Hey there, Park Journey readers!
We're coming at you with another Bay Area Halloween update, but this time from an unexpected park. Gilroy Gardens, a family theme park owned by the City of Gilroy and operated by Cedar Fair, is testing the waters with a series nighttime holiday events this year. Gilroy's "@ Night" series allows you to enjoy special offerings while wandering the park after dark. Unlike the park's previous venture into nighttime entertainment, Lumination, the @ Night series is included on a Great America gold pass, which is a nice perk for locals.
Written by Andrew Cunningham
Walking up to the park, you are greeted by this gateway just outside of the entrance plaza.
People are literally dying to get into Gilroy Gardens ;-)
The Halloween @ Night map gives us a sense of what to expect from the evening.
The first thing we came upon was the fire pit. They had entertainment going around this area throughout the evening, and the setup was really nice.
Tip: this is towards the front of the park and was very busy with children early on. the fire pit was empty and relaxing later in the evening.
The only ride open for the Halloween @ Night event was a special spooky edition of the South County Backroads, the park's extensively landscaped car ride. The ride features two tracks: one in 1920's antique cars, and one in hot rods.
The antique cars seat four, while the hotrods only seat two. If you find yourself here on a busy night, note that the antique car line moves noticeably faster.
The car ride had a long queue early in the evening, but was a walk-on later on. I would recommend saving it for the end of your night.
The ride featured several Dia de los Meurtos characters and spooky lighting packages throughout the course. It was really cute.
After taking our laps on both car tracks, we ventured into the greenhouse to take on some of the spooky theming. Can't go wrong with black lights and fog!
We were starting to get a little hungry, so we ventured around to see what halloween snacks were available.
Pictured above are some of the various menu boards I saw around the park. I grabbed a Milk Tea and a Graveyard Pudding. Both were yummy :-)
All the snacks were really cute and kid-friendly. I had a tough time deciding between my Graveyard Pudding and some PB&J spiders :-)
It's worth noting that beer and wine were also available in the park. Thumbs up!
After wrapping up snack time, we went by to check out the beautifully lit Bonfante Falls.
Certified: LEDs and fog make everything better.
There are pathways and a tunnel that run underneath the falls. Make sure to check out the best "Backside of Water" in Northern California! ;-)
After checking out Bonfante Falls, we took the trail down to the waterfront. The park's central lake looked a bit "World of Color" tonight, which is a good thing!
I was really disappointed to find that the park removed their classic Rock Maze in favor of a water play area expansion. They did have this cute hay maze as a consolation though.
Heading back towards the front of the park, the nice fall touches were noticeable. We had one final section to check out before wrapping up our evening.
This way to the starfield!
Our final stop of the night was Claudia's Garden, which was transformed by lasers, fog, and funky lighting. It was pretty trippy!
The park is already promoting its upcoming @ Night events. Particularly intriguing is Harvest @ Night, which appears to be the park's attempt at a Food & Wine style event, and is advertised as having gourmet food, craft beers and fine wines, and live entertainment. Interesting to note that the Harvest @ Night website says that it's intended for 21 an over, while the Halloween @ Night was clearly geared a lot more towards children.
Anyone want to be our drinking buddies at Gilroy Gardens in November? I think we may hit that one up!
Overall, Halloween @ Night made for a nice evening at Gilroy Gardens. I would love to see this event grow in the future to include some more themed rides. We loved that a Great America Gold Pass got us in for free, and we'd recommend checking it out if you're a passholder located in South Bay.
Thanks for a nice evening, Gilroy Gardens! We hope to be back in November!