Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Brief History of Lakeside Amusement Park

The only history of Lakeside Amusement Park that I could find on the web was on Wikipedia. So I thought I would share the info here for those who've expressed an interest.

Lakeside Amusement Park is a family-owned amusement park in Lakeside, Colorado near Denver. Originally named White City, it was opened in 1908 as a popular amusement resort adjacent to Lake Rhoda spearheaded by prominent Denver brewer Adolph Zang. Eventually the name was changed to Lakeside Amusement Park, but the local populace kept referring to it by its original name for its glittering original display of over 100,000 lights. Today it is one of the oldest amusement parks in the United States, and the oldest in Colorado in its original location. The park, comprising nearly half of the Town of Lakeside that it was responsible for creating in 1907, features the landmark Tower of Jewels.
The lone remaining American amusement park to have had the name White City, the park was originally built in the Exposition and White City architectural styles. Following its acquisition by Ben Krasner in the 1930s, Lakeside underwent a period of major renovations and incorporated many new features in the Art Deco style. Architect Richard L. Crowther designed much of Lakeside's Deco and Modern features and included a great deal of neon lighting in his work.
There are many examples of architectural salvage to be found throughout the park. Inside the main restaurant is a marble and mirror backbar which was saved from the Denver Union Station, one of the picnic pavilions is created from a retired center column of a ride, and the pool for the current Skoota Boats ride is an adaptive reuse of the original Shoot-the-Chutes ride.
The main office features a functioning manual telephone switchboard that is still in use.
A nominal admission fee is charged for each person, over the age of two, entering the park. A coupon is issued to each person paying admission that can be redeemed for a ride coupon or be used towards the purchase of an unlimited ride pass. 
At one time, each ride was priced individually and had its own separate ticket booth. Most of these booths were of the standalone type. One notable exception was the Cyclone coaster, which had a built-in ticket booth between the entrance and exit ramps. Eventually, ride coupons were implemented with a fixed amount for each coupon, and each ride required from one to five coupons. Many of the original ticket booths are still in place and are used for storage.
The Cyclone is by far the most popular ride at the park. Built in 1940, it is an ACE Coaster Classic and Coaster Landmark.
Original rides in the park which are no longer around include the Shoot-The-Chutes (a splash-down water ramp ride) at the park's south center, the Scenic Railway at its southern end (an elevated track over a mile long), the lofty Velvet Coaster, the StarShip 2000, Flight to Mars, a Coney Island Tickler, the Double-Whirl, a Ferris wheel and the Circle Wave. W.H. Labb of Indianapolis designed the Shoot-The-Chutes and Velvet Coaster, the latter he intended to be a combination of the Foster coaster at Chicago's White City and a type of figure-8, with framework 1,200 feet long and with dips and turns a total 3,600 lineal feet. The Scenic Railway, the Glide and other attractions were destroyed by a fire on November 15, 1911. The skeletal remains of the Staride, a former Ferris wheel-type ride on the north side of the park, still stand. The sign for the old Speed Boats attraction, plus the pier for boarding, also stands vacant with a rope to keep trespassers away.
From the late 1930s through 1988, Lakeside Amusement Park operated Lakeside Speedway on the park grounds. The auto racetrack was a 1/5 mile oval and featured races of three car classes sponsored by CARC: stock, limited modified and fully modified. The race track was built on the site of the park's original baseball diamond and incorporated the original stands into the new use. The degrading track remains today.
Through 1985, there was a Funhouse located on the site now occupied by the Dragon. The Funhouse featured an animated Fat Lady mannequin (Laffing Sal, also known as Laughing Sal) that signaled the opening of the Funhouse and the main park in the evening by loud laughter. Inside, there were slides, moving floors, spinning discs, rolling barrels, and catwalks.

While not considered a ride per se, there was a Casino Theater just south of the Tower of Jewels. Concerts, plays and dance marathons were held there while it was in operation. The building is still in place and is used for storage. Also still in place is the old Riviera ballroom.
Lakeside Amusement Park is a setting included in the video games Silent Hill & Silent Hill 3 by Konami.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

I wonder how many people have ridden that rollercoaster over the years?!

Rue said...

Wow - so interesting! I'm happy that they are keeping most of the park in good, running order.

But that last picture...nightmare material!

ptrmom said...

My dad grew up on Raleigh street just a few blocks from Lakeside. He used to tell us a lot of stories, mostly about his adventures around the lake and a few at the amusement park. Oddly enough though growing up I went to Elitch Gardens, not Lakeside.

ptrmom said...

Oh, and Debra She Who Seeks.... Me! I've ridden that coaster! :)