Bonfante Gardens opens under Paramount rule

Posted Monday, April 21, 2003 4:55 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Michael Bonfante spent two decades to build a theme park celebrating the trees he loved, and two difficult years trying to run it himself. But Friday, as struggling Bonfante Gardens opened for its third season, its founder had walked away from his $70 million dream. Last year's highly publicized deal for Paramount Parks to manage the 75-acre Gilroy park came with a less-noticed price: the exit of Bonfante, the Former Nob Hill supermarket magnate who retains only a seat on the park's seven-member board and has moved to Branson, Mo.

Read more from The Monterey Herald.

Monday, April 21, 2003 5:57 AM
One thing I noticed is that Paramount doesn't have an ownership stake in the park, they only have the management stake for 5 years. So does that mean that they may only try to have the park last for 5 years?
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Joey Ciborek, Florida Coaster Club, Member
"WE RIDE ALL YEAR!!!" www.FloridaCoasterClub.com , www.CoasterJoe.com
"It's like an addiction" Me, The Discovery Channel, Ultimate Guide: Roller Coasters 5/27/02
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Monday, April 21, 2003 7:44 AM
janfrederick's avatar Branson? That's odd...

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"It's not a Too-mah!" - Arnold after riding Batman the Ride

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Monday, April 21, 2003 8:12 AM
As far as I know he knows the SDC people that is the only tie I know of he would have to Branson and as far as I have heard he mooved to Branson early last year, but good things are happening opening day at BG went very well and had a great turnout it looks like it might make it. Bonfante steping down like this may mean a buy out is it possible that Paramount wanted to do a 5 year trial run to assess if the park was profitable before a buyout was to take place, thats what it is starting to look like

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It isn't so bad. . .
Once you're used to it

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Monday, April 21, 2003 10:11 AM
The Mole's avatar You want it to be an amusement park yet run it like a natural park. It won't work. I think more rides are needed than just an Arrow corkscrew and a jr coaster.

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Love,
The Mole

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Monday, April 21, 2003 11:28 AM
They don't have an Arrow anything.

They have a Chance/Morgan runaway mine train, and a Zierer Tivoli.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2003 3:13 AM
Just as Walt Disney loved the beautiful classic old parks of Europe Michael Bonfante's deam was to build something of the likes of Tivoli Gardens. He did not want thrilling rides, but family rides that almost every family member from young to old could ride. The target was families with young children and older adults/senior citzens. He detested the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk calling it dirty and seedy, and wanted his park to be a clean, very positive family experience. There was talk at one time about a wooden coaster with G.C.I. With Mr. Bonfante almost completely out of the picture now living in Branson Mo. (where a new ride slated for B.G. is now at Celebration City there), let's hope for the best with Paramount Parks now running it. With it's cross marketing B.G. had good attendence for it's 2003 season opening weekend.
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Tuesday, April 22, 2003 8:31 AM
janfrederick's avatar I'd like to know more about what happened. Why didn't he keep a larger stake in his dream? Sounds like he's giving up.

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"It's not a Too-mah!" - Arnold after riding Batman the Ride

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Wednesday, April 23, 2003 1:19 AM
The park had been non profit from the start along with the city of Gilroy playing a big part. That's the puzzling question. It sounds like Mr. Bonfante has surrendered and the board created to oversee the park has taken over. Anyone in the Branson area can maybe come up with some info.
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Wednesday, April 23, 2003 5:00 AM
Jeff's avatar Guys, he didn't pay for the entire park out of pocket. He had investors. He never owned a majority of the park. When investors don't see a return, the pressure is on to find someone who can make one.

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com - Sillynonsense.com
"Pray that your country undergoes recovery!" - KMFDM

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Thursday, April 24, 2003 12:29 AM
I was not aware of that. I knew he had investors, but believed Mr. Bonfante had a larger stake in it. I spoke to him both by phone and on opening day in 2001. The comments I made were true about his displeasure for American theme parks in general. He loved DeEfteling and Tivoli Gardens in addition to Disneyland. He hoped a european style park would work in America (California), disproving comments like those from The Mole above that a park has to have big thrilling looping coasters and rides for it to be sucessful.
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