Colorado Flashback: The ‘Old’ Elitch’s Last Day in 1994 [Video]
Elitch Gardens originally operated on 16 acres in northwest Denver, starting out as floral gardens, followed by a zoo, a theater, a carousel, and a roller coaster.
My family is from Denver, and have long-loved Elitch's. My grandmother used to tell tales of Elitch's Trocadero Ballroom (which was torn down in 1976); my uncle even worked at the park after he retired from the Air Force.
Elitch's opened in 1890 and entertained hundreds of thousands of Coloradans and tourists from across the country. It really was quite a park; they used to say that 'If you haven't seen Elitch's, you haven't seen Denver.' The place was, and is, legendary.
It was in 1994, that the decision was made that the location off of 38th Avenue and Tennyson was not large enough, and about $6 million was spent on a new 67-acre location in the Platte River Valley where the park resides now. Another $90 million was spent creating the new park, with some of the original rides being moved to the new location.
Having grown up in the 70s and 80s, I visited the 'old' Elitch's more than I have the new Elitch's. I do have one great story about the new park riding the Twister for the first time with a buddy and his girlfriend when we were all about 26.
Right when the camera was taking our photo, my glasses had fallen off and I was freaking out, while in the same shot, my buddy has his arms up in the air like he was in a Dial Soap commercial. It's classic.
The original Elitch's last day was October 1, 1994, and some of that day was captured on video. It's odd and sad to see people enjoying the park, while at the same time workers are starting to tear things down.