The Ultimate Guide to Six Flags Great Adventure for Your Family Trip
Six Flags Great Adventure is the record-breaking, iconic amusement park in Jackson, NJ.
The park draws hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country every year so that they can conquer the tallest roller coaster in the world, Kingda Ka, or make their way through the array of family-friendly rides and attractions.
The park is also under an hour and a half from Midtown Manhattan, making it a prime spot for NYC families during the summer.
However, Great Adventure can be quite overwhelming for families for two main reasons: crowds and thrill rides. Especially during the summer, the park can get extremely crowded. You might find yourself waiting in line for two to three hours for the popular rides.
And while the epic thrill rides (the tallest pendulum in the world, the first ever stand up coaster, and the tallest and fastest drop coaster in the world) are exciting for teenagers, adults, and the thrill-seeking kids, the presence of these enormous rides can be overwhelming for young families.
But never fear: we have a guide for how to have the very best experience possible at Six Flags Great Adventure!
Avoid the Crowds
First, let’s tackle the crowd problem. Nobody likes waiting in lines, especially kids who will surely get restless and bored quite quickly. In the heat of the summer, the last thing you want to do is spend more time waiting in line than experiencing the park.
And if you live in NYC, it’s not like Great Adventure is in your backyard, so you want to make the most of your day. There are a few strategies to avoid the crowds and the long waits.
While it may be obvious, the early bird gets the worm and on time is late. Whichever cliché you prefer, cliches are overused and typical for a reason: they’re true!
If you are only spending one day at the park, get there early for the best parking, the quickest admission, and about an hour or two of shorter lines before the crowds pour in. The park opens at 10:30 am, so I would advise getting there at 10 am.
Trust me, you’d much rather wait those 20 or so minutes at the start (by the time you park and get in line for admission) than wait later on in the day as the sun gets hotter and more people arrive.
Similarly, you could get there in the evening, around 5 pm, and stay until close, which is 9:30 to 10 pm, depending on the day. The evening is typically when a lot of people who spent the morning and afternoon at the park leave, which opens up the rides for you!
But the time is totally up to you – a lot of families enjoy the early option so that they have more time at the park, but you can also get on a lot of rides in four to five hours in the evening.
Another way to avoid the crowds is to plan to go to Great Adventure on a rainy day. Yes, you read that right. The crowds are largest on the beautiful sunny days, but on rainy weekdays, you’ll have your pick of rides (sometimes with no line at all).
Another helpful tip: weekdays are key! You want to avoid weekends at the park at all costs – rain or shine. Especially for families, the crowds that collect on weekends are very overwhelming just walking through the park, let alone waiting in the long lines.
Now, back to the rainy day trick; if it’s thunderstorming, that’s a different story, because then Six Flags will shut down many of the rides for safety. But if you find a day that has scattered showers, put on your raincoats and head to the park.
Of course, rainy weather is not a common preference, but it really does allow you to get everything done that you want to at the park. And a light drizzle or rain can actually be quite nice on a hot day.
If it happens to start pouring rain, the fun doesn’t have to stop. Skull Mountain, The Dark Knight Coaster, Studio 28 Arcade, and Houdini’s Great Escape are great indoor rides and attractions where you’ll stay dry.
If you find yourself away from any of these four when the rain starts, pop into a gift shop or restaurant until the rain calms down. Now, should your trip include Hurricane Harbor, then this rainy day strategy probably won’t apply, but I’ll get to Hurricane Harbor later.
So now that you know how to avoid the crowds, let’s get to the rides. Great Adventure is known for their record-breaking thrill rides, but don’t let the insane speeds and heights of these rides fool you: Six Flags is very much a family-oriented park.
The family-friendly rides may not get as much attraction, after all, they’re not the tallest, the fastest or the most innovative in the world, but these classic rides have been providing family fun for years.
If you’re looking for a true family experience, check out the best rides in the park for the whole family to ride together.
The pirate ship is a classic family ride, because it’s sort of in the middle between a ride for young kids and big kids, although there is no minimum height as long as an adult rides with them.
But that same feeling in your stomach that you feel on Zumanjaro, the world’s tallest and fastest drop coaster, you also feel on the Buccaneer.
Although no minimum height is specified, if your kids are scared of heights and big rides, then the Buccaneer may not be the best ride for them. But if your kids are upset about not being tall enough for the big coasters, then they’ll love the thrill of the Buccaneer.
On a hot summer day, you don’t have to head over to Hurricane Harbor to stay cool. Great Adventure has its very own water ride for families. Up to twelve people fit into each raft, so likely you and another family will be paired together.
The raft drifts along the river’s current with little waves and water coming from all directions. Much like the Buccaneer, little ones may get scared on this ride with its unexpected twists and turns, so just be mindful of this. The minimum height is 36 inches with an adult.
The teacups are the perfect ride for families. The best part about the teacups is that the ride is what you make it. There’s a little spinning table in the middle of each teacup to spin, so the faster you spin, the more intense the ride will be!
