austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Lakeside Park, willows in the breze

We spent our day at Lakeside Park wandering back and forth along it. The layout is roughly a rectangle, albeit one that runs up against a lake and hugs around that, with the Wild Chipmunk the far end of that section of the park. Many of what we take to be its oldest attractions hug the park: the Autoskooters, for example, the bumper-car ride that's got that great buidling. Or the Merry-Go-Round, or the defunct Staride. The miniature train that wraps around the lake. A small inlet of rides including a Satellite captive-flying-machine ride and a Rock-o-Plane. Lakeside Park also has a Roll-O-Plane and a Loop-O-Plane, which bunny_hugger noted meant they had nearly a full set of the vintage Eyerly Aircraft Company's O-Plane amusement park rides; Only the Fly-O-Plane is missing. We didn't ride them; they have more low-speed upside-down looping than we care for. But we were so glad to have so many historic rides represented, and in good order there.

A ride almost perfectly between the Wild Chipmunk and the Cyclone is the Spider. This is like you might find at other parks, a spinning ride with cars on the end of eight arms. The thing is, the Spider ride which had been there was removed before the 2017 season started. This is a new Spider, one with a modern package of color-changing LEDs that's dazzling in its brilliance. What makes this noteworthy is that the Spider has a queue sign, of course, and defunct ticket booth. It's a great green slanted panel with green strands that, at night are lit neon tubes and host a white neon-tube spider. So they got an identical version of the ride, apparently to match the gorgeous sign they had for it already, rather than replace it with something original (we would recommend the Kang-a-Bounce, generically) that would need a replacement sign. It's not a bad plan; the ticket booth is so beautiful it would be a shame to have it be pointless.

We spent a good time exploring the entrance, the Tower of Jewels with its 'REDIT' sign. It may not be in regular use anymore, but it's set up to be. It's got signs advertising the place as a good birthday party location. And fresh-looking stickers celebrating the Century of Fun, making us wonder when the park's centennial was. (2008, we learned later.) The entrance leads to steps, flanked by lions as if it were a public library, and down to the central square with the Merry-Go-Round and Cyclone to the right and a lighthouse for a boat ride straight ahead.

And to the left, much more of the park. Some nice rides, like the Skootaboats, a bumper boat ride built (says Wikipedia) out of the pond formerly a Shoot-the-Chutes. The Dragon family coaster, your common enough Dragon Wagon. It's on the location that through the mid-80s was the funhouse. It's a pity to lose a funhouse (and apparently locals really want to know what happened to the Laughing Sal formerly outside it). Any roller coaster is a good thing, yes, but I will admit this isn't so unique or quirky as to be better than a funhouse.

They have a Whip ride. Allegedly it dates to 1913, the same year as the Staride. The Whip is still running and in good-looking shape. This would be one of the handful of century-old amusement park rides we've been on. It's housed in a lovely late-30s building, rounded ovals painted aqua and lined in neon. The enclosing wall is topped with hundreds of small circular translucent glass, separated by empty space, so that the ride is surrounded by small blurry glimpses of what's actually behind it. It's beautiful design, executed so gorgeously that even the park's age and signs of deferred maintenance can't hide its glory. Inside the ticket booth are even stained-glass W discs. The Whip's machinery is hidden inside a structure, naturally; the structure's made to look like a barn. Neat touch.

And there's a Kiddieland area, off away from the lake and adjacent to the parking lot. Not sure if that's the original area or if they moved it there to be more convenient for packs of kids to not get lost. The ticket booth in that area is decorated with these very circa-1960 stylized pictures of a bunny in a loose suit or a cat dressed as a flapper, that sort of thing. There's a bunch of the smaller rides common to a kiddieland, especially for an older park. W F Mangels pony carts, circular-path boat and motorbike rides, a kiddie carousel, all that. The Midge-O-Racer, a miniature car ride made by the Eyerley Aircraft Company. And this was when we started to realize, hey, Fly-O-Plane, Midge-O-Racer, there's a pattern here. Also we wondered if the Midge-O-Racer was a flat-ride allusion to the midget car racetrack that the park used to support. That's likely coincidence, and Midge-O-Racer probably was just the company's name for a small car ride.

They also have a kiddie roller coaster, Kiddie Coaster. It's a small thing, a modest oval-track thing that looked like Little Dippers across the country. It also looked like a severe knee-banger. Kiddie coasters tend to be bumpier to start with, for some reason, and this was clearly an ancient ride. We thought again and again about checking whether unaccompanied adults could ride. And then we noticed one of the rides getting at least eight circuits around the track before it ended. So we stopped looking. Perhaps we could have ridden it, and we don't want to be snobs about a small roller coaster. But there are so many joints we have which would not forgive us that.

Trivia: In 1961 United States Army researchers used LSD in field tests as an interrogation device, testing in Europe on nine foreigners and one American, James Thornwell, who had been accused of stealing classified documents. Source: The Secret Histories: An Anthology, Editor John S Friedman.

Currently Reading: Spacesuit: A History Through Fact and Fiction, Brett Gooden.


PS: We lapped Storybook Land and poked back around some of the first things we had seen.

SAM_6544.jpg

Two of the Three Bears, making porridge and not worrying about Goldilocks these days.


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Turns out the Three Bears are kind of self-absorbed. Or they're just happy with the stuff they got from licensing their story to the papers.


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Ben Franklin's workshop! Which is mostly an electrical substation, like you see here, but don't you love making such a boring thing more interesting than it needs to be?


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