Adults traversing their entire state chasing down juice boxes is normal right? Who knew we’d be grown ass adults searching feverishly for a tiny box of green juice that we used to bring in our lunch boxes as kids. It makes sense though, it’s sort of similar to finding the fountain of youth. Ecto Cooler hasn’t been on store shelves in so long that having the opportunity to suck that ectoplazmic green elixir out of that beautifully retro Hi-C container is worth going to the ends of the earth for, or in my case, New Jersey. And I pretty much did just that. Those color changing Ecto Cooler cans were procured on a wild goose chase that you can hear on a recent Purple Stuff Podcast, but the elusive juice boxes were still, well…eluding me. By the time you read this, you’ll probably have gulped down 3-4 cases of juice boxes already, but let me tell you about the night that I finally found them.
In their own Hanna-Barbera cartoon show, the gang fought crime and they even had their own little Batcave-type headquarters. I tried to jog my own memory by watching an episode on YouTube called The Big Foot Incident. Memories started rushing back, but I didn’t remember much about the cool set of villains who resembled bumbling versions of the Universal Monsters. The ring leader (Mesmo? Not very original) could’ve been a horror host and his lair was basically a haunted mansion that was constantly being showered with frequent lighting bolts (awesome). This all seemed very uncharacteristic for a bunch of furry and lovable little creatures who were created to sell Hallmark cards.
If you were to associate cartoon characters with Six Flags Great Adventure here in New Jersey, Looney Tunes would immediately come to mind, but there’s proof right here that there was a brief time when The Shirt Tales reigned at Six Flags! According to the Great Adventure History site, in 1984, the kiddie kingdom area was renamed Shirt Tales Land and the characters would come out and greet kids. This only last for one season until getting taken over by the Looney Tunes.
The above photo is from the exact period of time when the Shirt Tales were popular in the early ’80s. Back then, they incorporated all their locations onto one t-shirt so they didn’t have to print up separate shirts for each location, so that explains why Great Adventure is listed at the bottom. Fortunately though, it stands out the most since it’s highlighted in yellow.
This is ’80s nostalgia at its best. Why do I say that? Well, I actually scanned this photo in myself and it’s of my best friend who I’ve known since I was in pre-school. I had the photo because not too long ago, I made a slideshow for his birthday of old photos that his mom was nice enough to gather up for me. These included some real classics and I scanned them all in. I kept this one on the hard drive because I knew that somewhere down the line I would want to bring it up here at The Sexy Armpit. It was a double whammy!
In the past several years I felt that the characters that get licensed out for use in marketing and merch for Six Flags G.A should be capitalized on more. I hate seeing the DC Universe and the Looney Tunes not being exploited to their fullest, but it probably has a lot to do with the fact that the park is no longer owned and operated by Warner Brothers, which it was at one time.
I obviously have a huge affinity for Six Flags nostalgia, but it’s merely a coincidence that the last installment of T-Shirt Tuesday featured a Six Flags tee as well. Hell, I’m not opposed to doing more either, so if you know of any vintage Six Flags tees/or you have old photos of you wearing one, let me know about them!
One memory that came to my mind was the time I headed down to Great Adventure during Fright Fest when I first got my license. I was actually still on my learner’s permit (shhh, don’t tell anyone). It was probably the first trip I ever took there on my own, so I felt pretty badass. Well, I wasn’t really on my own. I took my girlfriend at the time, Beth. At least, she was the equivalent of what teenagers considered a girlfriend at the time. We went to the mall and kissed in public. We thought we were cool. Taking her to Fright Fest though – that was the shit. If you asked me at the time, going there was my ultimate date night. Let’s pretend you’re Chuck Woolery and I’m the contestant on Love Connection. Here’s how the date went.
On the way down the New Jersey Turnpike I had the windows cracked and I remember there being a nice October chill in the air. Just cool enough for a light jacket, but still mild enough not to freeze our asses off. It was the mid ’90s, (I know, I’m old – fuck off) and the only entertainment in my car back then was the radio and a cassette player. Naturally, some people had CD players, but they were lucky bastards. Dopey teenagers hopped up on young love and Mountain Dew didn’t have the means for a CD player in the car, unless they were savvy enough to hook up a DiscMan to their car stereo, an enhancement that was still another year down the road for me. The stations get a little fuzzy as we get further south, so the only thing we had to listen to aside from the drone of the LeBaron and the awkward moments of silence on the 40 minute drive down was the cassette player.
