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Photo TR: Elitch Gardens (8/1/11)


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This is my first real Photo TR, so go easy on me.

 

Trip Report

Two weeks ago, one of my friends and I spent the afternoon at my home park, Elitch Gardens. Even though the park isn't the greatest, we still managed to have a good time. After getting out of the car, we walked to the entrance. After purchasing our tickets, we entered the park.

 

Elitch’s entrance is really odd, because it leads directly into an indoor shopping area. I haven’t seen an entrance like this at any other park I’ve been to, and I wonder what the reasoning was behind putting the entrance there. After walking past the indoor shops, we came to the promenade. It’s a small, well themed “main street”. Along the promenade, I saw one of the most funny things I’ve ever seen at a park. An ACE Gymnasium!?! It was strangely empty for some reason, although the ACE buffet was full. I wonder why.

 

Passing the Ferris Wheel at the end of the Promenade, my friend and I made our way to the first ride of the day (Twister II). The line was only 10 minutes, but the ride was a mess. Much rougher than last year, and just as forceless (see my full review below).

Next, we headed over to Half Pipe. This was broken down on all of my previous visits, so I was excited to finally ride it. After another short wait (lines were very short all day), I got on. Wow! Intamin did a bang up job on this ride. It is the best coaster in the park (yes, I do count it as a coaster). It was very smooth, although I can’t deal with the spinning motion all that well.

 

Next up was Sidewinder. It rides just how I remember it, smooth and full of air. I got a picture of Flying Coaster’s old spot from up there, and there is nothing left except a few footers. Another ride has been taken down in that area too, leaving another empty spot. That whole corner of the park is empty, and has a very ghetto feel to it, and I wonder why they didn’t just block it all off.

 

After another awful ride on Twister II, my friend and I walked over to the Mind Eraser, to find an hour-long line. Sorry. I’m not waiting an hour for an SLC. We checked out the park’s other death machine, Boomerang, and I was surprised by how smooth it was. It made me feel a bit nauseous, and there was a huge jolt on the lift hill (not to mention the whiplash I got from the brakes), but it wasn’t quite as bad as I remember, which is good.

 

After a quick ride on Ghost Blasters (which I enjoyed a lot), we waited half an hour for Mind Eraser. I rode towards the front, and again was surprised that it didn’t kill me! Not as bad as last year. After another (excellent) ride on Half Pipe, it started to rain. Knowing that woodies run faster in the rain, I took my friend over to Twister II. While waiting in the station, I noticed the great view of downtown Denver, and snapped a picture. However, right before it was our turn to ride, the park pulled a Cedar Point and shut it down due to weather (which is fine, because it saved me from another ride on Twister II). We didn’t get on another ride before we left, which gave me a chance to snap more photos. Overall, even though the park and the rides aren’t all that good, we still managed to have a lot of fun.

 

 

Park Review

In 1995, running out of space for expansion, the original Elitch Gardens closed, and relocated to a new location in central Denver (where it resides today). Sadly, the award winning Mr. Twister coaster was left behind, as was the classic Wildcat. Instead, the park built Twister II, a much, much tamer version of Mr. Twister. Over the years, several more rides were added, including two Vekoma death machines, and one Zamperla death machine (which is now a part of Coney Island’s Scream Zone).

 

The park has run out of space for expansion once again, and it is very small. There are sadly no gardens to speak of in the park, despite the name. The park is a concrete park. Very hot. I wish that some of the charm of the original park had been preserved, but it sadly hasn’t. The layout is tough to understand at first, but the park is small enough that, at the end of a day there, you will have no trouble finding your way around.

 

Operations aren’t the best, but they aren’t the worst either. On the day I was there this year, the ops on Half Pipe and Twister II were very efficient, as were the ops on Ghost Blasters. Boomerang’s ops were okay, but my main problem comes from the ops on Mind Eraser. They were stacking trains every run. I mean, this is (sadly) the most popular coaster in the park. Operations should be much better.

 

Another issue I ran into was line cutting. In the station for Twister II, a group of about eight proceeded to cut past me and my friend. I stopped them, and one of them said, “We’re just—.“ I cut her off, saying. “Sorry. This is my spot in line.” There was a bit of grumbling from the group, before they all ducked under the handrail and went directly into the station, not only cutting me, but EVERYONE in line ahead of me. I’m disappointed that these people didn’t get thrown out of the park! Nothing makes me angrier than people who feel they have the right to cut in front of others in line. I can’t do it, so what makes them so special?

 

Many of you may be wondering how the new management has affected the park. Is the park better than last year? Have there been any noticeable improvements? The answer to both of those questions is yes and no. Unlike last year, all of the rides were open, and moments of downtime are few and far between. However, some rides (namely Twister II) need a lot of work. The park is about as clean as it was last year. Employees still nickel and dime you to death. The park is a bit better than it was last year, but there haven’t been many improvements.

