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Photo TR: Denver - Elitch Gardens and Lakeside

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So this past weekend I hopped in the car with pal Lanae and drove 7.5 hours to Denver. We spent the night, went to Elitch Gardens, drove into the mountains, and then came back to Lakeside for a fun filled day. Then after Lakeside, we drove the 7.5 hours back to Lincoln through the middle of night...it was a long day.


I don't know what it is, but I had a hard time getting excited for Elitch Gardens. I was trying to decide if Elitch Gardens or Adventureland in Des Moines is the better park. Before I went to Denver I would've picked Elitch over Adventureland. Elitch has larger, more modern rides, but the biggest ones just aren't that re-ridable. Elitch's two big coasters are the roughest in the park, while Adventureland's "biggest" two coasters, Outlaw and Tornado, are pretty darn fun and easily re-ridable. Elitch is definitely cramped for space, but they really need to get a full size, signature coaster that isn't painful. How would you compare Elitch and Adventureland? Thoughts?


Later on tonight I will follow up with some Lakeside pictures.


Your cast for today is the same as the last trip to Arnolds Park. This is Lanae and myself.


Western Nebraska sunset….through a buggy window.


First thing the next morning we hit up Elitch Gardens…a very small, compact park that could use a signature full size coaster.


Half Pipe was pretty fun, although we only did it once.


Another standard Boomerang. This one wasn’t too bad either. The Intamin tower was OK, but nothing special.


We also rode the Thunderbolt, which was very rickety.


Speaking of rickety, Thunderbolt's next door neighbor, Twister II, was worse…


Strolling back to the front of the park we see the Ferris wheel, observation tower and Breakdance.


Next we hit up Minderaser. The last time I was here I rode this 4 times. This time once was enough. I have been on 4 SLCs and this was by far the worst. It had a nice fresh paint coat though…




Next we took a ride on the Dragon Wing


I took some pictures while on the Dragon Wing…here are a couple of them



I love when I forget to zoom out before taking self pictures


So, you know the park is hurting for signature ride when the best coaster in the park is the Sidewinder, an Aarow launch coaster. This was the only coaster we did more than once. I still think the airtime on this coaster is as good as you will get anywhere.


Just some gratuitous loop photos…





Rapids ride hidden below. We didn’t ride because I was wearing VERY light khaki shorts and if they got wet everybody would’ve seen me in my undies…


Dragon Wing from Sidewinder


Twister II from Sidewinder


A parting shot of Failure: the Ride


A glance back at the north path of the park as we leave

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^^ Haha, I was thinking the same thing! I even suggested it to Parc on their Facebook page!


Those were some good pics! The Sidewinder is the best too, I just love the airtime. But I seriously disagree about the Mind Eraser. Its pretty smooth and if you sit in the right seats, the ride can be awesome with minimal headbanging

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Later in day after driving through the mountains, we hit up Lakeside, which I had never been to. I was really excited because I am a HUGE fan of old timey nostalgic amusment parks. I was not disappointed. The only down side was that it was a beautiful night, and the population of Denver knew it so the lines were pretty long for a small park.


Lakeside! Entrance fee is $2.50 and all-ride wristbands were $17.75


The iconic tower


The park was small bus was nicely landscaped


The Round Up poking through the trees. It's been awhile since I've been on an older small Round Up and I had forgotten how fast these things feel!


The cool art deco carousel building...it kinda looks like a spaceship.


I see a roller coaster!


Exclusive, never-before-seen photo of the ACE sign


In line for coaster #140! It was a good one. It was super thrilling, but it was a very enjoyable ride. I could see why it has lasted for 70 years.


For the third park in a row, I was unable to ride the Spider...which is one of my favorite flats :(


Tilt-A-Whirl time!




A picture of Cyclone as the sun begins to set and the park comes alive


Sadly, I didn't get to ride the satellite as the line was very long.


Sports Cars!


A beautiful sunset across the lake...it's too bad that ugly Chase building and billboard are there to slighly take away some splendor


Another of my favorite old school rides


Satellite and Rock-O-Planes looking awesome in their neons


Another old school favorite...yeah, I have lots of favorites


I really enjoyed the Wild Chipmunk...unfortunately we had to wait in line for about 40 minutes due the low capacity of the ride, so I only did it once. #141


The tower lookin' all pretty and stuff. You can tell the season is winding down as there are a lot of burnt out bulbs


Bumper Boats!


