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)|
35 (excluding water park)3 (upcharge)
Great Escape (sometimes referred to as Six Flags Great Escape) is an amusement and water park owned and operated by Six Flags Entertainment Corp. It is located approximately 60 miles (97 km) north of Albany, in Queensbury, New York, but is advertised as being in Lake George, New York, a popular tourist and vacation spot nearby.
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, and employees switched to offering bumper stickers free of charge to any willing customer.
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 roller coasters.
- 1995 — Great Escape opens its water park, 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 Sarajevo 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 previously 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). Name change from The Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom to its former name, Great Escape.
- 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. In July 2013, The Pink Whale (removed in 2005) returns with a new location, only to take photos in. The Canyon Blaster's train is turned around in July, forcing riders to face the back of the ride. Animals from a shelter come and perform a show called Pet's Overboard for June 22 to July 7.
- 2014 - Extreme Supernova Six Flags buys full ownership of the lodge. New suites introduced.
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 $45, 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.
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 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||Opened in 2008 with three rides and a show as Wiggles World; 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.
|Alpine Bobsled||Intamin||Bobsled roller coaster||1998||Introduced in 1998 in honor of the Winter Olympics, each bobsled car contains the flag of a different country which participated in the games.|
|Blizzard Indoors'||Eli Bridge||Indoor Scrambler Ride.||1971||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, sound effects, and air conditioning.|
|Comet||Herbert Paul Schmeck and Philadelphia Toboggan Company||Wooden Coaster||1994||Previously the Crystal Beach Cyclone and the Crystal Beach Comet, the Comet was re-opened by the Great Escape in 1994. Often rated one of the top roller coasters in the world, it features a 2-minute ride with large drops.|
|Giant Wheel||Chance Rides||Ferris wheel||1989||90-foot (27 m) high providing a spectacular view of the Great Escape and surrounding area.|
|Raging River||Intamin||White Water Rapids||1986||A water ride in a round boat holding six passengers simulating riding through white water rapids.|
|Cannonball Express||Bertazzon||1985||A spinning ride that moves fast around a track in a forward direction featuring music.|
|Screamin' Eagles||Larson||Flying Scooters||2013||The ride is a new model built by Larson in 2013. Ride is located where the former 180 Dome once stood.|
|Balloon Race||Zamperla||Balloon Race||1989||Relocated from Storytown for 2013. Where Blizzard once stood.|
|Extreme Supernova||Zamperla||Midi Discovery||2014||Announced on August 29, 2013. Opening 2014. Will be located next to The Comet.|
It also features Flying trapeze, sky ride, and the comet
|Canyon Blaster||Arrow Dynamics||Mine Train roller coaster||2003||The coaster was transported from the defunct Opryland USA. Canyon Blaster ran with its last 3 cars reversed from July thru the end of the season in 2013. Canyon Blaster, built in 2003, is a family roller coaster. In early July in 2013 riders could ride forwards or backwards on this ride|
|The Condor||Huss||Spinning tower ride||1989||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||1979||Water flume ride where passengers ride in boats modeled on logs. Relocated from Busch Gardens Los Angeles after it closed in 1979 .|
|Steamin' Demon||Arrow Dynamics||Corkscrew coaster||1984||The longest tenured roller coaster at the park.|
|Marshal's Stampede||sqq Bumper Car ride.||1985||Relocated to Ghost Town in 2013 from Fest Area. Located where Ghost Town arcade once stood. Ride features lights and music.|
International Village and Storytown
|Boomerang Coast-to-Coaster||Vekoma||Boomerang||1997||A steel roller coaster with various spikes, loops, and a cobra roll, before repeating the sequence backwards. First Boomerang at a Six Flags Park.|
|Cinderella Coach||1954||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||1989||Classic merry-go-round ride with both horses and fantastic creatures.|
|Storytown Train||Chance C.P. Huntington||1956||Scenic train ride through Storytown and Timbertown on an old engine.|
|Swan Boats||1954-1956||Motorized, swan-themed boats take passengers on a water-born tour of Storytown.|
|Thunder Alley||Arrow Dynamics||1993||Guests drive 1950s-styled electric cars.|
|Sasquatch||S&S Power||Combo Tower||2009||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.closed in 2014.|
|Frankie’s Mine Train||Zamperla||Steel Kiddie Coaster||2005||Known as Road Runner Express from 2005–2010, rethemed in 2011.|
|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. Retheming to buccaneer beach for the 2015 season.|
|Kingdom Cascades||Three thrilling water slides including (Twister Falls, Banshee Plunge & Blue Typhoon)|
|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.|
|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.|
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 Fridays thru Sundays in 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 2 elaborate haunted houses, which are located near the North-woods Picnic Grove and in the Ghost Town Saloon.
