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Photo TR: Elitch Gardens and Fun City

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This past week my family reunion was held in Estes Park, Colorado. There was never a plan to hit either park (if you consider Fun City a "park") so they both came as a great surprise to an already amazing vacation. We got to Estes on Saturday the 16th and stayed till the following Saturday. It was hot the whole week, but coming from Washington, it was a nice break from the monotonous cloudy/rainy/50 degree weather.


Anyways, On Sunday my family was on a hike and my dad said he planned on going into Denver some time during the week. I slipped in that there happened to be a theme park in Denver and the next thing you know I was at Elitch's the following day. I ended up going by myself which was odd. I had never been to a park solo before and I couldn't decide if I liked it or not. I loved the fact that I could use the single rider lines and move at my own pace. But it was weird not talking to anyone about the ride experience once it was over. I missed that part.


When I got to the park it was about 11am and I only had till about 3pm at the latest. I could tell it was busy so I ended up buying into their Rapid Ride system. What an amazing deal it was! I paid $14.99 to skip probably 3+ hours worth of lines. I was literally done with every big ride I wanted to ride (besides Tower of Doom, because it wasn't running) in 2 hours. With the $14.99 pass you're supposed to only get 5 front-of-the-line passes but I never once was marked like I was supposed to be. I didn't have time to do more than the 5 rides I used the Rapid Ride system on, but I feel like park management should look into this... it would be so easy to abuse the system.


My first ride of the day was Sidewinder. I thought it would be a less painful way to start off and overall, it really wasn't bad. The drop both ways had some pretty intense airtime. I wish I had gotten a chance to ride in the front because of the edge on the far side. It seemed like it would be nerve racking watching the end of the tracks come up like that while you're 56' up off the ground. But because I was in somewhat of a rush and there wasn't select seating I decided to just opt for my seat near the back. The plus side of being near the back: it made that first drop of my season even better.


Next up I used my Rapid Ride on Mind Eraser and was on within the first two minutes of walking up the exit ramp. It's an SLC and I'm sure most of you have heard about a thousand plus reviews of them. So I'll try and make mine brief. My favorite part: the big sweeping curve after the roll over... I like the weird-angled floater airtime. My least favorite part: all of the inversions.


Finally, I couldn't wait any longer, I hit the only ride I knew would be quality: Half Pipe. I really enjoyed this ride! I love the straight down freefall feeling you have on each side of the 'pipe'. The spinning adds a really interesting effect to it also. It's hard to describe it in words but the faster it spun, the more on-edge I felt. The out of control sensation was awesome. It made me wonder though... is there a limit to how fast this thing can spin? Has anyone been on it while the weight was totally unbalanced? Anyways, it was a great break from the duplicate Vekomas and the Arrow rides.


I headed over to boomerang afterword. I went up the exit line like I was suppose to and got ready to board the next train. Before the ride op let me in though, a girl in the line yelled across at me and asked me to sit with the single rider on the train in front of her little group, that way they could all sit together. That's what I was going to do anyways but when I told the ride op my plan he said I HAD to sit in their seat. It really put me in an awkward position and that is the thing I HATE about fast pass systems like these using the exit line. I really didn't understand why I couldn't just sit with the kid in front of me. And if every person using a Rapid Ride pass has to sit in the certain seat he sat me in, it completely screws over the people waiting for that spot in the actual line. If I could complain about just one thing in the park that day, it would be this.


Twister II , my final new credit of the day. I was really looking forward to this as it was a ride that wasn't a duplicate that I had been on before. Plus the layout actually looked pretty cool. But I have to admit it didn't live up to expectations. It really has no forces except for extremely painful lateral ones. On the first drop everyone had their hands up but, as soon as we hit that first corner, everyone's hands flew down to grab the bar. It was probably the most painful corner I had ever experienced on a roller coaster. Even when we hit the break run you could still hear everyone talking about it. I don't know if it's always been this bad or if it's a recent thing but I really can't see it being rideable for much longer. After that corner it got better, but overall it was just... meh.


