Now, the new ride: when Six Flags closed the drive-through Safari last year I figured the animals --- part of the park from its origin and that dose of Educational But Fun which parks felt they needed in the 70s --- would stick around a year or two and quietly be moved to someplace where it's sane for them to be, because it's an amusement park for crying out loud. But Great Adventure says they're sticking with the safari, and opened up a new ``off-road'' safari tour in organized and park-run vans instead of letting people drive their own cars along the roads and try not to think about that Simpsons episode everybody in New Jersey just knew was based on the Great Adventure Safari.
The new Safari ride had the longest queue of the day, probably because of the new-marquee name feature, probably because it promised a sheltered line and sheltered ride as storms were rolling through. The queue estimate was only for about 30 minutes; we were probably there more like 45, and along the way saw a pack of executive types wandering around as someone with an ID badge on a lanyard pointed at things, and they took pictures using an iPad.
The park-operated tour wanders back and forth roughly over the path of the drive-it-yourself Safari --- you can see the roads where the path once ran --- although there've been some modifications to it. Notably, the baboons aren't on display because, the docent explained, they couldn't figure a way to have them on exhibit that was safe and sane, although they should be on the VIP pay-extra package coming out sometime soon. Having a docent trying to explain what's actually visible instead of (as I remember) a low-power AM transmitter saying what's supposed to be in the current enclosure is an improvement, too.
The animals are the real draw, though, and they were in fine form. There's a lot of antelope-model creatures, and more rheas than we really know what to do with (photograph them, is the correct answer), and the enclosures with bears just show how wonderful bears are when they're let to be themselves. The docent was very clear that people were not to feed or even pet the giraffes, which makes the billboards showing people on the safari ride petting giraffes problematic. I felt good for going, particularly after missing the close of the drive-through Safari, although I still bet it's going to last only a couple years before Six Flags finds someplace that specializes in animals to take their collection.
Meanwhile, there's something curious inside the park --- near Kingda Ka, the up-and-down 440-foot roller coaster --- namely, a couple of enclosures which promise to hold animals. We couldn't find any animals, but bunny_hugger noted on the map that the area is denoted with ... well, it's a squat red quadruped, with a long muzzle and a lighter eyemask, and a tail that ... is obscured by one of the legend markers, but is clearly not drooping or held horizontal (or else it'd be visible). Could they have coatis?
According to a press release from 2004, announcing the Kingda Ka roller coaste rand some other areas, yes: ``Throughout The Golden Kingdom [area], guests can also encounter a variety of exotic animals and their handlers. Visitors will find cockatoos and macaws, coati mundi, porcupine, a rainbow boa constrictor, albino python, kinkajou and capuchin monkey''. We couldn't find any of these animals, and I can't find evidence that they were ever in the park, but, wow. This would be a tantalizing element for the rest of the day, when we were near the Golden Kingdom area.
Trivia: A cobalt or nickel particle from the cosmic flux (one with an energy over 1.5 GeV per nucleon) crosses each square meter of the Earth's surface about every 100 seconds. Source: A Thin Cosmic Rain: Particles From Outer Space, Michael W Friedlander.
Currently Reading: Michigan History, July/August 2013, Editor Patricia Majher.
PS: Reading The Comics, July 22, 2013, for your math comics needs.