Major investment a possibility for Gilroy Gardens

Could there be new rides, zip lines, surfing pools and more attractions coming to Gilroy Gardens in the near future?

It’s a remote possibility, as two developers are vying for a shot to give the horticulture park perhaps the largest capital investment it has ever seen in its history.

A City of Gilroy-initiated request for proposals in November resulted in two different proposals for the city-owned theme park. Submissions were due Feb. 12.

City officials have had a renewed focus on Gilroy Gardens in recent months, seeing it as an opportunity to grow and help the city financially during the Covid-19 recession.

The two proposals are from Las Vegas-based Imagine That! and Select Contracts of Canada.

Imagine That! has been involved with such attractions as Star Tours at Disneyland, the Back to the Future Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood and the MGM Grand Adventure Theme Park and Resort in Las Vegas.

Its submission to the city called for a “complete reinvention” of Gilroy Gardens that would allow it to compete with the likes of California’s Great America and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in terms of new rides and experiences.

Specifics are light in the proposal, but Imagine That! also suggested “Gravity Gilroy” on the adjacent hillside, which could be a hub for mountain biking and zip lining.

Select Contracts’ submission adds to its previous plan for an adventure park on the hillside. That plan includes various hiking and biking trails throughout the mountainside at various skill levels. A chair lift, located at the base of Gilroy Gardens, would take guests up to the summit, where they could experience four zip lines down the mountain, including a dueling pair of lines. A restaurant is also proposed for the summit, with a smaller café planned for the base of the mountain. A ropes course is also in the proposal.

A map from Select Contracts’ proposal shows hillside and surf parks for Gilroy Gardens. Photo: Select Contracts

In its updated proposal, Select Contracts outlines a “surf park” near the entrance to Gilroy Gardens, complete with surf and wakeboard pools and cabins for out-of-town guests.

It is unknown if either of these proposals will move forward. Gilroy city officials will be reviewing the plans over the next few weeks, and the proposals will be considered by the Gilroy City Council at a future meeting.

Gilroy Gardens made some news recently when it, along with its sister park California’s Great America, announced it would open for the 2021 season on May 22, after being closed for all of 2020 due to Covid-19.

“We look forward to welcoming children back to their Gardens,” a message from Vice President and General Manager Barb Granter reads on Gilroy Gardens’ website. “To ensure their safety, we will be planning several operational changes that will be in effect upon our reopening. Closer to opening, specifics about these enhanced health and safety measures will be available on our website.”

Whether the park will be allowed to reopen will be up to Santa Clara County and the State of California, which have a series of guidelines that must be met before theme parks can open once again.

About Erik Chalhoub

Erik Chalhoub is the Magazine Editor at New SV Media in Gilroy (and a roller coaster fanatic!). He is also the proud recipient of the 2016 ACE NorCal Richard Tuck Spirit Award.

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