ACE Preservation Con, 8/2(Lakeside, Santa's Worksh

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So after blowing us away on Friday night, what could Lakeside possibly do for an encore?

Do it all over again.

Saturday morning was the presentation of a plaque by ACE to the park for their Cyclone. This was to be followed by a group photo, breakfast, and more ERT on Cyclone.

The group photo was a bit of a disaster ("everyone come back, we had an equipment problem" when we had all already scattered to the winds). Some people went straight to the coasters, others went to the food line.

Now, for breakfast we were expecting the usual "continental breakfast" lineup, right? Maybe some muffins, bagels, what have you. But not Lakeside, oh no. They did something FAR more special, unexpected, and appreciated. Start out at the "hot" table -- bacon, sausage links, eggs, and pancakes with syrup. Then move on over to the huge spread of very high-quality fresh fruit. Oh, you still want pastries? We have that too -- coffee cakes, blueberry pound cakes, bagels, and the like were to be had. Top that with good coffee (I spotted a Starbuck's bag behind the counter, not sure if that's what the park usually serves), and yes, we were once again amazed at Lakeside's hospitality. Now, I'm told PKD served a similar spread for the Summer Con in June, but this is little Lakeside, not a big corporate Paramount park.

Loaded up on nitrates and carbs, it was over to the Cyclone for more bruises. After the ERT, a number of us walked around the outside of the park, looking for interesting vantage points for photos and video. Then it was time to decide how to kill the afternoon -- after all, we'd already been to SFEG the day before.

Dave, Janna, and I ultimately decided to head on down towards Pike's Peak. There's a small park at the base of Pike's Peak, Santa's Workshop. We decided we'd hit that, and if time permitted we'd try to get to the Garden of the Gods as well. We never made it to the Garden, although we believe we spotted it during our drive (a large red rock formation off in the distance ;) )

Santa's Workshop is an interesting little park. It set up in the mountains, and affords breathtaking views of the peaks above and valleys below. The view from the top of the Ferris Wheel ("Highest in the world" according to the sign, and quite believable) is somewhat intimidating, in fact. I mean that in a good way, of course :) Other incredible views could be had from their skyride and train. Their kiddie coaster, the Candy Cane Coaster, is brightly painted in red and white, and they allow adults to ride. Other attractions included a very good walk-through haunted house, a Pirate Ship style ride made to look like a space shuttle (but non-looping -- I forget the manufacturer), flyers, and other such flatrides.

One very unusual aspect of this little gem of a park was the way they handled money. That is, except for the registers at the gate, they didn't. Instead, when you entered the park, you were given a form. Any "purchase" you made inside the park, be it food, beverage, or souvineer (not sure about games, as we didn't play any), the price and an "item code" were written down on your form. When you were leaving the park, you turned in your form, and they added up your total, at which point you paid. This system has apparently been in place in this park since it opened. It's unusual, but it works. Overall, this little park was a great side-trip, and is definitely worth a visit if you're in the area.

Having scored out change-of-pace sidetrip, it was time to head back to Denver for the evening ERT at Six Flags Elitch Gardens. The ERT this night would be on The Flying Coaster, Twister II (which we hadn't ridden yet), and the Teacups (which was an interesting, but cool, choice).

Twister II is a ride "inspired by" the Mr. Twister at the original Elitch Gardens. It originally opened with the trains from Mr. Twister, but those trains have been retired. In fact, the park has donated one of those original trains to ACE, for use in the musuem (should it ever be built).

Instead, new this year are a pair of 3-bench PTC trains. Six Flags seems to be experimenting with these trains this year, as they're the same trains that Timberhawk at Enchanted Village got.

The trains on Twister II are an interesting choice, but I'm not sure they were the BEST choice. They're comfortable enough, and look great being new, but they shuffled a lot on the ride. I'm not sure it's due to the long cars, or perhaps the coaster needs some trackwork. As it is, I found Twister II to be a fun, but not outstanding, woodie. I much prefer the OTHER child of Mr. Twister, that being the Twister at Knoebel's. Other con attendees felt the two are about equal, though.

I took 6 laps on Twister II before wandering over to the snack that Elitch's was providing. This turned out to be bottled water or canned soda (I gladly grabbed the water -- Denver is hot and fairly dry, leading me to dehydration issues all weekend), and chips and cookies. Simple fare, but a good late-night snack. Having nibbled, we wandered over to The Flying Coaster for a quick spin. After the ride Derek thought he had a riding method figured out, which we'd be putting to the test the next day. We then started to work our way out of the park, to be called over by the girl running the Teacups. Derek and I decided we HAD to give that a good spin. Janna and Mark made the questionable decision to ride with us. Heh heh heh. None of us could walk straight afterwards.

By now, the first full day of the Preservation Con was over. Headed out of the park, we picked up our "goodie bags" that Elitch's was providing. This turned out to be jam-packed with old souvineers, leftovers that the park was no longer selling. That's not a bad thing, though -- there was some very cool stuff in there. Among the goodies were a ceramic plate, windchimes, a cute "Mind Eraser" paperweight (more useful than the real thing ;) ), old Elitch Gardens playing cards, a bell, and lots of other stuff. I ended up taking a lot of time carefully packing my bag on Monday morning for my flight home, hoping that this stuff would all make it back intact (it did). Very nice gesture on the part of Elitch Gardens.

--Greg, aka Oat Boy
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"What do you want, you moon-faced assassin of joy?" -- Londo Mollari, Babylon 5
*** This post was edited by GregLeg 8/11/2003 10:36:56 AM ***

Great report Greg! Lakeside is one our favorites. I'm not surprised to hear that Ms.Rhoda and her family put out the Sunday finest for the Con. They are proud of the park and delight in sharing it with people who appreciate it for what it is.

As far as Elitchs II it does nothing for me. I knew the old park. It was much like Kennywood, lots of atmosphere and class.

Santa's Workshop is a really neat little holiday park. It is nicely done. We loved the carousel with the reindeer, and the North Tonawanda Musical Instrument Works band organ with it. If you're into Christmas ornaments, it's hard to beat this place if you're anywhere near Colorado Springs.
*** This post was edited by Dutchman 8/11/2003 12:28:39 AM ***

I haven't been to Santa's Workshop in about ten years but I used to love that place back then. I've heard they have a couple flats that used to be at the old Elitch's.

I thought they changed the the Teacups ERT to Spider ERT, you've confused me, GregLeg. They kept changing what we were supposed to have open, which was annoying considering we'd have to schedule employees late or early.

We're devils and black sheep, really bad eggs,
Drink up, me 'arties, yo ho!

I visited Santa's Workshop years and years ago. 1980 or 81 I think. I remember having a good time but not much more than that. Those little coasters there are probably contenders for "highest in the world" just like the Ferris Wheel! :)

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