 

Overall, Elitch’s would be an average park with its mediocre ride selection, but these other issues bring it below average. However, to stop myself from sounding too negative, I'll say that it is still possible to have a fun at the park, despite these issues.

 

Coaster Reviews

Twister II: It is very unfortunate when a park changes locations and loses one of its roller coasters. What happened to the original Elitch Gardens was doubly bad. When the park changed locations, it left its two signature wooden coasters behind, Wildcat and Mr. Twister. Mr. Twister, at the time of its closure, was ranked as one of the top ten wooden roller coasters in the world. Riders say they remember a smooth, intense ride packed with laterals and airtime. Twister II is the very opposite. After an attempt to move Mr. Twister failed, the park contacted John Pierce (responsible for Rattler at SFFT) to build a new Mister Twister. Dubbed Twister II, the ride is very tame and rough. Of course, its multiple trim brakes and setting above a parking lot do not help it one bit.

 

We enter Twister II through an entrance in the side of the rides impressive wooden structure. After passing a small, dirty pond, the queue crosses a bridge above the exit line, and descends underneath the station, where paintings show classic Elitch Gardens Roller Coasters. While I’m sad that I can’t ride those coasters anymore, it is a nice visit to a bygone era. Then, we climb some stairs into the station, and board the comfy PTC trains.

 

After strapping in, we are dispatched, and go around an excessively rough turn to the lift hill. Riders will wonder how the ride will feel if it is already rattling this much at 2 mph. After ascending the lift, we round a swoop curve into a short, 80 foot long first drop. There is no airtime in front, and not much in back. At the base of the drop, the train rattles pretty violently. We then ascend into a U-Turn, before dropping down another fairly shallow drop, where a trim brake kills any potential for airtime. The train ascends a double up. I was really hoping for some airtime here in front, but I didn’t get any. Still rattling more than it should, Twister II enters a double helix, which features a decent amount of laterals, and a good deal of roughness. The ride is trimmed again on exit of the helix, and swoops down into a tunnel, which doesn’t really feature much of a headchopper, but does feature some nice laterals. After exiting the tunnel, there are only a few more shallow hills and rough, lateral laden turns.

At the end of the ride, we have experienced no airtime, a few laterals, and more jackhammering than was necessary. If you are in Denver, looking for a good wooden coaster, I highly recommend Lakeside Cyclone.

Rating: 3/10

 

 

Half Pipe: Intamin always builds good rides. From Bizarro at SFNE to Maverick at Cedar Point, they are always smooth, intense, innovative, and just plain fun. This ride became my favorite at Elitch’s after I rode it the first time. It featured a myriad of forces, an innovative train design, and very efficient operations.

 

After queuing, you step into the train. The seats are arranged in a circle, and designed to spin throughout the ride. After boarding and pulling down the comfy Intamin restraints, the ride starts spinning. The LSMs get us up to speed fast. Soon, we are flying up and down the spikes, rising to the top and falling at unpredictable angles. Due to the altered seat positions, one experiences several unique forces throughout the ride. While the spinning was a bit much for me, I enjoyed the ride a lot overall.

Rating: 7/10

 

 

Sidewinder: This is probably my second favorite ride at the park, due to all of the great negative and positive Gs experienced. Originally located at the original Elitch Gardens, the ride serves as a sort of “practice coaster” for kids who are scared of going upside down, and want to ride the Mind Eraser and Boomerang.

 

This is one of the few Arrow Shuttle loops left in the world, and it is easy to see why, as we climb fifty feet on foot to the station. After the tiring climb, we board the classic Arrow trains, and are launched out of the station at a slow ten miles an hour. In the back, the initial drop into the loop gives massive ejector air. The loop itself is nice and forceful. The train ascends the other side, giving a pop of the air to the front. We are then launched backwards, giving massive backwards ejectior air to the front of the train. The loop is disorienting on the way back, and the back of the train gets a nice pop of air on the return to the station. I like this ride a lot, but I wish that the trains had lap bars as that would make the airtime more exciting.

Rating: 6/10

 

 

Boomerang: This is your classic Vekoma Boomerang. Nice first drop. Forceful, but rough inversions, fairly intense. It was a bit smoother than I remember, but other than that, it is your classic Vekoma death machine.

Rating: 3.5/10

 

 

Mind Eraser: This is your classic Vekoma SLC. Nice first drop. Forceful, but rough inversions, fairly intense. It was a bit smoother than I remember, but other than that, it is your classic Vekoma death machine.

