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So I'm running off to Denver this weekend and have some questions on the status of the Denver Parks, Elitch and Lakeside. Unfortunately we don't have a discussion thread for these parks yet, so I'm throwing my questions down here to maybe get that started.

 

Anyone ever flown in and "done" Denver without getting a rental car? My plan is to take the train from the airport to downtown and walk over to Elitch, then get a cab/uber over to Lakeside later in the day. Then I'm going to Golden sunday morning to walk the train and see some hills for a bit before returning downtown for a bit. Hopefully the train isn't too janky?

 

Is Twister 2 open? Screamscape had a rumor it would be closed for the rest of the year due to a structural issue. Hope this isn't the case, because I'm a wooden coaster fan and while it isn't supposed to be a stellar ride it's obviously one of the most iconic in the area.

 

Are there lockers at Lakeside? I'm not sure what I'm going to do with my "luggage" if I even bring any. I might bring a small backpack or drawstring since I'm only going to stick around for one night. Will I have to lug it around the park? Heard it's kind of a ghetto park/crowd, so I don't want to be leaving much lying around.

 

Any other advice/tips would be appreciated.

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Are there fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo at Lakeside? I'm not sure what I'm going to do with my "luggage" if I even bring any. I might bring a small backpack or drawstring since I'm only going to stick around for one night. Will I have to lug it around the park? Heard it's kind of a ghetto park/crowd, so I don't want to be leaving much lying around.

 

If there's no lockers, I'm sure you can leave it with the folks at the main entrance/admin. FWIW I wouldn't worry about the crowd there. Coaster enthusiasts more often than not see brown folks and start looking for car doors to lock. You'll probably have a lot more to worry about at Elitch's simply because it draws larger crowds of unattended adolescents seeking cheap thrills instead of primarily families looking for a cheap night of entertainment.

 

Twister II is a front car ride for sure, assuming it is open. Elitch's sucks, BTW. Lakeside is fun but I'm sure you've heard that they're sticklers about photography because apparently people are sketched out like you're a molester looking to get pictures of kids. Probably that happened once and they caught it whereas it probably happens everywhere and most parks just want to sell people Pepsis and t-shirts and didn't notice. Waterworld probably has the coolest non-coaster attraction in the area with a water slide that has dinosaur animatronics but I doubt you'll have time for that. Also weed is legal.

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Also weed is legal.

 

Your posts never disappoint.

 

I feel like doing a similar trip since I know Elich's might be closing and it's cheap enough since it's Frontier's home airport so I'm interested to see the responses here too. Counterpoint: These parks look like they suck and I don't smoke weed. Been there, done that, got that t-shirt, pour me another beer.

 

Also, heads up that airport is in the middle of f*cking nowhere. We had a connection there one and couldn't believe it. Unfortunately it was a 40 minute connection so we didn't have time to hit the sh*tty parks. Nice airport though.

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Also weed is legal.

 

Your posts never disappoint.

 

I feel like doing a similar trip since I know Elich's might be closing and it's cheap enough since it's Frontier's home airport so I'm interested to see the responses here too. Counterpoint: These parks look like they suck and I don't smoke weed. Been there, done that, got that t-shirt, pour me another beer.

 

Also, heads up that airport is in the middle of f*cking nowhere. We had a connection there one and couldn't believe it. Unfortunately it was a 40 minute connection so we didn't have time to hit the sh*tty parks.

 

You go to Lakeside at night. You go during the day, you're an idiot. Like you did everything wrong in life and you are a bad person. It's a weird throwback park. Flyers are OK. Whip is fun. You basically look at neon, ride the front of the Cyclone a bunch with its stationary lapbars that do nothing and the Wild Chipmunk because of course.

 

Elitch's and Lakeside could both be gone in 5 years, and real estate in Denver is too valuable for a park. Sucks but that's how it is.

