austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

A thousand ten-cent wonders; who could ask for more?

Lakeside Park's biggest and oldest roller coaster, and the one we most wanted to ride, is the Cyclone. It was built in 1940, a strange year to build roller coasters. It's wooden. Its station made us think of Conneaut Lake Park's Blue Streak. And kept making us think of it. The station still has manually operated levers. There's one train running and one, clearly older-style train, shunted off to the side track. There's a painting of the ride's long, twisty path, with lights meant to indicate where the ride is, though the bulbs are burned out. You launch by going into an S-shaped covered tunnel, with a couple cracks in the ceiling breaking the darkness.

It's not a straightforward out-and-back roller coaster like Blue Streak is. It goes out, and then arches to the left as it drops, and rises again for a tight turn, rattles out along several loops toward the lake, twists back around and comes buonding up and down back to the launch station. It's a twisty, dizzying ride; it quite fits the Cyclone name. The station hasn't got individual seat queues; you just get onto the platform and have to take your chances for a seat. It's very like Blue Streak at Conneaut Lake Park this way; also like Kennywood's Jackrabbit. The ride sign outside, warning how tall you need to be to ride, is a Dorothy Gale with Toto; it'd be hard to fit the theme better.

We loved our ride on it. And other people clearly love the ride. It had a modest queue, spilling out onto the midway; these old-style parks were not designed for 45-minute waits. That's all right. We figured to walk around the park and take in some more, and then come back to ride Cyclone again. This was a sad mistake.

When we came back to the roller coaster, after having gotten to most of the other major rides, we saw that most ominous of things. It was the queue of people turning and walking away, saddened. A train, eventually, finally pulled in and let out exhausted passengers. Some of the maintenance people walked around inside. Two started walking the track, along the direction the train came from. The ride was closed.

It would stay closed the rest of the night. We saw a lot of discussion about it. We saw an older woman whom we supposed to be Rhoda Krasner consulting with management-looking people and maintenance-looking people. And talking more; it went on a good fifteen minutes or so, as we sat opposite the ride hoping for signs of the ride opening. It would not. We were heartbroken. Bad enough to not get to ride this at night. Surely the park, however rough time it might have replacing light bulbs, would be spectacular at night, and this would be the tallest and most nearly park-circumnavigating ride to see it. But to not even get a second ride? We cursed ourselves for choosing to see the rest of the park instead of repeating Cyclone until we got tired of it.

We had a consoling thought. It was only Saturday. We had another full day in town. We had plans for Sunday, but not ones that should take all day. We could get back to Lakeside the next day. With admission just $4.00 each, why not come back? We could even drop in an hour before the park closed and buy a couple rides just on Cyclone. If it were running then, something unpredictable. But the cost of being wrong would be negligible, considering. We could console ourselves with the thought that, well, if all else failed, we had another day, and the ride might be open then.

Sunday was cold and rainy. Intermittent rain, yes, but ever-less-intermittent as the day wore on. By the time we were back in Denver it was raining basically continuously. We did go out to Lakeside Park, just in case they were somehow staying open on a cold, rainy, muddy Sunday night. They weren't, of course. The park stood there dark and empty and closed. We had nothing to do but accept the sad state of affairs. bunny_hugger declared it was worse that we had gotten one ride on Cyclone and no more; if we hadn't got any, it would be emotionally easy to decide the trip had failed and we must try again. But now, that we had at least had one ride on the most important roller coaster of the area?

It's still tempting. Yes, we had reached all the major amusement park spots in Denver. But we would also find the city much more varied, more interesting, richer in stuff than we had expected. We regretted, not just for this, that we didn't schedule a longer trip to Denver.

It would be daft to go all the way back to Denver for one roller coaster, even one as great as this. Especially when there are spectacular parks and great roller coasters we have yet to get to. But what is a life that doesn't do some daft things?

Trivia: Early 19th-century Australian convicts, walking the penal treadmill for about twelve hours per day, would produce something like 70 watts of power and so would need about three thousand food-calories per day just to walk the treads. Source: Prime Mover: A Natural History of Muscle, Steven Vogel.

Currently Reading: How To Read Nancy: The Elements Of Comics In Three Easy Panels, Paul Karasik, Mark Newgarden.

PS: And some more of the last hours of Storybook Land for us that day.


This one took me, like, forever to get. Are you faster than I am? ... Meanwhile, behind it is a Merry Miller house that refers to ... something. I think we saw one of these at Idlewild, in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, too, but didn't get it then either. They really need nursery rhyme reminders on some of these.


And here's one of the park's most beloved nursery rhymes: Moby Dick. Which ... uh ... yeah, but look, it's been there forever and the park wouldn't be recognizable without it, all right?


Sneaking into the Crooked House, which has all sorts of crooked residents and furniture and all.

Tags: denver dash, fifth anniversary trip, lakeside park, story book land

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