austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Toys in ev'ry store

A little downhill from the Snowflake Maze and the missing Ferris Wheel at Santa's Workshop is a roller coaster. Their only roller coaster. They don't have a sign claiming this to be the highest roller coaster in the world. (I'd thought maybe one of the Denver coasters has this claim, but Denver's got an elevation around ... well, one mile, while Cascade, Colorado, is about one and two-fifths miles above sea level.) The Candy Cane Coaster is not a large one. It is your standard Molina-and-Son's knee-banger kiddie coaster, twin to the Li'l Phantom at Kennywood and Li'l Thunder formerly at Great Adventure and Kiddie Coaster at Lake Compounce. It's got red-and-white candy-cane stripes, as you'd think. There wasn't anyone waiting, and the ride operator was talking, looking bored, with another operator. So we asked if we were allowed to ride and he said, sure, if you want. He also recommended we sit up front for the least knee-banging. He was probably right about that. We got several circuits on the tiny ride (I doubt it gets more than twelve feet off the ground), and weren't to incapacitated to walk off from that. So, a nice and successful ride on what I guess is the highest roller coaster in the world? We did talk a bit with the operator about the roller coaster and rides in general and I hope he found us more nice than tedious.

Also nearby is an Eyerly Aircraft Company-made Midge-O-Racer, a kiddie miniature car flat ride. Despite the name Eyerly makes a lot of amusement park rides, including the Fly-O-Plane, Rock-O-Plane, Roll-O-Plane, and Loop-O-Plane. This made us --- at least made me --- realize that this -O- thing might have been a naming style for them. Also with Lakeside Park and its former Midget Car racetrack beside we (I) realized this wasn't quite just a riff on the idea that kids are small. It was at least as much a riff on the cars being small too.

They've also got a Kiddie Whip ride, with the classic reindeer names on the cars and reindeer figures on the inside of the track. Just to give a sense of how they've taken what might be generic rides and really themed them up well.

We stopped in the glass-blowing shop, a place we'd poked into just before realizing it was time for the magic show, and looked around again. The glass-blower took a bit to tell us about how the park had grown over the years, and pointed to some old postcards of the park, including one that showed how he looked blowing glass in the late 60s. (A bit color-faded, mostly.) bunny_hugger overcame her fear that anything bought might get damaged in transit (and would go on to get the brass Christmas tree ornaments we'd seen when we first entered the park, too).

Oh yes, they do have a Santa's House. With a Santa inside. They have 'snow' around it, the bubble-foam artificial kind like I'd first encountered on Orchard Road in Singapore. Well, it was in the 60s and lightly raining; couldn't expect the real kind. We did go in, to thank Santa for a great park, and his helper took a picture of us with him.

There was one major ride left, and time for about one major ride, the miniature railroad that goes along the upper ridge of the park. While waiting for the train to come back we saw squirrels coming around. The station attendant explained the engineer tosses peanuts to the squirrels and so they love coming around. We noticed how the squirrels looked different to the Eastern Grey and Fox and Red Squirrels we see back home. And tried to explain red squirrels to the attendant; she wasn't sure she had ever seen one. (Based on Wikipedia's map of red squirrel distribution I can't tell whether any might naturally live near the area.) I'm still not sure what kind of squirrels they had; the plausible candidates seem to be the golden-mounted ground squirrel and the pine squirrel.

The ride took us along a pretty good view of the park below, and of some buildings and props set up to represent 19th century mining and Western colonization of the area. It also ran parallel to much of the Sleigh Ride zip line, a thing we didn't quite have the courage or time for. It's a zip line, yes, but in cars made up to look like Santa sleighs. Be a bit mad, but also a bit fun. Meanwhile the train chugged on, letting us revisit the parts of the park we'd seen, and then get back the other way enough to see our car and the entrance for Pikes Peak's highway. All the while squirrels ran up, eager to gather whole peanuts, in their shells, tossed their way.

Our ride ended at about 5, just when the park officially closed. We popped over to one of the statues, the North Pole pole, for some pictures since it seemed like not at least visiting it would attract attention. But that only took a minute, and even walking back to the park exit the slow way had us at the gate by 5:10. We didn't get a ride on the candy cane slide. We did get a couple of color-it-yourself park maps. I'd thought to get a couple for my nieces and nephews who, so far as I know, are at the right age for coloring projects like this. bunny_hugger's at the right age for it again too, and started coloring it in this week.

We said our goodbyes to the park, and got to our rental car, one of the last left at the park. We had something to brave the traffic and intermittent rains going north for. Besides the hope of another visit to Lakeside.

Trivia: British workers in essential work, such as fire fighters, railway workers, harvesters, and steelworkers, were allotted a larger tea ration through World War II. Source: Tea: Addiction, Exploitation, and Empire, Roy Moxham. (Moxham isn't clear if that's the complete list or just a representative sample.)

Currently Reading: Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity, and the Exploration of the Red Planet, Steve Squyres.

PS: Reading the Comics, August 3, 2018: Negative Temperatures Edition and see me go full-on nerd as something close to my thesis research gets talked about.


PPS: Wonderland Pier, continued.

SAM_6709.jpg

Looking way up at the lead horse on the Gillian's Wonderland Pier antique carousel.


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More of the art lining the top interior of the Wonderland Pier castle; why wouldn't it have old-school dinosaurs?


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And here ... a bunch of animatronics who will, for a dollar, play enough of Take Me Home, Country Roads to make the ride operators nearby incredibly tired.


Tags: denver dash, fifth anniversary trip, gillian's wonderland pier, santa's workshop
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