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We last went to the Denver parks in 2005. No desire to go back to them anytime soon. They're fine, but nothing special or standout. If I'm going to Colorado, it will be for Water World (crazy weird water park), skiing and outdoor activities, or the Celestial Seasonings Factory Tour (seriously one of the best industrial tours out there!).

 

I can't imagine doing it without a car. US public transportation outside of pretty much four major cities in this country is atrocious.

 

Good luck!

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I would do Water World. Its a huge water park with some really uniquely themed water rides. They have an indoor themed dinosaur raft ride, an Egyptian themed indoor raft slide, a great water coaster and about 30 water slides. Elitch is really not much.

 

Personally I think the best park in Colorado is Glenwood Caverns. You can take the commuter transit system from Denver's Union Station to Glenwood Springs. Its called the Bustang and runs multiple trips every day. (Both directions)

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Denver on Labor Day weekend is a yearly thing for me- can't wait to get back there soon. There isn't really anything special about the parks. I guess Lakeside is supposed to be a good looking place after dark, but I haven't been late enough to see for myself. Elitch feels like what it is- a former Six Flags park. It's a small, shabby looking place (for the most part). Twister II is among the worst wooden coasters I've had the opportunity to ride because of the shape it's in. It really needs to be Rocky Mountain'd. Can't help you with it's current operational status, though. Apart from that, Intamin Drop Towers are always nice, and they have an Arrow Shuttle- which is at least interesting (though nothing memorable, IMO). Every time I've gone, downtime has been an issue. One train ops are the norm from my experience, and I haven't ever seen anyone in a hurry to dispatch anything, either.

 

I've never rented a car out there- walking and Uber have always been just fine. The train from the airport to the city is a straight shot, around 45 minutes IIRC. I've mostly just stuck to concerts at Red Rocks & Dick's Sporting Goods Park, and exploring the city when I'm out there, so don't have any advice on visiting Golden- sorry.

 

Denver is a great town- have fun!

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Anyone ever flown in and "done" Denver without getting a rental car?

Even with the light rail getting expanded in the last few years, getting around Denver without a car is still a pretty big pain. Not impossible to hit both parks without a car, but certainly much more difficult.

 

Is Twister 2 open? Screamscape had a rumor it would be closed for the rest of the year due to a structural issue. Hope this isn't the case, because I'm a wooden coaster fan and while it isn't supposed to be a stellar ride it's obviously one of the most iconic in the area.

Going off the website, both Twister and Sidewinder are down.

 

Are there fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo at Lakeside?

Nope.

 

Any other advice/tips would be appreciated

As others have said, the actual parks in Denver aren't too spectacular. If you're just looking for a check in the block to say you've been, then making a trip out is okay. If you're looking to really justify coming from out of state, a lot of the better rides are at other natural attractions (Royal Gorge has a nice Skycoaster, Cave of the Winds has Terror-Dactyl, and I assume Glenwood Caverns needs no introduction). Not saying you need to reschedule your trip and absolutely do them this time around, but at least know they exist for future reference.

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I'll definitely come back and do water world and glenwood caverns some day. I'm just popping into town this weekend because it's a cheap direct flight from Tulsa and I was feeling stir crazy after having to cancel my other trips this summer.

 

What is the story about Lakeside and photography?

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My son and I went to the Broncos game last weekend and decided to hit up Elitch Gardens before the game. We had never been to the park before and I found $20 tickets online. Of the 5 coasters, the two we were most looking forward to riding were down (Twister and Sidewinder), so that was a bummer. There's a crappy SLC which they actually ran two trains on. We found the blue train to be slight less painful than the red train. There's also a standard boomerang and an Intamin half-pipe coaster, which was surprisingly fun. There's also an Intamin drop tower but it only has 2 of the 3 cars, so the capacity was pretty bad. The park does have some fun old school flats (Tilt-A-Whirl, Huss Troika, Himalaya), so those are worth checking out. The river raft ride was also a highlight as it tossed us around the boat pretty good.