The ride often turns into a competition with other teacups to see who can spin the fastest. Whether you just want to sit back and enjoy the light spin or spin the teacup like crazy, the Enchanted Teacups are great for families.
Summer 2023 is an exciting time at Six Flags Great Adventure! The brand new barnstormer is a ride that will sweep any Jr. Thrillseeker off their feet– literally. The two mega-sized planes that make up the Barnstormer are lifted high in the air by slow-moving arms that propel the ride to the clouds.
Each plane can fit up to 20 little red barons and their chaperones. With the Barnstormer being one of the only kid-sized versions of this attraction in the world, make sure your junior pilots seize the opportunity to take flight!
Rides for Kids
In addition to rides for the whole family, Six Flags has plenty of rides designed specifically for your little ones so that they can experience a miniaturized version of thrill!
Most of the rides for kids are grouped together for your convenience, located near Nitro (the huge yellow roller coaster– trust me, you won’t miss it).
If you want to head right to the kiddie area as your first destination, when you walk into the park, make a right at the fountain and walk towards the Ferris wheel. If you just keep walking straight, passing the ferris wheel on your right, you’ll eventually see the kiddie rides.
You could also just look for Nitro – it’s pretty visible from anywhere on that right side of the park.
There’s only so much you can tackle in a day, so add these top rides for kids to your Six Flags bucket list:
Bugs Bunny Rides
There are several Bugs Bunny-themed rides in the kiddie section, some of the best being the Camp Carousel and the Ranger Pilots. There’s also the Bugs Bunny National Park Water Tower for kids to play underneath on a hot day.
Tree Top Hopper
A miniature (very miniature) version of the thrilling drop-coaster, Zumanjaro, on the other side of the park, Tree Top Hopper has kids giggling and laughing from tree top to tree top.
The little drop ride moves up and down at unexpected times, complete with a thick safety bar that goes across everyone’s laps for safety.
The 242-foot tower of swing, Sky Screamer, isn’t the only place to get your swinging fix in the park. Storm Chaser is a miniature version of the swings. Kids will love the cool wind whipping through their hair as the swings soar in the sky.
The Storm Chaser revolves around, spinning so fast you may feel like a tornado is incoming! There is extra room for an adult to tag along on this ride, so any ambitious youngster can try the chase.
Daffy Hot Air Balloons
The bright-colored hot air balloons always catch your eye when you walk by. The hot air balloons lift into the air and spin around.
Much like the teacups, the hot air balloons can spin as fast your kids want them to with the spinning table in the center!
How to Conquer the Park With Kids of Different Ages & Interests
With the wide range of rides for all ages, visiting Great Adventure with your family can be a little difficult to navigate if your kids are of all different ages. It can also become an issue if you have one thrill-seeker and another who is very afraid of heights.
So how do you make everyone happy during your Six Flags trip? My advice is to split the day half and half: the first half is family time and the second half is the “let’s make sure we all get to the rides we want” time.
First, make sure that you establish with your kids beforehand that you will spend the first few hours all together. That way, they know exactly what to expect walking into the park. During this first half of the day, try to stick to rides and attractions that you want to do together as a family.
Take family photos, ride the family rides, and eat lunch together. There is so much to do and experience as a family at the park, so make sure that you get this family time in before you split up to head to the thrill or kiddie rides.
Once family time is over (you’ll know when your kids who are tall enough for the big rides start begging to get in line for one of these thrillers), mom and dad can split up with the kids. It’s great to set a time and a place that you want to meet back up.
The fountain near the front of the park is a popular meet-up spot. It’s near the entrance and centered in the middle of the park. After you meet back up and head to the exit, stop in the gift shops on your way out, or enjoy a cup of Dippin’ Dots as one last family memory at the park together!
Speaking of food in the park, Six Flags is overloaded with places to eat. Be mindful that the prices for food and drinks are very expensive. Six Flags is smart – they don’t allow you to bring food into the park, so they know that you’ll pay for a snack when you’re hungry.
I recommend eating before you come to the park. That way, you’ll likely only have to pay for one meal or snack when you’re there. However, the park has some great family-friendly places to grab a bite. If you’re planning on eating at the park, check out these top places for families:
This restaurant on the boardwalk serves up classics including chicken fingers, hot dogs, and chicken sandwiches. They also have salads and a variety of kosher food options for families who follow kosher practices.
Totally Kickin’ Chicken
Located next to El Toro, this restaurant has a delicious selection of chicken tenders – a childhood favorite. They also have chicken wings and a variety of sauces. If you find yourself near El Diablo or El Toro, then this is a great place to sit down and enjoy lunch.
These pizzerias are located in a few locations around the park, so you’ll likely come across one as you’re walking around. Be sure to look out for a Primo’s by Nitro, Golden Kingdom and on Main Street. While the pizza slices are a bit expensive, they’re also huge and super cheesy, so in a way, you get your money’s worth. Their french fries are also amazing, and they have healthy salads as well.
If you’re unsure of where to eat, you can’t go wrong with this well-known restaurant located conveniently on Main Street. Enjoy milkshakes, burgers, hot dogs, french fries, and more!
