Six Flags Great Escape theme park in Lake George, NY , with its Splashwater Kingdom outdoor water park. Two evenings to enjoy the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge, which has the White Water Bay indoor water park.

Dreamy, except for the torrential rains and temps which never exceeded 65°F.

WHY did you go there, exactly?

Have you seen the Six Flags commercials imploring you to “Go Big, Go Six Flags?” For some reason, the slogan resonated with me. 🙂  Actually, I had an assignment to write this review for FamilyVacationCritic.com, so we were going regardless. But some quick research lead to the discovery that Six Flags is the world’s largest regional theme park company, based on the quantity of properties.  I didn’t realize that there are 19 parks across the United States, Mexico and Canada.

We’ve now added Six Flags Great Adventure in NJ to our bucket list, because it’s the largest Six Flags in the country, and it’s home to some BIG attractions: Kingda Ka, the world’s tallest roller coaster; the world’s largest drive-thru safari outside of Africa; and one of the world’s largest adventure rivers.

Okay, what was so cool about it?

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