I only had about a half hour left so I rode Dragon Wing. I was pretty surprised by how much you could get this thing swinging using the "whip" technique. After the first minute are two I got bored of that though and ended up just enjoying the breeze and looking at the surrounding city. It gives some pretty great views.


Finally, I ended the day with a re-ride on Half Pipe. Overall, Elitch's is a good park. I did enjoy my time there but, from the roller coaster enthusiast side of me, I feel like it's more just a park to get credits at. If I had a family along and everything, I would totally see it a different way. But as of now, I can't imagine spending too much time there because there isn't too many rides I'd like to re-ride. Maybe if you stopped by the water park, it would make for a better all day excursion. I hope the best for Elitch's in the future and I hope that one day they get something big that draws me back in.


Now onto the pictures. They're all taken with my iPhone 4s so I hope the quality doesn't look too bad for you guys. I'm also going to say sorry in advance for some of the weird shots I got of some rides... I was on a time constraint and felt like I had to rush a little more than I should have. But I hope you enjoy them!


I will be posting some pictures of Fun City and Estes soon!




The Main Entrance.


Can someone explain the whole "Not To See" thing?





The main street leading to this was very pretty.


First coaster of the 2012 season: Sidewinder!


Pretty good airtime here.


Mind Eraser.


I'm sure you've seen enough pictures of SLCs... but just for good measure :)


My favorite ride of the park.



A half of the Half Pipe.


The day it's 102 in Denver... Disaster Canyon was closed :/


The new Rockin' Tug. It had a bubble machine that all the kids seem to love too! (Sorry this was one of those rushed pictures I was talking about).


They're definitely riding it wrong.



From the exit.



Twister II is a really hard roller coaster to photograph inside the park. Sadly this was the only one I got.


Dragon Wing and that hot hot sun!


It's hard to imagine them following this combined weight of 340lbs rule. I mean, that's just like two adults.


I couldn't find the Rapid Ride entrance to Ghost Blasters so I decided to skip it. I would have felt too bad getting on in front of little kids too.


One day... one day I will ride an Intamin drop tower!


One last picture on the way out.

Edited by odie
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I have to agree with you about Elitch's. I've visited in 2002 and in 2006, and while it's a nice park, the coaster enthusiast side of me felt disappointed. I went when they still had the Zamperla Flyer, which was, sadly, my favorite ride there. Half Pipe was cool too, but all of the roller coasters there are small to medium sized and the park itself is tiny. I wish they never relocated from the original Elitch's Gardens as that seemed to be a beautiful park, while this park is built on top of an old dump yard next to train tracks, and there are no gardens what so ever.


Any idea what's going on with the rapids? Your pictures turned out great!

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I had never been to a park solo before and I couldn't decide if I liked it or not.

I used to have not even the slightest problem visiting parks solo, but I think in the future I'd like to minimize it, and try to avoid going out of my way to visit more than the occasional park alone. However, I was at Elitch Gardens alone recently and had a great time, as there was plenty to do and the people were friendly.


Sidewinder was my first coaster of the season, too, and I agree with you. The front is definitely worth it, but it seemed pretty intense throughout the train.


I went for VIP Rapid Ride, myself, and when I didn't have my lanyard out I was asked to show it once, and trusted another time. I agree that it would be best to check them all the time, to keep the value of paying more for VIP. I'm also sorry (but glad for confirmation that I'm not just clueless) that Rapid Ride access is indeed confusing at times...


Anyway, great pics and report!

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Jeremie - I'm not sure what's up with the rapids. I did leave before 1 o'clock so maybe they got it open later in the day? It seemed like they should have had it up before then if it was working... considering it was 100 DEGREES!


Anyways, Sorry it took so long to get to the rest of the TR. Been super busy with work this week but here it finally is!


So in Estes Park (about an hour and a half from Denver), they have this little place called Fun City. It's super cheesy and small but with as big of a group as we had, it's a blast! Their main attraction is the Giant Slide. It's like they took a normal traveling giant slide, added a 15 foot drop in between the first and second hill, and then stuck four of them next to each other. It gets going so fast that it becomes painful, mainly because on the last hill; If you haven't slowed yourself down at all, you catch about 6" of airtime. It's a dollar each slide but I'd say, if you're in Estes, you might as well do it once at least.


