I felt pretty unsafe riding anything else so I spent a total of 2 hours in the park with only riding two rides. I really have to desire to go back and I live only 45 minutes away from it. Good thing I had free tickets or else that would of been a wasted trip. I really think they should pay people to go into the park.
You ask the question: "When is nothing better than something?"
Answer: When PARC Mgmt buys your local park.
This Elitch Gardens sounds like it is in a terrible location and, if it moved, it would beg the question that the community thought it was a little bit more expendable.
Using SFGA as an example, it opened in 1976 and NOT owned by Six Flags outright (Hotel Marriot tried its hand at the theme park industry) and with the bankruptcy of the whole chain, Great America hasn't looked any better, had a packed house, and new attractions. The city that it sits in, Gurnee, has become a tourist destination with the huge Gurnee Mills and the, pretty large, Great America, dominating opposite sides of Grand Ave. It would be a travesty if Great America closes down.
So, in short, the community really has to care if it lives or dies. Elich Gardens doesn't seem to really give anything of value to the community.
Ultimately, though, the parks lives or dies based on its customer service - that's what theme parks are all about, service. And from many reports, the current Elitch's is failing on that account.
Don't let it die - kill it.
My wife and I have been to many small parks and really enjoy the lot of them, Kennywood, Indian Beach, Holiday World, Nick Universe at Mall of America, Mt Olympus. So far as a ride count goes, The Park should be comparable with them, but a visit is very forgetable.
I found a map of the first year that The Park was opened and counted the plus/minus of rides compaired to this year and found the The Park is at a -3. Meaning that in the last 13 years the park has removed 3 rides more than it has built.
Every other park that people rate high is adding new rides in order to bring more people into the park. The parks that have not added new rides, make up for it with great customer service, great theming and other non-tangible perks (free drinks, free parking).
To make matters even worse, they have a fully built roller coaster sitting on site and not running since the beggining of last season. On top on that, they close at 9 on weekend nights and treat guest like Magic Mountain before Shapiro tried to make it a family friendly park.
Since The Park is a local monopoly, with the next closest park somewhere around 800 miles away, they don't care to make any improvements and it shows.
One more case it point before I stop this rant. The "new" ride, Ghost Blaster, was an hour long wait standing in a mud pit because their misting foggers are kicking out too much water. And the Ghost Blaster ride is right off the shelf exactly like the one at other parks that people pretty much ignore.
I only went to The Park because someone else paid for my ticket, and had a decent time for free. At $40 to get back into the park, I am scapping any plans to go back and am planning on flying to Hersheypark with my money to go to a real park with a decent ambiance and nice rides.
I visited the new park for the first time a few weeks ago, and it was so disappointing that I spent no more time in the park other than getting the coaster credits...
It would be kind of a bummer to see Elitch Gardens go, especially considering Lakeside's current state, but it really doesn't seem to have much to offer anymore.
As much as I wanted to believe something positive could be done with the place in its new form, the answer (to me) was a firm 'No.' I still believe today, as I did when I got my first look at the "new" park, that they should either dump their animal elements completely, and convert to a pure theme park -- or simply close down.
Apologies to any who may be fans of the place, but I doubt very much my feelings about it are going to change. I've got too many bad memories from the initial takeover -- and too many good memories from what the park used to be BEFORE the takeover -- to allow such to happen.
Heck, I can't even stand to drive past the place on my annual road trip to the Bay Area. I find myself diverting off 80 onto 680, north of Vallejo, and heading straight for San Jose.
Many of our big parks have traded character and personality for homogenized, commercial blandness. Six Flags and most of it's current and former parks are prime examples, but I see it in all of the big companies in one way or another. As long as corporations with other products to sell and both eyes on the bottom line operate these parks, they will never reach their full potential.
