Monday, July 21, 2014

Gilroy Gardens: My Bodacious ACE Coaster Con XXXVII Trip Report - Part VI

Hello :}

Is your heart still aflutter from our day at the Boardwalk yesterday? Mine sure is. :}

I'm also pretty tired still. Good thing we have a leisurely day at Gilroy Gardens! Can you smell the garlic in the air?

Gilroy Gardens opened to the public in 2001 as "Bonfante Gardens," but the park actually dates back to 1976, when the Bonfante family began privately cultivating "circus trees." 

Don't know what a circus tree is? 

You will soon. :}

Hello Gilroy Gardens! It's the last day of Con today, but our adventure is only now approaching its half-way point!

Let's get right to it, shall we?

:D snake!

So yeah, trees are kind of a big deal here. 

It took 6 days, but I finally got to ride something with Colin!

One of Gilroy Gardens's schticks is their series of food-themed rides, particularly foods that are grown locally. However, I have yet to see any banana split trees in California.

Everyone seems to be enjoying the Banana Split, but Michael and Josh are looking at each other with this "What were we thinking??" expression. 

Of all of the swinging ship themes I've seen (pirate ships, space shuttles, dragons, etc.), I'd have to put banana as my second-favorite swinging ship theme, behind the anchovy-themed one at BonBon-Land.

Chaos theory applied to the concept of the Multiverse suggests the existence of an infinite number of realities, as well as an opposite reality for each reality. In such a case as our reality, the opposite reality of Gilroy Gardens would probably be Carowinds. 


A signature ride for Gilroy Gardens is, of course, the "Garlic Twirl," the park's remarkable teacup-style ride. Like almost every other ride here, Garlic Twirl was built by Morgan Manufacturing some time between 2000-2001.

Everywhere you look in Gilroy Gardens, there are lovely manicured landscaping features at which to marvel. :}

New for 2014 is a snazzy water play area, but it wasn't quite yet ready for us ACErs! 

Here we have one of Gilroy Garden's marquee circus trees, the "Basket Tree." It's not merely one tree, however, but a series of trees "woven" together through decades of close care.

Not to be outdone by the trees, the roses here are particularly lovely.

The red roses here are so red that they look almost…painted?

In fact, if the sheer existence of a mushroom-themed ride here is any more of an indication, I'd say I get a bit of a Lewis Carroll vibe around here. More on that later.

Right now it's time for a ride on Gilroy Garden's signature attraction, the world's only Morgan Mine Train: Quicksilver Express!

Literally the only difference between Quicksilver Express and any given Arrow Mine Train is that Morgan Manufacturing, a successor of Arrow Dynamics, actually built the ride.

 The fact that Arrow folded in late 2001 might have to do with why Morgan built the ride instead, but it may just be a coincidence. Like I said before, pretty much everything here is Morgan.

As far as mine trains go, this guy is particularly nice. Like many of Arrow's best, Quicksilver takes great advantage of Gilroy Gardens's natural topography.

What gives the ride that extra OOMPH, though, is the remarkable landscaping.

A ride on the park's small monorail gives riders the best view of the Gilroy's oldest circus tree, "The Four-Legged Giant," which is a truly circus-shaped series of sycamores that date back to 1925.

The original circus trees were cultivated by Swedish immigrant Axel Erlandson, who, in 1946, moved the trees from his home in Hilmar, CA, to a 3/4 acre spot in Scott's Valley. The trees were sold in 1963 and eventually became an integral part of Scott's Valley's "Lost World" amusement park before being moved to Gilroy in 1985.

Monorail Party inside the Monarch Garden!

We better grab another ride on Quicksilver before we leave this area.

Quicksilver party!

Back inside the Monarch Garden, we looked high and low for butterflies

but all we could find were some ACErs! No butterflies to be seen. :{

Normally I'm a ferris wheel guy, but we decided to skip this one because of time constraints. Also you can't see much of Quicksilver behind the Monarch Garden.

Gotta satisfy that primitive need to take pictures of flowers. :}

Gilroy Gardens is unique in the U.S. because of its garden-first-amusement-park-second kind of feel to it. It actually reminded me a lot of some of the family parks I've visited overseas. 

No swan rides for us, but they're nice to watch. :}

We did, however, ride the Mushroom Swing!

(I was allowed to ride with my camera. :} )

The boys and I approve of the Mushroom Swings's unique scenic views!

This marks my first time taking pics while riding a chair swing. I doubt any other would have views this lovely. :}

Speaking of overseas parks, Gilroy is just about the only place in the U.S. that you'd find one of these mini raft rides! In Germany they're quite the sensation. 

Woohoo! Flying through the wind! :}

Also, hooray for lengthy ride cycles!

The train is hiding behind the trees!

Gilroy Gardens has a stellar car ride, with two "dueling" tracks and, of course, marvelous scenery. 

You couldn't call it a Morgan/Arrow park without an antique car ride! Now if only they had a log flume...

