Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park (formerly known as Bonfante Gardens) is a garden themed family theme park in Gilroy, California, United States. The park has 22 rides and five attractions. It is also home of the Circus Trees, created by Axel Erlandson. The park was designed and built by Michael Bonfante. It originally opened in July 2001. The park and the 536 acres it resides on is now owned by the City of Gilroy. Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park (a 501(c)(3) corporation) operates the park, which is managed by Cedar Fair.
|Location||3050 Hecker Pass Hwy. Gilroy, California, United States|
|Owner||City of Gilroy, California|
|Operated by||Cedar Fair|
|Previous names||Bonfante Gardens (2001–2006)|
|Operating season||Late March–Early January|
|Area||536 acres (0.838 sq mi; 217 ha)|
The park was founded by Michael and Claudia Bonfante after selling their Nob Hill Foods supermarket chain to build the 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. 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.
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.
The city of Gilroy purchased the park on March 5, 2008.
- Apple & Worm—Children's caterpillar ride around a giant apple core.
- Artichoke Dip—Artichoke ride around a coastal live oak tree.
- Banana Split—Banana-shaped swinging ship ride.
- Balloon Flight—Balloon ride.
- Big Red Engine Co.—Children's firetruck ride.
- Bonfante Railroad—2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge train ride around park perimeter.
- Bulgy The Goldfish—Children's fish ride.
- Claudia's Carousel – Kiddie carousel.
- Garlic Twirl—Garlic-themed "tea cups" style ride.
- Illions Supreme Carousel—Vintage carousel built in 1927 by M.C. Illions
- Mushroom Swing—Mushroom shaped swing ride.
- Paddle Boats—Duck shaped paddle boats.
- Panoramic Wheel—Mini Ferris wheel.
- Pitstop Racers—Children's race car ride.
- Quicksilver Express—Mine-themed roller coaster.
- Rainbow Gardens Boats—Raft ride though flower gardens.
- Sky Trail Monorail—Monorail ride through Monarch Butterfly Greenhouse. Audio tape still refers to the park as "Bonfante Gardens"
- South County Backroads—Car attraction featuring two tracks: one side themed to the 1920s cars, and the other themed to 1950s cars.
- Strawberry Sundae—Spinning strawberry ride.
- Timber Twister—Rattlesnake themed junior roller coaster.
- Tubs-O-Fun—Children's "tea cups" ride.
- Bonfante Falls (formerly Pinnacles Waterfall)—Bridge behind an artificial waterfall.
- Bonfante's Splash Garden—Water play area.
- Oak Park Playground—Children's play area.
- Water Oasis—Water play area aimed at smaller children (introduced in 2014 replacing Pinnacles Rock Maze.)
- Pinnacles Rock Maze—Artificial maze resembling caves found at Pinnacles National Park.
- Betsy Malloy. "Gilroy Gardens". About.com Travel. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
- "Hidden Gems: Circus Trees of Gilroy Gardens". California Now. March 30, 2018. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
- Bonfante Gardens to Be Renamed Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park (Feb. 26. 2007), prnewswire.com
- "Landscaping – February 2015" Archived December 26, 2015, at the Wayback Machine (Feb 2015), iaapa.org
- "Bonfante theme park in the black". Morgan Hill Times. Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
- "Properties". Cedar Falls official website. Archived from the original on August 18, 2010. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
- "Crown Locomotive Roster (15"-24" Gauge)". trainweb.org. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
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