Colorado has no shortage of great amusement parks and attractions to visit. 

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A newer favorite has been Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, which opened its doors back in 1999. It’s got a fun collection of rides all above 7,000 ft in elevation, making it the highest elevation park in America. 

Of course, there’s also the rides over at Lakeside Amusement Park and Royal Gorge Bridge & Park, but nothing holds a more special place in the heart of Coloradans; Elitch Gardens, affectionately called by its fans “Elitch’s”

Not only is it a piece of Colorado history, but it also is easily the one of, if not the best amusement park in the state. 

However, the park has done something that few have ever done; move to a new location. Not only have they relocated in the past, but it looks like they’ll be doing it again in the near future

With all this being said, let’s take a look at the history of both locations and why these moves happened in the first place. 

Elitch Gardens Opens in 1890 as Elitch Gardens 

Elitch’s got its start long ago, just before the 20th century.

Started by John and Mary Elitch, it actually opened as a zoological park, with the name Elitch Zoological Gardens.

It first opened on the original plot of land it had sat on for over a century, which was what ended up becoming 38th Ave and Tennyson St. 

Just a year after opening, John suddenly passed away, which made Mary the sole owner and operator of the park. 

In 1916, the Park Becomes More Akin to the Elitch’s of Today

YouTube // Loopyguy
YouTube // Loopyguy

1916 marked the year that Mary Elitch sold the park to John Mulivhill, whose family owned the park for four generations according to Elitch’s. 

Under Mulivhill family’s control, the park started to add more amusement attractions, including both a carousel and a ferris wheel.

The family also created the beloved roller coaster, Mister Twister, in 1965, and was advertised “Not to have a foot of straight track in it”.

In 1994, Elitch’s Made Its First Move

YouTube // ThemeParkHD
YouTube // ThemeParkHD

1994 marked a bittersweet moment for the original Elitch’s location. The park, which sat on the outskirts of Denver, would be moving right in the middle of Denver’s bustling downtown.

This relocation was due in large part to the original park’s lack of space. They no longer could expand or add rides anymore, and the new plot of land not only gave them the ability to do just that, but was a more attractive draw given its location. 

Unfortunately, the legendary coaster Mister Twister could not make the trip and was torn down. It then became Twister II at the new location, and many new rides like Mind Eraser were erected to improve the park. 

In 2023, Twister II was reimagined and refurbished, along with taking on a new name: Twister III: Storm Chaser.

On an interesting side note, a part in Pennsylvania called Knoebels wanted to relocate the original Mister Twister, but after it was obvious the ride couldn’t be moved, they built a mirrored replica of their own called just Twister. It is an amazing reinterpretation of the original, sending riders uncontrollably side-to-side. 

In 2018, a Land Redevelopment Project Threatened to Move Elitch’s Once Again

The River Mile project is a development approved in 2018 that would hold 17,000 people and have schools and stores surrounding newly formed towers.

Some opponents of the project sit over development and gentrification as reasons the project should go through, while others noticed that it would indeed move Elitch’s away. 

This has put the park in an incredibly interesting position. Most parks don’t move at all, let alone move twice in its history. 

At the moment, it would seem that a move to Aurora would be in the cards for Elitch’s. However, as we enter 2024, it is not clear when Elitch’s final year on its current plot of land will be. 

Right now, the idea of moving to Aurora is just that; an idea. While we are still uncertain when the park will move, the clock is ticking for them to find a suitable location for the newest rendition of Elitch Gardens.

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