Gilroy Gardens: An amusement park disguised as a botanical garden.

11/29/2009 By Shawn Burns

I finally figured out that my little point-and-shoot camera is capable of taking those cool pictures where the subject is all in focus and the background is all fuzzy. It’s only been two years. This just shows that it’s the photographer, not the camera, that takes the pictures.

And then I spent the day intending to take pictures of Erin but instead taking pictures of funnel cake.

mmmm....sugar on top of fried batter

While Emily’s mom was in town a couple of weeks ago we decided to take the kids down to Gilroy Gardens. We’d never been before, and after the run-down cheese-tasticness of Oakland’s Children’s Fairyland we didn’t have very high hopes for children’s amusement parks not run by companies named Disney. This post isn’t really about Gilroy Gardens. It’s about me finally figuring out how my camera works because I’m a genius. And I like captioning photos.

We told Erin we were going to Gilroy Gardens and she was nonplussed:

Gilroy Gardens? None of that rhymes with Frisneyland.

Actually, this is the way Erin whistles: she screeches around her knuckle, especially when she's achieved something. I'm not sure what she achieved here. Maybe breakfast.

She is a bit Disney-spoiled, and that’s okay with us, because Disneyland is the best place in the world. Did you know that someone you know proposed to someone at Disneyland?

I think I ate that guy.

And Gilroy Gardens is a garden. How amusing could it be?

Walking in the entry I was actually impressed by the care taken to keep it maintained. This was no grungy tourist trap.

Trees. And there are some trees over there too. And behind those trees.

Erin, as usual, thought it was great just to be able to run wherever the hell she wanted.

I took this picture without looking, with my camera down at my side as I was walking away from the group. I am the best photographer ever. Ima let you finish, Annie Lebowitz, but....

There were a good number of rides for kids Erin’s age, or slightly older.

Hey look, Erin’s first Spin N’ Barf!

That little dude in the ride with her kept trying to turn the wheel hard enough to fling them both out. Erin was not amused.

And a flying goldfish ride!

Erin bored easily of the going round-and-round rides. Bring on the Tower of Terror.

It was fall in Gilroy, and everywhere north of the equator. Fall means bale mazes.

You can't see him, but there's a tiny man there and Erin is telling him "You must be this tall to walk the bale maze. Get out."

And look: the Toddler Mind-Meld.

You are thinking: "This kid's breath smells like cheese, hay, and the hearts of a thousand little boys."

Erin also enjoyed all of the many opportunities to sit around.

Free toddler with the purchase of any four pumpkins.

"I'm just going to sit here until someone, and I'm not going to mention any names *cough* Daddy *cough*, starts pushing me in this, the world's greatest stroller.

"Sometimes I just like to sit down and think deep thoughts about daycare. What is the purpose? What happens to us after daycare? Is there a dog?"

Erin and I went out on the swan boats. Now, imagine you are in a swan boat with someone ten times your own weight: what might the motion of the swan look like? If you answered: “Not an ambiturner.” you’d be correct. It took us twenty minutes to go ten feet, because we could only turn left.

In the event of a water landing your toddler may be used as a floatation device.

It was easy to give up and just let her jump in the hay. Bath time was a-comin’.

Jumping. Not rolling. Not until she's forty.

Hey look! An amazingly cute baby! Oh yeah, Adrian came with us too.

"I'm the Burns you've all been waiting to see!"

I mentioned that it is called “Gilroy Gardens”, yes? Yes. And so I took a bunch of pictures of nature and junk.

Nature. With a train track running through it.

Junk #1.

Junk #2

Junk #3. Blurred for your pleasure.

It wasn’t always an amusement park. Once upon a time it was just the place where this guy transplanted the “circus trees”.

The clowns come out of the right side. There's like a hundred of them in there.

It was a bit of a drive down to Gilroy that Saturday morning. But we were very pleasantly surprised by both the upkeep of the park, the variety of things to do even for toddlers, and what appeared to be a pretty decent selection of food (more than just fair, fried food, stalls). It’s not Disneyland, but it’s not bad.

I doubt we’d have gone if we had to pay the full $30 admission, though. That number is getting up there toward Disney dollars, and if Mickey isn’t wandering around that’s just too much cash to shell out for a preschooler amusement park. Thankfully, we had a pretty good coupon ($9.99 per adult) and there seem to be coupons available for reduced admission fairly often.

One more. Then you can go.

In these tough economic times, my dad is seriously considering letting me begin my career as a baby supermodel now so he can retire.