Jeff and I are playing "Driving Ms. Alex" again! :}

Here's another signature circus tree, but I don't know his name. His name is Arch.

(Thank you Liz Werth, my editor, for the added info. :} )

Family photo on the raft ride!

Ducks! Of both the organic and plastic variety. :}

Flowers! Lots of the organic type, but I couldn't find any plastic ones. 

Well I think that's everything! Time to go to the closing ceremony!

Thank you for a wonderful morning, Gilroy Gardens! It really shouldn't have taken me 13 years to make it to a park that is 10 miles from where I was born, but better late than never! :}

And that wraps up Coaster Con! Thank you to California's Great America, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, and Gilroy Gardens for being amazing hosts that were so keen to please! This was the best NorCal homecoming a boy could've asked for! <3



This California convoy gets kicked into HIGH GEAR as the boys and I, along with many ACErs, take over the southern spoils of the Los Angeles area amusement parks!

After leaving Gilroy Gardens, Steve Perry and I flew to LAX, got ourselves a rental car, and hit the road.

Can you guess where we went?




At 8pm, exactly one hour before park closing, Steve and I dashed into Six Flags Magic Mountain. We had one goal: Getting my X2 credit!!

My last visit to Six Flags Magic Mountain was in 2002, which was a tough time for the park. I, like many ACErs, were greatly disappointed to miss out on the spectacular X coaster, which was broken consistently throughout 2002. It was finally time to set the record straight!

Steve and I got in line for X2 right away, and we were told to expect roughly an hour wait.

It's a good thing the views up here are so nice. :}

I entertained myself for an hour by taking pictures and calling both of my parents.

The crowd in line was pretty rambunctious, but Six Flags actually had queue attendants to help maintain the peace. Way to go Six Flags!

Night had fallen by the time we'd approached our target; good thing for night vision!

The ominous X2 roared at its prey as it stalked from the shadows. Shrieks unlike any I've heard echoed far and wide.

Inside the station, we were escorted to our seat by a ride attendant, who allowed us to pick the front seat! I'm tired as all hell in this picture, but I was literally trembling with excitement.

The time has come for me to lay back and take everything X2's got! Here we go!!!

Getting locked into X2 is a production all its own. It actually reminded me quite a bit of the restraints on Togo stand-up coasters, which involve "butterfly-ing" the shoulder restraint together and then lowering it flush with one's shoulders. As someone with a barrel chest, I could only bring the restraint together so far, leaving me feeling rather unrestrained. It was odd to be riding a coaster, particularly one of this magnitude, without anything actually resting on/restraining over my lap area. 

I was really quite scared as we waited for dispatch. When we finally rolled out of the station, I was tickled by the sort-of rocking-chair-esque bouncing that the ride does as it rolls around to the lift hill. The gradual rotation of the seats forward while climbing the lift hill is a nice touch. 

If you've ridden coasters with me before, you may have noticed that I rather enjoy screaming on rides. For me, a fun ride is best paired with a high-pitched squeal of sorts, and rides with elements of true fear tend to elicit genuine shrieks of excitement.


When a roller coaster or ride is at such a level of intensity/horror that I suddenly feel a genuine primitive fear for my personal well-being, something different happens. My instinctual survival skills kick in, which lead to both a complete locking death grip on the ride's restraints and an exceedingly low-pitched roaring scream that sounds like the battle cry of a gladiator, or possibly a hippopotamus. 

Our seats thrust us face-down upon cresting the hill of X2,  and I unleashed an ear-splitting warrior screech as we plunged into battle with this stygian un-natural disaster of a ride. The g-forces tore away at my face as we rolled out of the first drop and up into the first raven turn, from which we glided down like a flying squirrel on cocaine. The sequence that followed was an indiscernible pitch-black series of shuffles, thrusts, rotations, and g-forces exerted in ways that didn't even seem plausible at the time. I remember being crushed into the inside-facing raven turn, thinking "this is how I die."

Finally, after a good 45 total seconds of unadulterated ragdoll-ing and whiplash, we crashed into X2's break run and were soon released from the ride's grip. When the shock subsided, it occurred to me that this was indeed one of the most remarkable coaster experiences of my life, and possibly the most stressful. My throat was dry from sounding like a pro-wrestler being torn limb from limb. 

Steve and I had to get the on-ride photo because it was absolutely priceless. I might have to post it to Thrillography's Facebook at some point.

Even X2's shrine within The Greatest Coasters Ever Built is shrouded in darkness.

After close to two hours total at Magic Mountain (we had to go gift shopping to calm our nerves), we bid the park farewell for the night.

And then we went here!

At 10:30pm, the In-and-Out Burger nearest Magic Mountain was firing off on all cylinders. The line stretched around the dining room and it took 20 minutes for Steve to get a burger. I got fries. They were divine. :}

Tomorrow will be the ultimate endurance test of roller coaster enthusiasm: a 17-hour day at Six Flags Magic Mountain, North America's largest regional amusement park. 

We attack at dawn. 

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