 

The best rides at the park were the two upcharge attractions, a Skycoaster and a Sling Shot (also known as an Ejector Seat). You can do both for $40, or for $60 you get both plus their skip the line pass. We ended up doing the $60 pass as the ride ops were painfully slow and it was a very hot day. The Skycoaster was awesome, but the Sling Shot was on another level--probably one of the most insane things I've ever ridden.

 

Overall, I wouldn't recommend the park to anyone as it doesn't really offer anything special (other than the upcharge attractions). I feel bad for the people of Denver because such a major city deserves a far better park than this place. I do want to check out Waterworld though because I've heard nothing but good things about it.

Edited by VegasBaby
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Considering you can get dirt cheap flights on Frontier from SLC to Denver, I've always thought about possibly taking a long weekend and going down to check out Elitch and Lakeside, but I guess neither park is good enough to make it worth the time and money - especially with Twister and Sidewinder closed. However, if the stars were to align, and Six Flags buys Elitch and RMCs Twister, I'm on the *FIRST* flight out there! lol

 

With that being said, I'm really excited to hopefully visit Glenwood Caverns this Labor Day... if plans work out. I've heard really good things about it, and it seems to be the "star" of Colorado when it comes to theme parks.

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With that being said, I'm really excited to hopefully visit Glenwood Caverns this Labor Day... if plans work out. I've heard really good things about it, and it seems to be the "star" of Colorado when it comes to theme parks.

 

FYI we are expecting to be absolutely slammed on Labor Day weekend, it and Memorial Day weekend we usually do 2,000+ people each day. (Saturday and Sunday) That isn't much for most parks, but that is insane for us. If you do come, Monday would be the best day. If you do plan on coming one of those days, let me know and I can drop some tricks for you to at least make the visit more pleasant.

 

Back on topic, I haven't been to Elitch's since they were owned by Six Flags if that says anything. But if sounds like you just want to hit up some new parks for a weekend trip so I'll throw in my two cents.

 

As Bill said, the airport is way out of the city, 20 miles to be exact. The train takes around 40 minutes to get to downtown and then around 10-20 to get to Elitch's. Uber's and the like are plentiful in the downtown core (and everywhere else for that matter) so going over there wouldn't be an issue. While the light rail does go to Golden the end is nowhere near the actual downtown core so you'd need another way to get up to the railroad museum.

 

By the way, Bustang only has one departure to Glenwood and back per day as of right now. It leaves there in the morning to Denver and back in the evening. (It's setup for people catching flights, not day trippers.)

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By the way, Bustang only has one departure to Glenwood and back per day as of right now. It leaves there in the morning to Denver and back in the evening. (It's setup for people catching flights, not day trippers.)

Amtrak does go the correct way, but like always once a day and at weird times. 8:05 AM departure from Denver, arriving Glenwood Springs 1:43 PM. On the way back, 12:10 PM from Glenwood Springs, arriving 6:38 PM. Still requires an overnight, but at least you have a bit more time. Assuming the train's on time of course. California Zephyr isn't great about that.

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By the way, Bustang only has one departure to Glenwood and back per day as of right now. It leaves there in the morning to Denver and back in the evening. (It's setup for people catching flights, not day trippers.)

Amtrak does go the correct way, but like always once a day and at weird times. 8:05 AM departure from Denver, arriving Glenwood Springs 1:43 PM. On the way back, 12:10 PM from Glenwood Springs, arriving 6:38 PM. Still requires an overnight, but at least you have a bit more time. Assuming the train's on time of course. California Zephyr isn't great about that.

 

Even then you'd have to go on a day we are open till 9PM to make it worth it. (And that is if it is on time as you said. We used to ride it all the time to Illinois and to be honest, the delays usually are once you hit BNSF trackage.) In short it is just better to drive up here on a day trip, and cheaper.