Flyers and Ferris Wheel


So this drop tower was the scariest and best drop tower I have ever been on. It was way better than the Intamin Tower of Doom at Elitch Gardens even though it was shorter. We rode it 3 times. It just seemed so much more like an uncontrolled freefall. Can someone tell me who made this model?


For you lovers out there, they had this ride called the Heart Flip, where you could spin the puke out of your date, but in a romantic way


Loop-O-Plane. Sadly we were running out of time and I still have never ridden one of these.


The worlds most exciting Round Up...the sign says so


Got my first Whip credit, although I have heard this one is pretty tame.


One last ride on the Flyers...I don't know how to make them "snap" though...

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Okay so those sunset photos REALLY make me miss Colorado, even though I was just there a couple weeks ago. And as for the drop tower, it's an ARM-Larson drop tower. And yes, those things are beasts. I absolutely love the one that we have down here in So Cal.

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So this drop tower was the scariest and best drop tower I have ever been on. It was way better than the Intamin Tower of Doom at Elitch Gardens even though it was shorter. We rode it 3 times. It just seemed so much more like an uncontrolled freefall. Can someone tell me who made this model?




Nice update! Looks like Spider will be down for my visit, too. Hopefully WC has a shorter line as well!

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I went to these two parks a couple of weeks ago while visiting friends in Colorado.

Elitch was pretty blah, although I didn't think Twister II was too rough, more just uneventful. The Mind Eraser at Six Flags America was a lot worse in my opinion. My shoulders hurt just from looking at this pic though.

I agree with the general sentiment that Elitch needs a signature coaster.


I didn't get to spend as much time at Lakeside but I loved Cyclone. It became my #2 favorite woodie (although my woodie track record is not very extensive.) Wild Chipmunk is my favorite wild mouse as well.

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Thanks for taking the time to post these pictures. They were great. From your report on Elitch, sounds like Adventureland is the better. I have been to Adventureland and absolutely loved it.



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Wow - SF sold the park before they could remove the Chaos ride.

Actually they did remove the Chaos. What you see now in the park is the second Chaos ride that Elitch Gardens has had which was added the first season the PARC group owned it. They actually used the cars from the old one for the last few years as part of the Fright Fest themeing.


I also wholeheartedly agree that Elitch Gardens needs a signature ride. Right now it just feels like clone central and it really does the park a disservice. A number of coasters could really suit the park but honestly I think the best fit would be a good Eurofighter. That said I do have to wonder how well the park could keep one running as this year has had a lot of downtime on several of the rides.

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Did you notice if Lakeside still has their Starship 2000? I don't see it on their website, but not all rides are listed there.


I added your Heart Flip and Sports Cars pictures to the Park Index, thanks.

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Wow, Lakeside looks even more beautiful than I had always thought! I must get there as soon as possible. It seems to have a great collection of classic flats, especially for the western United States.

I'd probably check out Elitch's as well if I had the chance, for the Arrow shuttle if nothing else.

Thanks for the TR!

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Lakeside reminds me of Indiana Beach only in the west. If I was to ever become a billionaire I would buy Lakeside and add to it. Not modernize it, but add maybe another woodie (GCI, but try to make it look as classic and old as possibly), and some classic flat rides, and even more of those awesome signs and lights!


I'm pretty much a credit whore, but if I was in Colorado and for some reason couldn't visit both parks, I'd chose Lakeside for sure. Elitch looks pretty run down, I'm surprised it's still open.

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I'm pretty much a credit whore, but if I was in Colorado and for some reason couldn't visit both parks, I'd chose Lakeside for sure. Elitch looks pretty run down, I'm surprised it's still open.

Are you serious!? Sure, Elitch's may look ghetto, but the Lakeside pictures did not show all the old abandoned buildings, abandoned rides, and the condition of the current rides. Whereas Elitch's has a few old structures that are no more than 15 years old and the only ghetto part is the abandoned Flying Coaster area. The park drew huge crowds this summer when I was working there and they have made many improvements to fix it up and make the park look nicer than it used to be. And I stand by Jordan's Mind Eraser comment. At opening there is a stampede over to it and people are okay with waiting upwards of 2 to 3 hours even when closed for lightning just to be able to ride it once. It's like what we would do for something like a world class Intamin or B&M...I could go on. As long as Mind Eraser is the park's signature coaster, the park don't seem to be in any hurry to add a new coaster anytime soon.

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Elitch is actually a very well maintained park. Lots of new paint, nice landscaped grounds, good shows, nice waterpark and a great location. Elitch could use a star coaster, like many have said, but its far from being 'ghetto'.

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