Elitch Gardens, Colorado’s largest theme park, will open its doors to the public starting Saturday, May 1, at nearly half of its usual capacity, park officials said this week.
The opening date follows a trial weekend for season pass-holders last week. On Tuesday, Elitch officials said they had gained approval from the city and county of Denver to increase maximum theme and water park attendance to 43% of overall capacity.
Pre-pandemic at Elitch Gardens, park capacity was closer to 16,000 people per day. After a long closure prompted by COVID-19 last year, park officials in March announced Elitch’s would open with 3,200 guests per day — or about 18% of the park’s usual capacity.
The park did not reach 18% capacity during last weekend’s season-pass preview, according to an Elitch spokeswoman. She declined to say how many people attended, or how many purchased season passes for 2021 in general.
It apparently went well, however, since this week’s announcement more than doubles that number.
“We are thankful for the approval to host and entertain more guests at one time than was previously OK’d, and that reservations to visit the park are no longer required,” said park manager David Dorman in a press statement. “We are committed to making sure we keep all of our guests safe while they enjoy the great outdoors here at the park.”
A new list of safety precautions includes enforced masks (except for kids under 2, or while eating and drinking); new signage and seating layouts; hand sanitizer; and other now-standard changes. The full list is available at elitchgardens.com/update/safetyguidelines.
Elitch’s, as it’s long been called, has operated in Denver since 1890, with different addresses, owners and attractions. Since 1995, it’s been located along the South Platte River, making it one of the few major theme parks in the U.S. within blocks of a city center.
In March 2020, Elitch co-owners Kroenke Sports and Entertainment and Revesco Properties said they received $125 million in refinancing to pay off debt and fund “pre-development” work on the mixed-use River Mile Project. The planned project would replace 62 acres of Elitch Gardens and various parking lots, as well as a one-mile stretch of waterfront along the South Platte.
No new details have been announced for the project since the pandemic began last March.
In the meantime, park officials said on Tuesday that they’re still looking to fill 1,000 open, seasonal jobs for “ages 16 to infinity” for the coming months. Apply online at elitchgardens.com/jobs.
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