Gilroy Gardens: Smelling like a rose…

Although Gilroy is known for its garlic growing, the amusement park is sweet.

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Gilroy Gardens 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. It features 19 rides, 27 attractions and six gardens.

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The park struggled with financial difficulty and low attendance the first two years it was open. It closed early for its first two seasons and the park’s management debated whether to open at all for the third season. Paramount Parks began to manage the park on contract starting with the 2003 season.

Gilroy Gardens now operates under the management of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, which acquired Paramount Parks from CBS Corporation on June 30, 2006.

Some popular rides in Gilroy Gardens are:

  • Banana Split — Banana-shaped swinging ship ride.
  • Mushroom Swing — Mushroom shaped swing ride.
  • Timber Twister — Rattlesnake themed junior roller coaster
  • Garlic Twirl — Garlic-themed “tea cups” style ride.
  • Sky Trail Monorail — Monorail ride through Monarch Butterfly Greenhouse.
  • Paddle Boats — Duck shaped paddle boats.
  • Rainbow Gardens Boats — Raft ride though flower gardens.
  • Coyote & Redwood Railroad — Train ride around park perimeter.
  • Quicksilver Express — Mine-themed roller coaster.
Quick Silver Express is the only Mine-Train coaster ever built by Morgan, and is the park's top attraction.
Quick Silver Express is the only Mine-Train coaster ever built by Morgan, and is the park’s top attraction.

 

Montezooma’s Revenge

The Entrance to the Ride
The Entrance to the Ride

In our Throwback Thursday article on Deja Vu, we have been talking about Vekoma Boomerang Coasters. But often forgotten are the Schwarzkopf Shuttle Loops. Sadly today we only have 5 of these still in operation, and 1 is re-opening soon in Belgium. The only one in operation in the US is Montezooma’s Revenge here at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA.

Notice the orange/blue roller coaster passing through the center of the loop. (Jaguar)
Notice the orange/blue roller coaster passing through the center of the loop. (Jaguar)

Montezooma’s Revenge opened at Knotts Berry Farm on May 21st, 1978.  It is a Schwarzkopf  flywheel launch steel shuttle coaster. It continues to be one of Knott’s most popular rides. The ride was named Montezooma’s Revenge after a blue grass band with the same name that performed in shows at the park. Knott’s ride Jaguar opened in 1995, and part of the track passes right through the middle of Montezooma’s loop.  The shuttle-loop was repainted teal and yellow from its original yellow in 2002.  Knott’s installed the ride Pony Express in 2008 with a similar launch system. The ride starts with a forward launch at 55 miles per hour into a 72 ft high vertical loop, and into a 135 ft tower, that you then drop back wards from, back through the loop backwards, through the station, and into another 135 ft tower, that drops you slowly back forward and into the station in only 35 seconds.

The former yellow paint-scheme is to be seen here.
The former yellow paint-scheme is to be seen here.

The ride is a an incredible experience, but not worth a long line wait, and its best features are its launch into the looping and the looping backwards. You sit down in one of the seven cars which all hold 2 rows of two seats. You buckle your seat-belt and pull down the restraint (lap bar) and get launched through (which seems to be) a ring of lights into the first loop. Riders who are lucky will see Jaguar chase by while they’re in the loop. (Jaguar is another roller coaster at the park that goes through the center of MR‘s loop). The ride is exhilarating, and you do not want to miss out on it while in the park as long as there’s not a long line. Long lines often seem to not be worth it due to the fact that the ride-time is only 35 seconds. The ride is a an incredible experience, and its best features are its launch into the looping and going through the looping backwards.

Here the MR train shoots up 1 of the 135 ft towers.
Here the MR train shoots up 1 of the 135 ft towers.