Warner Bros. Jungle Habitat
|Location||West Milford, New Jersey, United States|
|Theme||Natural environment and animal conservation|
|Opened||July 19, 1972|
|Closed||October 31, 1976|
Warner Bros. Jungle Habitat, which was in West Milford, in Passaic County, New Jersey, United States, was a Warner Bros.-owned theme park that opened in the summer of 1972, and closed in October 1976. By November 1972, the park had 500,000 paid visitors. The park contained over 1,500 animals; it consisted of a drive-through section and a walk-through section. The drive-through section was an animal safari park and the walk-through area was called Jungle Junction.
The park featured a drive-through safari section, which allowed for wild animals to roam free and approach vehicles as they slowly drove through. Drivers and their passenger(s) could observe peacocks, baboons, camels, elephants, llamas, giraffes, and Siberian tigers in this section, either in their cars or on a Jungle Habitat bus. Many of the animals would climb atop the cars, and/or walk in front of vehicles, bringing them to a halt. Signs were posted along the route to warn visitors to keep their windows closed. Great Adventure in Jackson Township, New Jersey, approximately 100 miles (160 km) to the south, also had (until recently) a similar type of drive-through safari attraction (theirs has now been converted to a ride-through attraction as part of the amusement park, so it is still viewed by vehicle but not by car).
The walk-through section was a small theme park which included a petting zoo, camel and elephant rides, snack bars, gift shop, a reptile house, a dolphin show, and "Bugs Bunny and Friends" live shows including Warner Bros. Looney Tunes characters, including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Yosemite Sam, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Speedy Gonzales, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. Guests could have their photographs taken with the characters. The shows occurred three times a day on weekdays, and four on weekends. A small tram station here was called Jungle Junction. The park did not have amusement-style rides, although there were plans (which never materialized) to add them in the spring of 1977.
The park was initially profitable. However, business declined gradually as it failed to attract repeat business without changing its attractions or adding new ones. In 1975, Warner Bros. proposed a $20 million expansion project to the site. The project would include a large wooden roller coaster, a steel junior coaster, a carousel, log flume, plus adult spinning rides, and a few "kiddie" rides. The township's residents were divided on whether or not to approve such a project. The potential for further traffic congestion was a major issue.
Closure and current status
The park opened as usual during the summer of 1976, with rumors of a big expansion planned for the following summer. The park's last weekend in operation was Halloween weekend. On November 2, township residents narrowly voted against the expansion. Following the vote, Warner Bros. decided to shut the park down and sell the land. After the park closed, newspapers reported that several animal carcasses, including an elephant, had been left there to decay. Competition from Great Adventure, combined with poor management and the park's inability to easily expand, may have contributed to the demise of Jungle Habitat.
For years after it closed, the site's deteriorated buildings remained, and rumors of animals still roaming the property attracted curiosity seekers. Accounts of such explorations were published in Weird NJ magazine, and on its website. None of the animal-based rumors are true; the animals were sold to buyers across the country.
The 800-acre (3.2 km2) Jungle Habitat property, containing 26 miles (42 km) of paved roads, was purchased by the state in 1988 for $1,450,000. The property, adjacent to Norvin Green State Forest and Greenwood Lake Airport, is part of Long Pond Ironworks State Park and is administered by Ringwood State Park. In 2007, under the direction of Ringwood State Park, the Ramapo Valley Cycling Club (a chapter of the Jersey Off Road Bicycle Association JORBA) performed a cleanup of the park, with 70 volunteers contributing. Brush was cleared and trash was removed. More recently, under the management of Ringwood State Park, JORBA built single-track trails designed for bicycle, equestrian, and foot traffic. There were 11 to 12 miles of single-track trails by 2008.[needs update]
There was negotiation between West Milford and New Jersey to lease the 10-acre (40,000 m2) macadam parking lot for recreational use. In recent years,[when?] the property was used to host West Milford's Fourth of July celebrations (known as "Thunder in the Highlands") under a special-use permit. A local bicycle shop sponsors "Rumble in the Jungle", an annual mountain bike race. The area has become popular with dog walkers, mountain bikers, trail runners, equestrians, and American black bears.
Survival is no longer the answer. More than mere existence, the Earth's wildlife must look forward to preservation and propagation: in their native habitats in animal preservation centers. Towards this ultimate goal, Warner Brothers Jungle Habitat is dedicated.— R. Brian Hunt
As a zoological park, Warner Bros. Jungle Habitat was engaged in conservation efforts involving its species. The park was equipped with a state of the art hospital, nursery and had a full veterinary staff on site. Since the park's opening in 1972, the Siberian tiger streak produced three tiger cubs, with births in May and June 1974. The births excited the park "because Siberian tigers were an endangered species and births in captivity were unusual."
- Safari Car Ride - The main attraction of Warner Bros. Jungle Habitat was a drive through safari.
- Zebra-go Round - A carousel featuring zebras instead of horses.
- List of incidents at Warner Bros. Jungle Habitat
- African Lion Safari
- Warner Bros. Movie World
- Parque Warner Madrid
- Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi
- "Back in the Day - July 19, 1972: Jungle Habitat struggled to survive". suburbantrends-nj.newsmemory.com. Suburban Trends. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
- "Transylvania 6-500: May 2018 Employee of the Month: Eric Greenfeld". West Milford Jungle Habitat. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- Moran, Mark. "Jungle Habitat: Wild, Free and Abandoned". Weird NJ. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
- "Everything you wanted to know". westmilfordjunglehabitat.com. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
- Rumble in the Jungle bike race, sponsored by Town Cycle.
- "Two Siberian Tiger Cubs Are Born in Jungle Habitat". June 14, 1974. Archived from the original on October 18, 2018. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
- Official website
- Jungle Safaris
- "West Milford - Many still wrangling over Jungle Habitat site". 2006 article by Sharbari Bose about plans for the former park, online at the New York New Jersey Trail Conference site
- Jungle Habitat. Personal blog post of memories and pictures of Jungle Habitat.
- Historical overview of the park and e-museum. Contains images, all news articles and historical facts from former employees. Maintained by Gwen Sikora