Elitch Gardens Theme Park
|Location||Denver, Colorado, United States|
|Owner||Kroenke Entertainment Corporation (2015)|
|Operated by||Premier Parks, LLC (2015)|
|Opened||1890–2014, (original 1890–1994)|
1995 (current 1995–2014)
|Operating season||Year round (theme park) (2019) Summer (family water park)|
|Area||65 acres (260,000 m2) total|
Elitch Gardens Theme and Family Water Park, locally known as "Elitch's", is an amusement park in Denver, Colorado. It is owned by Stanley Kroenke and operated by Premier Parks, LLC. Unique for being located in a downtown area, it is open May through December.
- 1 History
- 2 Entertainment & special events
- 3 Island Kingdom Family Water Park
- 4 Public transportation
- 5 Rides
- 6 Past rides
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Gurtler era (1994–1995)
As space was getting scarce at the original location of Elitch Gardens at 38th Avenue and Tennyson Street, the Gurtler family and their financial partners purchased a 67.7-acre (274,000 m2) plot of land in the Platte River valley near downtown Denver for the price of $6.1 million in June 1994. $90 million was spent relocating some rides from the original park and construction of the new park. The money was from a mix of public and private dollars and various loans.
On October 1, 1994—the end of the 1994 season—the original park closed permanently and a majority of the rides were moved to the new property, which opened on May 27, 1995. Attendance was about one million the first year there, lower than the expected 1.2 million. Some notable rides at the park's opening were the original Carousel and Sidewinder roller coaster, relocated from the old park; and a new version of the Mister Twister, the Twister II.
In October, 1996, the Gurtler family and its partners sold the park to growing theme park operator Premier Parks for $65 million.
Premier era (1996–1998)
Premier noted the lackluster figures the new park had in its first two seasons and new additions were soon rushed in for the park's third season. The first and most notable addition was the park's third roller coaster, Mind Eraser, a Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster. The next big addition was Tower of Doom, an Intamin freefall ride that stands at 220 feet (67 m). Also added was the park's 700-seat Trocadero Theater, named after the famous ballroom and dance hall at the original park. The price tag for these additions came to a total of $28 million.
In 1998, Premier Parks purchased the Six Flags Magic Mountain chain of theme parks from Time-Warner. With the purchase, Premier decided to brand-name some of their parks with the Six Flags Magic Mountain prefix. Elitch Gardens was one of them and big changes came the next year.
Six Flags era (1999–2006)
Numerous additions came in 1999 when the park was officially renamed Six Flags Elitch Gardens. The first and most notable addition was the Boomerang: Coast to Coaster, a Vekoma Boomerang roller coaster. Other additions included the Looney Tunes and DC Comics characters/themes. Throughout 1999-2001, additions were rushed in such as a new Looney Tunes Movietown area, water rides, and flat rides.
In 2002, the park added the Flying Coaster, a suspended steel flying roller coaster. It was a prototype model, and suffered from numerous operational glitches. It was removed from service in 2008, and was eventually sold to Luna Park in Coney Island in 2010, where it was installed in 2011 after being refurbished and updated by ride manufacturer Zamperla.
In 2004, the park installed the Half Pipe coaster, one of two operating in the United States.
In 2005, Six Flags removed Chance-Morgan Chaos flat rides for safety reasons. The same year, the park added a vertical water slide called Edge to its Island Kingdom water park. Also in 2005, control of Six Flags, Inc. was obtained by Daniel Snyder in a proxy fight and Mark Shapiro was installed as CEO. The park faced a grim future in 2006 when Shapiro announced selling six of the Six Flags Magic Mountain owned properties. Costumed workers and entertainment workers were laid off as a part of cost-cutting.
PARc Magnagement era (2007–2010)
In January 2007, Six Flags announced that Elitch Gardens, along with six other parks, would be sold for a total of $312 million. The agreement saw them sell the properties to PARC Management, who in turn sold them to CNL Lifestyle Properties. CNL would then lease them back to PARC Management under a 52-year triple-net lease.
