Ever since I was in my teens I had a season pass to Six Flags Great Adventure. I can’t say that every friend of mine was as hell bent on constantly spending their summer days incessantly riding some batshit crazy roller coaster of fury, but there always seemed to be a select few who were brave enough. Brave enough not only for the thrill rides, but also to voluntarily take the trip with me. Some of my friends still tell stories about our trips there ’til this day.
Maybe they reminisce about those crazy times because life was pretty simple then. Aside from the shore and malls, there wasn’t a ton of stuff to do in suburbia. We went swimming in our pools, hung out playing board games, went to the movies, all the standard fare. Compared to that stuff, not living too far away from Great Adventure was like holding a key to an action packed alternate dimension. I’ve written about Great Adventure plenty of times here at The Sexy Armpit, and if you’re from the Tri-State area, you know all about its allure, especially when you’re a teenager. Even if you had to get a little crew of friends together and get dropped off by someone’s parents, the whole experience still made me feel like a wild, reckless adult. A trip with me to Six Flags never lacked controversy, that’s for sure.
A season pass to G.A was like having a VIP laminate to a concert. Once I got my license, that season pass got used anywhere from 10-15 times in a season. That was back when having fun and filling up my summer days with cool shit was basically my job. With the ability to drive my friends and I down there came the opportunity to elevate these excursions to Ferris Bueller levels. I blasted music in the car, exceeded the speed limit by at least…9 miles per hour, and maybe we didn’t eat pancreas, but we inhaled Quick Check subs and chugged Mountain Dew in the parking lot (right before nausea inducing rolling coasters.) It was a tradition for me to get us into a few scrapes on the way down there, and there was usually the inevitable “disagreement” with a line cutter or some other miscreant.
Some people reminisce about high school. Me? I’ve been reflecting on all the years I’ve been going to G.A. and it’s incredible how many memories I have at this place. Comparatively, I’m proud of what I accomplished in high school, but I wasn’t a fan of it at all. I always wanted to be somewhere else. I knew I was going through the motions. A testament to that is the fact that I met most of my closest friends that I still talk to way before high school. A ton of people go to high school reunions, some gossip about people they graduated with, and some never really let go of that period of their lives. To me, those 4 years can’t hold even the tiniest birthday candle to the immense amount of time I spent through the years at Six Flags Great Adventure. It might sound preposterous, but it’s been part of my entire life. It served as a backdrop for long summer hangouts with friends, and as the pinnacle of romance for a 17 year old kid with a driver’s license and a bring a friend free pass. If you can’t relate to that, I guess you’ve never tried to impress a girl by taking her on The Skyway? Now that’s class! Sure you could tell a girl you were picking her up in an actual CAR, a licensed road vehicle, but when you offer the opportunity to take a leisurely flying wicker seat ride, that gained you a day or two of her adoration. That is, at least until she revealed that she secretly had eyes for a guy on the intramural football team who laughs at all your jokes in 5th period, plus she didn’t really want to hear you gush about what kind of impact A Lonely Place of Dying had on your life. But that’s a whole other 19 paragraph post, isn’t it?
Do you remember the names of all your teachers from high school? I don’t, save for a select few. Did you have a moment from your prom that still gives you the butterflies? I don’t. But, I can tell you that I get choked up just thinking about how I’ll never get to ride The Great American Scream Machine ever again. Of course, I should be more than satisfied that I’ve ridden it literally hundreds of times in its entire 20 year existence. Now that Nitro has turned 15, I’m already worrying that I won’t know how to cope if it ever leaves us. Scream Machine and Nitro are my favorite coasters of all time and I’ve probably spent more time on them than I’ve spent with most of my relatives and that’s saying something since they each last a little over 2 minutes.