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FYI we are expecting to be absolutely slammed on Labor Day weekend, it and Memorial Day weekend we usually do 2,000+ people each day. (Saturday and Sunday) That isn't much for most parks, but that is insane for us. If you do come, Monday would be the best day. If you do plan on coming one of those days, let me know and I can drop some tricks for you to at least make the visit more pleasant.

 

Thank you for the info! Due to a few scheduling conflicts, we decided not to go Labor Day weekend. However I would still love to hear any tips you have, since we may consider going next summer and hitting Arches National Park as well.

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I guess I'll be ridiculously boring and echo what most everyone said here. I visited Denver and the surrounding areas for the 4th of July weekend a month and a half ago (I really should get back to updating my trip reports...). I did take the A train from the airport to downtown Denver (where I got a rent a car). It is very doable, and the train was nice, but it takes around 45 minutes one way. I think using public transportation and Uber/Lyft/taxi will be fine if you are just staying within the city just to visit the parks there.

 

Waterworld is the true star of the "amusement" parks in the area. It has two themed family raft rides (you will need to find a buddy if you are travelling alone), and it is probably the best water park that I have visited, but it is still a large scale waterpark (with all of the baggage that comes with the territory). The layout of the park is much more linear than the maps would suggest with its most popular attractions being basically on the far end of the park. Use the single rider line on the "Mile High Flyer" water coaster.

 

Glenwood Caverns is nice but expensive, and the rides there are mostly smaller FEC style attractions but with amazing views. Although operations are small scale there, due to it only being accessible by an aerial tram the longest line you will likely experience is at the entrance itself (I went the day after the 4th of July, and it really wasn't that bad). It's quite a drive from Denver, obviously.

 

Lakeside Amusement Park is retro and rundown, but it is also super affordable and uncrowded. They seemed to have problems with maintenance when I was there as rides kept going down. The hours of the park are a bit unusual (they open in the late evenings on weekdays) and the rides open one at a time; I think it took around an hour for the two roller coasters to be open. Those two rollercoasters are rough (Wild Chipmunk has generously padded seats for a reason). I did ask an employee about the photography thing, and I remember being told that photography is fine as long as you aren't on a ride.

 

I didn't even bother with Elitch Gardens, so I definitely can't really talk about it.

Edited by aueft
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I liked Elitch Gardens more than I would've expected, but I realize many enthusiasts would find it forgettable, especially with Sidewinder down. The flat rides aren't half bad, and the (generic Six Flags-style) theming is sparse but surprisingly decent where it exists. As mentioned, they have a skip-the-line program called Rapid Ride; when I visited, it was a basic lanyard system.

 

Lakeside is a must-visit if you enjoy the charm of traditional amusement parks, but it's one of the more run-down places I've visited, and the ride collection for such a storied park is a bit disappointing in terms of thrills and uniqueness--it's no match for a Knoebels, Kennywood, Canobie, or Rye Playland. Yes, ride Cyclone in the front (there's first-come, first-served seating, so you may have to let a trainload ahead of you to snag it).

 

The OP mentioned taking a taxi, but just to put it out there, I did use public transit once to get to Lakeside.

 

I, too, had no problems taking extensive photos at Lakeside. Except on my second visit, when my camera died right as I entered the park...

 

A final note of speculation: I read one time a rumor that years ago somebody (wasn't me!) totally tore into the park online somewhere and posted very unflattering photos of the park's condition, leading to the unusual strictness on photography. To be clear, I don't have the source and have only heard of this third-hand.

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So my weekend in Denver was delightful. Not getting a rental car wasn't a problem at all, the Uber network + the train system here is great.

 

I got the first flight from Tulsa to Denver at 6:03 AM and actually landed in Denver just before 7AM local time. A bit overkill, but the ticket was cheap. I took the train to downtown denver and wandered around looking at buildings and parks for a couple hours before finally heading over to Elitch. Denver is such a nice city and I will definitely have to come back and explore more someday.

