The story of Six Flags' Holiday In The Park actually dates back 30 years, having originated at Six Flags Over Texas in 1985. The event, which celebrates all of the holidays found in December, has slowly expanded to other Six Flags parks through the years, bringing to life winter wonderlands that millions of visitors have enjoyed.
For 2015, Six Flags Great Adventure became the 7th Six Flags park to host the event, despite its location in the typically-chilly Northeast. Many might think that the local weather would be too much for people to endure; however the draw of the sparking lights, rides, entertainment and other offerings have folks bundling up and hitting the park in droves.
For an inaugural season, Six Flags Great Adventure's Holiday in the Park has a lot to offer, going all-in on the event right off the bat. The park shared some figures about Holiday in the Park which exemplifies this point. There are over one million lights, 35,000 feet of power cord to light them, over 6,000 ornaments throughout the park, 5,000+ feet of garland, more than 1,000 poinsettias, 224 holiday trees, 215 decorated wreaths and the list could go on and on. Plus, 30 of the park's mechanical rides are running during the event, weather permitting of course.
When you arrive at Great Adventure you are immediately thrust into the holiday spirit through A Main Street Christmas, the entrance area to the park. It is awash in green, white and red lights, and there's even several 'snow' machines making flurries flutter in the air. Kids love the faux snow, as we saw plenty of them dancing around in it excitedly!
A Main Street Christmas is also home to a large selection of shopping opportunities, along with dining locations as well. An extremely popular treat during Holiday in the Park is hot chocolate, when can be purchased in a collectible mug - we saw about every third person in this area sipping from one!
At the end of the promenade there is a gigantic 52 foot tree, seen above, located on top of what is usually the park's signature fountain. The tree's lights slowly change color, though every half hour it comes to life for A Celebration of the Season. During the show the tree features dancing lights choreographed to festive holiday tunes - it's quite impressive to see!
For Holiday in the Park, many sections of the theme park have been transformed with new themes. Above is Gingerbread Junction, which features these great looking candy cane trees. The park's Houdini's Great Escape is open, and features fitting lighting projected on its side. When in the area make sure to check out the lights that are strung on the Carousel, they do a mini-light show of their own and it's mesmerizing! Live entertainment in the area includes the Gumdrop Hop, where featured characters Dot & Drop host a fun dance party.
The busy Boardwalk area is now known as Snowman City, home to this 30 foot inflatable fellow that you can walk directly under. The section is known for its large assortment of boardwalk style games, including a fun holiday themed one. In the game, called Pick-A-Present, everyone is a winner of a cute plush or the ever-popular super hero capes.
Treetop Summit includes this massive, 240 foot tall light tree that is strung from the very top of the park's famous parachute tower. The tree can be seen from anywhere inside the park, towering over its nearby rides. There's also a set of real fire pits located in front of the Twister, which are quite popular as the night air becomes chilly. Treetop Summit also has several rides open, including the big coasters Green Lantern and Superman - Ultimate Flight, along with the go-karts and Slingshot.
Heading back toward the center of the park is one of my favorite areas, Polar Point. The park's mature trees are covered in beautiful blue lights, many of which have 'icicle' lights hanging among the branches as well. I took a ton of photos in this area as it was so impressive, but even the best of them do not translate how neat it looks in person. Fitting for the theme, this is also where the Snow Queen lives, and guests can have their photo taken with her. For an aerial view of the beautiful blue lights, SkyScreamer and the Big Wheel are open, and for those who want to stay closer to the ground Air Jump is also operating.
Here we have the North Pole, with the multi-colored home of the big man himself, Santa! At Santa's House kids can meet Mr. Clause and his elves, and of course have their photo taken. The North Pole Village is a great building where they can see a reindeer and even write out a letter to Santa. The North Pole also has both the Buccaneer pirate ship ride and Deja Vu open as well.
The kids area of the park is known as Whimsical Wonderland during Holiday in the Park, and it has plenty of smaller rides open for little ones. It is also where Mrs. Clause holds a special story time throughout the day, featuring classic holiday tales. In addition to all the family rides that are open, the blockbuster Nitro roller coaster is also open for some high-level thrills.
When I wrote about this event a few weeks ago using concept art released by Great Adventure, Poinsettia Peak was one the most intriguing areas to me. The art showed the entire front of the Skull Mountain structure absolutely covered in strings of red lights, and I'm happy to report that's exactly how the finished product turned out! Seen above, the building is a sight to see. Plus with the walkway in front of the coaster open (and the coaster itself, too), you can get up close to check it out. Also seen here is the Poinsettia Princess, in front of a large tree made of individual poinsettia plants, greeting guests for photos. The Holly Jolly Roger and Fender Bender rides are also a part of the section.
In our age of cameras by our side at nearly all times, Holiday Memories is a smartly themed area. The area is littered with photo opportunities, from giant greeting cards to oversized decorations there's a backdrop for even the most professional selfie taker. There's also Mistletoe Moments, another photo opportunity were guests just may feel the urge to give their loved ones a kiss for the photo!
The area also features this beautiful large tree set in front of Batman The Ride, which is operating, and orbs hung from the trees that project dots of light all over the midway. The Dark Knight indoor coaster is also open, with giant snowflake projections on the side of its building.
With a healthy crowd of visitors lining the area, it was hard to get a nice photo of Joy To The World, a peaceful walkway through a normally closed section of the park - this is the best I could do. The area celebrates different religious holidays from around the world with beautiful stained glass images, music, luminaries and endless rows of lit trees. The only light in the area comes from the trees, and it's really a beautiful path.
The walkway leads to the park's indoor Showcase Theater, which is presenting Jack Frost's Magical Christmas during Holiday in the Park.
The show is a great deal of fun, and follows the quest of Jack Frost to steal the first present of the season and make it his own. Along the way there are several special acts wound together through the story, a variety of performance types are featured. From acrobatics to a special performance by some well trained doggies, the show holds the attention of even the youngest visitors. It was a blast and the crowd (which filled every seat in the house) really enjoyed the show - we did too! Put this one on your schedule when you visit, for sure.
Of course Holiday in the Park also features plenty of food for visitors, including special holiday themed treats to full meals at open venues such as Granny's Country Kitchen and the Yum Yum Cafe. Stores throughout the park also have some great merchandise related to the park, even licensed ones like an 'ugly Christmas sweater' shirt themed to the DC Comics gang. We also recommend the special viewing glasses which make pinpoints of light into special shapes like snowmen and snowflakes - I don't understand how it works but it does, and it's great!
Many thanks to Six Flags Great Adventure for inviting us out to experience all that Holiday in the Park has to offer. It's a great event and a wonderful way to spend some quality time with your family and loved ones. To learn even more about the event, check out the official website.