The popular ‘Houdini’s Great Escape’ ride at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey is currently SBNO (“standing but not operating”). That’s fancy amusement park parlance for “closed.”
According to greatadventurehistory.com
, the experience of Houdini's Great Escape was a complete themed presentation from start to finish. Guests passed through the gates (marked 278) and entered the garden in front of the house. Guests were then ushered into the parlor, sometimes by a costumed actor who helped set the scene. The room was decorated with gothic fixtures and escape devices from Houdini’s career, including an eerily smashed Water Torture Cell.
An unseen narrator gave background information on Houdini with an accompanying film showing him as a young man. The spirit of Houdini was channeled and moved objects in the room in an attempt to cross over from the other side.
A set of doors opened and the audience was ushered into the next room with the sets of benches lining both sides of the room and a small table in the center. Once everyone was seated, Houdini locked his guests into place with a set of lapbars and the illusion began with the room rocking and then eventually turning a full 360 degrees.
After the first season, the storyline was modified slightly. The original show concluded with a huge illuminated mural of Houdini visible through the large skylight above the room. When modified, the center table with crystal ball and the illuminated keys at the ends of the rooms were added to conclude the story.
Houdini was closed for safety modifications after a power failure in the park had trapped riders for a period of time. Modifications made the ride safer and it re-opened to the public.
For the 2008 season, Houdini's Great Escape was SBNO. Before the season had started plans were in place to open the ride, and new signage was even in place in the weeks leading up to the park's opening day. At the last minute a high level decision was made not to open the ride, and for opening day all the ride's signs had been removed, and the entry gates padlocked. During the season the building was used as a venue for autograph signings, but no other activity took place.
For more pics and information about Houdini’s Great Escape and other Six Flag Great Adventure attractions, visit Great Adventure History.com.