The first warm day of spring brought out a great need in our household to get the kids outdoors. We decided to have our first spring outing at the Denver Zoo. The morning started out brilliantly. As the ‘get kids ready in the morning’ Gods shined down upon our household, I was able yo get the hoodlums dressed, fed, and ready to go in a timely manner. With fresh water bottles in tow, we set off on our 2 1/2 hour journey to our wild destination.
Our good fortune seemed to have run out as we arrived at our destination. The parking lot was full, and there was bumper to bumper traffic through the parking lot. No one who arrived after 10 AM was getting a space that afternoon. “TRY THE CITY PARK.” Suggested the sign in the zoo parking lot. It took us 30 minutes to travel to one mile to the park. To our dismay, it too was void of available parking.
Well crap! Now what!? We already spent 3 hours driving to/around Denver. We had to improvise. Best to make the most of the day. Might as well stop by the local BASS PRO Shop, and see what it has to offer. The kids could see the animals there, I guess.
As the smallest if the hoodlums explored the forest, she stumbled upon a wild bear, coming out of its den for the spring.
After a little more exploring, some rock climbing was in store. Get it? In store!? Ha! That’s a knee slapper.
The highlight of our trip to the BASS PRO “zoo”. Was the aquarium. You see, when you live in a town without any elevators, any elevator is entertainment. But when you ride an elevator that has a winddow and a close up view of the aquarium, you have an instant amusement ride. We were stuck in the elevator for at least 3 full rides up and down between. Floors.
By the end of the trip around the store, they were planning their escape! Each with their own ride! It wa clear our trip to this zoo was coming to an end.
We bought our prized candy selections before departing and headed back to the car. With an unclear heading I hear my middle child suggest “To not see Elitch’s is to not see Denver,” there clever marketing slogan, I felt guilty and agreed. It was opening day of the season afterall.
$200 in park tickets and parking later, we walk through the grand entrance and there sits a magnificent carousel, so we boarded our first ride. With wonder and awe, we took a 60 second spin on the carousel.
With such a quick ride, the kids decided they wanted a second trip around. Yup, it was just as hurried. Disappointment started to set it.
Next we headed toward the rest of park and down main street. Be for we got all the way around the carousel, we were accosted by “friendly” workers with iPhones who wanted to take our pictures. A momentum to remember our trip. Apparently no one carries their own cell phone with a camera these days. I’m not really sure how theirs would be any better than our own selfie. So we politely decline and continue our journey to the rest of the park.
We walk through a few shop, that looked as though the floors hadn’t been cleaned in about 3 years. All selling overpriced tourist novelties with the name Elitch’s imprinted on them.
We continue our journey to the Ferris wheel. I remembered it well from my youth. It was the scariest ride in the park. Not because of the impressive height, but because of how it was designed. They had round huts with a table in the middle and bench seating with backs around the outside. Someone could fall out the back. Well, they must have realized this over the years, because they upgraded it with metal jail like bars since the last time I rode it, almost 20 years ago. Still, no one wanted to chance riding it.
We continue our journey, only to find many of the rides are shut down. Everything – benches, buildings, landscaping, rides etc- is looking old, worn down. Rusting park benches provide relief to the eye from from the filthy dark black pavement, covered in muck. The whole park could do with a good power wash. The buildings had paint peeling and chipping, in a general state of disrepair.
One ride, while standing in line, the kids were witness to all of the writing scratched into the paint over the years. I was quickly asked questions about the new words my kids were learning. There must have been at least 1000 diffrent profanities and propositions scratched in the paint. The once nice lawns now had nothing but dirt patches with random weeds and were riddled with trash and debris.
When it came time to eat, we headed to the food court. The tables in the lunch area were covered in sticky nastiness, never having been cleaned. I gave $20 each to my oldest 2 kids to get lunch, and headed off with my youngest to get what she wanted. When ordering my food, I decided upon a personal pizza for me, and a personal pizza for my daughter. And a bottle of water to share, all for the low price for $26. While looking for a place to eat, I was once again accosted by a park employee. This time, demanding proof that I paid for my pizza. While trying to get the receipt for her, I was unable to assist my younger to the table and her lunch slid off her paper and on the floor.
The one upside to the day, is the girls had fun on the water ride.
In all, I’ve determined that the park was over priced, considering the lack of maintenance and rude employees. Honestly, it was the most unpleasant family outing we have had. This was not the Elitch’s I remembered from 20 years ago, but instead a sad reminder of the glory days when it was a family owned business that strived to make it wonderful.