We regularly visit family-friendly destinations in the United States and write reviews to help others get the most out of their vacations.
Visiting a Drive-Through Safari Park in New Jersey
There haven't been many options for family outings recently because of the stay-at-home restrictions put into place to help combat the coronavirus pandemic.
But the Great Adventure Six Flags amusement has brought back one of my favorite tourist attractions from when I was young—it reopened its safari park as a drive-through adventure. The park boasts more than 1,200 animals from six continents that you get to see—some very up close—as you slowly wind your way through the 350-acre preserve in Jackson, New Jersey.
We visited the park on an early June morning, hoping to see the animals out and about before the hot sun sapped their energy. It was a great way to spend a few hours in the luxury of our car.
Bison, Rheas, Zebras and Elephants to Start the Journey!
The drive-through starts with the Americas section, with a large group of bison hanging out just inside the first gate. Rheas were wandering around everywhere, while 20 or 30 Roosevelt Elk sitting on a dirt mound. One of the elk, obviously a smart one, was down in a pond with water up to its shoulders.
The second section is the Africas land, where we were greeted by a herd of zebras. It was neat to see the young ones, which have stripes that look brown instead of black. The rhinos looked cool, but stayed pretty far away from the road so we didn't get a good look at them. There were several elephants, but they were fenced in—presumably to protect visitors' vehicles. We got a kick of the ostriches, who seemed to roam freely between the various sections of the park. They are such odd-looking creatures!
Dama Gazelles, Red Ankole Cattle and the King of the Jungle
The safari continued through the Wild Plains and Serengeti Grasslands sections, which featured a variety of antelope and other hoofed animals. We watched as a herd of red Ankole cattle decided—seemingly as a group—to all troop over to a watering hole for a morning drink (the older ones used their horns to shoo the young ones aside at the water's edge). We also were forced to wait as a group of Aoudad decided to slowly cross the road—the animals have the right of way!
We were disappointed that the giraffes—it looked like there were five or six—stayed far away from the road. We could barely see them.
The next area consisted of about a dozen lions, separated into two sections (one on either side of the road). Almost all were males, which I was a bit surprised by. Unlike some of the other animals, most of the lions were not active at all. They were just lying in the shade. On the park's website, it says the males sleep between 18 and 20 hours, the females 15 to 18 hours. So we must have caught them in naptime!
Bears, Kangaroos, Tigers and Sleepy Baboons
The next two sections are dedicated to bears. First we saw an animal very familiar with those of us in New Jersey—the American black bear. Just a few days earlier there was one sighted in the town next to ours, so we weren't too excited.
We rode through the European brown bear area just after they were fed. So all the animals were sitting down with their faces in mounds of grain. It was kind of cool watching them eat.
The rest of the safari was a bit of a letdown. While some of the kangaroos were standing, most were lying down away from the road so we didn't get to see much of them. Same with the tigers—there were only a few and they were asleep as well.
The final section was filled with dozens of Anubis baboons, but again the animals were just dozing. Maybe by mid-morning, the day had gotten warm enough that the animals just didn't want to do anything for the rest of the day.
What You Need to Know If You Go
The website suggests setting aside 90 minutes for the tour, which was about right for us. But, then again, we were there very early and among the first in the park. It might take longer as the day goes by and the park gets more congested.
If, like me, you remember the safari from the 1970s and 1980s, you may find this a bit disappointing because a number of animals are fenced off so they can't come up to the car. Way back when, the most fun during the safari was the baboons climbing on your car and making faces up close. None of that can happen now.
Tickets cost $19.99 per person in the vehicle and must be bought ahead of time. You also must make a reservation before going.
Overall, I would recommend a trip to the safari if you like animals and want to get out of the house. Check it out!
To Order Tickets and Make Reservations:
- SFGD Safari | Six Flags Great Adventure
The official website of the safari park.
History of Six Flags Great Adventure Safari
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 goldenrulecomics
Please Share Your Thoughts
Liz Westwood from UK on June 12, 2020:
Zoos and safari parks have recently been given the go ahead to reopen in the UK.
This is a very useful and relevant review.