During the coronavirus pandemic our main form of entertainment has been taking long walks in the woods. We’ve gotten so familiar with all of the nature trails in New Jersey that my kids have seen more squirrels than friends. So, when I heard about Six Flags Great Adventure being open for Holiday in the Park, I was excited but a little wary. I wasn’t one of those people who just had to get to a theme park in the middle of a pandemic. While we loved our trips to Disney World during past winter breaks, we definitely were not planning to travel this year and like most people, were keeping our activities close to home. When I learned that Six Flags would be at limited capacity with strict social distancing and cleaning measures in place, I figured it might be worth a try to break up the almost two weeks with no school or activities for the kids.
So, on a cold, 37-degree day, we bundled up the twins and headed out for a great adventure. I was sure we would be there for an hour, tops, but even so I decided to wear my warm winter boots and down jacket. When we arrived, it was strange to see the parking lot so empty. We’d been to Great Adventure and Hurricane Harbor pre-COVID and were used to being in huge, sweaty crowds there during the summer. (I mean, is it even summer if you’re not careening down a water slide with a small child between your legs while trying to keep everything inside your mom bathing suit?)
Being at a theme park in the dead of winter was a little surreal, but once we saw all the beautiful Christmas lights inside the park on Main Street our spirits were immediately lifted. With some pep in our steps and the sun shining bright, we realized that we had a day of fun ahead of us – minus the crowds. Our first ride was the Ferris wheel and there was no worry of catching a certain virus since we were the only ones on the ride. I admit, it felt a little bit like when the Griswolds made John Candy open up Walley World at gunpoint just for them, but we didn’t mind. After so many Sunday afternoons spent trekking muddy trails, it was glorious to be at the park for the day.
Things got livelier as the kids rode the SkyScreamer (giving me a heart attack – not because of COVID but because they were up so high in the air – my babies!). From Skull Mountain to the Harley Quinn Crazy Train, the twins had a ball and my hubs and I enjoyed watching them have fun. Being so bundled up with masks, hats, heavy coats and gloves, the park was definitely a no-touch zone for us. All the staff members we encountered were masked and did a great job of keeping everyone six feet apart (many seats on rides were out of use for this very purpose). The only time we took off our masks was to eat lunch, and seating was outdoors. I did notice a “mask break” area where one person was sitting and resting.
There were some characters in the park including the Snow King and the Peppermint Princess. The actors were all wearing masks and waved to us from afar. Even though the Holiday in the Park experience was modified in many ways, we still had a special day spending time together as a family. And although I don’t advocate just running out and doing all of your normal activities like nothing is going on, it was great to find a place that took such care and attention to detail that we could have a fun experience while still staying safe and far away from other people.
As we rode the Skyride across the park, the sun was starting to set and the park looked even more magical all lit up. I knew we had made a good decision to spend our day here and safely celebrate. And although most of our weekends going forward will be filled with more nature walks it was great to get back to civilization, if only for an afternoon.
You can experience the magic of the park at the Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru Experience, now through January 17.