Six Flags Great Adventure
Exit 7A, New Jersey Turnpike, Jackson, N.J.; (908) 928-1821.
GENERAL ATMOSPHERE: Every year, Great Adventure feels more and more like a movie set. Six-foot-tall Bugs Bunnys and Sylvesters wander the grounds. Ornamental buildings like the Yum Yum Palace, with its architecturally encrusted candy canes and ice-cream scoops, looks like something out of the 1971 film "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." Now there's Batman the Ride, which is actually supposed to look like a movie set.
CUTESY TITLE: Adventure Rivers.
LAYOUT: In Adventure Rivers, rides are named after real rivers on different continents: Africa, Asia, North America, Australia. Signs are posted that give topographical information about the actual rivers; it's a nice touch, but let's face it: the thronging masses hardly cluster in front for a quick geography lesson. The Asian Waters section has red pagodas over ride entrances and other vaguely Oriental styling, but beyond that it's all one giant, puddly, undifferentiated tangle of paths, flumes and slides.
CLIENTELE: Hysterical children, harried parents, roving packs of teen-agers; couples attached at the hands, hips and lips; a good smattering of older folks (older in this context means 30's and 40's) on a lark and having a ball.
DO YOU HAVE TO WEAR A BATHING SUIT? No, thank goodness, but the exhibitionists do anyway.
LOCKERS: Not necessary.
SCARIEST RIDE: None of the water rides here are actually that scary. But the best ride by far is the tube slide in Asian Waters, which looks like a giant yellow silly straw. After waiting in line for about six years, you climb into a rubber raft, push off in bobsled style from side railings and go zipping through the pipe like a jet-propelled cork. At the bottom, you are spat out and you skid to a halt as veritable buckets of water splash into the raft.
LAMEST RIDE: Irrawaddy Riptide, basically a short flume ride in a blue or red speedboat. From the outside this looks pretty good -- the boat bounces along as if it's blasting over an ocean wake -- but when you ride it very little happens. You don't even get wet. A bunch of homeboys were scooping out water with their baseball caps and dumping it on one another.