If Beth had it her way she wanted to listen to Hot 97 the whole way down. To appease her and show her that I’m open to all kinds of music, including blazing hip-hop and R&B, we listened to it until Exit 9 and then I was called upon by the Gods of Rock themselves. There was no choice in the matter. It was time for the Holy Grail of mixtapes. THE ULTIMATE KISS MIXTAPE. Sure, back then it was fun to listen to The Misfits, Alice Cooper and White Zombie during October, but there was always something just as fitting about listening to KISS during Halloween time too.
At the time, Beth had absolutely zero clue who KISS was. What was even funnier was that she had less of a clue that the title of one of their biggest songs bared her name. She didn’t care either. She really, really, really didn’t care. Every girl I seemed to like had no interest in the music that I listened to, which made my heart sink to the depth of the murky Arthur Kill. As I shoved the tape into the deck, I vividly remember the tape started playing in the middle of “Got To Choose” from Hotter Than Hell. I can hear that grungy riff and that funky bassline in my mind right now. In fact I’m going to pull it up on my iTunes right now. It’s amazing, this whole technology thing, isn’t it? Ha. You should put it on too (if you have it), to get the full effect of this story!
To a non-KISS fan not only was “Got To Choose” one of the least interesting tracks on my mix tape, but to make matters worse, side one of the cassette always cut off about three quarters into it. Just as soon as my mind is rocking out and vibing to the tune, it clicked off and the awkward silence returned. I knew she wanted Hot 97 on, but I didn’t care. I was being selfish, I felt like it was my turn to really enjoy this drive. It was a cool October night, my favorite time of the year, and we were racing down to Six Flags for one of the most fun things to do in Jersey during Halloween. I was feeling pretty awesome needless to say. I turned the cassette over and popped it back in. “Beth I hear you callin’…”
BLANK. _______. Beth was completely blank when I told her about the KISS song that was playing called, “Beth.” In the back of my mind I thought “Didn’t your father or your uncle tell you about this?” I was shocked that another person wasn’t as obsessed with KISS as I was. I had a hard time remembering that this was the mid-90s, not 1977 mind you.
As we got closer and closer to Exit 7, our conversation began to pick up and I lowered the volume to a reasonable level (except when “Parasite” came on, of course).
On a normal basis she pretty much laughed at everything I said, which gave me a little boost, but truthfully, she just laughed at everything that was remotely amusing in general. I could act like an obnoxious ass and she would just eat it up. I appreciated it because she genuinely found me funny. From there, we started trading anecdotes about our favorite rides in the park. Although both of us had been going down to Great Adventure since we were kids, we both felt the level of excitement building up. We were getting a rush before we even went on any rides.
Our time was running out. By the time we arrived, found parking, walked a mile to the ticket booth, and then bought tickets, we had about 2 hours in the park if we were lucky. And as I said, I didn’t have a CD player in my car so I wasn’t necessarily the luckiest guy in the world. This lack of time definitely weighed on my mind because when it comes to theme parks and vacations I’m like Clark Griswold, always trying to maximize the fun.
Our spirits were so uplifted, among other things, that our dumbasses wasted even more time before actually heading into the park. After the long trek from the car to the entrance, we stopped at one of the planters and parked half of our butts for a minute to take in the night…and of course make out. So dumb, so simple, soo had nothing to do with romance. This was about HALLOWEEN. I wanted the bejesus scared out of me and my endorphins were runnin’ wild. Like I said, high spirits, otherwise HOT 97 and KISS MIXTAPE wouldn’t have been lip locked to each other the whole night as if we were the only two people left on the planet.
What was the attraction with Beth? I wondered to myself as I stood staring a hole through a nearby tree shedding frail pale orange leaves. She was a natural blonde, she had a cute smile with dimples, and had big boobs. At the time, coincidentally, as stereotypical as it sounds, that was all I wanted out of life. What can I say? I was a product of the times. Baywatch was a highly rated show, OK? So, back at Six Flags, Beth and I managed to detach our mouths from each others and we walked briskly inside with a little bounce in our step.
It was dark, breezy, the trees were bare, and Fright Fest was in full effect. Zombies and ghastly characters roamed about trying to scare us. Beth genuinely got scared a few times and grabbed a hold of me, then we just got overly hysterical about it as if we just heard the funniest joke of all time delivered by the most smart mouthed comedian of all time. Despite what many people might think of the lines, the atmosphere takes center stage and it’s easy to forget the rest.
The macabre elements such as the fog, the bloody fountain, and the costumed actors jumping out at you when you least expect it, help to far outweigh any of the typical theme park complaints. Being there is the fun. In fact, Fright Fest is such a part of my Halloween celebration every year that it actually makes me get that nostalgic fuzzy feeling. I didn’t get paid for that so let me get back to my story.
