Gilroy Gardens

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Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park
Previously known as Bonfante Gardens (2001–2006)
Gilroy Gardens Logo.svg
Location3050 Hecker Pass Hwy. Gilroy, California, United States
Coordinates37°0′19″N 121°37′41″W / 37.00528°N 121.62806°W / 37.00528; -121.62806Coordinates: 37°0′19″N 121°37′41″W / 37.00528°N 121.62806°W / 37.00528; -121.62806
OpenedJuly 2001
OwnerCity of Gilroy, California
Operated byGilroy Gardens, Inc. a 501(c)(3) organization
Operating seasonLate March–Early January
Area536 acres (0.838 sq mi; 217 ha)
Roller coasters2
WebsiteOfficial website Edit this at Wikidata

Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park, often shortened to Gilroy Gardens, is a horticulture-themed amusement park located in Gilroy, California, United States. Designed and built by Michael Bonfante, the park originally opened as Bonfante Gardens in 2001. The 536-acre theme park (217 ha) is owned by the city of Gilroy and operated by Gilroy Gardens, Inc. a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization; it features over 40 rides and attractions and is known for its Circus Trees, created by Axel Erlandson.[1]


One of the famous Circus Trees at Gilroy Gardens[2]

The park was founded by Michael and Claudia Bonfante after selling their Nob Hill Foods supermarket chain to build the park. The park was constructed gradually over a period of 25 years. 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. The park opened to the public in June 2001 as Bonfante Gardens. The name was changed to Gilroy Gardens in February 2007.[3] The park features 19 rides, 27 attractions and six gardens. The most well known garden features 24 Circus Trees that were grown and shaped with multiple trunks, basket-weave patterns, and hearts by the late Axel Erlandson.[4]

Starting in 2004, the park began its annual holiday celebration, Gilroy Gardens Holiday Lights.

The park struggled with financial difficulty and low attendance during the first two years of operation. It closed early for its first two seasons and the park's management debated whether to open the park at all for the third season. Paramount Parks began to manage the park on contract starting with the 2003 season.[5]

Cedar Fair acquired Paramount Parks from CBS Corporation in June 2006 and continued the management contract to operate Gilroy Gardens.[6] On December 31, 2021, the contract to manage the park expired after both parties decided not to renew the contract.[7] Gilroy Gardens Inc., the nonprofit that owns the park, began operating the park on its own for the 2022 season.[7]

The city of Gilroy purchased the park on March 5, 2008.

Mid-March 2020 saw the park get shut down on grounds of COVID-19 pandemic. It reopened mid-to-late May 2021, restricted to California residents and adhering to strict measures like social distancing and wearing masks.


Name Opened Manufacturer Model Description
Roller coasters
Quicksilver Express 2001 Morgan A mine-themed roller coaster.
Timber Twister 2001 Zierer Medium Tivoli A rattlesnake themed roller coaster.
Other amusement rides
Apple & Worm Unknown Unknown Unknown Children's caterpillar ride around a giant apple core.
Artichoke Dip 2001 Morgan Junior Seastorm Artichoke ride around a coastal live oak tree.
Banana Split 2001 Chance Rides Pirate Ship Banana-shaped swinging ship ride.
Balloon Flight 2001 Bradley and Kaye Ballon Flight Balloon ride.
Big Red Engine Co. 2001 Venture Manufacturing Unknown Children's firetruck ride.
Bonfante Railroad 2001 Chance Rides Train ride 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge[8] train ride around park perimeter.
Bulgy The Goldfish 2001 Unknown Unknown Children's fish ride.
Garlic Twirl 2001 Morgan Teacups Garlic-themed "tea cups" style ride.
Illions Supreme Carousel 2001 Brass Ring Carousel Company Carousel Modern fiberglass carousel inspired by the original built in 1927 by M.C. Illions
Mushroom Swing 2001 Zierer Wave Swinger Mushroom shaped swing ride.
Paddle Boats 2001 Bonfante family Paddle Boats Duck shaped paddle boats.
Panoramic Wheel 2001 Zierer Ferris Wheel Mini Ferris wheel.
Pitstop Racers 2001 Ramagosa Unknown Children's race car ride.
Rainbow Garden Round Boat Ride 2001 Hopkins Rides Raft ride Raft ride though flower gardens.
Sky Trail Monorail 2002 Morgan Monorail Monorail ride through Monarch Butterfly Greenhouse. Audio tape still refers to the park as "Bonfante Gardens"
South County Backroads 2002 Morgan Track ride Car attraction featuring two tracks: one side themed to the 1920s cars, and the other themed to 1950s cars.
Strawberry Sundae 2001 Morgan Junior Chair-O-Plane Spinning strawberry ride.
Tubs-O-Fun 2001 Chance Rides Teacup ride Children's "tea cups" ride.

Other Attractions:

  • Bonfante Falls (formerly Pinnacles Waterfall)‍—‌Bridge behind an artificial waterfall.
  • Bonfante's Splash Garden‍—‌Water play area.
  • Oak Park Playground‍—‌Children's play area.
  • Water Oasis‍—‌Water play area aimed at smaller children (introduced in 2014 replacing Pinnacles Rock Maze.)

Former Attractions:

  • Pinnacles Rock Maze‍—‌Artificial maze resembling caves found at Pinnacles National Park.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Betsy Malloy. "Gilroy Gardens". Travel. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  2. ^ "Hidden Gems: Circus Trees of Gilroy Gardens". California Now. March 30, 2018. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  3. ^ Bonfante Gardens to Be Renamed Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park (Feb. 26. 2007),
  4. ^ "Landscaping – February 2015" Archived 2015-12-26 at the Wayback Machine (Feb 2015),
  5. ^ "Bonfante theme park in the black". Morgan Hill Times. Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
  6. ^ "Properties". Cedar Falls official website. Archived from the original on August 18, 2010. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
  7. ^ a b Wolverton, Troy (June 28, 2022). "Gilroy Gardens is no longer being managed by Great America's parent company". San Jose, California: Silicon Valley Business Journal. Retrieved July 1, 2022.
  8. ^ "Crown Locomotive Roster (15"-24" Gauge)". Retrieved April 10, 2016.

External links[edit]