Jr's first ride at Bonfante

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 12:01 PM
We finally broke down and decided to make the 500 mile drive from San Diego to my parent's house in Milpitas (next to San Jose) this past weekend. We had an open day on Friday and Bonfante Gardens happened to be open that Friday. Fortunately for us, the rain decided to let up for us during our trip (it had been raining for 40 days and 40 nights or something like that). Tommy, who turned 8 months over the weekend, did well on the drive (a HUGE bonus).

We got to Bonfante Gardens when the park opened at 10 and noticed that there where only about a dozen cars parked out front. The national anthem played as we got the stroller out and headed to the front gate with our e-tickets (I highly recommend you get your tickets online - cheap and fast).

We crossed the entry way bridge, which has sycamore trees growing right up through the decking, parked the stroller, and jumped on the Strawberry Sundae (check out the list of rides here: http://www.bonfantegardens.com/rides.html).

Tommy was all smiles as the ride cycled. However, at 8 months, I have a feeling that rides in his stroller and being flown around the room are a bit more fun for him (he LOVE's airtime by the way). While we rode, we saw the giant bananna swing test cycling. I don't know, but a giant swinging bananna just makes you laugh out loud for some reason.

With our first ride out of the way, we were able to start taking in the gardens and landscaping. WOW! All parks should look like this. I can understand why they had some financial troubles in the beginning. The maintenance budget must be huge. I have a difficult enough time keeping my backyard mowed. This park is stunning to say the least. Blooms were everywhere. Everything was perfectly maintained. I would have gone even if there was only the train ride that we rode next.

We circled the park in the CP Huntington and caught glimpses of the Garlic Twirl and South County Backroads among others. They had the train speed around the park at a fast clip. I kind of wished they took it at more of a leisurly pace, but with only one train running, I can see why they would want to keep the ride time down.

Without going into too much detail, here are a few highlights:

  • The Illions Supreme Carousel is georgeous and Tommy loved it (bench seats of course)
  • Timber Twister is a neat little coaster. It's short, but you get to go twice. The first drop is a lot of fun and the whole thing twists around redwood trees.
  • The artichoke dip, which is built around an oak tree, is fun. The tree serving as a cover is fabulous!
  • You must check out the garlic fries if you like garlic. We reeked for hours afterwards.
  • The South County Backroads is the best car ride I've been on. Tommy was too small so we took turns.
  • Be sure to walk down into Claudia's Garden. It makes great use of water and is very peaceful. T enjoyed the waterfalls while we waited for Mom to take a back road spin.
  • The Sky Trail was fun albeit a little bumpy.
  • The Quicksilver Express was great (more later).
  • The food at the taqueria was a lot better than expected.
  • Be careful not to go into the rock maze with a full bladder. Hint: Stick to the outside and you'll escape rather quickly.
  • The music around the park was really nice. It sure beats Madonna over at Great America.
  • Did I mention the landscaping?

So the Quicksilver Express is too much fun. I absolutely LOVE terrain coasters. This one had all kinds of minining themed elements throughout. There are two lifts. The first drop sends you careening across the hillside towards the other lift. Not too fast, but fun. The second lift sends you into a palm filled gully with a small pop of air. After the gully comes a nice little mining shack followed by a breathtaking dive into another gully. The ride finishes with a nice helix and photo op.

I haven't been on a coaster in QUITE a while and it was nice to get my fix on this little guy. Dana Morgan did a nice job and Bonfante did an even better job with landscaping and trees.

Overall I give this park ten stars. If you are looking for big thrills, look somewhere else. If you are looking for atmosphere and a nice place to take the family (or to simply relax), you must plan a trip. If Snyder wants to make his parks family destinations, he should take notice of this gem.

On the way out, a fellow guest needed a jump. While I hooked up the cables, I asked him how he liked the park he said that it was great; he never felt like they were holding him upside down and shaking money out of his pockets. I feel the same way. We all left with a big smile. As soon as it is approved, take a look at my profile photo.

-e

Edit: Should have proofed this thing! ;) *** Edited 4/19/2006 1:26:08 PM UTC by janfrederick***

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006 12:28 PM
Sweet TR. Can't wait to get to Bonfante.

Should note your comment about Snyder looking to Bonfante as a FAMILY park. There ARE non-Disney parks that can show the way. Granted, I am a "thrillseeker" sans children, but there is just something special about a trip to say, Legoland, where the park is geared to families with smaller kids....

I'll be HAPPY to reek of garlic for a few hours...keeps the vampires at bay! :)

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006 12:33 AM
Bonfante is such a happy, fun, family oriented park. Being from California, I have bones to pick with Paramount, but it sure was a good deed to everyone for them to help fund the park recently. I'd say Bonfante is even more fun than Legoland. So I guess what I'm saying is I agree with you, janfrederick! :)
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Wednesday, April 19, 2006 6:20 AM
Bonfante Gardens is truly stunning. I've said it before, but it's worth repeating:
Unless your absolutely betrothed to thrill rides, move this park to the top of your list!

Janfrederick, your 100% right; the best car ride, a sweet terrain coaster, and the garlic fries are to die for. :)

P.S. I left the Monarch Garden (heck, the park actually) utterly slack-jawed.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006 9:48 AM
By the way, we were there for only five hours, but could have easily stayed much longer. This is in stark contrast with a certain park next to Disneyland that gets old after about four hours.

In terms of expansion, a little cornball woodie would be nice. Also, I'm not sure if they could do it, but a ski lift up to the top of the ridge would be wonderful (ala Knoebels). Hmmm...and a Sally dark ride and eggplant shaped bumper cars might fit in nicely. ;)

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006 8:29 PM
Busch Gardens Williamshuh?

Bonfonte is BY FAR the most beautiful park I've ever experienced. I'd love to see Boulder Dash West on the hill that serves as the backdrop to the park. But yeah, even tho lacking on hugh thrills this park is a winner! ;)

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006 3:36 PM
Great report jan...

I hope I can get up there myself one of these days! The garlic fries have me checking my summer calender (I always appreciate food references in the reports). I still remember "CJ's" first ride, the Carousel at Celebration City. These are great moments indeed! It is always good to break the little burgers in early! :-)

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006 5:08 PM
Hey there Jeffrey, sorry about the knock on the other thread. I'm just kidding of course. ;)

I was counting on only being able to take him on the train...but there were several rides we were able to take him on. When he turns two, we'll be able to take him on most of the rides I think. Great family park.

And in retrospect, although eggplant bumper cars might look pretty, squash themed dodge-ems might be more appropriate. ;)

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006 12:13 PM

janfrederick said:


I was counting on only being able to take him on the train...but there were several rides we were able to take him on. When he turns two, we'll be able to take him on most of the rides I think. Great family park.


That's the beauty of online height guides. Most families I know say they won't go to CP or GL because they don't want to spend the entire day at kiddieland. A quick check to the height guide list can be an eye opener. I think my daughter at 5 1/2 has been on more rides than most 10 year olds (not including coasters). My son is only 3 but he has been on many bigger rides such as the Himalaya at CP and the former WWL, plus Kangaroo and Turtle at Kennywood. Four rides you wouldn't initially think a kid who was under 36" at the time would be able to ride. Now that he's at 36" a whole new world has opened up to him. Heck there will only be 4 rides at Waldameer that he can't go on now. It's amazing just HOW early you can get your kids into rides. Now a trip to Memphis Kiddie Park is almost anti-climatic because they both want to ride bigger and faster rides, which is just fine by me because I'm more than happy to be the "responsible co-rider" with them! :)

Tom

P.S. That was a fun TR by the way! :)

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