Wild Mouse

Opened: 1965
Closed: 1971
Re-Opened: 1973
Final Closing: ca. 1989
Manufactured By: Mack Rides – Waldkirch, Germany
Ride Model: Wilde Maus

The first of Lagoon’s three wild mice had wood supports painted white with cars that seated two riders each, tandem style. It was about half the height of the current steel Wild Mouse at the park.

AT THE WORLD’S FAIR

Wild Mouse at 1962 World's FairA few years after German designer, Franz Mack introduced the first Wild Mouse in 1957¹, a model was showcased at the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle. Microsoft founder and Seattle native, Bill Gates, was a child at the time and considered the Wild Mouse and the monorail his favorite memories of the fair. When the fair closed, the amusement park section remained open. The Wild Mouse continued operating there until Lagoon bought it in 1964 and it was replaced with another Wild Mouse.

AT LAGOON

It had been 44 years since the last roller coaster was installed at Lagoon (aside from Kiddie Coaster) when the Wild Mouse opened in 1965. As part of a major expansion on the north end of the Midway, the Wild Mouse stood just north of the new Bamberger Fountain with the Ferris Wheel on one side and Space Scrambler on the other.

Wild Mouse at Night
Night time view of the Wild Mouse and Bamberger Fountain from a 1971 brochure.

In 1971, the ride had mechanical problems and was dismantled “to make room for a new ride”.

NEW WILDER WILD MOUSE

After Lagoon’s first Wild Mouse was dismantled in 1971, an overwhelming response from comment cards given out to guests showed they wanted the ride back. Soon, in 1973, the Wild Mouse returned to the park – this time south of Speedway, Sr. At the time, the Midway basically ended in that area. It’s still not perfectly clear as to whether or not it was the same ride or a new one, but a quote from park president Peter Freed in 1975 saying, “…we reactivated the Wild Mouse…” leads me to believe it was the same one that was brought to Lagoon in 1965.

Clip from ‘America Screams’, 1978. Footage © Scott Campbell. Used with permission

The new sign on top read “New Wilder Wild Mouse.” Some visible differences from the earlier version include the yellow cars with high-back seats, something the earlier version lacked. Later on, the cars were painted white with a picture of a mouse on the front. The metal supports were painted orange, but some time in the late ’70s or ’80s it was repainted white, except for the supports around the loading station.

Here’s one guest’s memory of the 1973 Wild Mouse which probably sums it up best for most who remember the ride:

“I recall the old…Wild Mouse to be a bone-shaking, tooth-jarring experience. There was one turn about sixty seconds into the ride that was the most violent. The cars were so small and cramped that it was impossible to avoid banging knees, hips and elbows, but it was fun nonetheless.”

An article published in 1998 stated this Wild Mouse also closed because of “mechanical problems,” but never goes into any detail beyond that. There is differing information concerning when the ride actually closed. One former employee informed me that they operated the ride in 1989. I’ve also been told it remained closed for a season before being removed prior to the 1990 season. It’s apparent from photographs that it was in fact standing in 1989, but I’m waiting for further confirmation of its final season of operation.

A common rumor, especially around the time of its closure, involves cars jumping the track. Although there were times on the ride that it definitely felt like the car was lifting up off the track, records confirm there have never been any fatalities on any Wild Mouse ride at Lagoon. 1990 to 1997 marked the longest absence of a Wild Mouse at Lagoon since the first one opened in 1965.

Photo: Jim Abbate, National Amusement Park Historical Association

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See more pictures in the Wild Mouse Gallery.

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LINKS

Lagoon ’65

Wild Mouse, 1965

Wild Mouse, 1998

Two more great photos of the New Wilder Wild Mouse appear at Roller Coaster Database.

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NOTES

1. It was in Seattle where Ted Hopkins, manager of Australia’s Luna Park, saw the Wild Mouse in operation and bought a license to build his own version in Australia. His version (shown in this video) is still running today and has a lot of similarities to the Mack design.

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SOURCES

Cotter, Bill. Seattle’s 1962 World’s Fair, Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, South Carolina, 2010.

Lagoon ’65. Deseret News, 26 May 1965.

Soon…Lagoon can turn a frown upside down. Deseret News, 5 Apr 1975.

Lythgoe, Dennis. Attractions from Lagoon’s good old days just wouldn’t cut it today. Deseret News, 1 Jul 1991.

Arave, Lynn. Take a wild ride at Lagoon on new Wild Mouse in ’98. Deseret News, 5 Dec 1997.

Arave, Lynn. Lagoon questions data on injuries. Deseret News, 15 Aug 2000.

Wild Mouse. Email message to author, 19 Dec 2004.

Re: Whirlwind Update and More. Email message to author, 21 Oct 2005.

Wild Mouse. Roller Coasters of the Pacific Northwest, accessed 13 Jan 2011.

Mad Mouse. Amusement Ride Extravaganza, accessed 13 Jan 2011.

North American Wild Mouse. Roller Coaster and Amusement Ride Home Page, accessed 13 Jan 2011.

Top 10 Bill Gates anecdotes from his early days. Instant Seattle, accessed 13 Jan 2011.

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Keep that in mind – as you wax sentimental for the Fun House, the Wild Mouse and the Patio Gardens. Do I detect at this very minute the ground swelling beneath us?

3 thoughts on “Wild Mouse”

  1. It’s nice to be vindicated after being mocked throughout my teen years because I was not afraid of going on the Wild Mouse, which was popularly supposed to be horrifically dangerous, but was afraid of the white roller coaster – which actually HAS had deaths occur despite its reputation as a fairly “tame” ride. Obviously my instincts were correct! By the way, does anyone know if the white Roller Coaster was at one time known as The Dipper or if that was a different ride? I was looking through the Digital Newspaper Archives and found a record of someone killed in 1925 on a ride at Lagoon called the Dipper, with no further explanation of what the ride was, and I have also seen pictures of a now-defunct but very similar-looking coaster by that name in Ohio.

  2. Yes, the Roller Coaster has been known by many names including the Lagoon Dipper, Silver Coaster (when it had silver cars) and others.

  3. I vividly remember riding this wooden version as a kid. When you’re a kid you’re just crazy enough to do such things. It wasn’t till later on I learned that there were a few instances on the ride where cars had fallen off the track. Interestingly enough, I still get that feeling when riding the new metal coaster. I know it’s much safer than the original. For some reason it doesn’t seem as fun. It’s more jolting. The wooden coaster absorbed the shock much better in my opinion.

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