Lakeside Amusement Park
Satellite view in April 2004
|Slogan||Enjoy the Ride!|
|Location||Lakeside, Colorado Denver, U.S.|
|Opened||May 30, 1908|
|Previous names||White City|
|Operating season||First weekend in May to Labor Day|
|Area||Northwest metropolitan Denver area|
Lakeside Amusement Park is a family-owned amusement park in Lakeside, Colorado adjacent to Denver. Originally named White City, it was opened in 1908 as a popular amusement resort adjacent to Lake Rhoda spearheaded by prominent Denver brewer Adolph Zang. Eventually the name was changed to Lakeside Amusement Park, but the local populace kept referring to it by its original name for its glittering original display of over 100,000 lights. Today it is one of the oldest amusement parks in the United States, and the oldest still running in Colorado. The park, comprising nearly half of the Town of Lakeside that it was responsible for creating in 1907, features the landmark Tower of Jewels.
The lone remaining American amusement park to have had the name White City, the park was originally built in the Exposition and White City architectural styles. Following its acquisition by Ben Krasner in the 1930s, Lakeside underwent a period of major renovations and incorporated many new features in the Art Deco style. Architect Richard L. Crowther designed much of Lakeside's Deco and Modern features and included a great deal of neon lighting in his work.
There are many examples of architectural salvage to be found throughout the park. Inside the main restaurant is a marble and mirror backbar which was saved from the Denver Union Station, one of the picnic pavilions is created from a retired center column of a ride, and the pool for the current Skoota Boats ride is an adaptive reuse of the original Shoot-the-Chutes ride.
The main office features a functioning manual telephone switchboard that is still in use.
A nominal admission fee is charged for each person entering the park. Children under the age of two are admitted free. A coupon is issued to each person paying admission that can be redeemed for a ride coupon or be used towards the purchase of an unlimited ride pass. There are three entrances: a rarely used west gate accessed from the former Lakeside Mall parking lot, a drive-through auto gate accessed from Sheridan Blvd. and a walk-in entrance at the Tower of Jewels. The admission fee is collected at these entrances; ride coupons and unlimited passes are sold inside the park. This fare structure is a frequent source of confusion for first-time visitors. Many patrons think that they are paying for parking because the admission fee is collected at the auto gate before the vehicle is parked. Consequently, some people will turn around, park outside and try to walk in through the auto gate, only to be stopped and directed to one of the cashiers, who then need to explain that parking is always free and that it costs the same to enter whether they drive or walk in.
At one time, each ride was priced individually and had its own separate ticket booth. Most of these booths were of the standalone type. One notable exception was the Cyclone coaster, which had a built-in ticket booth between the entrance and exit ramps. Eventually, ride coupons were implemented with a fixed amount for each coupon, and each ride required from one to six coupons. Coupon sales were consolidated at four locations — the train depot, the carousel, the Ferris wheel and Kiddy Play Land. Unlimited ride passes are sold at the carousel, Ferris wheel and Kiddy Play Land. Many of the original ticket booths are still in place and are used for storage.
- Auto Skooters (Bumper Cars)
- Cyclone Coaster
- Crystal Palace
- Ferris Wheel
- Flying Dutchman
- Heart Flip
- Orient Express (miniature railway)
- Skoota Boats (Bumper Boats)
- Spider (removed prior to 2017 season)
- Sports Cars
- Wild Chipmunk
- The Orient Express, the lake-circling, 1 ft 10 3⁄4 in (578 mm) gauge miniature railway train features the steam train locomotives "Puffing Billy" and "Whistling Tom" from the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair along with the world's first miniature gauge diesel locomotive, patterned after the California Zephyr.
- The 1908 carousel was apparently made up from used figures from other carousels. Many of the animals bear characteristic designs of famed woodcarver Charles I. D. Looff. The carousel has also been credited to the Parker company, but the Lakeside horses do not have the typical Parker metal horseshoes.