An immediate change under the new management was the removal of all Looney Tunes and DC Comics branding uses from the park. A new ProSlide Bowl water slide, named RipQurl, was added for the 2007 season. In 2008 a new interactive dark ride, Ghost Blasters, opened. It takes guests through a dark mansion haunted with ghosts. Using light guns, guests have the opportunity to extinguish the ghosts while competing against one another as digital counters keep track of the scores. Alongside the new rides, the park hosts a summer concert series which has included Raven-Symoné, Metro Station, Sara Evans, and Lee Ann Womack. It also has live entertainment shows, such as "Survivor Live!", and "Sea Lion Splash!" The ones for 2010 were "Rocknation: Don't Stop Believin'", "Bob the Builder Live: Let's Recycle!", "120 Rockin' Years at Elitch's" and "Laser Rocks". During October it has haunted houses and a Trick or Treat Trail.
CNL Lifestyle Properties era (2011–2014)
However, after less than three years into the 52-year contracts, CNL terminated their agreements with PARC Management in November 2010. The move came after, according to their 2010 SEC filings, PARC defaulted on their lease obligations on the properties. In early 2011, CNL appointed Herschend Family Entertainment as the new operators of the park, along with Darien Lake.
On March 8, the park announced three new rides, Tube Top (a Proslide Tantrum waterslide) in Island Kingdom Family Water Park, Rockin’ Tug, and Tike Bikes both in the newly transformed kid's area, KiddieLand.
In 2014, the park announced the arrival of a new thrill ride, Brain Drain for 124 year for past.
Premier Parks LLC era (Since 2015)
Future of Elitch Gardens (Downtown Denver Site)
In early 2018 it was announced that the current site of both the amusement and water parks near downtown Denver is where a massive redevelopment project is proposed to take place sometime in the near future. Currently being called “The River Mile”, the mixed-use development, should plans come to fruition, will redevelop and repurpose the entire site as well as many of the surrounding parking lots thus requiring the amusement and water parks to relocate elsewhere. But as of now, the park expects to open as usual for at least one more season and is actively booking summer, Halloween and holiday programming though the 2019 season. No further details, including a permanent closing date or possible new location, have been announced.
Entertainment & special events
Six Flags Fright Fest by Snickers events were held at the end of the operating season (Weekends in October, typically) from 1998 to 2006. When the park was sold to PARC Management in 2007-2010, the event was rebranded as "Fall Family Fun Fest", adding family oriented areas such as hay mazes and pumpkin painting to the haunted houses and trick or treat trails. The events were then rebranded again as "FrightFest" from 2008 onward, including the years 2011-2014 with Herschend Family Entertainment managing the property. The park is currently managed by Premier Parks, LLC, who continues to host the event as "Fright Fest" (2015-present).
Island Kingdom Family Water Park
Island Kingdom is a 20-acre (81,000 m2) family water park located next to the entrance of Elitch Gardens. It is open Summer, and admission is included with a one-day ticket to Elitch Gardens. It has several main attractions: a large tube slide tower, a family body slide tower, a family water playground, a large family raft ride, a half pipe water attraction, and a lazy river. Palm trees are planted yearly to add to the atmosphere.
There is an RTD light rail stop located next to the park's entrance, served by C, E, and W line trains. The light rail station also serves neighboring Pepsi Center. Many park visitors take the train instead of paying for parking. There is a bus station just off park grounds as well, which is served by route 10.
