We finally visited Lakeside because my sister Melissa and brother-in-law Brian (and their two girls, Abigail and Olivia) came to stay with us for a few days. We were following through on the promise to take the kids to an amusement park since our trip to the carnival in Saratoga fell through. So Aaron and I took the day off work on Friday and we loaded up all the kids for our day of fun.
We were a little unsure of things when we first pulled in. Things look a bit rundown. The parking lot is dirt with a little broken asphalt. But the parking is free, so that's a nice bonus. We went to Kiddie Land and discovered that it's old enough to have plenty of mature trees around - that means there is SHADE around some of the rides. That's a wonderful thing on a hot summer afternoon.
Many of the rides are older, a little run down, and not top-of-the-line technology, but the kids totally didn't care! They ran from ride to ride, loving every minute. I loved the fact that even our littlest kids (Rylen, 2 years, and Olivia, 18 months or so) could ride almost every ride. The ride operators would help them climb in and out and strap them in - or let mom or dad load them in. The rides are all meant for little ones, so parents don't have to ride with them. The ride operators will even run the ride if there's only one kid. Several times one of the kids got to be the only person on a ride. They felt pretty special that the ride would go just for them. The ride operators will also STOP the rides for any child who gets scared and needs to get off. No one has to just suffer through the rest of the ride; they get to get off the ride, and then they'll finish the ride for everyone else. A lot of the ride operators were teenagers who would probably rather be doing a lot of things other than running carnival rides for little kids, but they were really well trained and the customer service was wonderful.
There are tame rides for the timid kids and more adventurous rides (roller coaster and mini tower drop) for the little adrenaline junkies. There are quite a few rides - enough that in 5 hours our kids never got bored with the selection. But they're all pretty closely spaced. Parents can choose a central spot to sit and watch the kids happily run from ride to ride on their own. As someone with tendencies toward helicopter parenting, that was a great thing. I could let the kids have freedom to explore on their own, but still keep an eye on them.
And the prices were incredible. $2.50 for gate entrance (whether you're going to ride any rides or not) is pretty reasonable. And then the rides are only 50 cents each, or you can get an unlimited rides pass for only $7 (or maybe $9). I can't remember the price exactly, but it's so much cheaper than I expect from an amusement park! It was WAY less expensive than the sketchy carnival the kids wanted to visit.
At one point, everyone was hot and hungry, so we went looking for snacks. We were dismayed to learn that the snack booth was cash only, because we only had $20 cash between us all. At usual amusement park snack prices, that would have probably netted us 2 drinks and a popcorn to share. Turns out that Lakeside food prices are incredibly reasonable, too. Our $20 got us 10 Icees and 4 boxes of popcorn - enough to refresh everyone for the next round of rides.
I can't say enough about how much I loved Kiddie Land. It is going to be my new go-to treat for the kids. The rest of the park looked fun, too, though we didn't have a chance to explore much of it. (The bigger rides didn't open until 6:00, by which time we'd been at the park with 6 small children for over 5 hours. It was time to go.) Next time, we're going to have to make time to check out the big rides, too!
|Rylen LOVED the racecars. He went on the ride 5 times in a row at one point.|
|All of the kids loved the flying planes. The parents wished those guns were shooting water instead of just pretend. That would have been a great way to cool off!|