Rating: 3.5/10

 

Kiddie Coaster: Sorry, I’m no whore.

 

Flying Coaster: Oh, wait…

 

Photos

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Welcome to Elitch Gardens.

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…because if you see how bad Elitch’s is, the rest of Denver looks great!

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Noted.

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The Promenade.

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First ride of the day.

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In fifteen minutes, your internal organs will be smashed into oblivion.

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Noted (but wait, MISSLES???)

 

Next you are going to see something you will never see anywhere else. Ever.

 

It is amazing.

 

It is strange.

 

It is reason enough to come to Elitch’s

 

You have to see it to believe it.

 

What is this thing, you ask?

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A SPEED LIMIT NINETEEN SIGN!!!1!!!1111!!! YOU WILL NEVER, EVER, EVAAR SEE THIS AGAIN ANYWHERE ELSE!!!11!!

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No airtime here.

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My personal favorite picture of Twister II that I took that day.

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Artsy attempt.

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These people think this is the best ride ever (Denver has the most deprived GP ever)

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Flat, forceless section of track.

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Onto the next ride… which is

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HALFPIPE!!!!1!!

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You go up one tower, spinning.

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You hit the valley at 45 mph (which looks really fast when it's right in front of you).

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You spin up the other tower.

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These babies make the ride go FAST!!!

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This is a ride rules and regulations sign, and normally I would say something like “Noted!!!”, but this sign is special, because it is (a) placed on the exit ramp where nobody will see it and (b) has some fairly WTF-esque pictures on it.

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I mean, seriously.

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Not quite as weird, but still worth showing TPR.

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Sidewinder

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Motor & Cable Nerd Shot

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Loop-de-loop

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Nothing to see here, move along.

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See above.

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No shows going on today...

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First drop shot.

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For an SLC? No thanks.

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This was next.

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Loop-de-Loop

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picture brake boomerang vekoma parts nerd shot thing

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The sun came out for a minute and gave me the opportunity to snap this (my personal favorite).

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Ghost Blasters

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Don’t forget to give the old, creepy scientist dude on the left money as you walk past.

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Something is missing.

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Really craptastic picture for those whores out there (you know who you are).

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Do we have to ride this?

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I guess we do (we only waited about 25 minutes).

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It rattled through the inversions, but wasn't too bad.

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What’s this doing in here? (It doesn’t matter… same ride anyway).

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Those clouds sure look ominous.

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Sure enough, rain started.

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Went to Twister II (because woodies run faster in the rain), but they closed it when I was only a few minutes away from riding. Anyway, I noticed that there is a nice view of downtown from the station.

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Never seen this before.

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Wave swinger.

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It was empty. ;)

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Tiny Ferris Wheel.

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That’s it. Now that you’ve read it and seen it all, POST YOUR COMMENTS!!!

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DOUBLE RAINBOW OH MY GOD

 

 

 

Nice TR though. Kinda surprising to me that the Denver area doesn't have a bigger/better amusement park. You'd think one of the few cities that has 4 pro sports franchises (5 if you count the Rapids) would. Not that the number of sports teams matters, but if an area can financially support that many sports teams there's surely a market that would support a major amusement park. It's a shame that Elitch's has next to no room for expansion, which probably explains why Six Flags never did much with it.

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Kinda surprising to me that the Denver area doesn't have a bigger/better amusement park. You'd think one of the few cities that has 4 pro sports franchises (5 if you count the Rapids) would. Not that the number of sports teams matters, but if an area can financially support that many sports teams there's surely a market that would support a major amusement park. It's a shame that Elitch's has next to no room for expansion, which probably explains why Six Flags never did much with it.

It's true. I think that if Denver got a big park, or if Elitch's got a new coaster, the GP would eat it up.

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I think one reason for Elitches being so close to downtown Denver is its accessibility. There is a large population in Denver that don't have cars or do not drive. And if people do have cars, they don't drive to often. Denver is very much a biking town, hell the river is right next to Elitches, bikers are on that all day. It may be the only spot for some sort of steady flow of guests sadly.

 

Elitches has a light rail stop, next to the river trails, off of Speer Blvd (one of the busiest streets in Denver), and has 3 major stadiums with in walking distance. It's a prime location, however, maybe not for an amusement park.

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Looks like the park went to a turn for the worse since my visit in 2006. I managed to ride the Flying Coaster on my visit, and it was loads of fun! And after Sidewinder, everything else was pretty boring. The drop tower had the biggest line of the park, so we skipped that too. You summed up what I thought about Mr. Twister, which still isn't good news...

 

Is the rapids ride even open? I remember it was sitting there with no water, and hopefully, some little roller coaster/ a flat can be placed in Flying Coaster's old spot.

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