|Twister II||1995||A John Pierce designed wooden coaster based on the original Elitch Gardens Twister. The old coaster proved too costly to move with the park and was in bad condition. This coaster opened with the new park in 1995.|
|Sidewinder||1995||An Arrow Dynamics shuttle loop roller coaster. Moved from the original Elitch Gardens and originally built in 1980, it was relocated from Magic Springs and Crystal Falls park as the Roaring Tornado|
|Mind Eraser||1997||A Vekoma SLC (Suspended Looping Coaster). Riders are suspended below twisted track.|
|Boomerang: Coast to Coaster||1999||A Vekoma Boomerang roller coaster.|
|Half Pipe||2004||An Intamin Half Pipe Coaster. Two free-spinning pods of seating are propelled on a platform between two vertical towers, similar to the skateboard trick of the same name.|
|Blazin' Buckaroo||2013||An E&F Miler Industries family roller coaster. Relocated from Alabama Splash Adventure and operated as Marvel Mania from 1998-2011.|
|Hollywood & Vine||1995||A Huss Breakdance themed with 1980s-era futuristic cars, and named after the famous intersection of Hollywood and Vine in Hollywood, Los Angeles. Relocated from the old Elitch Gardens, it was formerly known as "Paradise" and originally built in 1987.|
|Turn of the Century||1999||A Zierer Wave Swinger with ancient Egyptian/Aztec paintings on it. Relocated from the old Elitch Gardens and originally built in 1973, it was not operated until 1999.|
|DragonWing||1998||A Chance Aviator with a dragon theme. First Aviator installation worldwide; prototype installation was rebuilt and reinstalled to final specifications after the first season of operation. Known as "Batwing," under Six Flags.|
|Tea Cups||1995||A Zamperla Teacups ride relocated from a park in Germany. Originally built in 1988. One of seven rides to debut at the new park for 1995.|
|Observation Tower||1995||A Premier Rides observation tower 300 feet (91 m) tall with the observation platform at 250 feet (76 m). One of the seven new attractions to debut at the new park at 1995. Previously branded "Total Tower".|
|Spider||1995||Classic Eyerly Spider ride relocated from the old Elitch Gardens. Originally built in 1969. Relocated several times.|
|Troika||1995||Classic Huss Troika ride relocated from the old Elitch Gardens. Originally built in 1976.|
|Disaster Canyon||1995||A basic white water rafting ride by O.D. Hopkins. Built new in 1995, it opened with the new park. Not open after Labor Day.|
|Shipwreck Falls||1997||An O.D.Hopkins Shoot-the-Chutes that ends in a massive splash. Other related parks operate Shoot-the-Chutes under the same name.|
|Tower of Doom||1997||A 210-foot (64 m) Intamin drop tower that drops up to two groups of four people at a time. Originally installed with a third ride car, for a total capacity of 12 riders per cycle. One ride car and corresponding track have since been removed from service.|
|Sea Dragon||1995||A Chance Sea Dragon Viking longship that rocks back and forth. Relocated from the old Elitch Gardens and a park favorite. Originally built in 1980.|
|Tilt-A-Whirl||1995||A Sellner Tilt-A-Whirl relocated from the old park. Originally built in 1957.|
|Thunderbolt||1996||A Chance Alpine Bobs ride, it replaced the older Holland Express attraction, which had been moved from the old park.|
|XLR8R (upcharge attraction)||1996||A 182-foot (55 m) Skycoaster that is available for a nominal additional fee.|
|Sling Shot (upcharge attraction)||2006||A 160-foot (49 m) reverse bungee attraction that rockets riders skyward at 70 mph (110 km/h).
Available for a nominal additional fee. Previously located at Kentucky Kingdom.
|Ghost Blasters II||2008||A dark ride, designed by Sally Corporation, and themed as a haunted manor where guest shoot "ghosts" with laser guns. The entrance to the ride was formerly the Stagecoach Mercantile, which still has a small store, caricature stand, and airbrush tattoos. The same attraction can also be found at various other amusement parks in the United States and Canada|
|Big Wheel||1995||A Chance Giant Wheel model Ferris wheel ride over 100 feet (30 m) tall. The Big Wheel was restored in 2010, including the addition of a programmable LED lighting array, which has become a recognizable feature of the Central Platte Valley night skyline.|
|Carousel||1995||A fully restored 1920 Philadelphia Toboggan Company, PTC #51 merry-go-round featuring 76 hand-carved horses and 4 chariots.|
|Rockin' Tug||2012||A Zamperla Rockin' Tug boat ride that rotates clockwise and counterclockwise while rocking back and forth.|
|Mike's Bikes||2012||Motorcycle ride that is covered by a large umbrella that rotates counterclockwise sending young riders over hills and jumps. Originally install at Darien Lake in the 1980s as "BMX Motocross". Relocated to Elitch Gardens as "Tike Bikes" in 2012, and renamed in honor of long-time park sign shop technician who died.|
