With plans already in the works to demolish the current site of Elitch Gardens and turn the property on the banks of the Platte River into a neighborhood that offers commercial and retail space near downtown, the managers of the long-running amusement park are now looking for a new home for the theme and water park. According to an article from Westword, one area that has captured their interest is the east plains in Aurora, near the Denver International Airport.
The managers —Revesco Properties and Kroenke Sports and Entertainment (KRE)— have been planning to relocate the theme park since they rezoned the existing Elitch Gardens' site for the Rive Mile Development project, but they gave themselves a long timeline to find an appropriate new location, Westword reported. The managers have had conversations with several jurisdictions. Last month, however, Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman said sights have been set on the state's third-biggest city, with talks centered around an area just southeast of Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center. However, Gaylord wants more information about buffering that would be provided to keep their offerings separate from Elitch Gardens.
Generations of Visitors Have Been to Elitch's
Elitch Gardens has a long history with the Denver area, having first opened its gates to the public in 1890 when John and Mary Elitch transformed farmland into a zoological park. Elitch Gardens was host to one of the first zoos west of Chicago, the home of Denver's first symphony orchestra, botanic garden, and children's museum and activity center. It hosted the city's first motion picture theater and its famed Trocadero Ballroom.
The park's carousel, still in use today, was delivered from the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1928, after a master craftsman spent three years carving it by hand. Construction was completed on the current location of the park in 1994, with doors opening for the 1995 season. Shortly after, the park's 80-year history of family ownership ended when Premier Parks, Inc acquired it. In 1998, it became Six Flags Elitch Gardens after Premier Parks, Inc purchased the Six Flags Theme Parks brand. The name was returned to simply Elitch Gardens in 2007 when it was purchased by CNL Properties.
This past spring, as reported by CBS Colorado, Elitch Gardens announced that they intended to provide 2,500 summer jobs between the theme and water parks, with some positions available even for workers between the ages of 14-16. In June, the Gazette reported, the Twister III —a refurbished and reimagined version of Twister II, a wooden rollercoaster— that includes a 100-foot-long dark tunnel and tornado sounds began carrying passengers once again.