JACKSON—One of the original landmarks of Six Flags Great Adventure is no more. On January 22nd, crews at the Jackson theme park demolished the Conestoga Wagon to make room for the new Safari Off Road Adventure loading and unloading area.
Built in 1974, the Conestoga Wagon was designed to be a larger than life snack stand serving Mexican-style refreshments in the Rootin’ Tootin’ Rip Roarin’ section of the park. Its location outside the main gates to the Great Arena made it a popular stop for guests on their way to and from the shows and spectacles presented daily in the early years. It still serves the same function with the Northern Star Arena now serving as the park’s concert venue.
One of the earliest planned elements of Great Adventure, the Conestoga Wagon was originally planned as the “Chuck Wagon” in the Enchanted Forest, the idea was incorporated into the Rootin’ Tootin’ Rip Roarin’ section of the theme park, and opened in July of 1974.
From the very start, the Conestoga Wagon was one of the park’s signature larger than life structures, and its original elaborate and colorful paint scheme made it one of the most eye catching structures in a park filled with over the top architecture.
The details of the Conestoga Wagon were quite amazing and authentically detailed. Large details like the hitch in the front, and the axels underneath, and small details like the hardware of the boxes made the structure something special.
The Conestoga Wagon served as one of the park’s main snack stands in the early years, serving the thousands of guests seeing shows every day in the Great Arena. The patio areas were filled with rustic tables and chairs and umbrellas in coordinating red and yellow to match the bright colors of the Wagon and the Super Teepee next to it. Over time, the unique paint scheme was replaced with more subdued colors, and for a while a wood grain finish in an attempt to make it look more realistic.
As time went on and the park expanded in other directions, the Great Arena was relegated to use primarily for concerts, and foot traffic past the Conestoga Wagon decreased. Increasingly it would be closed for parts of the day or even for days or weeks, and the building showed signs of neglect, with more theme elements being removed and generally looking like a shadow of its original glory. Since then, the building has been repaired and repainted, and with the increased traffic through the area since the addition of Medusa in 1999, has become one of the more important food stands in the park again.
Still larger than life after more than 30 years, the Conestoga Wagon stood as a reminder of how big Warner LeRoy’s dreams for Great Adventure were. The Wagon still is one of the most photographed structures in the park, with many groups posing in or on the over sized wheels. The menu served hasn’t changed much over the years with an emphasis on “portable” foods that can be carried into the Arena or enjoyed at the surrounding tables.
About: Harry is the co-creator of GreatAdventureHistory.com along with Tom Benton. For years, the two have chronicled the details and history of the theme park in amazing detail and accuracy. You can learn more about the history of Great Adventure at www.greatadventurehistory.com.
Information provided by Harry Applegate, GreatAdventureHistory.com
Postcard Caption: These early park postcards show the original paint scheme of the Conestoga Wagon and the adjacent Super Teepee. Photo of wagon courtesy Six Flags Great Adventure.