Great Escape (amusement park)
|Location||Queensbury, New York, U.S.|
|Previous names||Storytown USA, The Great Escape Fun Park, The Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom|
|Operating season||May through October|
|Area||351 acres (142 ha)|
|Total||58 (excluding water park)|
Great Escape (sometimes referred to as Six Flags Great Escape) is an amusement and water park located in Queensbury, New York. It is advertised as being located in Lake George, New York. It is approximately 60 miles (97 km) north of Albany, and is owned and operated by Six Flags.
The Great Escape was opened in 1954 as Storytown USA, a Mother Goose themed amusement park by businessman Charles Wood who bought the land with his wife for $75,000. In 1957, realizing that the park was geared only toward small children, the park opened its Ghosttown area, the first of many themed areas opened in the park's history.
In 1983, the park officially changed its name from Storytown USA to The Great Escape. For publicity, the park placed bumper stickers on every car in the parking lot. This practice stopped a few years later due to complaints.
In 1984, The Great Escape opened the Steamin' Demon, the first of its eventual seven roller coasters. The showpiece attraction at The Great Escape is the Comet. Re-opened at The Great Escape in 1994, this roller coaster already had a 41-year history as The Comet at Crystal Beach (an amusement park near Niagara Falls, Ontario). It was saved shortly after the park closed down forever after the 1988 season. Charley Wood, the owner of Great Escape Fun Park and Fantasy Island in Grand Island, New York successfully bid for The Comet and it sat in storage for a few years in Fantasy Island before making its way to the park in Queensbury, NY and reopening in 1994. Roller coaster enthusiasts recognize it as one of the best wooden roller coasters in North America.
In February 2006, The Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark opened up with positive reviews and sold out weekends throughout the first month. This major addition includes a 38,000 square feet (3,500 m2) waterpark exclusively for lodge guests. This is New York State's first indoor waterpark.
The park debuted several new features for the 2006 season. These included character greetings from the likes of the whole Justice League.
For the 2007 season, The Great Escape re-themed their dive show to a pirate themed show, branded their pizza restaurant a Papa John's, and brought back the Superstars and Legends: Elvis! Show (Which featured throughout the summer not only Elvis, but also Buddy Holly, and Billy Joel) to JollyTree Theatre.
In addition to typical amusement park rides, the Great Escape offers a variety of unique shows, most notable of which is a high dive show featuring a team of divers scaling an 80 feet (24 m) tower and plunging into a 10 feet (3.0 m) deep pool.
Other milestones include:
- 1954 — Charles Wood opens Storytown USA.
- 1957 — Ghosttown section of the park is opened.
- 1960 — Jungleland section of the park is opened.
- 1967 — Alice in Wonderland walk through adventure is opened.
- 1982 — Addition of about eight adult spinning rides.
- 1983 — Name change from Storytown USA to Great Escape Fun Park along with the addition of a few other adult rides.
- 1984 — Addition of Steamin' Demon, an Arrow Dynamics 3-inversion roller coaster, which was previously installed at Pontchartrain Beach as Ragin' Cajun.
- 1986 — Opening of Raging River, an Intamin river rafting ride.
- 1994 — A used wooden track and steel frame roller coaster called the Comet was brought from Crystal Beach, Ontario and reassembled at Great Escape and opened, giving the park three rollercoasters.
- 1995 — Great Escape opens its waterpark, Splashwater Kingdom.
- 1996 — Acquisition by Premier Parks, which later bought and changed its name to Six Flags.
- 1997 — Addition of Boomerang: Coast to Coaster, a Vekoma Boomerang. Was and currently is still the tallest roller coaster at the park.
- 1998 — Addition of Alpine Bobsled, an Intamin alpine themed bobsled roller coaster (Previously located at Six Flags Great America from 1990 to 1995 as Rolling Thunder and Six Flags Great Adventure as Sarejevo Bobsleds from 1984–1988).
- 1999 — Addition of Nightmare at Crack Axle Canyon, an indoor Schwarzkopf Jet Star featuring four-person cars, but only operated with two people. Building still standing. The coaster was previouslt located at Beech Bend park, Kentucky Kingdom and Darien lake, respectively as Starchaser, Starchaser and Nightmare at Phantom cave.