Beth and I went on every ride we possibly could, stopping at any chance we could to hug, hold hands, or take part in some other cheesy public display of affection. It was the spirit of the season that was getting us all charged up. And yes, we even went on the freakin’ ferris wheel. Remember when Mikey from The Goonies said ‘It’s our time down here!” well October is our time and I’ve always felt that way. Just hearing the Misfits lyric “Bonfires Burning Bright, Pumpkin Faces in the Night, I remember Halloween,” DUH, of course I remember! I remember Halloween and all the memories come rushing back every time I walk outside and breath in the fall air or gaze into the colorful fall foliage.
Halloween moments are the most memorable ones in my life. I can’t help but think that each of those moments wouldn’t still resonate today if they took place during any other time of the year. Intertwined in the calm and colorful fall backdrop are so many memories waiting to be conjured up. Be inspired. Go outside, close your eyes, and let yourself recall all that is spooky and sentimental to you.
Fright Fest is an annual thing for us, but we usually wind up getting on one ride if we’re lucky. The lines are super insane during Fright Fest, and the park is probably even more packed than it would be in the middle of the summer. Difference is, that it’s nicer to wait in lines and get on rides when it’s not a sweltering 97 degrees in the shade and over one hundred percent humidity.
Weather-wise, Saturday night was perfect. I was with a bunch of great people and even though we only made it on one ride, we had a blast. I’m sure it would’ve been more fun if the lines for the actual Fright Fest attractions weren’t as long. Even the average wait time for a roller coaster was an hour. While waiting in excruciatingly long lines, it helps to cling to the hope that the ride actually doesn’t break down before you make it to the last section of the line queue.
Fortunately, the ride we did decide to wait for went smoothly. Skull Mountain didn’t take that long to get through the line, probably because it’s one of the tamer rides, so we were patient. It fit into the Fright Fest theme as well. For an older, less face melting type of ride, this one still holds up after all these years. Think of it as Six Flag’s answer to Space Mountain only with a theme on the exterior that brings to mind The Goonies, King Kong, or a pirate movie.
We were required to buy separate tickets for the haunted attractions, so we did that online at home to save a couple of bucks. Next we had to wait on another long line just to show them our print-outs to get a wristband for the haunts. This was just becoming an abysmal LINE FEST. Then we would have to wait on more laughable lines for each individual haunt. Fed up by this point, I started asking the lady a few questions about the attractions.
I was disappointed to learn that all of the attractions were walk through trails featuring live actors. I wasn’t hoping for dead actors, I was just hoping for a good old fashioned haunted house or dark ride type situation. They should mix it up and offer half walk throughs and at least one or two haunted houses that remind you of an old dark ride. I can’t tell you how many times Six Flags has sent me e-mails asking for feedback regarding my last visit to Fright Fest and I wrote them a hundred times that Fright Fest needs a good old fashioned, boardwalk style haunted house. It shouldn’t only be for Fright Fest either, it should be open year round for all of us psychos to enjoy.
In the late ’70s, Great Adventure’s Haunted Castle was the type of attraction we needed until arsonists supposedly burned it down in ’84, killing eight teenagers trapped inside. Maybe they feel like it’s a curse if they build another one? I can’t say for sure, but maybe they fell that they aren’t experts at subtly, they prefer spending millions to create the fastest, most cheek rippling coasters the world has ever seen. Nothing wrong with that. The thing is, Great Adventure is already fully stocked with thrill rides and there’s a new one on the way for next season. Another thrill ride is superfluous, again, we need a damn haunted DARK RIDE. Attention to detail is preferred.
Keeping with the resoundingly positive note I am on, the graphic on this year’s Six Flags Great Adventure Fright Fest shirts and hoodies are AWESOME. They did get this part of the celebration correct. Apparel graphics are always a big part of the experience. You must be able to properly commemorate your visit and this year Six Flags came up with a couple of really cool looking designs. I couldn’t exit the park without snapping a few shots. America loves zombies…and paying lots of money to wait on never-ending lines apparently.
When you’ve gone on completely insane rides and coasters, it’s hard to top them. Last season, Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson NJ added the brand new Green Lantern coaster, and in comparison, it makes the new for 2012 SkyScreamer look like a kiddie ride. It may look like tame at first, but here I’ll bring up a few points why SkyScreamer may become a new classic at the park.
