Visitors to the Six Flags Safari in Jackson will have to go through the safari in park vehicles starting next year.
Starting Memorial Day weekend of 2013, "guests will load onto a rugged, open-air, Safari vehicle to begin their unique adventure," according to a prepared statement issued by the theme park Thursday morning.
And starting next year, there will be one admission price for both the Six Flags amusement park and the safari "adventure," the statement says. The admission price will be $62.99 plus tax per person, the same as this year.
Visitors who want to go only to the safari and not the amusement park still have to pay the $62.99, since there will not be a lower entrance fee for safari only, said Kaitlyn Turi, Six Flags Public Relations Supervisor.
The safari park will also be included in the 2013 season passes.
In the safari, predators, including lions, tigers and bears, will be separated by moats, but the "visible barriers, like fences," will be eliminated, Turi said.
Baboons are not considered predators and at this point it is not planned to have them separated by a moat, Turi said. For the past ten years the baboons have been behind fencing.
"The massive size of the vehicles that will take guests on Safari Off Road Adventure will allow this to change," she noted.
Guests will have the opportunity to feed giraffes as well as other exotic small animals in the Camp Aventura stop.
The statement continues: "In 2013, Six Flags Great Adventure entertainment complex will undergo its most dramatic transformation in 13 years as the 160-acre theme park and 350-acre Wild Safari animal park unite as one property to become the world’s largest theme park.
"The mega-park, featuring 13 roller coasters including three of the world’s top- rated three children’s areas, a wide array of family rides, games, shopping and entertainment, will introduce the new, one-of-a-kind, themed attraction, called Safari Off Road Adventure," the statement says.
"Boasting 1,200 animals from six continents, Safari Off Road Adventure will take explorers on the most intense, up-close animal experience of their lives. Guests will enter the amazing, fictional world of the Wilds Family, who have traveled the globe to bring the most interesting and exotic creatures to their home in Jackson.
"Once through the rustic loading station filled with artifacts from the Wilds’ global journeys" guests will board the open-air safari vehicles and tour the park, the statement continues.
"Skilled, informed drivers will drive guests off-road and up close to the animals as they splash through ponds, climb hills, cross bridges and venture over rugged terrain."
“Never before have guests been able to experience a journey so close to that of a true African safari here in the U.S.," said John Fitzgerald, park president. “By combining the world’s most exotic animals with Six Flags’ signature entertainment, the Safari Off Road Adventure will be the most incredible animal adventure anywhere. Where else can you ride a wave, go on safari, and soar on world record-breaking coasters?”
When the Wild Safari closes its gates for the 2012 season this fall, it will undergo a massive renovation this winter that includes a redesign of various simulated natural habitats and the creation of Camp Aventura, the statement says.
"Camp Aventura will be the main stop along the off-road excursion," the statement says. "Guests will see up-close some of the Wilds family’s favorite animals, and even hand-feed or pet them. Here, they can choose to fly through the air high above the animals on a new zip line for an additional fee."
Through September 30, 2012, guests will be able to drive their own vehicles through the Wild Safari for the last time in the park’s 38-year history.
“This is a monumental change for the Wild Safari and our guests,” said Dr. Bill Rives, safari director and chief veterinarian. “For nearly 40 years, people have dreamed of more up-close animal experiences with fewer boundaries, and now we can truly deliver a VIP experience to each and every one of our guests ─ and it’s included in their theme park admission.”
There will still be a separate admission price for Hurricane Harbor, the water park at Six Flags. The new addition to Hurricane Harbor will be Big Wave Race, "a massive, new slide complex."
When guests purchase season passes through October 28, a four-pack is the same price as a one-day ticket ($62.99+tax). And when purchasing and processing by October 28, they’ll receive FREE upgrade to “premium” status, which includes the theme park plus unlimited admission to Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, bring-a-friend free days and one free parking pass when purchasing four or more passes during the limited time offer.