- 2003 — Addition of Canyon Blaster, a Mine Train roller coaster built by Arrow Dynamics and transported from defunct Opryland USA.
- 2004 — The Great Escape's 50th Anniversary.
- 2005 — Debut of Looney Tunes National Park: a Looney Tunes themed children's area which included eight new children's rides,including Road Runner Express, the park's seventh roller coaster, and a re-themed restaurant as well as a cartoon walk-through. Replaces the old Jungleland area. Accompanying Looney Tunes National Park are the Looney Tunes characters. The Flash Pass system is introduced.
- 2007 — The Tornado opens in Splashwater Kingdom.
- 2008 — Wiggles World Children's Theme Area and The Mega Wedgie, a Proslide Bowl. At the Great Escape Lodge, The Trapper's restaurant is converted to a Johnny Rockets, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- 2009 — Addition of Sasquatch, an S&S Power Combo Tower. Relocated from Six Flags New Orleans. This ride is located at the previous site of the Rainbow. Martha's Dandee Creme sold back to original owners. The park hosted the first Holiday in the Park (Christmas event) during the weekends in November and December.
- 2010 — Old theme elements from the park's Storytown USA era, including PoPo the Purple Cow and a rebuilt Cinderella's castle, were restored and placed back into the park. The Holiday In The Park (Christmas event) has been cancelled for the 2010 season. In late 2010, Six Flags began the process of removing licensed theming from attractions. The Great Escape terminated several licenses including their license with The Wiggles, Looney Tunes, and DC Comics. Wiggles' World will be renamed and rethemed to KIDZOPOLIS, Looney Tunes National Park will be renamed and rethemed to Timbertown, and the Flash Pass system will be renamed to Go Fast Pass, all in time for the 2011 season.
- 2012 - Alpine Freefalls opened in Splashwater Kingdom. It features Twisted Racer (a ProSlide KrakenRacer) and Cliffhanger (a trapdoor released ProSlide speed slide).
- 2013 - Screamin' Eagles a new Flying Scooters family ride, located in Fest Area next to Alice in Wonderland attraction. It Replaces the former Cinema 180/Arcade attraction The Bumper Cars are relocated to Ghost Town. 'Blizzard' is relocated into the old dome to once again become an indoor scrambler ride.
During the 2005 season, the park introduced a new line queuing system (used to be called the Flash Pass from 2005–2010), the "Go Fast Pass". For $15, guests can use Go Fast Passes on certain rides including the Comet, Alpine Bobsled, Desperado Plunge, Raging River, Canyon Blaster, Thunder Alley, Swan Boats, Bumper Cars, Steamin Demon, Boomerang and Sasquatch.
|Steamin' Demon||1984||Arrow Dynamics Corkscrew coaster||Ghosttown||The longest tenured roller coaster at the park.|
|Comet||1994||Herbert Paul Schmeck and Philadelphia Toboggan Company Wooden Coaster||Fest Area||Originally known as the Crystal Beach Cyclone and rebuilt into the Crystal Beach Comet, the Comet was resurrected and re-opened by the Great Escape in 1994. Often rated one of the top roller coasters in the world, the Comet features a 2-minute ride over several hills. The first and largest hill contains a drop of 87 feet (27 m) and brings riders to a maximum speed of 55 mph (89 km/h). For the 2007 season, the Comet celebrated its 80th Anniversary.|
|Boomerang Coast-to-Coaster||1997||Vekoma Boomerang||Storytown||A steel roller coaster that goes forward, up an inclined spike, then back through the station into a cobra roll, then down into a loop. It then goes up another spike and repeats the sequence backwards, all in one trip. First Boomerang at a Six Flags Park.|
|Alpine Bobsled||1998||Intamin Bobsled roller coaster||Fest Area||It was introduced in 1998 in honor of the Winter Olympics, and each bobsled-car contains the flag of a different country which participated in the games.|
|Canyon Blaster||2003||Arrow Dynamics Mine Train roller coaster||Ghosttown||Transported from the defunct Opryland USA|
|Frankie’s Mine Train||2005||Zamperla Steel Kiddie Coaster||Timbertown||It was known as Road Runner Express from 2005–2010; and now rethemed in 2011.|
Rides and attractions
|Fest Area||Bavarian themed.|
|Ghosttown||An Old West village themed.|
|International Village and Storytown||Retains decorative elements from the old Storytown USA era.|
|Timbertown||In 2005 this area replaced the former Jungleland that featured an animal show and a walking tour of jungle-like conditions adorned with animatronic animals along with a wood and rope bridge. This section was known as Looney Tunes National Park from 2005–2010; and now rethemed in 2011. This section used to feature 10 rides themed to the Looney Tunes.|
|North Woods Picnic Grove||An area for organized, large group picnics. Converted in the fall into a haunted house.|
|Splashwater Kingdom||The Great Escape includes a water park located within the main park. The water park is located at the back of the park. There is no additional charge to visit Splashwater Kingdom.|
|KIDZOPOLIS||Open in 2008 with three rides and a show as Wiggles World; and now rethemed in 2011.|
This area typically features a more German theme. German style music can be heard playing throughout this area along with other 'German' food stands such as funnel cake.
