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PTR: Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park 4/15/07

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Was an especially gorgeous spring day yesterday (sunny, clear, mid-70's) after raining on Saturday, figured it'd be a good time to go check out the renamed Gilroy Gardens and get my season pass processed. Bought the full price 1-day ticket for $39.99, get the rest of the season free, far and away the best SP price of any CA park.


Was a pretty light day, not too crowded at all, was a nice relaxing visit. Unfortunately all the freezing cold temps we had this past winter were not kind to alot of the foliage in the park, so there wasn't a whole lot blooming since alot has just been freshly re-planted. On the whole the park was as gorgeous as ever though, will hopefully remain that way for years to come.



The Road To Bonfa . . . er, Gilroy Gardens! (gonna take a while for me to get used to that).


New entrance sign, liked the old one better with the coaster on top:


The heavily landscaped driveway into the park is unique for the West Coast, reminds me alot of the more beautiful parks back East:


Yaa! parking has been dropped down to $8! When the park first opened, parking was only a reasonable $7. When Paramount was managing things, first thing was to jack up everything, including parking to $10.


The cool giant neon BG signage has been removed, be interesting to see if the new sign is half as dazzling as the original.


Entry gate, and possibly a first? You read that correct, GG is a smoke free park! According to the guidebook, "We ask that guest who wish to smoke exit the park gates". In other words, you wanna smoke, then get the #%&$ outta our park. Love it!


Dixie Cup Plaza entrance, beautiful as ever.


Sycamore Bridge.


What it looks like from underneath.


Looking up through the canopy.


New open path on the bridge to Claudia's Garden.


Some of the new banners on the bridge. Unlike another renamed local park, the changes weren't nearly as extreme, mainly just new signage.


The views of Claudia's Garden from the bridge:




Welcome to springfling!


Wasn't too crowded at all, good for me, not so much for the park.


Springfling garden sale at Halls Mercantile, name any other park can you purchase souvenier shrubbery at!


Just love all the landscaping around the carousel.




The Illions Supreme itself is pretty spectacular too.



Cute Strawberry Sundae kiddie flat.



And big arse boat of Banana Split, get some great air on the ends.


Ride the big banana!


Future airtime junkies!


Good way to start out any visit.


Train arriving for our short but scenic spin around the park. Love the redwood canopied train station, very cool!


Our C.P. Huntington ready to roll.


Alot of sights to see along the way, crossing the entrance tressel.


Spinning garlic bulbs.


Beautifully landscaped duel kiddie car rides.




Past various scenes, like this mock train dock.


Complete with it's own loading dock ho hidden inbetween the sets of crates (far left). Don't notice her unless you look for her, but she's sitting there wavin' and a grinin' at ya as you wiz by.


On through Monarch Garden.


In . . .


. . . and finally out of the pitch dark tunnel section (freaks the little ones out everytime!).


Sittin' for a spell at Coyote Junction.


Continuing past Bonfante Falls.


Over the big oversized tressle that was sadly built for bigger things to come, when Michael Bonfante had hoped to replace the fake train with real full size authentic stream train.


Really is a nice ride around the park regardless.


Back to where we started, time for a spin on Timber Twister.


The scenic extended que offers you a choice, as always in life, think I'll take the scenic route.


Since no one else does, very quiet peaceful area that not many people even know about.


Just love all the impressive rockwork around the park too. Nothing is naturally placed, every single rock, tree, plant etc. throughout the entire park was personally positioned by Michael Bonfante himself, worked on the place for decades before finally getting it opened.


Yikes! A ginormous snake just slipped out from behind them rocks!


Slithering amongst the trees.




Snake in the grass!


Come to NorCal and ride my snake!


World exclusive! The first drop is so burried and hidden, don't believe anyones ever got a shot of it before.


For a kiddie coaster, does have a bit of a bite to it. Steep first drop with a nice pop of air in the back, nice speed around the helix of doom.


New kiddie flats added this year replacing a few game stands.


These make me hungry for cheesy crackers.


Walking around such a beautiful park rewards you with scenic vistas around every turn.







The never completed Dino-topiary and closed for the day Mushroom Swing.


The Elissa-friendly Pinnacles Rock Maze, pitty more US parks don't have mazes, really alot of fun.




Moving along, the area gets much noisier with the crashing sound of rushing white water.






Lovely Bonfante Falls.


Path that leads to this mine-shaft looking tunnel through the rocks.



Once most people get to this point, they wuss out and scurry back the other way rather than proceed forward. Guess it has something to do with this thundering waterfall only inches from you, soaking anyone that dares walk under.


But yours truly braved the falls and unacceptable amount of wetness for these under the falls shots for you.




Not safe after the main falls either, few other falls on the way out that want a dry piece of you too.




The falls elevator that has never run. Dont understand why they never sued the crap outta the company that installed this POS to get it operational, would have been cool to look down on the falls area.


Up the hill for some beautiful mission style theming around the area.



Even the bathrooms are themed nicely.


Time for a ride on Sky Trail. This would have been a perfectly timed sweet shot of Quicksilver Express, but nooo, dang monorail just had to get in the way!


Ride so wild, it requires lapbars!


Outta the station, past the transfer area for all you monorail/transfer track fans.


While on the subject, here a wheel shot for all you wheel enthusiast. Go ahead, you know it makes you horny!


Past the Four Legged Giant, not to be confused with the 3rd-legged monst . . . er, never mind


Through the bamboo forest directly into Monarch Gardens.






Quicksilver transfer shed for you transfer shed freaks.