|Brain Drain||2015||A 7-story steel looping Larson International thrill ride that rocks forwards and backwards, gaining momentum to eventually follow through a series of forward and backward full loops, in which riders are fully inverted.|
|Star Flyer||2017||An all new swing ride that opened in spring 2017. Located next to Brain Drain and in the spot where Shake, Rattle and Roll used to occupy. The height is around 200 feet.|
|Edge||2005||2014||Edge water slide that was added in 2005 has now been removed from the park. Some call it the water version of the half pipe roller coaster. Only lasting 10 years the Edge was a fairly new ride, it was sold with plans to relocate it to a different water park.|
|Shake Rattle and Roll||1995||2014||Shake Rattle and Roll, originally known as the Avalanche, being one of the rides to debut at the opening of the relocated park downtown, was demolished due to its old age and frequent breakdowns.|
|Rainbow||1995||2010||After many years of being a favorite in the park, this Huss Rainbow was finally taken down due to waning popularity from an accident in 2008.|
|Western Round-Up (flat ride)||1995||2001||Relocated from a park in Germany and debuted at the new park, this Vekoma Sky Flyer ride was dismantled in 2001 due to major maintenance issues. Though reasonably popular, it was standing idle half the time. Originally built in 1985.|
|Holland Express||1995||1998||This classic Mack Zugspitze ride was one of the rides moved from the original Elitch Gardens. As maintenance costs rose due to the ride's age, it was removed in 1998. A newer incarnation of the ride, the Thunderbolt, now fills its place. Originally built in 1964.|
|Mine Shaft||1995||1998||This Chance rotor ride was removed due to the controversy over a similar ride at Six Flags Great America. Rather than modify the ride as many other parks did, Elitch Gardens dismantled it in 1999. Originally built in 1972 and traveled on carnival routes. It was also at the old Elitch Gardens for a short time.|
|Sky Ride||1995||1997||A standard Watkins aerial chairlift ride, it stood for two years until the opening of the Island Kingdom water park prevented it from remaining open. It was one of the rides moved from the original park and was built in 1965.|
|Run-Away Train||1995||1997||A Mack Blauer Enzian powered roller coaster, it was bought used from a park in Germany and was originally built in 1987. Upon inspection, the "hot rail" that powered the train was badly damaged. This ride only ran for two seasons and Mind Eraser now stands in its place.|
|Flying Coaster||2002||2007||A Zamperla "Volare" roller coaster that is the first of its kind in the United States. It was a beta version of the coaster design, which made maintenance excessively expensive. The roller coaster was refurbished by the manufacturer and installed at Coney Island.|
|Casino||1995||1998||This Wipeout/Trabant ride was another ride moved from the old park. Even though it was in good running condition, Elitch Gardens couldn't find room for it among the newer rides.|
|Chaos||1999||2010||A Chance-Morgan Chaos ride that flips its riders upside down while spinning and lifting in the air at the same time. Removed due to safety issues.|
|Cactus Coaster||1995||2011||An Allan Herschell Company "Little Dipper" kiddie coaster relocated to Frontier City as Wild Kitty in 2013.|
- Olgeirson, Ian. "Forecast for Elitch's: Visitor numbers flat". Denver Business Journal, September 20, 1996.
- "Coney Island to Get Flying Coaster from Denver's Elitch Gardens". AmusingtheZillion.com.
- "Elitch's ticket: $170 million". denverpost.com.
- "Six Flags sells seven parks". Park World Magazine. 6 February 2007. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- "Cyrus set to rock Elitch Gardens this summer". 9news.com.
- "CNL ends lease deal with PARC Management". Park World Magazine. 25 November 2010. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- "CNL completes ouster of PARC Management from Darien Lake". The Daily News. 2010-11-24. Archived from the original on 2011-02-03. Retrieved 2011-01-20.
- "CNL Lifestyle Properties, Inc. October 2010 Form 10-Q". 2010-09-30. Retrieved 2011-01-20.
- "CNL announces new management for eight parks". Park World Magazine. 25 January 2011. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- https://web.archive.org/web/20120319213737/http://elitchgardens.com/2012/03/06/new-at-elitch-gardens-in-2012/. Archived from the original on March 19, 2012. Retrieved March 8, 2012. Missing or empty
- Elitch Gardens (February 8, 2012). "1...2...3 NEW rides..." Facebook. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
- "Wet'n'Wild Phoenix, Hawaii to Add accesso eCommerce, Mobile Ticketing" (Press release). CNL Lifestyle. 20 January 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2014.