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Trip to Gilroy Gardens


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After three seasons of being Gold pass owners at California's Great America, we finally took advantage of the free Gilroy Gardens admission perk that comes with the pass on Sunday.

 

All I can say is: We certainly missed out during those years. What a nice little park, and only 30 minutes from home!

 

Visually, the park is stunning. Trees line the path everywhere you look, and chances are most of these trees you have never seen before. The circus trees are a sight to behold.

 

The park is very well kept up. Despite having to step over one spilled drink (it was in a food area, after all), the park was immaculate, and is even more impressive due to the fact that there were limited amount of garbage cans (are you sure Cedar Fair manages this park?).

 

Don't expect much in the way of thrills here, the park is geared towards families, and primarily little kids. Knowing that going in to the park saved me a lot of disappointment. Instead, go to the park for the visuals (and Quicksilver Express, more on that later).

 

If you can ignore the thousands of screaming kids (which is hard), the park has a very nice ambience, highlighted by an excellent, if short, soundtrack. Any soundtrack that has the Doctor Who theme song is a win in my book.

 

Being close to Halloween, the park was decked out with some holiday theming. Besides playing Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and the Beetlejuice song, the rock maze was transformed into the "Scary Maze," and the Monarch Garden had spiders and web scattered throughout it.

 

I got two new coaster credits! Quicksilver Express and Timber Twister.

 

I've been looking forward for a long time to ride Quicksilver Express, so it was the first ride of the day even though it was in the back of the park. It exceeded my expectations, and I made the mistake of underestimating it before I got on. It earns its "4" thrill rating (highest in park) with an insane second drop, complete with headchopper trees that curve over the track. I had to put my arms down when I saw those coming!

 

The themeing is top-notch, and like 90 percent of the rides in the park, it was covered in trees. Watch out for those killer raccoons!

 

The next credit was Timber Twister, a kiddy coaster with one of the longest trains I have ever seen. So long, in fact, that if you sit in the front, you are already at the bottom of the first drop before the back of the train clears the lift.

 

You get two laps on this coaster. I love the horn as it takes off from the station. I even got a little bit of airtime on the first drop from sitting in the back. I joked that this can be loosely categorized as a launching coaster, and after experiencing the take off, I think others might agree as well!

 

Notes:

 

• I didn't think it was possible, but a rough pirate ship ride? It's called Banana Split.

 

• I could almost kick the trees while riding the Mushroom Swings.

 

• Hardly any lines.

 

• Interesting ride operator uniforms for Halloween. Lots of them dressed as a player from the San Francisco Giants. I hope, though, that these were actual costumes and not regular employee outfits.

 

I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story. Chances are I'll head off to the park again, as the season doesn't end until Nov. 25.

 

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The reason why we're here!

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I got the feeling that I was the oldest person in the park.

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Like nearly every ride in the park, Quicksilver Express was hard to photograph due to being surrounded by trees. You can see the second lift hill on the left.

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Not sure if this paint scheme is intentional, but the ride is in desperate need of a new paint job.

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We rode this next, Sky Trail Monorail.

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Into the green house!

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Look at this picture and say, "Cedar Fair manages this park."

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One last look at Quicksilver Express.

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The line for the train, about 30 minutes.

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Picking up speed!

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I wonder what defunct attraction these steps used to lead to?

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Close to the park's entrance.

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I see you, South County Backroads Garden! We'll get to you soon.

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Rock Maze was transformed into Scary Maze

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Thanks for the warning! As I was taking this picture, the sign peeled off the wall. Guess it couldn't handle whatever horrors lie ahead!

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Scary?

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Scarier?

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I'm glad these were optional.

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There's those steps again! It's by the end of the maze.

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I ran out of things to say, so here's a goat. A petting zoo was set up.

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What's this? Another credit poking through the trees?

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Oh yes, we are. This was about three quarters of the train.

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Did I mention how long the train is?

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Again, look at this picture and say, "Cedar Fair manages this park."

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This garlic ride was crazy!

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Car ride! The only way to see this garden is to take a drive through it. We chose the 1950s side instead of the '20s.

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Let's go! Those who've ridden the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk's defunct car ride will get some flashbacks here.

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Little did I know, but you have to dodge driver-less cars speeding straight towards you! (Not really).

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As you drive through this tunnel, a siren goes off, and a cop yells at you to pull over. Nice touch.

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This kid stole my car as I stepped out of it! Good thing there's a cop on the highway, he won't get far.

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What's this?

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Well that makes sense. No Ferris wheel credit today! Judging by the overgrown queue and the ride's cabins hanging out in a backstage area, it looks like this will be out of service for the rest of the season.

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Hmmm.

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Circus trees.

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Will do!

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Thanks for reading!

Edited by Flagg O'Dim
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Awesome report! I really need to get there this season, this will help fill the void of the off-season. We were actually contemplating on checking out GG...I really want to try the Mushroom Swings as I hear they are pretty forceful...not to mention 2 credits that I need to get.

