Posted Thursday, June 25, 2009 10:05 AM | Contributed by Jeff
The Cyclone, Lakeside's iconic ride, has been shut down — perhaps for the whole summer. According to Connie Moore, Lakeside's spokeswoman, the park attempted to go beyond the coaster's regular winter maintenance "to get it in really good shape for its 70th birthday," which is next summer. She said the extra sprucing-up fell behind schedule, taking the ride out of service indefinitely.
Read more from The Denver Post.
After 18 years of wanting to ride this coaster (I've generally been in Denver during the fall & winter when the park is closed) I thought I finally had my chance 3 days ago.
I had a couple of hours to kill before my flight out and saw that the park would be open for the evening. I parked, headed in, walked back to the coaster to wait for it's 6pm opening then saw all the cobwebs on the train's wheels. Sure didn't look like it had been tested in prep for opening! So I asked the ticket person, and she told me it was closed.... Guess this explains why!
Just wondering if the choice of contractor doing the work has anything to do with the status of the ride? M-V and GCII seem to do alot of maintenance work on coasters during the off-season, and the work generally seems complete by opening day or thereabouts. It was a really good classic ride, and I hope it returns fully restored next year (and that there are no problems caused by it remaining non-operational for a full season, a la CLAP's original JackRabbit).
Lakeside Cyclone is a real special ride. Hopefully it does return for next year.
Judging by my one and only ride on the Lakeside Cyclone (early summer 08), it comes as no surprise that this coaster is in need of extensive repair. It does have an interesting layout, and the trains are pretty cool, but taking a lap on that thing was pretty painful. I opted for a back seat ride, so that may have been part of it. It looked to be in dire need of some help (as did much of the park).
I do find it strange that it's now in such a a state of disrepair that it needs to be out of service for the entire season.
I question whether the Cyclone will ever reopen. I've visited Lakeside Park at least yearly over the last 25 years. Every year, the park deteriorates a little more and my guess is that its end is near. The shutdown of the Cyclone is no surprise. The park is littered with the remains of broken down rides and attractions. I saw no evidence of any work in progress on the Cyclone when I visited the park a month ago. It appears to me that the owners decided some time ago not to make any further investments in the park and are simply limping along waiting for an opportunity to sell the property. I don't say this as a criticism. Everytime I've been at the park in the last 15 years, the attendance has been dismal, sometimes like a ghost town, even when the park was in better condition and had more rides and attractions in operation. I'm very surprised the park has lasted as long as it has. I'll be sorry to see it go, but I'm glad to have had so many opportunities to visit it.
I've been to Lakeside twice in 2006...I got into Denver a little earlier than I had planned, so spent the evening at Lakeside, then the next day after I got tired of choking on the coal dust at Elitch Gardens, I went back to Lakeside.
My impression is that for some time, nobody cared about the place, but that in recent years the situation has turned around, and they have started restoring some of the ancient ride hulks laying about. The place reminds me a lot of Camden Park. The park was busy both nights, but not excessively so...but that is hardly surprising for a Tuesday and Wednesday night.
The very strange rumor I heard was that in the next few years, probably coinciding with the 70th or 75th season, "Lakeside" would be changing names. No idea what THAT is about!
Anyway, when I went there, the Whip had been restored, the Satellite Jet needed it badly, and the Cyclone actually hurt me pretty badly, but I didn't actually know that until the bruise showed up almost exactly a week later.
--Dave Althoff, Jr.
I guess another reason for my pessimism about Lakeside is that the Cyclone isn't the only major ride that's closed down for the season. There are several others, including the Dragon, a relatively modern steel coaster built on the site of the old bughouse. Now, I have no particular interest in the Dragon - it's a standard carnival ride. But the fact that they didn't spend the money to get even this ride working for the season (particularly with the Cyclone down) is a pretty strong indication of where they are going.
This is just speculation, but I suspect what happened is that Lakeside fully intended to open the Cyclone and the Dragon for the 2009 season. However, their inspections showed that these rides needed major maintenance, and the owners were unwilling to spend the money for it given the poor prospects for continued operation of the park. I very much hope I am wrong about this - I'd love to ride a restored Cyclone. But I don't see how this park can survive very long on the attendance it has and it looks to me that the owners have reached the same conclusion.
Speculating a little further, I think that the death spiral for Lakeside may have really taken hold with the relocation of Ellich Gardens some years back. The old Ellich Gardens was just a short distance (about a mile) from Lakeside. Both parks were grand old urban amusement parks. While old Ellich was probably the better park (and definitely more of a family park), it wasn't overwhelmingly so. My experience (admittedly limited) was that many people seemed to be visiting both the old Ellich Park and Lakeside on the same day. I typically would visit both parks the same day, and it was pretty common to see people at Lakeside that I had seen at Ellich earlier in the day. That's not surprising, as you could easily drive or walk between them. The new Ellich Gardens, in contrast, is a major, modern amusement and waterpark which completely outclasses Lakeside (maybe not from the standpoint of an old time amusement park fan like me, but certainly from the standpoint of a normal person). Worse, the new Ellich is nowhere near Lakeside, so there is no longer any synergy between the two parks. Lakeside is isolated, rotting away by itself in a somewhat questionable neighborhood. Sad.
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