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
|Ride||Year Opened||Year Closed||Description|
|Ghost Town Railroad||1957||2002||Arrow Dynamics railroad journey around Ghost Town. Removed for the addition of Canyon Blaster.|
|Tornado||1967||2002||Dark ride. Removed for Canyon Blaster. (Flipper Version)|
|(Chipper's) Magical Mystery Tour||1971||2004||Indoor scrambler. Re-installed in 2013 under a different name and theme, Blizzard Indoors.|
|Italian Roller Coaster||1971||1988||Thought to be a Pinfari Z40.|
|Nightmare at Crack Axle Canyon||1999||2006||Indoor Schwarzkopf Jet Star. Building still stands.|
|Danny the Dragon||1965||1996||Motorized scenic ride with cars shaped as a dragon's body. Replaced by Boomerang|
|Screamer (Ranger)||1982||1986||Huss Ranger. Replaced with Rainbow ride.|
|Pirate Ship||1995||2013||Huss Pirate Ship.|
|Rainbow||1987||2007||Huss Rainbow. Replaced by Sasquatch.|
|99 Trains||Mid-2000's||Kiddie train ride.|
|Thunderbolt||1993||1996||Matterhorn style ride. Replaced by Boomerang.|
|AstroWheel||1969||1992||Chance AstroWheel. Replaced by Flying Trapeze.|
|Sea Dragon||1980||1994||Pirate Ship style ride. Replace by Boomerang.|
|Storytown Railroad||1956||Original park train defunct. Station and tracks still in use.|
|Jungle Land USA||1960||2004||African themed land. Re-themed to Looney Tunes National Park, and later Timbertown.|
|Dragon Ride||Mid-2000's||Kiddie Dragon ride.|
|Noah's Ark||Mid-2000's||Kiddie Pirate Ship.|
|Motorcycles||Mid-2000's||Kiddie motorcycle ride.|
|Rotor||1983||Late 1990's.||Rotor ride.|
|Starship Kaleidoscope (Tea Cups)|
|Tumble Weed||1979||1988||Replaced by Condor.|
|Cinema 180||Theatre later converted to an arcade. Removed in 2013 for addition of Screamin' Eagles.|
|Octopus||Classic Octopus ride.|
|Petting Zoo||1954||2010||Classic petting zoo.|
|Cinderella Coach||1954||Pumpkin Coach is no longer pulled by live horses, but instead available for stationary pictures.|
|Wiggles World||2007||Rethemed to Kidzopolis.|
- "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 Have Landed at The Great Escape". Great Escape. May 30, 2013. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
- "Screamin’ Eagles Soar into The Great Escape in 2013". SixFlags.com. Retrieved August 30, 2013.
- "New for 2014". August 29, 2013. Retrieved August 29, 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Great Escape (amusement park).|
- Official Six Flags Great Escape Web Site
- Park Map
- Great Escape at the Roller Coaster DataBase
- Great Escape Online
- Storytown USA; A Retrospective
- Legends of the amusement park industry: Charley Wood