 

I wasn't expecting much from Elitch, but I was still kind of disappointed. Not a lot of rides here, some aren't operating, and what is left is pretty much old and busted. The best coaster in the park is the vekoma boomerang, which is actually a pretty good vekoma boomerang. The vekoma SLC is incredibly rough... like dangerously so. I don't understand why some parks don't put some effort into fixing these things so people don't get concussed. I'm OK with a lot of rough rides - I even liked Mean Streak, but this thing was ridiculous. The Intamin half pipe coaster was OK, but for some reason I didn't like the sensation - might just be getting old. Ghost Blasters and the Screamin Swing were the only rides I really liked, and naturally they just announced they are replacing GB.

 

I probably would have enjoyed Elitch a bit more if Twister and Sidewinder had been open. I know Twister isn't supposed to be a good coaster, but I love old wooden coasters even if they aren't taken care of well (again, I actually liked Mean Streak ). Without Twister, Elitch just isn't much more than a credit stop, and I've never been a huge "coaster credits" guy.

 

Lakeside, on the other hand, was fantastic. I love old parks and old rides, and that is exactly what Lakeside offers. It is true that the park isn't in great shape, and that some of the clientele are a bit sketch, but it is all very endearing and honestly it felt like I got 10x my money's worth here vs. Elitch. It feels like there are a few people at Lakeside that are really working hard to keep things going, but the park is probably more than they can handle with so many things needing work. You can see signs of TLC here and there, and they refurbished the spider ride this year. At the same time, there are so many things big and small that need attention. I was dismayed to see the famous tower is still rotting away with no work done.

 

The coasters of Lakeside are a treat. Cyclone is such an interesting ride, and perhaps one of just a few left in the world with no real lapbars? The slanted drops are hard to understand though. Wild Chipmunk is just hilarious - like you are riding something some welder put together in his back yard.

 

The one "modern" ride in the park is the drop tower, which is actually a relocation from my old home park, Bell's. It's a great ARM tower, and the views of the Rockies are awesome.

 

The one real complaint I have about Lakeside is the lack of food and drink options. There is one little restaurant servicing the whole park, and the food they serve up is pretty dismal. They do have incredibly cheap prices, especially the $1 drinks and icees. I feel like they should go ahead and increase those prices by at least 50% though and add in another stand. That could bring in enough revenue to start getting ahead on things here. I came to the park hungry, and was disappointed that all they had was Great Value frozen crap heated up on a disgusting grill.

 

I spent the next day exploring Golden, which is such a fantastic town. I took the river trail out of town into the hills and hiked around for a couple hours, then came back into town and drank a bunch of Coors at the dive bar. It was a ton of fun.

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The only shot I bothered to take in Elitch.

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So, I understand the nostaligia of keeping this, but why not clean it up?

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New for 2019...

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The other side of this booth was rotted/smashed away. I'm not even sure what happened here?

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I probably would have enjoyed Elitch a bit more if Twister and Sidewinder had been open.

For sure--Sidewinder is a treat. And it's true that Twister is...not good, but I get why you would've appreciated riding it--I rode it a few times myself, and it is kind of a smaller, slightly less bad Mean Streak. There're also some tantalizing historical photos in its queue.

 

I'm really glad you enjoyed Lakeside. Extremely negative reviews of the park are, sadly, not hard to come by, but it's definitely my kind of place and I hope it hangs around. I was not shy about reporting on its run-down condition as it's one of the more striking examples I've encountered, but the thoroughly old-school vibe counts for a lot in my book.

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I actually enjoy Lakeside for what it is. Also love that train ride that goes all they way around the lake. The retro vibe is amazing.

 

The food is pretty dismal, but not that far away is the world famous Casa Bonita... where the food is also dismal (the taco salad is your best bet, if there's a best option to be had), but the atmosphere MORE than makes up for it.

 

Also, I did get around Denver on public transportation. Bus system is actually not that bad.

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