What this industry needs is to be taken from the hands of corporate suits and returned to showmen and entertainers. This industry wasn't built by suits. It was invented by people like George Tilyou and Thompson/Dundy, who created Steeplechase and Luna Park and made Coney Island in New York the greatest place on earth in the early 1900's. People like Walt Disney, who cared more about creating his world and less about it's cost, are the ones that should make this industry go. Corporate parks could take a huge lesson from smaller operations like Holiday World or Knoebels. What those parks lack in multimillion dollar attractions, they make up for in personality.
An example: One night, MANY moons ago, it was decided to hold an employee talent show after hours. Normally, this would have been open only to other employees, but guess what? Both myself and my closest friend (who'd been a regular nearly as long as myself) got invited. By no less than a department head, if I recall correctly.
The whole thing was an amazing experience, and what we saw that night only underscored how tight-knit the original place was, how much the staff really cared about each other and about the park itself.
That atmosphere, unfortunately, was among the first things to go when Sick Flags took over. Within four years of said takeover, NONE of the original Marine World staff were left, despite having received good offers to continue under the new ownership.
As far as I'm concerned, the original Marine World died the day the takeover papers were signed. I prefer to think of them as closing down, and live with my memories of the best times I had there, rather than contemplate the horrendous abomination that now occupies the space where they were.
It boasted the best wooden coaster in the world, the Mister Twister (disagree if you like, but the MT was consistently ranked highly. The Wildcat was also great if you loved to catch air. I am 37, so i am just old enough to remember the Trocadero Ballroom. I can remember taking tap dance lessons there when I was about 2 or 3. Dozens of girls of all ages all lined up, tapping away. For the "old people" in my family (my grandparents' generation), it was THE place to go for a night out dancing.
I am also old enough to recall the time when you bought tickets for the rides. The Denver papers would run coupons for $2.00 admissions into the park. The great thing about this was for people who wanted to go to the park ( or had to with the kids), but didn't want to ride any rides. My cousin and her husband would go in, walk around, have ice cream and just people watch.
The problem with the old location was that it was bounded on all sides by residential neighborhoods. There was absolutely nowhere to grow. So in the era of big, looping, steel roller coasters, there was no room to build such rides. Also, a lot of people didn't like the neighborhood (people thought it was unsafe, Denver had a real0.gang problem in the mid to late 80s into early 90s. I had one guy i went out with in college (who didn't know I was from the neighborhood) refer to it as "a crime infested neighborhood". HA! It is all being gentrified and houses are worth a fortune over there now!
Anyway, eventually the Elitch family happened on a good idea. Build a new park down in the Platte River Valley. You could never tell today, but back then, the was NOTHING down there. Mile High was sort of close, but still on the other side of the highway. there were no lofts, no Pepsi Center, nothing. LODO was still nothing but abandoned warehouses. So they planned to build the park there where there was plenty of room to grow.
Fast forward - they didn't buy enough land down there. Soon it was once AGAIN surrounded with nowhere to grow. Not too smart. Sure, the managed to put in some marquee rides, but the park had lost all the magic of the old park. Absolutely NO trees in the park, much less the old gardens. It was all sterile concrete (and hot as all get out). They "moved" the MT there, but it wasn't even the same coaster! they changed it - not for the better. I went the year it opened and it broke my heart. I went about 7 years ago with my now husband (from out here on East COast). It was even worse. The place was also completely filthy and not taken care of in any way.
To me the current Elitch's is comparable to the Six Flags in Largo, MD. It is nothing but a dumping ground/babysitter for delinquents. Regular adults don't want to have to deal with such nonsense, and family's are intimidated by the roving bands of tweens and teens. Sounds like the same issues at Magic Mountain (I haven't been there since 91, so didn't see all the issues at that place).
Sorry if people find this long, but when i saw the story, I had to talk about the great park the Old Elitch's was. It didn't have the big coasters(a fact i of course hated as a kid), but it was a beautiful place and great for families - and dates. It still makes me sad when I am home and pass the old location. The difference between the old and current park may as well be heaven and hell. I really miss Denver and the old Elitch's.