Lakeside – Denver’s ‘Back in the Day’ Amusement Park
Back in the beginning, Lakeside was one of many “White Cities” and was first opened in 1908. “White City” refers simply to an architectural style of buildings from that early time period, part of which was the “white washing” of the building walls.
I came across these 1941 Lakeside ride coupons recently. Lakeside’s musical past was rich with many big bands and musicians appearing at the El Patio Ballroom including Denver’s Paul Whiteman, Colorado’s Glenn Miller, a Lakeside regular Kay Kyser, Duke Ellington and others. My great aunt (now deceased) danced there often and recalls that band members would actually be housed in the Lakeside tower which contained many small rooms at multiple levels. I have never seen a corroboration of this story, but I don’t doubt it. You can see the El Patio in the photo below encircled by the roller coaster (all wood roller coaster at that). National roller coaster clubs come to Lakeside to view and ride the coaster which they rank as one of America’s very best vintage coasters.
I remember my parents were out dancing at Lakeside in the 1940’s. Afterwards they went into the “Fun House” where my not-so-coordinated mother tried her hand at the rotating barrels. She not only fell but couldn’t get up and the ride’s operators had to enter the barrels (three attendants) and carried her out. Look at the third photo down and you can see the dreaded “barrels” off in the background). The fun house by the way – known and loved throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s and beyond was not the original in the park.
“Laffing Sals’ voice track wore out in the 1960’s and was re-recorded at the Band Box studio. I remember seeing the start of a knife fight there in the late 1950’s. Very scary. Park security was able to break it up before it became serious.
Almost all of these ride coupons reflect rides that were still up and running well into the 1970’s and in several instances – remain today. The old indoor swimming pool was located just inside the front tower gate off to the left and remains today – drained and boarded up. The adjacent one-block long community is actually an official town – “Lakeside” with about 8 citizens from what I have read. When I was growing up I heard that adult residents would take turns being the town mayor. Their homes are located just south of the Lakeside entrance, on Sheridan Blvd. They have tiny front yards due to the close proximity of Sheridan’s lanes.