 

Timberline Twister (the one with the excessively long train)...sounds much like Cobra at SFDK where if you sit up front, you're already at the bottom of the drop as about 3/4 of the train in is at the crest...giving a little pop of air in the back seat as that crests...or if you're at the front, you suddenly just shoot up the next slope! I believe Timberline Twister is also by the same manufacturer, Zierer...and I'm sure Timberline Twister is a pretty loud coaster!

 

Garlic spinning ride...we all seriously need to meet up down there and cram as many of us in there who are willing to sacrifice their equilibrium and get this thing spinning! Sure, my body will hate me after but it will be worth it!

 

Definitely looks like a fun little gem as much as it wasn't meant to be a high thrill park...at least you don't have to deal with teenage GP antics, just maybe unsupervised little kids

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Timberline Twister (the one with the excessively long train)...sounds much like Cobra at SFDK where if you sit up front, you're already at the bottom of the drop as about 3/4 of the train in is at the crest...giving a little pop of air in the back seat as that crests...or if you're at the front, you suddenly just shoot up the next slope! I believe Timberline Twister is also by the same manufacturer, Zierer...and I'm sure Timberline Twister is a pretty loud coaster!

Tivoli coasters are so much fun for that reason. I love sitting in the back on those because you just get thrown up and to the side going over the drop, and having un-cushioned, slippery seats with no divider in between them makes it that much better. Blackbeard's Lost Treasure Train at Great Adventure is a seriously under-rated coaster in my opinion.

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Great TR! Makes me eager to hit up the place on a Sunday this November. Gilroy Gardens always looks beautiful, especially when you have two coasters sneaking "Through the trees!". Quicksilver's layout is very unique, and there is some decent back seat airtime in the second half given that it's running fast enough. Mushroom Swing and Banana Split are still my favorite rides of their respective kinds, and not just because they look like food.

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I visited the place back when it was still Bonfante Gardens and really enjoyed it. Quicksilver Express is a good family coaster, and the car ride may be the best one I've ever ridden in any park.

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Timberline Twister (the one with the excessively long train)...sounds much like Cobra at SFDK where if you sit up front, you're already at the bottom of the drop as about 3/4 of the train in is at the crest...giving a little pop of air in the back seat as that crests...or if you're at the front, you suddenly just shoot up the next slope! I believe Timberline Twister is also by the same manufacturer, Zierer...and I'm sure Timberline Twister is a pretty loud coaster!

Tivoli coasters are so much fun for that reason. I love sitting in the back on those because you just get thrown up and to the side going over the drop, and having un-cushioned, slippery seats with no divider in between them makes it that much better. Blackbeard's Lost Treasure Train at Great Adventure is a seriously under-rated coaster in my opinion.

 

I try to ride Blackbeard's almost every trip to Great Adventure, I also like the last row for the reasons you mentioned and also because it rarely has a line later in the day.

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Thanks for the comments! I highly recommend visiting this park (again, if you already have).

 

Garlic spinning ride...we all seriously need to meet up down there and cram as many of us in there who are willing to sacrifice their equilibrium and get this thing spinning! Sure, my body will hate me after but it will be worth it!

 

You know you can spin this ride fast when the seats have grip on them! I didn't get as dizzy as I do on something like Tornado at SCBB, probably because you are enclosed on this one. You can probably fit five in one garlic.

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Great TR! I finally made it to GG for the first time this year, and after being quite disappointed that Quicksilver Express was closed that day I was won over by the charm of the rest of the park. Second visit and I scored Quicksilver and was quite impressed with it. All around it's a great park that I would love to see expand and add more to while keeping the family charm to it.

 

As for those stairs, I believe the park was once operated as something else before Bonfante bought it and made it what it is. I think those are just remnants of what once was. Can anyone confirm that?

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From Wikipedia:

 

Before it became an amusement park open to the public, it was known as Tree Haven, and was a commercial plant nursery, as well as a recreational facility for employees of Nob Hill Foods.

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  • 5 months later...

We took our first trip to Gilroy Gardens of the season yesterday (Saturday). The parking lot was dead a half hour after opening, which was a great sign. For us riders, anyway, not for the park.

 

First ride of the day was South County Backroads, and I tried the 1920s side for the first time. Great themeing, with an epic "take the tunnel" moment!

 

Next up was the Paddle Boats for the first time. It can be quite a workout and a challenge to steer. Hit this ride at the beginning of the day, as it fills up quickly due to extremely low capacity.

 

Quicksilver Express is the star of the park. We got a mini-ERT session in the beginning of the day. If you sit in the front seat, watch out for the "kerchunk" part on both of the lift hills. They can be painful.

 

I got addicted to Timber Twister! The air time in the back seat is incredible.

 

Garlic Twirl is insane. Definitely one of the must-rides in the park. Here's a tip: It's easier to spin them counterclockwise. As we were waiting in line, we witnessed a critical error by the ride operator. He accidentally left one of the doors on a "garlic" open, and as the ride was going, it was hitting the other garlics and bashing into the railing. He quickly e-stopped the ride.

 

When the lines are nonexistent, you can get pretty much everything done in about two hours. This is a great park to visit with its outstanding landscaping and friendly staff. I'm looking forward to visiting again.

