Elitch Gardens, Denver, Colorado, USA
On 8 July I left Oklahoma for my move to California. I was going to stop in Denver with a friend, then on to Salt Lake to meet up with my family that had left a few weeks before me to enjoy some summer vacation time with family. Then we would make the final drive to California.
I got into Denver a couple hours before more friend would be off from work and since I had done Lakeside a few weeks ago with my family I decided to stop in and ride the coasters at Elitch Gardens. The first part was trying to find the entrance to the place. I could see it but it took me a bit to circle back around to the park. I almost parked at the Pepsi Center when I read a sign about not leaving any valuables in your car....well I had the Honda Pilot stuffed from the bottom to the top so I decided to find the actual parking lot for the park. Once I found my way I decided to fork out the extra dough to get the VIP parking so I could be close to the front and hopefully get a space that would sort of hide the fact that my vehicle was stuffed full of stuff. As I pulled in it started to pour. I watched tons of people leaving! Sweet. I waited out the rain and found a great spot underneath a tree and backed into the spot. The shadows hid the fact I had my car full unless you looked real close plus I saw security driving around so I decided to leave and check out the park.
I went to buy my ticket at the counter and asked for a military discount. The lady told me I had to get it from my base and I said I had just driven from Oklahoma and they didn't sell discount tickets to Elitch in Oklahoma. She took pity on my and gave me a discount. Thank goodness because...well you'll see.
Upon entrance you walk into a nice covered area with some stores and shops. I took an immediate left and walked down the parks "Main Street" First impression was that the park was well maintained and clean. So far so good. I was hoping since they were just opening the rides from the storm and people had left that I would get a chance to ride most of the coasters quickly and check out some of the flats then head out.
I wanted to do Twister II the most so I went there first. This ride looks really good and I love that the queue goes through the rides structure. The line started just outside the covered area below the loading area. Didn't look that bad and they were running two trains. Should be like a 15 minute wait. Then I started noticing the stacking! Everytime for lengthy periods. It took about 20 minutes to get up to the loading platform and then I got to watch the ride ops hang out and send trains out when they felt like it. It wasn't that bad but they sure weren't in any hurry. I guess this park also has some type of flash pass/VIP ride system because about every other train they let people on from the exit. They would also let these people sit wherever they wanted, which meant if you were waiting for the front seat, I hope you brought a novel because you could easily finish one waiting for your turn.
So I finally got my ride. Near the back of the train. I loved the layout and thought it gave a pretty good ride. It through me around pretty good but it was a fun ride. I thought it had a well placed tunnel near the end of the ride. It wasn't GCI spectacular but a fun ride.
Halfpipe was next. I have been interested in riding this ever since they put it in. As I got in line, I quickly noticed the low capacity of this ride and realized I might only have time for one more ride at the pace I was going. Since the Sidewinder (Arrow Shuttle) hadn't moved since I got in the park I figured it wasn't an option so I had my choice between the two Vekomas...Hang n Bang or Boomerang? I just saw the SLC make its first couple laps and the Boomerang was going slowly. Since I didn't have much to do in line I started timing dispatch times on the two Vekomas. 6+ minutes for each departure on the boomerang and about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes for the SLC. Guess you know where I was headed after my halfpipe ride.
After 30 minutes or so I got up to the loading platform for the halfpipe. Just when I thought the Twister II crew was bad. These guys were full on having conversations about who knows what while everyone was sitting on the ride waiting to get checked. We were like some nuisance to them. Mosquitoes that they had to swat at every few minutes. It has been a long time since I have seen ride ops like this...Drives Me Crazy!
Halfpipe is actually a really good ride! I loved the spinning with the vertical spikes. It gave a fun ride and al I wanted was a couple more launches. For smaller parks that don't have huge amounts of people or lots of room to expand this is a great ride option for them.
On to Mind Eraser. This crew was the highlight of the park. They were shooting trains out every three minutes or less. Waited about 15 to 20 minutes for this one. I'm not a huge fan of getting slammed around on these rides, but I do think the layout is done really well. Lots of close calls and interesting inversions. This one had to be one of the smoothest SLC's I have been on. Still some minor headbanging but a good ride.
My time was spent after that ride and I needed to get going plus I was worried about my stuff in the car. This was by far the most I have ever spent with parking and admission for the amount of rides I got. Oh well, I won't be going back to this park anytime soon. Overall, they have a couple of interesting coasters but the ride ops for Twister get a D, halfpipe an F, and Mind Eraser an A. It really wasn't that busy. I can't imagine being there on a busy day.
Here is my recommendation. If you are in the Denver area and only have time for one park, then go to Lakeside. A lot more nostalgic and the wood roller coaster there is way better, plus it will save you some money.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading!
Too bad about the slow employees. Did you let guest relations and/or a manager (or 'important person') know? It's a good thing that usually makes me feel better (if nothing else). I always tell parks what I like, but I make sure to tell them (in a very nice way) if I had any problems with employees, etc.
Thanks for the TR, sorry about the operations. Lakeside totally kills EG for sure..esp. at night.
If you've got time in Salt Lake City, I highly recommend Lagoon....very highly.
I used to be the "important person" you would talk to about the rides department. We used to look at the the message boards for Elitch trip reports, perhaps someone there still does.
Dave Dragon, go Dave Dragon, and the Star Force Five!
I grew up in Salt Lake, so I am very familiar with Lagoon. I used to think it was no big deal but I really love when I get a day at Lagoon when I am back in Salt Lake visiting the family.
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