Mama Flora’s has two locations in the park: the Cucina located in Adventure Alley and the Grill located in Movietown. This is a great place to get pizza, mozzarella sticks and even cheesesteaks.
They also carry Coca-Cola beverages that are sure to give parents the extra boost they need to get through the second half of the busy day!
This popular way to eat ice cream is all over the park in both carts and established places. Kids love seeing all of the colorful dots, and of course, eating them to cool off!
Another great option on a hot summer day, Italian Ice from Rita’s is a delicious treat for all ages. If your kids are more into ice cream, they also have soft-serve ice cream. Try the vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles!
Located on Main Street, be sure to take a stop here before leaving the park! From churros, to popcorn, candy and even more Dippin’ Dots, we can’t get enough of this sweet treat!
If you feel that your dietary needs are not met at the park (or you’re on a budget!), you can still pack lunch in a cooler. You won’t be able to bring your lunch into the park, but leave it in the car and return to it midday.
Six Flags allows you to leave the park and return, as long as you get your hand stamped. So when your family starts getting hungry, you can head back to the parking lot and enjoy your lunch outside or in the car before heading back into the park.
If you plan to leave your lunch in the car, I recommend bringing something in a cooler bag or thermos to ensure it stays fresh and delicious for when you take a lunch break!
There’s also a Wawa just before the entrance into the park, so if you want to stop and grab food for a cheaper price on your way to the park, Wawa is a good option. But again, do not bring food or beverages to the front gate!
Safety is always a number one priority, especially in a park with huge thrill rides and thousands of visitors. Six Flags is committed to providing a safe experience for all families.
Six Flags ride operations staff thoroughly inspects the rides every day before the park opens, and park attendants check harnesses and seat belts on every single ride. I
f a ride closes because of “technical difficulties,” don’t be discouraged. The park would not reopen the ride if it was not 100 percent safe. Kingda Ka is one of those rides that shuts down every now and then, but do not worry when this happens!
Personal Items Safety
In terms of storing small backpacks or cell phones, there are locker kiosks located near all of the major coasters, so basically all over the park. I always use the lockers whenever I go. While you could keep your phone in your pocket, it is highly discouraged on the thrill rides.
Also, if you get to the front of the line and the park attendees see any loose articles on you – phone, sunglasses, etc. – you will have to leave your articles on the side, in the open cubbies on the platform. It is much better to just put all of your belongings safely into a locker beforehand to avoid this situation!
The lockers are not expensive and they’re very spacious, so you can likely use one locker for the whole family. I always like to recollect my belongings from the locker when I get off the ride.
While you could leave them in the locker as you head to another ride, you don’t want to have to walk all the way back to your locker later. It’s also comforting to know that your personal belongings are somewhere near you.
Six Flags has a wonderful First Aid Center located in the Boardwalk area, behind Garden State Grill. Should your kids get a little cut or scrape, head over there to get it all cleaned up. They’re very kind and accommodating at the First Aid Center – your kids will be ready for more family fun in no time!
Events & Other Activities
The summer is packed with events and special activities for you and your family! The fun doesn’t stop with the rides, because Six Flags is committed to providing family experiences and memories in all aspects. Check out some of these family-oriented events and activities:
Flavors of the World – Summer 2023
Six Flags Great Adventure is hosting an event full of delicious thrills. Come try new foods and treats from countries around the world!
No passport needed to try the unique cuisines from Mexico, France, Korea, Greece, India, Italy and the Caribbean. Families that like to try new foods… this one’s for you! Interested? Look into more information on dates.
Gaming Fest – Summer 2023
From July 1 – September 4 friends and families can put their game face on in the Coca-Cola Gaming Fest challenge! Experience elevated gaming usually reserved for the pros inside one of the Custom Gaming Houses.
Fireworks – Friday and Saturday Night – Summer 2023
Every Friday and Saturday night through the end of August showcases breathtaking fireworks in the park! Expect to see these thrilling sparks fly at 9:30 p.m., weather permitting. Name a better way to end your weekend day… I’ll wait.
Character Meet & Greet
Your favorite Looney Tunes Characters are all around the park, excited to meet you! High five Bugs Bunny and take pictures with all of the Looney Tunes. You’ll find these characters near the park entrance and the Kiddie area.
If you happen to stay until closing, end the night at the park dancing it out with the Looney Tunes characters. 45 minutes before closing, head to the Main Street Fountain near the entrance/exit, and hang with the Looney Tunes and street performers.
Six Flags Great Adventure is a truly memorable experience.
With its family rides, special events, and constant thrills to keep you smiling and laughing during your entire visit, Great Adventure is the perfect destination for your family this summer.
Family trips can often be stressful, as there is much to remember (don’t forget the sunblock!) and plan, especially for a park that may seem overwhelming at first.
Hopefully this guide to Six Flags Great Adventure made your upcoming trip to Jackson, NJ a little easier to navigate. We all need a little NYC escape sometimes, so hop in the car and drive over to Great Adventure.
And refer back to this guide for all of the advice, tips, and tricks that you need to conquer the iconic park – family style!