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Did you know that Passaic County reaches all the way to New York State? Alright – this cool destination isn’t as far as New York, but definitely worth the trip for a family of intrepid explorers.
In the 1970’s Warner Brothers opened a huge Drive-thru and walk thru Safari park here in Passaic County, named Jungle Habitat.
It was only open for a number of years after being plagued with problems, and after being abandoned for a few decades, was recently reopened for the benefit of the public under the authority of nearby Ringwood State Park.
Makes a GREAT and fun 1/2 day trip for the Sunday or Monday before School – Read on for more details!
Picture below is of some of the original signage which is no longer there, although the posts which held it are most likely there for you to find
Compilation picture below of the entranceway as it appears today, the cover of the original guidebook, the Jungle Junction Entrance way in the park’s heyday, and an original souvenir snowglobe
- We’ve explored this area TWICE, and if you bring along a copy of the original map we include below, you are sure to have a GREAT time exploring the park’s mostly untouched remains.
TIP 1: Bring comfortable hiking shoes… there is a lot to explore both in and out of the woods within the park
TIP 2: JORBA, The Jersey Off-Road Biking Association has made a large number of off-road biking trails for you to enjoy. This is a great fun activity for older kids and teens, and while it comes with a learning curve, wouldn’t be considered by most to be too extreme – but please make your own decision.
GPS Address: 104 Airport Road, West Milford, NJ 07480
Tried and Tested: Yes!
Recommended for: All Ages!
Added Bonus: Small Airport right next door with planes taking off for the kids to see
Worth traveling an hour for? We’d say yes to this one.
Continuing with your article...
Distance from Passaic/Clifton: Approx 45 Min.
Finally, here are some great pictures of the park in its present and original state:
Above picture is of a shed or guard house as it appears today…
Above picture as the Jungle Junction Tunnels appear today…
And above picture of the same place, as the Jungle Junction Tunnels were when the park was open…
Above picture as an original Jungle Habitat structure appears today…
TIP: PRINT OUT AND BRING ALONG the map of the original park we are including below.
You will have a GREAT time matching up the places as they are now to what they originally were
Picture below of the Jungle Habitat Entranceway and sign… Th worded sign was stolen a few years agh, but the Main Log structure is sound as is still there today…
Picture below of an aviary or monkey cage metal net structure as you will find it in your exploration today…
More information and links about Jungle Habitat below:
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Jungle Habitat, which was in West Milford, in Passaic County, New Jersey, United States, was a Warner Bros.-owned theme park that opened in the summer of 1972, and closed in October 1976. By November 1972, the park had 500,000 paid visitors. The park contained over 1,500 animals; it consisted of a drive-through section and a walk-through section. The drive-through section was an animal safari park and the walk-through area was called Jungle Junction.
HistoryThe park featured a drive-through safari section, which allowed for wild animals to roam free and approach vehicles as they slowly drove through. Drivers and their passenger(s) could observe peacocks, baboons, camels, elephants, llamas, giraffes, and Siberian tigers in this section, either in their cars or on a Jungle Habitat bus. Many of the animals would climb atop the cars, and/or walk in front of vehicles, bringing them to a halt. Signs were posted along the route to warn visitors to keep their windows closed. Great Adventure in Jackson Township, New Jersey, approximately 100 miles (160 km) to the south, also had (Until recently) a similar type of drive-through safari attraction (theirs has now been converted to a ride through attraction as part of the amusement park, so still viewed by vehicle but not by car).
The walk-through section was a small theme park which included a petting zoo, camel and elephant rides, snack bars, gift shop, reptile house, dolphin show, and Bugs Bunny and Friends shows including live Warner Bros. Looney Tunes characters. A small tram station here was called Jungle Junction. The park did not have amusement-style rides, although there were plans (which never materialized) to add them in the spring of 1977.
Shortly after the park opened, a tourist, Abraham Levy, driving through the safari in a taxi was attacked by a lion on October 19, 1972, bringing negative publicity to the park. In 1974, a woman was bitten by a baby elephant who had reached out of its enclosure with its trunk and grabbed the woman; she ultimately was awarded $200,000 for her injuries.
The park was plagued by problems, including reports of dangerous animals escaping into the nearby residential areas. Several of the park’s animals had contracted tuberculosis and were euthanized. In addition, the increase in summertime and weekend traffic on West Milford’s roads created problems for local residents.
The park was initially profitable. However, business declined gradually as it failed to attract repeat business without changing its attractions or adding new ones. In 1975, Warner Bros. proposed a $20 million expansion project to the site. The project would include a large wooden roller coaster, a steel junior coaster, a carousel, log flume, plus adult spinning rides, and a few “kiddie” rides. The township’s residents were divided on whether or not to approve such a project. The potential for further traffic congestion was a major issue.
Closure and current status
The park opened as usual during the summer of 1976, with rumors of a big expansion planned for the following summer. The park’s last weekend in operation was Halloween weekend. On November 2, township residents narrowly voted against the expansion. Following the vote, Warner Bros. decided to shut the park down and sell the land. After the park closed, newspapers reported that several animal carcasses, including an elephant, had been left there to decay. Competition from Great Adventure, combined with poor management and the park’s inability to easily expand, may have contributed to the demise of Jungle Habitat.
For years after it closed, the site’s deteriorated buildings remained, and rumors of animals still roaming the property attracted curiosity seekers. Accounts of such explorations were published in Weird NJ magazine, and on its website. None of the animal-based rumors are true; the animals were sold to buyers across the country.
The 800-acre (3.2 km2) Jungle Habitat property, containing 26 miles (42 km) of paved roads, was purchased by the state in 1988 for $1,450,000. The property, adjacent to Norvin Green State Forest and Greenwood Lake Airport, is part of Long Pond Ironworks State Park and is administered by Ringwood State Park. In 2007, under the direction of Ringwood State Park, the Ramapo Valley Cycling Club (a chapter of the Jersey Off Road Bicycle Association JORBA) performed a cleanup of the park, with 70 volunteers contributing. Brush was cleared and trash was removed. More recently, under the management of Ringwood State Park, JORBA built single-track trails designed for bicycle, equestrian, and foot traffic. There were 11 to 12 miles of single-track trails by 2008.[needs update]
There was negotiation between West Milford and New Jersey to lease the 10-acre (40,000 m2) macadam parking lot for recreational use. In recent years,[when?] the property was used to host West Milford’s Fourth of July celebrations (known as “Thunder in the Highlands”) under a special-use permit. A local bicycle shop sponsors “Rumble in the Jungle”, an annual mountain bike race. The area has become popular with dog walkers, mountain bikers, trail runners, equestrians, and black bears.
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