Lakeside Amusement Park

daynight

Lakeside Amusement Park opened in 1908, originally as a White City park. It, and the city of Lakside was brewer Adolph Zang’s answer to Denver going dry. By creating his own town and opening an amusement park, he had a ready clientel for his main occupation.

In the 1930s, the park was purchased by Ben Krasner. His daughter Rhoda Krasner owns the park to this day.

The park was originally built as a combination of Exposition and White City architecture. Later, under Krasner ownership, architect Richard Crowther designed the deco and modern features that survive to this day. He is responsible for the neon which decorates the park.

In it’s heyday it must have truly been a sight to behold. In addition to the rides, there was a live theater (currently used for storage), a ballroom and nightclub (empty), Chris-Craft boats that offered rides and pulled skiers  (gone), a racetrack (closed after a terrible accident) and was lit by over 100,000 lights (at least many of these still remain).

This avenue, with a modern style

Modern style

once sported these columns.

Exposition style

The park has a well worn feeling to it. There is a mixture of still functional rides that are in use, a few that are functional, yet not used, and other buildings and rides that are left to decay. There was a severe thunderstorm in July 2012 which damaged the steam train and the carousel, both of which are thankfully being repaired.

Several of the rides in the park are one of the only, or few, remaining examples of the rides. It’s a remarkable collection that allows you to step back in time. The Cyclone is recognized as a prime example of wooden roller coasters. There are also architectural details all over to delight the eyes. By day, you can see the affects of time and benign neglect (as well as too many coats of paint). But by night, the park is a delight to the eyes.

Here is the Flying Dutchman in the daylight

Flying Dutchman by day is a ride

And lit up at night.

But at night is more magical

Here are pictures of the park by day.

And again by night.


Almost all the rides in the park are classic rides, reminding me much of my childhood. I read a comment that likened the park to a carnival that came to town and stayed. This is an apt description. It is an escape to a quieter, gentler time and offers a lot of enjoyment.

Unlike modern theme parks, the lines are virtually non-existent. So you can easily ride whatever you want, as often as you want. Kathryn, Emma and I rode the Tilt-a-Whirl back to back five times….more than once. I think they rode the spider on each of it’s legs.

While there are many, more exciting and thrilling parks to be found (one of which also resides in Denver), I think Lakeside Amusement Park is a great place to spend an evening. The setting may be a bit tarnished, but this park is still a gem.

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