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