Back on ground for some ground level views.



Mmmm bananas!


Time for a go on the Panoramic Wheel. Beautiful design, my only beef is the placement. Right up against the equally tall Monarch greenhouse, so the entire behind view is completely obstructed (meaning you can't see the Santa Cruz Mountains or no aerial views of Quicksilver ).


The thick bamboo forest maze que you take to get to the ride is a nice touch.


Do like the color and design of the baskets though.


Some views from the top.


One and only 1 of those trees down there is original, other that that single one, every single tree and shrub you see was personally positioned by the parks founder, along with everything else you experience throughout the entire park.




Rainbow Gardens Round Boat Ride.



Elissa will be happy to know they've slowed the water down, so the boats don't spin nearly as much or as fast as they used to. Down side is I saw alot of boats stalling until they got bumped along by another boat.


Striking arch entrance to Claudia's Garden.






Check out Quicksilver Express one more time before heading out.


These furries still greet you at the que entrance.


Off lift hill #1


Up lift #2.


Through the mill with no fog/mist, hope that sweet effect returns.


Coming off the double drop to the lowest point on the multi-terrain QE.


Cross the wooded bridge one more time on the way out, will be back soon for sure.


Thanks for checking out my report, and since I agree with Robb with the complete total ownage of this shot, agree it should be included in every PTR too. Hoping another similiar coaster atrocity up here in Santa Clara gets the same well deserved wiped-off-the-face-of-the-planet treatment STAT!

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Great TR!! I went there in August and I have to say it was the most relaxing park experience I've ever had. Not neccessarily the most thrilling, but very very good nonetheless. This is a very good quality park and I think it's cvery underrated. Any of you that live in California that haven't been, I highly suggest going.

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^I visited the park a few years ago with some friends, and we really liked it. No big thrill rides, but Quicksilver Express is fun, the car ride is one of the best I've ever been on, and the grounds are beautiful. Hitting Gilroy Gardens in the morning/early afternoon, then taking the winding road from there to Hwy. 101 and the Santa Cruz Boardwalk is a very nice daytrip.

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Double WOW, what a lovely Park, one of the most beautiful and on the same lines as De Eftling. I wish my local was that nice instead of being dumpted into a big sand pit.


What the park needs a huge GCI "White" woodie and a B&M flying steelie, both have underground sections.

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^ Sadly, Bonfante originally already had GCI come out and draw up plans for a hillside terrain woodie back at the beginning, but with the park struggling to even stay open, obviously never materialized.


He had big plans for his 500 surrouding acres, major park expansion, second gate, hotel, etc., none of which will happen now with the park in survival mode. And even if the park does turn around, with the luxury homes being built right now, right up against the park on the small parcel of land they had to sell to survive, those NIMBYS will never allow anything more than small quiet kid rides to be built next their new million dollar homes.


Thanks for all the comments guys!

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I want to smack whoever decided to change the park's name from "Bonfante Gardens" to "Unassuming and Generic Alliteration Name For Family Park". It's like corporate Engrish.


Otherwise, that park looks really nice! I haven't been in a while, but I was defenitely impressed last time I went.

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I want to smack whoever decided to change the park's name from "Bonfante Gardens" to "Unassuming and Generic Alliteration Name For Family Park". It's like corporate Engrish.



Well ironically, the person you would want to smack would be Michael Bonfante himself. He is the founder, member of the Board of Directors, and the chief donor director. If he doesn't approve the name change, it doesn't happen. I'd say anyone who would take their own name off a park in order to help it preform better, sounds like a pretty humble and good guy to me. Definitely not someone who deserves to be "smacked."

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Honestly, I feel a park like this needs big draws. There just aren't enough people in the immediate Gilroy area to have this park survive. If they are really in survival mode already without building any significant coaster, then I think they had the wrong idea in the first place.


I mean, the entire Bay Area is in a fairly close proximity, they just need something to attract them out that way. I think in order for this park to work they'd need to really dive off the deepend and take some big spending risks to see if it works or not.


It doesn't appear that they are ready to do that however.

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This park looks beautiful and all, but I think I'd rather take my chances at Fantazyland than pay to go to this place! What was the name of that coaster they had there...El Boro...?


Sorry, I'm a bit cranky right now


G " " Money

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I want to smack whoever decided to change the park's name from "Bonfante Gardens" to "Unassuming and Generic Alliteration Name For Family Park". It's like corporate Engrish.


You mean the NAME of the city the park is in?


Gilroy, CA?


That "generic" corporate engrish?

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WOW!!! This park is the most beautiful park I have ever seen! It almost seems unreal it's so beautiful and rich in plants and flowers. The water everywhere makes it even better! I was always a fan of little waterfalls at parks but this park has little and big! AMAZING PTR, great photos!!

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Thanks guys, appreciate all the great comments. Glad I was able to visually convey just how gorgeous this place is, and trust me, pics don't do it any justice, even more stunning in person. Even grabs a Golden Ticket Award every year as one of the top 3 best landscaped parks in the world.


As far as the name change, makes total sense now since it's looking like it will actually become a city-owned park. Here's a great article on the park's current situation:




This is the most beautiful park i have ever seen. Where is it located exactly? Wouldnt' it be nice if six flags parks looked like this.


GG is located in Northern California at the very Southern-most tip of the San Francisco Bay Area, sort of out of the way, but so worth the drive. And as someone else suggested, can make a great day of it by doing GG in the day, then jumping over the hill to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk for sunset rides on the Giant Dipper.

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