Looking for something do in Colorado this summer? Why not consider Elitch Gardens in the Denver-metro area? This is the first amusement park I’ve visited since the 1990s, and it was worth the investment. Especially when you consider the price for a season pass.
It’s funny, really. I’ve lived in Colorado since 2001 and have never been to Elitch Gardens. I even lived a few minutes away at one point.
What is Elitch Gardens?
Elitch Gardens combines what you’d expect from an amusement park with a handful of thrilling rides and a water park full of things beyond a basic swimming pool.
This park currently has:
- 13 Kids Rides
- 12 Family Rides
- 13 Thrill Rides
- 2 Water Rides
Which means it has a variety of things for everyone in the whole family. However, guests have to be at least 36 inches tall to ride many of them.
The landmass for Elitch Gardens is much smaller than what I would suspect from an amusement park. It only rests on about 65 acres currently, and has a more compact layout than places I’ve visited in Utah back in the day.
However, the park itself is beautiful as trees provide an incredible amount of shade on the walkways and some of the seating areas. Flowers and nature-esque sitting areas dot the landscape making it a beautiful and green place to visit.
It’s almost as impressive as Larkspur during the Renaissance Festival.
It’s what you’d expect to see in a Colorado park.
How Expensive is Elitch Gardens?
So, all day tickets range about $39.99 and after 5pm tickets drop to $29.99. These are good for most rides at the park except for the Sling Shot and XLR8R, two bungee-type rides that cost extra.
Seasonal passes are where it becomes worth the investment. For a basic pass, you’re looking to spend $69.99. If you visit the park at least twice throughout the summer, you’re already saving money.
This includes the Fright Fest, bring-a-friend discounts and free parking.
You can also splurge and buy the pass with premium dining for $169.98. This includes lunch and dinner with each visit, free soda refills all season and the other benefits from lesser passes.
Think of it this way: for $170, you get lunch and dinner every day until the end of August including all you can drink soda even if you don’t go on the rides.
Is It Easily Accessible?
Turning into Elitch Gardens from Speer Boulevard is relatively easy. It’s managing through the parking lot that can be a bit of a hassle. Of course, this completely depends on when you arrive and leave.
It’s a tourist attraction, so drive defensively.
Other than that, it’s not difficult to make your way across Speer and pull into the main parking section directly from lower downtown Denver. In fact, you can make your way to the park from the light rail train stations which run throughout the metro area and surrounding cities.
What is the Engagement Factor?
With about 40 rides to choose from, it’s easy to find something for everyone at the park. Personally, I’m looking forward to the next visit when we’ll take advantage of the water area. The tubing rides and wave-making swimming pool look amazing.
Another water-based ride I want to try is “Shipwreck Falls.” This is a log flume that tosses up an insane amount of water, easily drenching you and anyone standing too close to the ride itself.
In fact, there is a bridge going across the point of impact where people can stand for the sole purpose of getting soaked.
In other words, dress to get wet.
The only real problem I have with many of the rides is the insanely long wait times. For example, my 13-year old stood in line at “Mind Eraser” for more than an hour before she could enjoy a 42-second ride.
Personally, I would have abandoned that venture and moved on to something else. But she really wanted to try it.
How Does Elitch Gardens Rate for Fitness?
I was able to easily reach my step goals while walking around with my daughters. Other than that, you don’t really burn a lot by sitting in rides. That is, unless your heart races during one of the more intense experiences. But even that will only increase calorie burn slightly for only a few minutes.
However, the water park offers superior exercise as swimming is one of the best forms of cardio you can do.
When all is said and done, you’ll easily get enough walking in while visiting the park.
How is the Customer Service?
The staff at Elitch Gardens is quite pleasant to interact with. Most of them are high school kids working for the summer. However, I felt welcome and enjoyed interacting with them.
One thing I’d like to point out is the large number of security. It seemed every 100 feet had another security patrolman or two walking the grounds. And I witnessed a few people getting banned from the park because of behavioral problems or aggression.
Needless to say, it didn’t feel unsafe for my 11 and 13-year old daughters.
Why Would You Want to Visit Elitch Gardens?
Finding a parking spot at Elitch Gardens was a bit convoluted. We had to make several turns throughout the parking area just to find somewhere to pull in. Part of this was because of the sheer number of people visiting during the weekend.
Luckily, we paid for season passes this year. So we don’t need to pay for parking.
Like most areas near a heavily populated city, there were a lot of people visiting the park on a Saturday. It’s still easy enough to walk around, but some areas can get quite packed depending on the attraction.
If you love nature and the outdoors, you may find the pond in the center of the park something pleasant to visit. The “Turn of the Century” ride rests in the middle on a land-mass while koi swim freely up to the edge of the water-line.
At one point, we had about 40 koi or so fighting over crackers. And personally, I’ve never seen a goldfish feeding frenzy before. It’s almost as ferocious as one made of sharks.
A large portion of Elitch Gardens has an old west theme to the layout and design of the buildings. Again…it’s Colorado. The only thing missing would be an old west gun fight show in the middle of the streets as they did back at the Lagoon in Utah…30 years ago.
Elitch Gardens is also home to Fright Fest. From the end of September throughout October, the amusement park shifts from a family-fun location to a scary mirror of itself for Halloween. This usually runs on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at select times in the evening.
And because I have a season pass, it’s something I want to explore this year. Unfortunately, some of the attracts of Fright Fest come with an extra-charge.
Where is It Located?
Elitch Gardens is easily accessible form I-25 and Speer. You can see the rides directly from the freeway. However, the parking is a bit haphazard and takes a bit to manage.
The hours for the park are a bit odd. It’s often scattered between 10:30am through 9 or 10:00pm until the end of August. It’s probably easier to look at the company site and determine what days you want to visit according to the operating hours.
[su_gmap width=”400″ height=”300″ address=”2000 Elitch Cir, Denver, CO 80204″]
- Beautiful landscape
- Free concerts for pass holders
- Relatively clean park, very little trash
- Halloween themed park during October
- Plenty of security and staff to help
- Compact design means more people in confined space
- Super long lines for certain rides
- Needs more concession stands
- Not enough parking