Indoor amusement park in Centennial area closes doors amid pandemic restrictions

Owners say they plan to open an outdoor amusement park when pandemic subsides

Ellis Arnold
earnold@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 10/5/20

Louise Elinoff had to make calls and cancel more than 200 birthday parties. As the state rolled out restrictions in response to the pandemic in March, Louise and Nathan Elinoff — owners of a …

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Indoor amusement park in Centennial area closes doors amid pandemic restrictions

Owners say they plan to open an outdoor amusement park when pandemic subsides

Posted

Louise Elinoff had to make calls and cancel more than 200 birthday parties.

As the state rolled out restrictions in response to the pandemic in March, Louise and Nathan Elinoff — owners of a well-known line of amusement parks in the Denver metro area — were forced to close Lollipop Park, their location at 6901 S. Peoria St., just off East Arapahoe Road in the central Centennial area.

After nine years in business, the indoor amusement park has now shut its doors for good, the Elinoffs announced in late September.

“Nathan and I have been doing this for 38 years — been married for 43,” said Louise Elinoff, 61. “It’s in our DNA. We miss seeing the kids smile.”

Catering to children 10 and younger, Lollipop Park enjoyed record sales before the pandemic forced it to shutter, a news release said. The park had hosted thousands of birthday parties, drawing families with a mix of amusement park rides, a bounce house and other attractions, the release said.

The husband-and-wife team started out as high school sweethearts who met at George Washington High in Denver, going on to have three children. Along the way, it struck them that there wasn’t much for kids to do in Denver in winter. The couple shared a love of amusement parks, having growing up with Lakeside Amusement Park and the old Elitch Gardens.

“We thought, ‘Why don’t we put some amusement parks inside?’ ” Louise Elinoff said.

The Elinoffs also wanted to provide physical activity for kids. Their first children’s entertainment location — Nathan’s Physical Whimsical in Englewood in the early 1980s — featured a large ball pit, toy cars to ride in and other attractions, according to photos on the couple’s website.

The 1980s also saw the couple open Nathan’s Physical Whimsical in Houston, Nathan’s Lollipop Park in Westminster and Funtastic Nathan’s in Englewood’s dearly remembered Cinderella City mall, which stood where Englewood’s city hall and Walmart are now located.

“We were in the Cinder Alley,” Louise Elinoff said, referring to one of the mall’s shopping areas. “Cinderella City was fabulous in the 1980s. That was the place to go — everybody shopped there.”

The Elinoffs continued to branch out in the 1990s with Nathan’s Classical Flying Pizza in Littleton and Funtastic Fun in Englewood, the latter of which operated until 2010. The couple also opened a Lollipop Park in California.

“We’re on our third generation of customers,” said Louise Elinoff, who has received messages from the public reminiscing about the old locations.

“We loved working with teenagers on staff,” she added. “We had grandmas come up to us saying they used to work at Funtastic Nathan’s.”

The couple’s entertainment offeriings became a statewide draw, seeing families roll in from mountain communities, Fort Collins and elsewhere in Colorado, Nathan Elinoff said.

After a long journey through the industry, Louise Elinoff said that even if Lollipop Park was allowed to open, it wouldn’t, as people don’t feel comfortable indoors during the pandemic, and Lollipop Park thrives on crowds.

The couple can’t feel sorry for themselves because so many worldwide have been affected by the pandemic, Nathan Elinoff said.

“We still feel thankful for our health and community,” said Nathan Elinoff, 63. He added: “When a vaccine is here, the virus is under control and the economy is strong, we’ll open.”

For the past five years, the Elinoffs have been working on a plan for an outdoor amusement park in the metro area, and they hope to cater to parents, some teenagers and especially kids, Louise Elinoff said.

“That’s the thing about amusement parks,” she said. “They never go out of style.”

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