|Blizzard Indoors||Eli Bridge Indoor Scrambler Ride.||This ride opened in 1971 and was originally Chipper's Magical Mystery Tour indoor scrambler, but was moved outside in 2005. In 2013, the ride was relocated back inside the dome to become Blizzard Indoors with lighting and sound effects and air conditioning.|
|Giant Wheel||Chance Ferris wheel||90-foot (27 m) high providing a spectacular view of the Great Escape and surrounding area.|
|Pirate Ship||Huss Swinging Ship|
|Raging River||Intamin White Water Rapids||A water ride in a round boat holding six passengers simulating riding through white water rapids.|
|Cannonball Express||A spinning ride that moves fast around a track in a forward direction.|
|Screamin' Eagles||Larson Flying Scooters||The ride is a new model built by Larson in 2013. Ride is located where the former 180 Dome once stood.|
|The Condor||Huss Spinning tower ride||You ascend the tower spinning at a medium speed giving great views of the park, but when you reach the top its a high speed thrill ride until you make your way back down the tower.|
|Desperado Plunge||Water Flume Ride||Water flume ride where passengers ride in boats modeled on logs. Relocated from Busch Gardens Los Angeles after it closed in 1979 .|
|Marshal's Stampede||Classic Bumper Car ride.||Relocated to Ghost Town in 2013 from Fest Area. Located where Ghost Town arcade once stood. Ride features lights and sound.|
International Village and Storytown
|Cinderella Coach||For 2011 season, carriage will no longer be drawn by horses, but pumpkin coach will be available to guests to have their picture taken in with Cinderella.|
|Grand Carousel||Chance Carousel||Classic merry-go-round ride with both horses and fantastic creatures.|
|Balloon Race||Zamperla Balloon Race||Ride featuring gondolas made to look like hot air balloons. Goes in the air and slightly tilts to the side while spinning in a large circle. Was relocated from Action Park. Relocated to the Fest Area in 2013 in the former outdoor Blizzard location.|
|Storytown Train||Chance C.P. Huntington||Scenic train ride through Storytown and Timbertown on an old engine.|
|Swan Boats||Motorized, swan-themed boats take passengers on a water-born tour of Storytown.|
|Thunder Alley||Guests drive 1950s-styled electric cars.|
|Flying Trapeze||Chance Yo-Yo||Swing ride that lifts riders into the air, and, along with the Balloon Race, spins in a large circle.|
|Alice in Wonderland||Walkthrough designed to make guests feel like that are following Alice in Wonderland through her mind-bending journey.|
|Sky Ride||Chairlift||Chairlift that takes guests on a trip around part of the Great Escape in the air.|
|Sasquatch||S&S Power Combo Tower||Added in 2009. Includes a drop tower and a launch tower. Each tower has its own queue line. The ride was previously located at Six Flags New Orleans, which closed due to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.|
This section opened in 2005 as Looney Tunes National Park.