What SkyScreamer has going for it is that it’s like an old fashioned amusement park ride on steroids. This amped up classic will spin you around at 40 mph, 24 stories up in the air. Plus, adding a ride like SkyScreamer will switch up the pace a little bit. Your brain becomes like pudding after going on Green Lantern, Bizarro, and then El Toro consecutively. SkyScreamer will be like the sorbet that clears your palette before your time in the park gets even more crazy.
It’s a necessity to have rides that are accessible to everyone, even those who don’t go to Great Adventure for the coasters, wait…are there any of those people? Actually, a lot of people I know don’t like rides at all, but they may be coerced to go on a ride that’s less berserk than some of the coasters. The ride will reside in Fantasy Forest, so that might make it a ride the entire family will want to go on together. We already have our season passes so I can’t wait to give it a spin. You can take a whirl around on SkyScreamer for yourself when Great Adventure opens for the season on April 5th!
I’ve been complaining that it seems like there aren’t enough Halloween events going on this year in the Garden State, but as the month of October continues, I’m obviously dead wrong. There’s events popping up like zombies out of the ground. So, if you’re into some doing spooky stuff in honor of Halloween, Jersey is definitely the place to do it. I don’t know what I was thinking because we probably have more cool frightful events than most other states. Read on for the best ways to celebrate Halloween for the rest of the month. If you have an event that you would like to submit for the list, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHEN: 10/28 – 10/20
WHERE: Hilton, Parsipanny NJ
WHEN: 10/28 Doors at 6:30 PM
WHERE: Starland Ballroom, Sayreville
TICKETS: via this link at Ticketmaster
WHEN: 10/29 8 PM
WHERE: Asbury Lanes, Asbury Park NJ
http://www.paranormalbooksNJ.com and http://www.asburylanes.com/
ELAINE’S DINNER THEATER AND HAUNTED MANSION
Now Presenting “Gone With The Werewolves”
WHEN: Make Reservations at (609) 884-4358
WHERE: Cape May, NJ
Amusement parks are generally associated with summer, but for me they are more of a fall tradition. The crisp, cool air in October makes it a perfect time for rides and roller coasters while strolling leisurely around the park with your special someone. What’s also good is that you won’t get swamp ass or heat stroke from walking around in mid summer in the blazing Jersey heat. But those aren’t the only reasons of course, the main attraction for many of us in New Jersey is FRIGHT FEST at Six Flags Great Adventure.
Fright Fest is celebrating it’s 20th year and as old as it makes me sound, I’ve been going there way longer than Fright Fest existed! So I’m not a kid anymore, but as I was saying, amusement parks, especially haunted ones, have always been a part of Halloween time for me. Nothing beats the ability to go on thrill rides on a cool, starry autumn night. Six Flags Great Adventure’s Fright Fest captures this feeling perfectly thanks to their team of actors adorned with amazing masks, makeup, and costumes who go lurking around the park creeping everyone out. While this sounds like a blast to me, it’s not for everyone. It’s simple, if you don’t like being scared then don’t go. For families worried about their kids being scared there are plenty of Ghoul-Free zones designated for the faint of heart.
We kicked off October with a trip to Fright Fest. Miss Sexy Armpit gets scared when I start clapping abruptly when the Giants score, so naturally she wouldn’t be able to handle actual scares in something called a TERROR TRAIL. “Which hayride do you want to go on?” I asked her. Of course she replied with “the least scary one.” She got her wish because we wound up on Haunted Wagon Tales, the children’s haunted hayride, listening to songs like “The Addams Family” and “The Flying Purple People Eater,” while waving like dorks to friendly versions of Frankenstein, Dracula, and a so not scary swamp monster. When we answered riddles correctly such as “Who did Frankenstein take to the prom? His GHOUL friend,” then our hayride guide tossed us free candy. Would I have preferred to walk through one of the scarier terror trails? Yes, but it was one of those October nights that I love so much that it didn’t even bother me.
This year’s Fright Fest attractions include terror trails, haunted hayrides, and live shows. Here’s the list: The Haunted Heist, Project XI Mortuary Manor, The Demented Forest, Dead Man’s Party, Escape from the Asylum, Hypnosteria, Fright Fest Freakshow, and The Ghoulmaster’s Ghosts and more. One of the coolest and possibly most underrated part of Fright Fest is the Dead and Local Music Showcase where local rock bands take the stage throughout the night. A couple of years back we had the chance to see an awesome KISS tribute band, and last year Sludgey’s favorite band SCARLET CARSON played as well!
The iconic fountain that you see when you first walk into the park is spraying red water indicating that you’ll have a bloody good time. If you’re planning your Halloween related events, then make sure you round up your friends or significant other and feel the thrills and chills of Fright Fest at Six Flags Great Adventure!