Cheap Season Tickets and Thrilling Values at Ellitch Gardens, Denver
Ellitch Gardens Water Park; photo by Garret W. Ellwood
Elitch Gardens theme park, as seen in their online gallery of fun.

Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park, Denver’s very own downtown amusement district, is officially 126 years old, making it the oldest existing theme park west of the Mississippi. But there’s lots new, too.

In addition to the retro name, and a more health-conscious, trans-fat-free menu at all food outlets, this summer, Elitch guests can look forward to some extreme tube slides and fun wave pools at the neighboring water park.

Rides, Thrills, Fun for all Ages

This year, the theme park opens April 30th and continues daily from June to mid-August, then returns to a weekend schedule till October 30. Water park facilities close according to the weather, but open after Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. (Admission to rides at the waterpark is free with Elitch Gardens pass, and complimentary life jackets are available at Raft Rentals on a first-come, first serve basis.)

We love their ride RipQurl, which sends two riders on a double tube, down a steep slide, into a bowl where they will spin around before dropping through a chute to the landing pool. Acapulco Cliff Dive sends individuals down a steeply pitched 65-foot-long, freefall plunge and there are splash play areas for younger ones.

Blazin’ Buckaroo is the wild and crazy steel Family roller coaster opening this year that’s ideal for toddlers and grands since it flies at 15mph and only goes 360 feet. The Ghost Blasters Haunted House and The Carousel are perfect for these age groups, too. Among the thrillers at the theme park is Brain Drain, a seven-story looping coaster that opened in 2014 and has to be seen to be believed (if you believe Youtube). And here it is:


Another one for coaster enthusiasts is Boomerang, which hurls riders forwards and backwards through vertical loops up to 125 feet above the ground, with twists and turns at speeds of more than 50 mph.

Family Programming and Concerts

Elitch Gardens is doing lots of family festival programming throughout the season. From Memorial to Labor Day, the on-site concert series (free to season pass holders) will feature singer Sabrina Carpenter, the Latin, Grammy-award-winning group Intocable, the Christian rock group Newsboys, Echosmith, and many others. Families will also like the evening Dive-In Movies, when you can float in the water park’s wave pool and watch some movie favorites under the mild night sky.

We’ve seen other parks move toward a richer entertainment experience and, with prices skyrocketing on Broadway and at regional theatres, it’s great that families have a place to introduce kids to the concept of sitting still, quietly, to enjoy entertainment. Or in this case, rocking out to live music or floating calmly during a dramatic film.

Big Summer Values at Elitch Gardens

All this fun is included in daily admission or, if you’re around for awhile, a Season Pass. They sell for only $69.99, so a pass pays for itself in less than two visits. Benefits include free parking, free concerts and events, and two free Bring-a-Friend tickets. In a trend we’ve been watching at the parks, meal plans are really big this year, because theme park food is usually so expensive. At Ellitch Gardens, Season Pass holders can buy a Season Pass Meal Plan that is valid for one meal per day in the 131-day season, on each visit to Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park. It, too, costs only $69.99 plus tax (while supplies last). It’s true that certain food items — like the ever-popular Mile High Nachos — have an extra $1 surcharge, but if the family goes often, this is a very good deal. By way, tots and grands (guests under 3 or above 70-years) may enter and enjoy the park all day for free. For more information, visit Elitch Gardens or call 303/595-4386.

Exploring Denver and Colorado

If this is your big vacation, make sure to see more of this beautiful state. The Kid’s Guide to Denver, Boulder & Colorado’s Ski Country (Kid’s Guides Series) is a fun travel guide aimed at kids, written by Eileen Ogintz, who has roamed the state many times with her own three kids. With maps, puzzles, fun facts, great tips and interactive games to keep them busy in the backseat, this guide will be one of your favorite souvenirs of your visit to the state. Additionally, here are more road trip ideas for exploring Colorado with kids this coming summer.


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