|Bucky’s Shore Patrol||Horizontally-revolving boat ride. It was known as Yosemite Sam Shore Patrol from 2005–2010.|
|Honey Swings||Flying swings type ride. It was known as Taz Twister from 2005–2010.|
|Hootie’s Treehouse||Drop tower type ride. It was known as Tweety Treehouse from 2005–2010.|
|Ranger Randy’s Railway||Small train-type ride. Must be over 36", and be accompanied by a guest under 54" if over 54". It was known as Elmer Fudd Scenic Railway from 2005–2010.|
|Rocky’s Ranger Planes||Revolving Planes for Guests under 54". It was known as Bugs Bunny Ranger Pilots from 2005–2010.|
|Sheldon’s Speedway||Horizontally-revolving car-type ride. It was known as Speedy Gonzales Camptown Racers from 2005–2010.|
|Spruce’s Wilderness Bus Tours||Vertically-revolving bus for guests under 54", or accompanied by a Guest under 54". It was known as Daffy Duck Wilderness Bus Tour from 2005–2010.|
This section opened in 2008 as Wiggles World; and now rethemed in 2011.
|Krazy Kars||It was known as Big Red Cars from 2008–2010.|
|Krazy Kups||It was known as Dorothy's Rosy Red Tea Cups from 2008–2010.|
|ZoomJets||It was known as Big Red Planes from 2008–2010.|
|Black Cobra||A pair of enclosed water slides that guests ride in small inflatable boats.|
|Capt'n Hook's Adventure River||1,050 ft (320 m) long, 28 in (0.71 m) deep river. Riders may travel in tubes or swim freely. Features waterfalls, geysers, strong current and continuous waves. Located in Upper Splashwater Kingdom.|
|Paul Bunyan's Bucket Brigade||A treehouse featuring spraying water, 5 body slides, and a 500 US gal (1,900 L) water bucket that drenches the area every 8 minutes. Located in Lower Splashwater Kingdom.|
|Lumberjack Splash Wave Pool||500,000 US gal (1,900 kL), 25,000-square-foot (2,300 m2) wave pool with six wave patterns. Located in Lower Splashwater Kingdom.|
|Noah's Sprayground||Water fountains, pools, and body slides for children. Located in Upper Splashwater Kingdom.|
|Twister Falls||Water slide with a waterfall toward the beginning that is partly in tube form. Located in Upper Splashwater Kingdom.|
|Banshee Plunge||Water slide with a waterfall at the beginning with two slightly steep drops. Located in Upper Splashwater Kingdom.|
|Blue Typhoon||Tube-water slide with a waterfall at the beginning and end. Located in Upper Splashwater Kingdom.|
|Tornado||A ProSlide Tornado that takes riders through a short section of enclosed slide before coming out at the top of a giant funnel where riders slide back and forth before gently landing in a splash pool. Installed in 2007. Located in Upper Splashwater Kingdom.|
|Mega Wedgie||A specially designed tube bowl made by ProSlide. Similar to the standard CannonBOWL but a slightly smaller size. Installed in 2008. Located in Upper Splashwater Kingdom.|
|Alpine Freefalls||This slide complex features a Twisted Racer (a ProSlide KrakenRacer) and a Cliffhanger (a trapdoor released ProSlide speed slide). It opened in 2012. Located in Lower Splashwater Kingdom.|
These rides are not included in the admission price. Cost varies from ride to ride.
|Go-Carts||Fest Area||Gas powered race cars with high speed turns. $8 (Drivers) and $4 (Passengers). You must be 58 inches (1.5 m) to drive alone. You must be 18 to have a passenger.|
|Matterhorn Rockwall||Fest Area||Outdoor climbing rock wall with safety harnesses. $5|
|Skycoaster||Fest Area||An intense sky-diving-like attraction that pulls the riders 175 feet (53 m) up in the air then swings them down toward the ground at speeds reaching 70 mph (110 km/h). 1 Person - $40, 2 Person - $25 each, 3 Person - $20 each.|
|Turbo Bungy||Fest Area||A beefed-up version of the trampoline where riders are attached to bungee cords. $6|
After Labor Day the Great Escape has two special events, Oktoberfest and Fright Fest, before closing for the winter. Oktoberfest is held during the weekends in September, while Fright Fest is held during the weekends of October.
Oktoberfest is marginally a celebration of German heritage, but is expanded to include ethnic foods, various beer games, ethnic music and dancing, and other activities. (In the past, vendors were included, but none since 2006).