- Lakeside has every type of Eyerly "O-Plane" ride except for one: the "Fly-O-Plane."
- Type: 4 rows, Park, 3-level platform, all wood composition
- Figures: 16 jumping horses, 16 standing horses, 4 chariots; figures include 2 bears, 4 burros, 3 deer, 4 dogs, 5 goats, 2 lions, 4 pigs, 4 rabbits, 2 tigers, 2 zebras, 2 panthers, 1 cheetah, 2 monkeys, and 3 cougars
- Music: band organ music via pre-recorded audio tape played through loudspeakers, although a non-functioning band organ mock up is present
- Flying Tigers
- Wet Boats
- Jolly Choo-Choo
- Frog Hopper
- Granny Bug
- Horse & Buggy
- Dry Boats
- Kiddie Sea Dragon
- Sky Fighters
- Kiddie Whip
|The Cyclone||1940||An Ed Vettel-designed shallow wooden coaster.|
|Wild Chipmunk||1955||A Wild Mouse coaster.|
|Dragon||1986||A Zamperla dragon coaster.|
Original rides in the park which are no longer around include the Shoot-The-Chutes (a splash-down water ramp ride) at the park's south center, the Scenic Railway at its southern end (an elevated track over a mile long), the lofty Velvet Coaster, the StarShip 2000, Flight to Mars, a Coney Island Tickler, the Double-Whirl, the Staride, and the Circle Wave. W.H. Labb of Indianapolis designed the Shoot-The-Chutes and Velvet Coaster, the latter he intended to be a combination of the Foster coaster at Chicago's White City and a type of figure-8, with framework 1,200 feet long and with dips and turns a total 3,600 lineal feet. The Scenic Railway, the Glide and other attractions were destroyed by a fire on November 15, 1911. The skeletal remains of the Staride, a former Ferris wheel-type ride on the north side of the park, still stand. The sign for the old Speed Boats attraction, plus the pier for boarding, also stands vacant with a fence across the bridge stairs.
From the late 1930s through 1988, Lakeside Amusement Park operated Lakeside Speedway on the park grounds. The auto racetrack was a 1/5-mile oval and featured races of three car classes sponsored by CARC: stock, limited modified and fully modified. The race track was built on the site of the park's original baseball diamond and incorporated the original stands into the new use. The degrading track remains today.
Through 1985, there was a Funhouse located on the site now occupied by the Dragon. The Funhouse featured an animated Fat Lady mannequin (Laffing Sal, also known as Laughing Sal) that signaled the opening of the Funhouse and the main park in the evening by loud laughter. Inside, there were slides, moving floors, spinning discs, rolling barrels, and catwalks.
While not considered a ride, there was a Casino Theater just south of the Tower of Jewels. Concerts, plays, and dance marathons were held there while it was in operation. The building is still in place and is used for storage. Also still in place is the old Riviera ballroom.
- Lakeside is one of several parks featured in the 1999 public television program Great Old Amusement Parks.
- Lakeside Amusement Park shares its name with a setting included in the video games Silent Hill & Silent Hill 3 by Konami.
- Scenes from the movie Things to do in Denver When You're Dead were also shot inside of the park.'
In 2014, members of the Domino Service Dogs training group were denied access to the miniature train ride unless they wanted to leave their service dogs behind. As a result, the Cross Disability Coalition filed a lawsuit against the park alleging violations of the American's with Disabilities Act and Colorado's laws ensuring access. The police department and the town of Lakeside were also included as defendants in the suit.
- Chotzinoff, Robin (2000-06-22). For Your Amusement. Westword. Denver, CO.
- Leuthner, Stuart (July/August 1992). Lake Side. American Heritage.
- Reporter-Herald A trip into history on the Lakeside Amusement Park train
- ACE Coaster Classic Awards
- ACE Coaster Landmark Awards
- Cheek, Tessa. "Lakeside Amusement Park cops bark at disabled customers: No service dogs on rides". The Colorado Independent. Retrieved 22 May 2015.