Does it get any geekier than parodying an early ’70s soft rock hit from the band Chicago to use as a title for a blog post? I think not. The 4th may not have been the specific date we visited Six Flags Great Adventure for their Holiday in the Park extravaganza, but I kept singing “Holiday in the Park” as if it were a real Chicago song that night. At first, the thought of going to an amusement park in December sounds preposterous, falling short of maybe only the Polar Bear Plunge, where clearly crazy people VOLUNTARILY choose to dive into the ocean, which happens to be filled with ridiculously freezing cold water. Fortunately, on the night that we headed to Jackson, NJ, it was unseasonably mild…but raining. On our drive down, the weather was indeed “frightful,” and I told Miss Sexy Armpit that we were nuts for even thinking of riding roller coasters in the rain. Wait, hold up, note to self, remember to write a mid-80s style, smooth R&B song called “Riding Roller Coasters in the Rain” because that title f*cking rocks. Anyway, we justified it as such: “But they have Christmas lights!!” so we wooden-soldiered on.
To my knowledge, Great Adventure has never done a Holiday celebration, and if they did, it was never anywhere close to this extreme scale. It all felt like Six Flags on Candy Cane flavored Crack. It was like Great Adventure submitted themselves to compete in The Great Christmas Light Flight. Once we arrived and heard the Christmas tunes echoing into the parking lot and saw the soft glow of the festive lights pouring into the misty night sky, it was obvious this was the Christmas version of Fright Fest and we were in for a real treat.
Upon entering the park we were immediately transported into the North Pole with snow machines blowing snow everywhere! Talk about eye candy, every inch of the entire park was decked out in Christmas decor. The attention to detail was incredible, it felt like every tree had lights and every window had animatronic elves preparing gifts. It was a sight to behold. Miss Sexy Armpit even said she liked it better than Fright Fest. For me, as a G.A regular since 1985, it felt much different than anything they’ve done before. The park transformed into its own little Christmas island.
As we made our way through the park, I kept thinking how my Christmas spirit this year wasn’t anywhere near the levels it had been in the past. I couldn’t pinpoint why that’s been the case, but experiencing Holiday in the Park was like a shot of Christmas spirit right in the heart. With the Christmas tunes playing and visitor’s of the park in a more laid back, jolly mood, it was just what I needed. It actually felt like more of an escape from reality than any other time I’ve been to Great Adventure.
The rain and drizzle was intermittent, but it was actually exactly what we needed to be able to hop on all the rides with almost no lines. Turns out that most people don’t like to go on rides in the rain. What a shocker. The longest we waited to get on a ride was about 10 or 15 minutes, which was great. Miss Sexy Armpit and I hit a couple of our favorites including, Nitro and Superman. We even took a ride on the indoor Skull Mountain, which is tame compared to the other insane thrill rides they have there, but it’s still old school, simple fun. The closest comparison to it would be Space Mountain in Disney, although it’s always been a few steps behind. Looking back since it opened, the ride had the potential to be amazing. Consider this: it could’ve been a Goonies ride! Even if they couldn’t secure rights to the Goonies, they could’ve easily picked a licensed property that would’ve worked, or even created their own original generic pirate or ghost theme. The story and the characters associated with the rides always enhance the ride experience for me. They should’ve also incorporated spooky music into the ride as well. But, here’s why I won’t complain this time around: For Holiday in the Park, Skull Mountain transformed into Poinsettia Peak and it was completely draped in red Christmas lights. The whole rocky facade of the ride was bathed in red, like Tootsie’s dress, so all was forgiven. Good old Skull Mountain has never looked this glamorous….or RED!
After the rides I had my imperative browsing session in the Justice League store. This place is a MUST every time I go to Great Adventure. With wall to wall DC Super Hero stuff, it’s the closest thing I’ll get to the old WB store in the mall. I want to buy everything. Hint: check out the video above to see the cool, customized white Christmas tree adorned with all kinds of DC characters! I didn’t buy anything this time around, but I was sure tempted. I’m just glad this store is still open and as awesome as it ever was.
Aside from the obvious Christmas theme, there was an element to the whole experience that made it stand out. The fact that we were riding coasters in December, the temp was in the mid ’50s, and the foggy night sky had an ominous, purple hue, made those high points on the coasters feel fifty times more awesome than usual. In addition to the coasters which are predominantly a warm weather pastime, we also partook in G.A’s Boardwalk games to briefly recapture that summer magic. For a minute I’d thought I hit the jackpot since that tricky milk can toss game with the softballs was chock full of Star Wars: Force Awakens stuff. Kylo Ren plush toys gave Miss Sexy Armpit a reason to blow copious amounts of money to try to win one for me. What a girl! She bought us both chances and we both failed miserably, but we had fun so that’s what matters, right? Come to think of it, maybe we would’ve nabbed Kylo Ren if we actually completed our Jedi training on Dagobah.
To ease the pain of our simultaneous double loss, there were holiday themed treats for sale everywhere. For example, Hot Chocolate with Snowman Peeps was served and sipped at several of the fire pit stations. Yes, you read that correctly, they had fire pits set up strategically by the food and snack kiosks which was a hit. People with mittens holding hot drinks were hanging out by fires as if they were at some super expensive ski lodge. Carollers sang holiday songs while flashy Christmas tree light shows burned green cones into my retinas. That was all good, but what’s a holiday celebration without the big man himself? That’s right, Santa Claus appears to hear all the kiddies tell him they want hover-boards, and so does Mrs. Claus with her special story time show. They covered all bases except Mrs. Claus’ late night lingerie striptease – that, for some reason, was not on the docket.
With trees wearing Candy Cane disguises, holiday photo-op stations erected (they affectionately nicknamed them Mistletoe Moments for all you lovers out there), and reindeer crooning Christmas songs, Six Flags did a bang up job creating a Winter Wonderland at Great Adventure. Trust me, experience Holiday in the Park if you can, but do it before it comes to an end on January 3rd! The key is to go at night once it gets dark to soak in the optimum amount of Christmas cheer. That, and the fact that “kids are scared of the dark” according to Marv from Home Alone.