Mind you, it wasn’t all “More Flags, More Fun.” A lot of it, the parts we ignore for posterity, kind of sucked – and still do! Take for instance, the often blistering heat, sunburn, sweat, agitation, fatigue, and hunger. Long ride lines were never a good scene, but they usually indicated that the ride was worthwhile. A big chunk of time was spent hanging on the steel railing and saying dumb things with your friends or trying to make our with your then-love interest. It’s easy to suck up those negatives to be enthralled by repeated whip-lashings for 35 seconds, but damn, each one of those seconds makes us feel like all life as we know it could stop instantly and we’d all have abnormally huge smiles with rippling cheeks permanently plastered on our faces. What could be more fun? It makes some people drool. Others vomit. Come to think of it, those peeps probably don’t revere all this nonsense as highly as I do.
By now, you’ve gathered what Great Adventure symbolizes to me. My affinity for the park hasn’t changed, but my trips to Great Adventure have. They aren’t as dangerous. They don’t involve near death experiences on the New Jersey Turnpike (well, most of the time) and they’re a heck of a lot shorter. As an example, I’ll leave you with a summary of our latest Great Adventure excursion.
Miss Sexy Armpit and I made our way down to Jackson, NJ after work one night last week. Considering they close at 9pm, that didn’t leave us much time. By the time we got down there we had a solid 2 hours and we didn’t plan on wasting it. Traditionally, as long as we get to ride Nitro, we’re happy campers, but this time we rode their newest roller coaster, The Joker! At first, it seemed like it wasn’t running. This was a possibility since the ride broke down shortly after it opened and many riders got stuck. I assumed it was just stopped for repairs, but as we got closer, the ride was indeed operating, so we were in luck. I had every intention of riding it, although Miss Sexy Armpit needed a bit of coercing. She wasn’t fond of the idea that the coaster cars themselves spin around while the coaster was running. This could be extremely vomit inducing for some people. She relented and we hopped right on. The ride turned out to be pretty tame – almost more of a wild Ferris wheel gone haywire. I laughed maniacally the entire time like Cesar Romero, so I can see why they named it, The Joker. We were glad we rode it, although, much like The Dark Knight Coaster, it’s not on my must-ride list.
Number one on my absolute must-ride list is Nitro. The lines were pretty much non-existent this late in the day, so we got right on without a long wait. After that, I convinced Miss Sexy Armpit to stay on for one more ride. Even though we technically only went on 2 rides, we accomplished our mission.
Then, as always, I checked the DC Hall of Justice store. I’ve mentioned this place before, but to reiterate, this is the ultimate gem of a store that DC Comics fans might want to consider buying admission to the park just to gain access to this shop. It’s not a gigantic store by any means, but it’s about the closest answer to the DC Super Hero section of the old Warner Brothers store in the mall that we may ever have. I didn’t pick anything up this time, mostly because I had something else in mind that I was hoping to find on the way out.
Last stop was the Main Street Market. For regulars, this is the first shop you see after you make your way through the metal detectors (yes the park has excellent security.) I was asked if I needed help finding anything and in my best Lando Calrissian voice I said, “As a matter of fact you can…” Then, I explained that I had heard about a few Great Adventure t-shirts that had just been released with the vintage logo on them. He had no clue what I was talking about. The poor kid looked at me like I just posed him a question that Einstein couldn’t figure out. Finally, Miss Sexy Armpit dumbed it down for him, “it has like…a rainbow with stars…” “OHHH YEAHHH!” then it dawned on him that we weren’t complete psycho nutjobs after all and actually perfectly normal customers towing the Great Adventure retro t-shirt line.
Before we even got to the park, I had it in the back of my head that I absolutely HAD to get this shirt. Thanks to Miss Sexy Armpit for getting it for me. I’ve always had a major soft spot for the old Great Adventure logo, and years back, I even made a Sexy Armpit parody of it. (Below you can save the Sexy Armpit/Great Adventure iPhone Wallpaper) Perhaps even more coincidentally, I’ve been scoping out actual vintage Great Adventure tees on eBay for such a long time: Check out this ridiculous old post.
What does this all mean? I really don’t know, but maybe it’s just my way of telling you that you should get out of your house and go to your nearest amusement park this summer and maximize your fun! Thanks for reading!