A Kid’s Dream in Denver
When in Denver the list of family activities is plentiful but there is a fun and historic place to go that the kids will be begging to go back to. Elitch Gardens is located near the Broncos Stadium in downtown Denver and offers fun for all ages. It first opened in 1890 as a botanical garden and zoo and has slowly evolved into the modern day amusement park locals enjoy today.
What You Need to Know:
- It’s $15 to park per day.
- Your ticket purchase covers both the amusement and water park.
- No outside food or drink is allowed (with the exception of baby food). They will confiscate it at the entrance.
- They have metal detectors upon entering so make sure to leave pocket knives or anything similar at the hotel.
- Check the online calendar as there are places in the park where concerts, movies and other performances and festivals are held for your family to enjoy.
- They sometimes run a Groupon, so double check before you go for some extra savings.
- You can add a Rapid Ride Pass to each ticket purchased so you can skip the long lines for some of the rides. From what I’ve read, most people don’t think this is a good deal though.
- There are a couple of different VIP experiences that may be well worth your dollar. Some including credits for the carnival games and other park perks.
Overall, we had a good experience at Elitch Gardens. The most challenging part was the beginning where there are two lines to wait in, one to buy your tickets and one to actually get in the park, both of which can be quite long. We waited about 45 minutes in total so be prepared with little ones. After going through the metal detectors at the entrance, we walked into an adorable little scene of shops. They looked like something straight out of a 1930s movie scene, some of the shops selling funnel cake, some selling souvenirs and some selling hot lunch items. Once we exited that area we came to the fork in the road, if you will, go straight and you go to the water park, take a left and you go to the amusement park. I can only speak to the amusement side as we did not go to the water park…so off we go! I love that the walk to the amusement park area is done up like an old Americana Main Street. There are charming little store fronts – places to eat, grab coffee and shop. The atmosphere is nice as there is music playing to get you hyped and in the mood for some rides! To the left of the centerpiece Ferris wheel is the Kiddie Land, an entire area dedicated to the kids. This was a surprisingly large area for a local amusement park and it was filled with unique rides that I’ve never seen before for children. Our son’s favorite was the motorcycle merry-go-round. With each spin the motorcycles you sit on pop up and do some wheelies. They even have a few thrill rides for the little ones as well as plays on a stage that are fun and educational. We spent a good 2 hours just enjoying the rides in Kiddie Land. After we let our little one enjoy himself it was time for us to go out and feel like kids again! The adult rides are equally fun, although I will say you won’t see anything too different from any other theme parks. The lines for most rides were between 10-40 minutes and while we were there, there were more than a couple of rides down. A couple of which we already waited 20 minutes or so for before they were closed. At one point, all the roller coasters were shut down due to some lightening moving in but it was quickly lifted and we were able to hop on and scream until our hearts were content. I have to say my favorite attraction (although not necessarily a thrill ride) was the Ghost Blasters ride. A journey that takes you through a spooky ghost house with a gun attached to your cart and lets you shoot at little targets pinned onto ghosts and ghouls. Since I love shooting guns in real life I was overly competitive and totally didn’t notice my poor son scared out of his mind…thank God daddy was there to comfort the little man (on the upside, I did score a 1200 which made me an EXPERT ghost hunter…yay me!!). There are carnival games throughout that are an extra cost ($3-$5 per game), face painting, Henna tattoos and photo booths. In my opinion, the food is overpriced and poor in quality (we paid $13 for 3 drinks, YIKES!) and I was disappointed that where we stopped to grab some snacks had no high chairs for my baby. As we were eating, I noticed several security guards and armed Denver police officers walking around and I realized how safe I felt the entire time. After looking into it, the Elitch Gardens website makes a point to say they have worked with Homeland Security and the Denver Police Department to come up with their firearms policy and create a safe and secure environment. I also love that they have a dress code within the amusement park that certain bathing suits are not allowed and cover ups must be worn on the amusement park side. I felt confident that my son wouldn’t be exposed to something inappropriate while enjoying himself.
Taken as a whole, we had a fun and memorable day and at $36/adult and $32/child (these are ONLINE prices so make sure you buy in advance) for a day of enjoyment is kind of hard to beat. Our son is already begging to go back and the next time we are in Denver we just might treat him to a magical day of fun.