The other stuff they had was standard bumper cars, bumper boats, go carts, trampolines, a super small and slow zipline, and two mini golf courses. Sorry, no credits at this place We had a great time on everything but I think a lot of that is due to the fact that we had so many people with us. For example, on the bumper boats, we filled every boat and had a huge battle! We were all soaked in the end but it was awesome. I can't imagine it being as fun in a small group though, considering it is about $6 a pop.


All in all, it's an expensive place but if you have a large group or if you are there on a busier day, it is a great little daytime adventure.




Fun City!




They're about to experience some airtime... quickly followed by pain.


The Bumper Cars ran a pretty long cycle.


If you ride these, you will get soaked!



The Go-kart track wasn't bad.


You could take this corner so hard. Serious lateral forces here haha.


One of the Mini Golf courses went on both sides of the river. They were both very good and fun courses.



The trampolines.


This guy was pulling the kid down so he shot up really high every time... it was hilarious.


The zip line... really this was it. It maybe hit 5mph hahaha.


For those of you who are of age: there was a Brewery within 500ft of this place!


Giant Slide POV!


On the way out I took this last picture. You can really see how big the slide is. Especially the second drop!

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Finally, I have a couple pictures of the local area around Estes. I know there's no theme park included in them but I didn't want to create another thread for the same trip. A lot of the pictures are from Rocky Mountain National Park; what a beautiful place. I had a great time exploring and running a lot of the trails there. I definitely recommend spending some time exploring it yourself! If you're planning a trip to Elitch's or anything, it wouldn't be a bad idea to add a couple days on and spend some time up in Estes. I had a great time and can't wait to go back.


Hope you enjoyed the whole TR and thanks for reading!




The Alluvial Fan cascade.


The top of the Alluvial.


Loch Vail.



On the way down from the Loch, we found this guy. He ate almonds right out of our hand! In this picture, I'd say he had at least 5 in his mouth haha.


No zoom!


An elk we passed in the car. Also no zoom.


Up at Gem Lake.


Gem Lake itself.


The way down from Gem Lake. It was my favorite hike of the trip by far. There was so many cool rock formations like this.


Heading to the continental divide. Almost 12,000ft in elevation!




Breathtaking roads on the way back down.


Horseback riding with the whole family.


Why yes, this is a MINIATURE DONKEY!


Riding was a lot of fun. I'm even super allergic to horses and I loved it. It was totally worth the two hour allergic attack I had afterword... no joke!


Hiking to Lake Odessa, looking over the town of Estes.



Lake Odessa.


I wish my local Safeway sold elk.


On our final day I decided to challenge myself with a run up this. I normally run at home every other day but this week it was so beautiful that I usually got a run in daily. So I gave the 2,500ft elevation gain a go!


About a third of the way up.


I found a couple Alpine Marmots. Apparently they can get up to 40lbs!


I made it!



My last picture of the TR: Looking over on the Estes Side. You can see the fires off in the distance. My heart go out to all the families close to the many fires going on in Colorado.

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I'll chime in with a few notes about Elitch Gardens, as it is my local park.


I have been on the halfpipe where it is spinning quickly the whole time, but there does seem to be a limit of how fast you can spin on it, and IMO it is much better with less spinning. Twister 2 really needs a change, its rough and really just not fun. Elitch's Mind Eraser is the most painful version of the ride I have been on, yet everyone here loves it still. Ghost Blasters has never seemed to work properly, and is really sort of bad (again IMO). As for the raft ride, it only runs maybe 20 or 30% of the times I have been there. I have only managed to ride it once because of that, but what is interesting is that the shoot the chutes boat ride shares its water with the raft ride, but it seems as though the raft ride has the water purification system on it, because the water in the shoot the chutes ride is nasty. As for Tower of Doom, when its open they generally only have two sides running if that.


Its good to see that you were able to enjoy yourself, it can be a lot of fun, but needs something new.

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