Is an amusement park during a pandemic a good idea? Probably not, but before we knew much about the Delta Covid variant, our kids were a bit stir-crazy and talked us into visiting Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey last July (2021).
We hesitated about writing this post, but given that we were all vaccinated at the time of our visit and that we came away without illness, we decided to go ahead and share our experience!
We had originally thought to go to Six Flags New England, located about 2 hours west of Boston, but when we realized that we could combine New Jersey’s larger Six Flags Great Adventure with a road trip to Washington, D.C., we decided that if we were going to travel and visit an amusement park during a pandemic, we might as well go all out and visit the better one!
Generally, visiting an amusement park during covid is higher risk. Even with activities being mostly outdoors, there are large maskless crowds. Still, we had fun and didn’t end up with any adverse consequences, but would advise people to only go if vaccinated.
Destination: Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey
Address: 1 Six Flags Blvd., Jackson, NJ (roughly 1.5 hours south of New York City)
Cost: Starts at $35/person depending on date and add-ons. Plus meals/drinks/etc.
Hours: Varies by day/season
Bring: Money for locker rentals, lunch, etc. A daypack, water bottle, hand sanitizer.
Keep in mind that many of the rides do not allow you to bring anything with you on the ride. This can include a cell phone that is stored in your pocket. Plan to stash most of your stuff in a day pack and make use of the lockers or bring a person that will skip some rides and act as a bag holder.
On arrival, we were expecting the lines to work a bit more like Disneyland, where after clearing the security and ticket checks, you wait behind a line until opening time – where everybody then rushes to the headliner rides.
Instead, they seemed to let everyone into the park before it actually opened and people were able to pick their first ride and wait in line there for the ride to open. From a pandemic perspective, it did seem to keep the crowds thinned a bit.
We chose to walk to the Kingda Ka and experience the World’s Tallest Rollercoaster! While I usually don’t ride rollercoasters, this one looked tall, but smooth, so I decided to give it a try. We put all of our stuff, including our cell phones since they weren’t allowed on the ride, in a locker.
Being a bit nervous about Covid, I chose to wear my mask during the ride. Big mistake! I spent the entire ride trying to keep it from flying off my face. During all future rides, I removed it just before the ride started. Well, with the exception of the rides that didn’t allow anything in your pockets. In those cases, I left it in the locker and gritted my teeth while waiting in line. If you are the type that insists on wearing a mask, an amusement park is not the place to be!
From there, we visited most of the other big name rides. I tried the Green Lantern ride, but neither my back, nor my stomach appreciated it and I mostly turned into a bag holder for the rest of the day. Jeremy’s stomach didn’t like it either and while he tried to go on a few more rides with the boys, at one point we found a nice bench and hung out there while our teenage kids had fun on the rollercoasters!
While there are rides for younger kids and adults that don’t want to act like teenagers, Six Flags is really designed around the thrill rides. If you are interested in the other rides, go on them, but you are likely to have a better time if you enjoy massive roller coasters!
For lunch we stopped at a pizza place and waited way too long for them to make a whole pizza. I guess the good news was that it wasn’t sitting under a lamp for an hour, but it did take a bit of time away from the rides. On the other hand, a flock of geese decided to pay us a visit during our meal.
By the mid-afternoon, the park became predictably quite crowded and hot. When our boys were much younger and we took them to Disneyland, mid-afternoon is the point in the day when we’d fit in the 2 hour nap at the hotel. Alas, this strategy doesn’t work with teenagers.
The mid-afternoon is usually at that time that people start looking at the games or shows, or taking longish snack breaks in the shade, since the ride lines become harder to justify. Still, the boys got in some rides then, and stayed at the park until a few rides past dinner time. In the evening, amusement parks usually become more festive again, as the sun drops, the crowds start thinning, the lights turn on, and the temperature is cooler.
All-in-all, it was a fun day. I probably won’t do it again until the pandemic is better controlled, but it made the boys happy. If you are traveling with teens through New Jersey, and are thinking about where to go, consider making a stop at this intense amusement park!