Fright Fest has the entire park decorated for Halloween, while many of the usual shows are changed over to Halloween events as well including trick or treating among the miniature houses in Ghost-town and an elaborate haunted house, which is located near the North-woods Picnic Grove along with a haunted walk-through in the Rabbit Season/Duck Season area.
In 2009, The Great Escape experimented with a late-season festival named "Holiday in the Park". It included live entertainment and holiday themed shows, lights adorning the park, and a sledding hill making it the winter equivalent of the Fright Fest autumn event. Though Six Flags called the 2009 event successful, it also claimed a "business decision" was the reason behind the cancellation of the "Holiday in the Park" for the 2010 season.
Defunct rides and attractions
- Ghosttown Railroad Tour - 1/2 mile long railroad. Two Arrow Dynamics engines ran on the track. The train traveled through a recreated old western city, past the Steamin Demon, into a large themed tunnel, and back to the station. The Ghosttown Railroad was removed due to the addition of the Canyon Blaster coaster. The train's track was completely removed, the station was torn down, and the railroad crossing was removed and paved over. One of the original two engines and cars are now being used as scenery in the Canyon Blaster coaster.)
- Tornado (Flipper Version)((Removed in 2003 being replaced by the Canyon Blaster))
- (Chipper's)The Magical Mystery Tour Ride - located at the upper level of The Great Escape near the Sky Ride. (was renamed Chipper's Mystery Ride at a later date)The ride was a Scrambler that was inside an enclosed "dome". When the guests enter they are secured in the ride, the lights went off, the walls lit up, and the BEATLES song Magical Mystery Tour played through the whole ride. Black lite pictures would appear on the walls and a strobe light would flash during the slower verse of the song.(Has been brought back for the 2013 season.)
- The Italian Roller Coaster
- Nightmare at Crack Axle Canyon
- Danny The Dragon
- Screamer - replaced by the Rainbow Ride.
- Rainbow Ride - removed to make room for Sasquatch
- 99 Trains
- Thunderbolt - was located where the Boomerang sits today
- Astro Wheel
- Sea Dragon (was then replaced by the Thunderbolt) - Replaced with Pirate Ship, moved to current location.
- Storytown Railroad - original train is now defunct. The original tracks are still in place where they stood when the railroad opened, but now has a C.P. Huntington engine that does daily runs on the track.
- Jungle Land USA - removed to make room for Looney Tunes National Park.
- Dragon Ride
- Noah's Ark
- Children's Train
- Tip Top
- Tumble Weed - Replaced with Condor
- Sky Flyer
- Starship Kaleidoscope - Replaced by the Trabant
- Cinema 180
- The Octopus
- Trabant — Removed after completion of the 2010 season.
- Petting Zoo — Closed during the course of the 2010 season.
- Cinderella Coach — Cinderella's Pumpkin Coach is no long pulled by horses. Cinderella is now available for pictures in front and in the now stationary coach.
- Wiggles World - Not removed but re-branded to KIDZOPOLIS.
Sources↑Jump back a section
- "Recreational Opportunities (Map)". Department of Community Development, town of Queensbury. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
- "Directions: The Great Escape". Retrieved 2009-05-04. "Enjoy a memorable visit to beautiful Lake George, New York."
- Hirsch (2006), p.47
- Hirsch (2006), p.61
- Hirsch (2006), p.69
- Hirsch (2006), p.72
- Jones, Blake. "Great Escape to debut new Storytown features". Post Star. Retrieved 08-10-2010.
- Donnelly, Scott. "Great Escape cancels Holiday in the Park 2010". Post Star. Retrieved 08-10-2010.
- MacDonald, Brady (25 November 2010). "Six Flags amusement parks prepare for thematic makeovers". LA Times. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
- The Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom. "Alpine Freefalls". Six Flags. Archived from the original on August 25, 2011. Retrieved August 31, 2011.
- "Screamin’ Eagles Soar into The Great Escape in 2013". SixFlags.com. Retrieved August 30, 2013.
- "Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom (1995 to ?)". Rollercoaster Database. Retrieved 08-06-2010.
- Official Six Flags Great Escape Web Site
- Park Map
- Great Escape at the Roller Coaster DataBase
- GECentral - Official Great Escape Fan Message Board
- Storytown USA; A Retrospective
- Storytown USA message boards
- Legends of the amusement park industry: Charley Wood