 

On to the pictures:

 

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A common sight at Gilroy Gardens: Empty walkways.

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A great kiddy coaster. I'm addicted!

Offride footage of Timber Twister, with my brother (TPR member rjvader) riding:

 

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Lift hill close up.

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Iron Rattler's trains were inspired by Timber Twister. OK, maybe not.

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Rock Maze, gets easier every time! (Keep hanging a right).

Here's a POV of Rock Maze, with a bonus reverse POV:

 

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Over by the waterfalls, what's this?

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There's a lookout point, and an elevator going up to it. Let's check it out!

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Well, scratch that.

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Looking inside, the elevator's still in there, but it's days of operation are long gone.

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Bonfante Falls offers a nice place to cool off on a hot day.

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Mid-day, Quicksilver Express went down, but thankfully not for too long.

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Let's head over to Sky Trail Monorail!

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It's not very thrilling, but that's the point.

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Looks like Quicksilver Express once had an on-ride photo booth.

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We hear the lift hill start up on Quicksilver Express, and it's time to ride again!

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I took the tunnel.

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Helix!

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Panoramic Wheel lives.

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This is what it looked like the last time I saw it in November.

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A shot of the paddle boats. Thanks for reading!

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In my past experiences at that park, the elevator by the waterfalls NEVER worked since day 1. From what I understood, it was abandoned before the park first opened probably either due to time constraints or lack of funds. So it never worked, and probably never will.

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I never get tired of seeing pictures from this park. I'm making it a point to get back there soon. Everyone should visit this park at least once if you have the chance. I absolutely agree that a junior woodie, or a flume ride, would be great additions. Even if nothing changes at all, I still love the park and it's been far too long since I've been there.

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This is a park that could REALLY benefit from a mid-sized wooden coaster.
I never get tired of seeing pictures from this park. I'm making it a point to get back there soon. Everyone should visit this park at least once if you have the chance. I absolutely agree that a junior woodie, or a flume ride, would be great additions. Even if nothing changes at all, I still love the park and it's been far too long since I've been there.

Actually, there was going to be a GCI terrain woodie for the park. I did some TPR archeological digging, and unearthed this from the trip report "Photo TR: Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park 4/15/07":

 

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.

I too also think that even if the park does not change in the coming years, I'll still love the park very much, a very nice place it is.

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  • 4 months later...

Since there isn't a designated Gilroy Gardens discussion thread, I'll bump my old thread.

 

In mid-August, Gilroy Gardens announced on their Facebook page that they will be adding a new water area for 2014. Besides a few concept images, little details were announced. I did some digging and found plans that the park presented to the Gilroy City Council, and I wrote an article for the newspaper I work for. I've posted it here:

 

Gilroy Gardens announces new water attractions

 

GILROY — When the weather heats up, crowds will soon flock to Gilroy Gardens and into its new water area.

 

Dubbed “Water Play Oasis,” the area, which will feature a two-foot deep pool, a splash pad and more, will open in time for the 2014 summer season, the theme park announced last week.

 

The Gilroy City Council agreed to allow the park to construct the water feature on Aug. 5. Gilroy Gardens, a nonprofit corporation, leases the city-owned 536 acres located at 3050 Hecker Pass Highway.

 

According to a report by Thomas J. Haglund, city administrator for the city of Gilroy, the area will feature a splash pad, with a flower garden layout that has various components that spray water on users from plant-themed objects shaped like bamboo, sunflowers, palm trees and others.

 

As a way to give visitors an understanding of how water flows, an interactive water play area will allow them to redirect water flow through a watershed, the report stated.

 

A “tot pool” will be one of the main components of the area, with a two-foot-deep pool featuring a slide and built-in water play equipment.

 

Keeping with Gilroy Gardens’ theme of education, an overview of watersheds will be shown on display boards throughout the new area.

 

The new water area will be located on an empty lot that houses a seasonal petting zoo, next to the Rock Maze attraction.

 

The cost of the new attraction is about $2 million, according to the report.

 

Gilroy Gardens’ last new attraction, Bonfante’s Splash Garden, was constructed in 2005.

 

The new water feature is the first step toward the park’s future plans of a large water park, complete with water slides, a lagoon river, picnic groves and more, according to a presentation the park gave to the City Council.

 

I visited the park yesterday to check out if any progress has been made. So far, none, because a petting zoo is set up on half of the site.

 

I did, however, find something interesting:

 

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Fast Lane is now at the park! Seriously, they must really think the new water park is going to be a hit next year.

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Fast Lane is now available for every ride. The entrances are located at the rides' exits.

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The new area is being promoted throughout the park.

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Signs line the exit.

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A look at the site.

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The entrance to the petting zoo.

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If I read the plans correctly, this should be the entrance to the new water area.

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This will be how you get to the large water park that Gilroy Gardens has planned for the future.

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I dontt see why Cedar Fair doesn't invest more into the park. Nothing big, but something new every season wouldn't kill them.

 

I totally agree. Cedar Fair should relocate Wild Thing to this park. It's already green and would fit in with the heavy foliage surroundings. Perfect fit. Then VF could get a new Hyper.

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