One day after visiting Elitch Gardens during my Denver trip, next evening I checked out Lakeside to continue my roller coaster feeding frenzy (all of this was a week after ACE Coaster Con XXV in CA).
Weather: Partly cloudy and warm, about 85 degrees at 6 PM, cooling to the 70s at night.
Crowds: Being a Tuesday night, there were very few people in the park. Wait for the coasters ranged from walk-on to 10 minutes at most.
Positive: Walk on for most rides (hopefully it packs better crowds on weekends, though), nice long and scenic train ride around the lake, Large kids ride area (not needed for me now!), contains an ACE Coaster Classic, low food prices.
Negative: The old merry go round and other rides need a paint job, without the crowds the park looked like a ghost town, the "new" Journey to Mars dark ride was really bad.
Rides closed: Unknown--some flat and children's rides were likely only partially staffed due to the non-existent crowds.
After getting my wrist band, I headed for the white ACE Coaster Classic, the Cyclone.
Cyclone (7/10): 6 rides
This ride has two distinct sections, the very intense series of drops and turns to open the ride with ejector airtime and major lateral G's, then transitions to a much tamer and gentle ride going into the turnaround (providing a good view of the lake and the mountains in the background) and on the return trip. The ride's slow down appears to come naturally as opposed to being trim braked. The ride is comfortable with a non-moving lap bar and double-wide seat belt as the only restraints, so the rider on the outside of the early turnarounds will get "squished". I mixed up my rides between the front, middle and back, both the inside and outside. Overall I liked the Cyclone--not the greatest but worth re-riding.
Wild Chipmunk (5/10): 3 rides
This old wild mouse ride looks like it has been left to neglect for many years, but it still works and provides the standard wild mouse thrills with the sharp hairpin turns, quick drops with some airtime and a finale helix. the cars are not well padded so hanging on to the grab bars is a must to avoid possible bruises on the turns and the helix. The cars were named for the cartoon Chipmunks (Alvin, Simon and Theodore) and his human master, Dave. Only three cars were running, with Simon being the no-show.
Plenty of time was in store to enjoy some of the flat rides and the Dragon powered coaster, in order to get money's worth for the wrist band. Some of the rides were in need of riders as I was the only one on the Sky Pilot (circular motion with riders having some control on the up and down motion in the airplane seats). I rode the train around sunset, which provided a long ride (at least 15 minutes) around Lakeside's lake. Some of the plants and brush had grown in the path of the train, but it gave a good view of the park and the Cyclone on the return trip, though. The merry go round operator spoke broken English, but I think he said this ride was more than 100 years old. The horses are in need of a thorough refurbishing. dark ride "Journey to Mars" was just laughably terrible, looked like it was not yet finished. Most of the rooms had no effects or displays in them, and the few working effects had little Mars-related theming.
Lakeside was empty this evening, but hopefully it attracts enough visitors during the weekends to turn a profit. It is in a more relaxed setting outside urban Denver and its lower prices and large selection of kiddie would make a good destination for parents with younger children.
When combined with the ACE Coaster Con, plus a ride on Desperado outside Las Vegas, this visit capped off a 10 day stretch in mid-late June when I rode roller coasters 9 of those 10 days!
I do not believe that the Merry-Go-Round is 100 years old, but it is very old. The park opened in 1908, so I doubt the Merry-Go-Round is 100 years old. The crowds at Lakeside are never large, except on nickle day. I have met the owner before, and she keeps it open just for the community. There is no way they make a large profit on this park, I think they barely just get by. It's not that the rides are neglected, they just can't afford to give them as much attention as SF can to their rides. Anyways, it sounds like you had a great time.
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