Denver: Lakeside Amusement Park at night

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Its wooden, white roller coaster and Deco signs have become a cultural icon in Denver for more than a century. Since 1908, Lakeside Amusement Park has continued to bring in excited patrons looking for some summer fun.

See the video from KUSA/Denver.

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Jeff's avatar

This is very cool. That's a park that I would love to see in real life if I ever get out to Denver.

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Lakeside is a nice park, but it does have a bizarre photo policy. There are a lot of reports of enthusiasts who've gotten into trouble for taking pictures...

Our dance group is holding its annual convention in Denver next year and I can't wait for my amusement park visits, especially Lakeside. It's Memorial Day weekend and I'm already counting the days.

I've heard over recent years (in addition to the odd photo policy) that Lakeside is primarily a nighttime park with later hours. I've also heard that it can be a little rough there. Anyone?

And about that photograph policy... Does the park offer a reasonable explanation? Privacy? What gives?

When has that cropped up? Granted the last time I was there was in 1999, and had no problems whatsoever taking photos then.

The best I could find off hand was a Yelp review where the reviewer mentioned he was prepared for an evening of photography, citing the retro architecture and neon as the main subject. He was approached by security and actually detained (in the office) and was made to sign statements that he wasn't taking photographs for professional purposes and would not be reproducing them in any way. Wow. He also said there were no signs or warnings anywhere, but I've heard differently.

Other reviews, at a glance, we're complimentary of the value and the atmosphere, yet some described the park as "sketchy" with surly employees and run down rides. Now, we all know that some folks ain't happy unless their at a sparkling theme park and "run down" to them might mean vintage to us. (or me...)

I looked at the photographs of the park included in the review (how'd THEY get em?) and the place looks charming to me, almost like Crystal Beach looked back in the 70's. I'm still gonna go, you betcha.

Maybe in the end the park is more concerned about professional photographers coming in and using the remarkable scene for a shoot. Maybe mom with her point n shoot taking pics of the kids isn't so much of a concern. I think I'll have my phone with me.

Well, I wouldn't go anywhere where the old wooden roller coaster "whips your neck"!
Wait,... Yes I would.

Lord Gonchar's avatar

Any park that gets reviews titled...

  • Terrible
  • Very Scary
  • In Need Of A Major Makover


  • Best Amusement Park Ever
  • Lakeside is Charming And Amazing
  • My Favorite Park Since I Was A Child

...all within the first 10 reviews is certainly polarizing people.

Quite frankly, it doesn't look like my cup of tea.

rollergator's avatar

Taking the train ride around the lake at night provided some of THE most beautiful amusement park scenery I have ever seen. The "comparable" picture in my mind is KW's Racer over the water....with quite a few additional well-lit flats added in. I didn't run into any weird picture policy...and I know I took a bunch looking back toward the park from across the lake.

Classic flats, well-run, friendly ops, and an AMAZING spectacle of lights. Just now thinking of the Osbourne family lights, only an old-school version.

kpjb's avatar

I was there on business a few years back. Definitely see where the "run down" sentiment comes from (there was one ride in the middle of the park that was literally abandoned, trees growing through it), but it really is a great park to see at night, and the wooden coaster was running great.

It's not in a great area of town from what I could gather, and there's no entrance fee so I see where people could deem the crowd to be surly. I was there alone and never felt intimidated or anything.

All in all, I liked it much better than Elitch. Then again, Elitch sucks.


Lakeside has always had the "bad" reputation in Denver. You have the "bright and shiny" Elitch's and the "old and dangerous" Lakeside.

Lakeside is a fun place you can go after work and not spend much money at all. I've always found parks more fun at night anyway. EG closes at 7 during the week, so Lakeside is the place for lights and night time coaster rides.

Dave Dragon, go Dave Dragon, and the Star Force Five!

Jason Hammond's avatar

I enjoyed my first trip to Lakeside 2 months ago. I was there for ACE's Spring Conference. I noticed signs saying no photography. Though, I saw people taking pictures. So, I busted out my camera and was shooting all day with no issues. It's possible they were more lax since they knew there were a bunch of enthusiasts there.

One person described the park to me: "This is what Conneaut Lake would be like today if they didn't have all the closures and vandalism." There are sections that are very run down. But, it's also a very inexpensive park to visit. I'd tell them to raise there prices to raise money for improvements. But, it's possible that would drive away their base customers. The only disappointing thing during my visit was the Train being out of service. A sign indicates they've been waiting on parts for over a year now.

I look forward to my next visit. Whenever that may be.

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Considering that both the steam locomotives on the railroad are Cagney's built over a century ago, that doesn't surprise me. There is at least one firm, maybe two that are making Cagney parts, but they are not stocked (made on order) and are not inexpensive either. Lakeside is a labor of love, the owner has been fighting with members of her family for years over the disposition of the property. It's definitely run on a shoestring, but they have done a lot with that shoestring you have to admit.

Westcoaster posted a photo essay (with opinions on the condition of the park, etc.) last summer:

LostKause's avatar

Wow. Those photos really make the park shine. I didn't like the whining in the captions though. lol

rollergator's avatar

More lights, less whining....apologies for the blurry ones, really could have edited some...LOL!

Was reminded that Lakeside Cyclone was my #500....

Last edited by rollergator,

Gonch, if you want a modern amusement park with Thrill Rides then Lakeside is definitely not your cup of tea.

If you want an old style "Mom-and-Pop" park built around "a" coaster, train & carousel then Lakeside is "Charming And Amazing," at least after dark. It is a bit run down and definitely could have used a sprucing up (at least as of 5 years ago) but, again, after dark it is a quaint, beautiful, old-style park. CF or Six Flags it is not.

Lost Kause, the park looks 100x better after dark.

Last edited by Captain Hawkeye,

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Lord Gonchar's avatar

Captain Hawkeye said:

CF or Six Flags it is not

So it sucks.

(insert winky here)

HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

Granite, (yes, granite) my only visit was in 2003. From what I remember Lakeside is located in an area of Denver that I didn't want to be around at night, charm or no charm.

The park was nice but during the day it looks run down, their whip (which I see is running) was in pieces and several rides looked abandoned. Upon entering the park not a word was said to us from the employees, despite asking questions. It was pretty comical.

I do remember Cyclone being a pretty fun ride and I could see how amazing the park could look at night with the lights. But again, I didn't want to stick around.

I would imagine if Gonch visited Lakeside, he would return to the parking lot and find his Camaro on blocks with wheels missing. So yeah, not his cup of tea.


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