Lakeside Amusement Park police allegedly clash with disabled using service dogs over boarding miniature train

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

In Colorado it’s a crime to deny a person with a disability the right to access public areas. That includes the right to take a service dog on slow-moving miniature trains, according to a lawsuit filed by the Cross Disability Coalition against the Lakeside Amusement Park, its police department and the “town” of Lakeside, population eight.

Read more from The Colorado Independent.

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sws's avatar

But what if the service dogs also happen to be autistic?

I was on that train last summer. It's a pleasant, scenic ride but miniature is an understatement. A human has trouble fitting in there, let alone a human and a dog.

As for the "town" of Lakeside, they make up their own rules. Yes, I got caught taking pictures, and yes, I met Rhoda.

janfrederick's avatar

Yeesh. What a mess! That cop was really worked up. I would like to have seen the incident just before the start of the video. I'm wondering if the guy in the wheelchair was yelling too? Anyway, do you consider a ride a public area?

Last edited by janfrederick,
"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
Jeff's avatar

Oh, is this the place that doesn't want you taking photos? It's pretty easy to put it on the short list of places I never want to go.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

janfrederick's avatar

Too bad really. It is a neat little place that could use a little TLC. We were "confronted", but were let off easy I'm guessing because of our story about being on our way to a wedding (our clothing made us stick out like a sore thumb).

"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
Jason Hammond's avatar

I and many of my friends have very openly taken photos at the park and never had any issues. I never heard of problems there before. It's a very unique park and am glad I had the opportunity to go a few years ago.

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Oh, no, they have problems with it plenty. When you drive through the gate into the dirt parking lot there's a big sign warning photography and videography is not permitted.

I was so enchanted with the park I decided to take my chances and just using my iPhone snapped as many pictures as I could. There was a security presence there and anytime I would see them coming my way I'd cool it, afraid of a reprimand. I've heard horror stories of cameras being confiscated and put in the office until the offender was ready to go home.
Everything was fine, I enjoyed my afternoon and evening there and rode just about everything as many times as I wanted. I stopped for some evening shots of the spectacular Auto Scooter building and here she came, Rhoda herself, walking my direction and looking right at me. She introduced herself and asked me who I was, and why I was taking pictures. I introduced myself, told her where I was from, and explained I loved her park and my photos were strictly amateur, for my personal use, and added an apology of sorts. She asked me politely to refrain from taking pictures. I carefully asked about that policy, adding that I tend to avoid humans in my shots if I can, so there should be no worry of upsetting other visitors or families, like Stranger Danger. She explained to me that they actually tolerate pictures of families and people having a good time, but I was not to take pictures of buildings, rides, or structures, adding that sometimes photos make there way into the hands of people who don't understand.
This caught me totally off guard. After talking to her a bit more it slowly occurred to me that there was possibly a little embarrassment at play there. Or, perhaps fear. Lakeside is "classic" at its best and at its worst. And by that I mean a visitor there is surrounded by a traditional park atmosphere full of art deco architecture, kooky amusement park structures, classic rides, and neon the likes of which I haven't seen outside of Las Vegas. It's obvious, too, that the park is low on money, and maintenance of such structures is not a high priority. There are rides, like the Star Wheel, abandoned long ago and left to rust. Some neon was broken and there was a need for paint here and there. The crowd wasn't sketchy at all, but it was clear the park was playground to the segment of Denver's population that had less leisure money available. The park was inexpensive.
And I also know that if Lakeside had all the money on earth it likely wouldn't be "preserved" the way it is as a living example of days gone by, would it? So in that way I was more than happy with the condition of the park and certainly meant them no harm.

I listened to Rhoda and thanked her for her time and especially for keeping a great park like Lakeside alive, and that I considered the place a treasure. She was gracious and polite throughout our discussion and seemed like a lady I'd probably like to know. I also put my phone in my pocket.
Well, until nighttime when I totally stealthed a few more shots of that fabulous neon signage. And from the miniature train as it circled the lake. The view of the park from a distance reflected on the water was awesome. Sorry, Rhoda.

And sorry for the trip report-ish long story about this, but the camera thing at Lakeside is real.

slithernoggin's avatar

I've only had the pleasure of visiting Lakeside once, many years ago during an ACE event. I guess things have changed in the years since then. I experienced no issues with taking photos.

I wholeheartedly second RCMAC about Lakeside's neon.

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--Fran Lebowitz

A lawsuit like that could ruin a small park/business. A blind woman sued and won $11 million dollars against BJ's Wholesale Club because she was denied access with her guide dog to a facility selling food. Now that may seem a little different than this. However, common sense would say this is a slow moving train, probably slower than the vehicle that got the person to the park, which the animal had to ride in. Trying to board a coaster or some other thrill ride with an animal would put everyone aboard at risk. Theoretically a properly trained service animal from an accredited training organization shouldn't have an issue with the situation, unless size was, is a consideration. What's going to hurt the park is if the animal is a trained service animal from a recognized organization. Too many people today try to play the ADA rules to bring pets in which are not certified as service animals. The problem for business at large is there is no real good way for them to discern which is which. The legit service animals you see usually have some form of harness or article denoting their status. They usually don't have to be commanded verbally in certain situations, and you don't see them roaming around away from the individual they belong to.

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