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Gilroy Gardens

Coordinates: 37°0′19″N 121°37′41″W / 37.00528°N 121.62806°W / 37.00528; -121.62806
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Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park
Previously known as Bonfante Gardens (2001–2006)
Location3050 Hecker Pass Hwy. Gilroy, California, United States
Coordinates37°0′19″N 121°37′41″W / 37.00528°N 121.62806°W / 37.00528; -121.62806
OpenedJune 15, 2001
OwnerCity of Gilroy, California
Operated byGilroy Gardens, Inc. a 501(c)(3) organization
Operating seasonLate March–Early January
Area536 acres (35 acres used for theme park)
Roller coasters2
Water rides6
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]


The park was founded by Michael and Claudia Bonfante after selling their Nob Hill Foods supermarket chain to build the tree 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.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4]

Cedar Fair acquired Paramount Parks from CBS Corporation in June 2006 and continued the management contract to operate Gilroy Gardens.[5] On December 31, 2021, the contract to manage the park expired after both parties decided not to renew the contract.[6] Gilroy Gardens Inc., the nonprofit that owns the park, began operating the park on its own for the 2022 season.[6]

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.

One of the famous Circus Trees at Gilroy Gardens[7]


Roller Coasters[edit]

Name Opened Manufacturer Model Description Thrill Level
Quicksilver Express Mine Coaster 2001 Morgan A mine-themed roller coaster. 4
Timber Twister Coaster 2001 Zierer Medium Tivoli A rattlesnake themed roller coaster. 3

Family Rides[edit]

Name Opened Manufacturer Model Description Thrill Level
Apple & Worm Unknown Zierer Unknown Children's caterpillar ride around a giant apple core. 1
Artichoke Dip 2001 Morgan Junior Seastorm Artichoke ride around a coastal live oak tree. 1
Banana Split 2001 Chance Rides Pirate Ship Banana-shaped swinging ship ride. 3
Balloon Flight 2001 Bradley and Kaye Balloon Flight Balloon ride. 2
Big Red Engine Co. 2001 Venture Manufacturing Unknown Children's firetruck ride. 1
Bonfante Railroad Train Ride 2001 Chance Rides Train ride 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge[8] train ride around park perimeter. 2
Bulgy The Goldfish 2001 Unknown Unknown Children's fish ride. 1
Claudia's Carousel Carousel Children's carousel. 1
Illions Supreme Carousel 2001 Brass Ring Carousel Company Carousel Modern fiberglass carousel inspired by the original built in 1927 by M.C. Illions 1
Paddle Boats 2001 Bonfante family Paddle Boats Duck shaped paddle boats. 2
Panoramic Wheel 2001 Zierer Ferris Wheel Mini Ferris wheel. 2
Pit Stop Racers 2001 Ramagosa Unknown Children's race car ride. 1
Rainbow Garden Round Boat Ride 2001 Hopkins Rides Raft ride Raft ride though flower gardens. 2
Sky Trail Monorail 2002 Morgan Monorail Monorail ride through Monarch Butterfly Greenhouse. Audio tape still refers to the park as "Bonfante Gardens" 2
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. 2
Strawberry Sundae 2001 Morgan Junior Chair-O-Plane Spinning strawberry ride. 1
Tubs-O-Fun 2001 Chance Rides Teacup ride Children's "tea cups" ride. 1

Thrill Rides[edit]

Name Opened Manufacturer Model Description Thrill Level
Garlic Twirl 2001 Morgan Teacups Garlic-themed "teacups" style ride. 3
Mushroom Swing 2001 Zierer Wave Swinger Mushroom shaped swing ride. 3

Other Attractions:

  • Bonfante Falls (formerly Pinnacles Waterfall)‍—‌Bridge behind an artificial waterfall.
  • 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.
  • Bonfante's Splash Garden‍—‌Water play area, opened in June 2005, closed 2022.


Gilroy Gardens has two mascots, Gil and Roy. Gil was introduced in 2007, and Roy in 2013.[9]

The park also uses seasonal mascots for its Great Big Boo and North Pole Nights events.[10][11]


Fantastical Flowers[edit]

This spring festival was introduced in 2023 and includes floral decorations around the park.[12]

The Great Big Boo[edit]

It starts in mid-September and ends in October. It features multiple activities and shows held around the park.[10]

North Pole Nights[edit]

It starts in mid-November and ends in December.[13]


  • Magic of Santa: Christmas themed live show about holiday magic, shown at the Lakeside Ampitheater.
  • North Pole Tonight: A late night talk show performance.
  • Village Show: A holiday musical show with the elves.
  • March of the Teddy Bears
  • Checking it Twice
  • Mrs. Claus' Cookie Jam

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Betsy Malloy. "Gilroy Gardens". About.com Travel. Archived from the original on July 10, 2014. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  2. ^ Bonfante Gardens to Be Renamed Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park (Feb. 26. 2007), prnewswire.com
  3. ^ "Landscaping – February 2015" Archived 2015-12-26 at the Wayback Machine (Feb 2015), iaapa.org
  4. ^ "Bonfante theme park in the black". Morgan Hill Times. Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
  5. ^ "Properties". Cedar Falls official website. Archived from the original on August 18, 2010. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "Hidden Gems: Circus Trees of Gilroy Gardens". California Now. March 30, 2018. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  8. ^ "Crown Locomotive Roster (15"-24" Gauge)". trainweb.org. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  9. ^ "Park History and Timeline | Gilroy Gardens". www.gilroygardens.org. Retrieved July 9, 2023.
  10. ^ a b "The Great Big BOO at Gilroy Gardens Halloween". www.gilroygardens.org. Retrieved July 9, 2023.
  11. ^ "North Pole Nights | New Immersive Holiday Celebration at Gilroy Gardens". www.gilroygardens.org. Retrieved July 9, 2023.
  12. ^ "Local Event: Gilroy Gardens 'Fantastical Flowers: Spring Celebration' 2023: Gilroy". Gilroy, CA Patch. March 22, 2023. Retrieved July 8, 2023.
  13. ^ "North Pole Nights at Gilroy Gardens". Visit Gilroy. Retrieved December 25, 2023.

External links[edit]