Updated: Aug 26, 2019
The Park And It's History
Jungle Habitat was a safari park owned and operated by Warner Bros. Located in West Milford, NJ it was a popular day trip and destination for many. It opened on July 19th 1972 to excitement and great feedback from its guests.
The park was split into two sections drive through area and a walkable section with smaller exhibits. Guests could drive in their own cars or you could hop aboard a Jungle Habitat bus. In this section of the park you could observe many animals such as peacocks, baboons, camels, elephants, llamas, giraffes and Siberian tigers. The animals would roam around freely often walking in front of the cars or hopping atop the vehicles. There were many signs located along the path warning guests to leave their windows closed. Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson New Jersey used to have a similar type of attraction until recent years when they discontinued the drive through aspect of the park.
The walkthrough section of Jungle Habitat was smaller and featured sprawling paths through a heavily wooded area. This section of the park was home to a petting zoo, camel and elephant rides, snack bars, gift shop, a reptile house and a dolphin show. The park only operated one amusement ride called the "Jungle Junction". It was a small out and back train style ride that passed through the woods. There were plans for future development to add more amusement park styled rides in the spring of 1977. Along with the animals and ride the park also hosted daily live shows with the Looney Tunes characters.
The park opened strong, however attendance slowly declined as they had trouble bringing in repeat business. This was due to not being able to change or add new attractions. Warner Bros. proposed a $20 million expansion project in 1975. It was to include new kiddie rides, adult spinning rides, a junior steel coater and a larger wooden roller coaster. The residence of West Milford were divided on the idea of the expansion due to the major issue of potential increased traffic congestion.
In the summer of 1976 the park opened with rumors of a major expansion for the summer of 1977. The park remained open for the full summer operating as normal. Jungle Habitat closed for the season on halloween weekend 1976. Just a few days later on November 2nd the township voted against the plans for the expansion. Just a few years before Six Flags Great Adventure had opened its safari park. With the new found conception and no way to expand Jungle Habitat Warner Bros. decided to close the park and sell the land. Shortly after its closure reports of several animal carcasses including an elephant had been left there to decay
After The Doors Closed
Jungle Habitat was left abandoned and fully intact. Rumors of animals still roaming the woods were passed around drawing in visitors to the now abandoned park. Buildings, old enclosures and the abandoned paths were the only things to remain on the old safari site. The rumors of the remaining animals were deemed false. All animals were sold off to buyer across the country.
in 1988 the state purchased the 800 acre Jungle Habitat land for $1,4500,000 and was deemed a part of the Long Pond Sate Park. In 2007 a clean up of the park was done by Ringwood State Park and the Ramapo Valley Cycling Club. 70 volunteers cleared brush off the paths, removed garage from the park and added 12 miles of single track trails for biking, equestrian and foot traffic. The large 10 acre parking lot is sometimes used by for county and recreational events. Some of the events held over the recent years are the counties 4th of July celebration and fireworks "Thunder in the Highlands" and an annual mountain bike race "Rumble In The Jungle".
Why Local Living Loves It!
Jungle Habitat is a part of New Jersey rich and wild history. We here at Local Living are so happy to see the park live on and get a second life as it is today! What an amazing idea by the state to take this land and turn it into a designated space for recreation and wildlife. It truly is a spectacular sight to see. There is no feeling like walking through the old enclosure and paths that were once filled with animals and excited guests. We highly recommend a visit if you haven't been! Get Directions
Sources, Thank you to the following for their images and information about this post:
Wikipedia - Information
Wikipedia - Logo Photo
Smaddy on Flickr - Post Card Photo
Weird New Jersey - Main Entrance Photo
Inside The Magic - Map Photo