The last month of Frightmares brought with it the end of another season at Lagoon. At the beginning of the month, the new south restrooms were completed. Soon after, the old restrooms built in the 1980s were demolished.
Aside from some busy weekends and the UEA fall break, it was a fairly uneventful month. However, there has been a lot of progress on the Biergarten planned for 2019 and plenty of undisclosed work going on north of the park near 200 West.
The park closed quietly October 30th, commencing a long five months for fans without trips to Lagoon. One thing to be aware of is the popular Black Friday season pass sale coming November 19-26.
What was new at Lagoon in September this year? Frightmares! But more specifically, there were some new additions and updates to Frightmares attractions in 2018.
Frightmares began on September 14th this year with all the shows and walk-throughs in full swing. Séance returned with an elaborate new entrance, including two tick windows on the south side. The show itself is still the same great show. Hackenslash now has a 360-degree stage built over the top of the Bamberger Fountain. The new show in the Carousel Theatre, Mariner, is based on a poem from 1798.
A new kids’ walk-through was added in the south end of Lagoon-A-Beach. Treat Street is accessed through a gate in Pioneer Village and consists of four booths based on Lagoon rides – Colossus: The Fire Dragon, Flying Aces, OdySea and Samurai. (The sign was added September 28th).
A brand new entrance was created for the Fun House Of Fear and Nightmare Midway (formerly Terrors Of The Past) and lots of things were added to other houses, especially Frightening Frisco.
Aside from Frightmares, work continues to progress on the demolition stage for the new Biergarten between Roller Coaster and Cliffhanger. Many trees, all of the concrete walkways, the Speedball game and even the old ramp on the Roller Coaster building were torn out in preparation for construction work.
The biggest news at Lagoon in August was probably all the work happening on the upcoming Frightmares event. Almost all of the walk-throughs were underway this month, including some new additions.
The most promising addition seems to be the new facade for Seance, shown above. There’s also a new temporary stage being added to the Bamberger Fountain and some small, colorful buildings for a kids’ walk-through.
A change to the park schedule was made that extended daily operation by two days. A special discount was available as well as a few perks for season passholders, but attendance was still relatively low on those days. Shows in the Carousel Theatre ended the weekend before.
Lagoon is now only open on weekends, but Frightmares begins Friday, September 14th with some new attractions so stay tuned!
Out of the hundreds of concerts at Lagoon’s Patio Gardens, some might assume there are many recordings of those concerts available. But in reality, they are extremely rare. For a long time, I thought Stan Kenton’s 1962 concert was the only one. But I was pleasantly surprised recently when a visitor to the website left a comment about a live recording of Woody Herman from 1956.
This CD features the concerts from the 27th and 28th of July, 1956. It was the second of three visits Woody Herman made to Lagoon over the years. The recording apparently originated as a live broadcast by the old Utah radio station, KYBL. It begins with an announcer stating his location at “New Lagoon” – which is how the park was marketed for a few years after being rebuilt from the large fire of 1953.
Woody Herman had a few different bands that played with him during his long career. After his first band was nicknamed “Herman’s Herd”, the usage continued with the Second Herd and Third Herd. The latter group recorded music and toured together from 1950 to 1956.
A notable member of the Third Herd is piano player Vince Guaraldi who later became a well-known jazz artist on his own. Now his name is almost synonymous with Charlie Brown television specials.
Without today’s sophisticated soundboard technology, the piano wasn’t picked up very well on microphones, but Guaraldi’s distinct piano work can still be clearly recognized, like in “Opus de Funk”.
These concerts have been made available by Storyville Records – a Danish record label that started out by reissuing US jazz albums for fans in northern Europe and has since accumulated and released a staggering amount of jazz performances that are often hard to find in America.
Many who have lived in or around Utah for long time will remember ZCMI. For those who are unfamiliar, ZCMI was a regional department store chain that started in Salt Lake City in 1868. The company was eventually sold in 1999 and today the remaining stores have become either Macy’s or Dillard’s.
Now for the Lagoon connection. In the 1990s, ZCMI was a sponsor for Lagoon’s entertainment, such as the long-running show, Rock U2 The Top. In August 1998, ZCMI mailed out a small catalog to customers featuring back to school fashions in various locations around Lagoon.
If you look past the somewhat awkward teenage models, you’ll also see a few things that have changed since that photo shoot two decades ago: Centennial Screamer with its original backdrop, the old ticket booth at the entrance to Colossus and the Skee-Ball games.
Expand the viewer below to flip through the catalog.
This wasn’t the first fashion shoot ZCMI did at Lagoon. Back in the heyday of the Lagoon Opera House, ZCMI ads appeared in the programs with photos taken at Opera House Square like the ones below from 1978 and 1979.
It’s been a long, hot July, but there has still been plenty of different things happening at Lagoon.
The remains of Hydro-Luge were finally removed from the park after sitting there since spring. There is now just a large, smoothed out expanse of dirt where the ride once was.
Complimentary charging lockers provided by local company, Bad Apple, were added in front of Game Time, behind Rendezvous (the Cannibal gift shop) and in Lagoon-A-Beach. They are free and have charging cords for Apple, Samsung and other Android phones and devices.
At the end of the month, changes were being made at the Campground. Subway signs were removed for what will be Lagoon’s third Swig location. Subway had been operating at the Campground since the late 1990s.
There were a lot of promotions for discounted admission in July including Independence Day, Pioneer Day and the Summer Daze week-long promotion.
Work on Frightmares started a little earlier this year at the Davis Pavilion and soon daily operation will make way to weekend-only openings.
In 1988, Pioneer Village celebrated its Jubilee year with a week full of music, contests and demonstrations from pioneer life.
Although Pioneer Village opened at Lagoon in 1976, it originally opened in Salt Lake City in 1938 by Horace Sorenson, owner of the old Southeast Furniture store who had amassed a large collection of pioneer artifacts.
The Jubilee coincided with Pioneer Day and included demonstrations of “bead work, hide tanning, boot making, weaving, spinning, basket making, braiding, sand sculpture, paper cutting and many other crafts” according to the Deseret News, who sponsored the event along with KSL & KUTV.
Entertainment was provided from noon to 9pm every day on the Village Green Stage – a former venue north of Carriage Hall which featured many country musicians in the 1970s and ’80s. “Oldtimers” dressed in clothing of the 1880s would also wander the area and interact with guests.
Watermelon and pie eating contests with “valuable prizes” were also held each day and there were pig races around the street clock at the south end of Main Street.
The biggest addition to Lagoon in May was Carousel Candy – a new shop near the Interactive Fountain that replaced the Lucky Duck and Bowler Roller games. Carousel Candy opened on a school day on May 31st with a variety of novelty candies and toys.
Further additions were made to existing attractions like the new structure at the entrance and locker area of Roller Coaster, complete with new electrical signage. The Log Flume logs were repainted and the exterior of Dracula’s Castle was also enhanced. There’s also a new caricature booth on the corner next to Fascination.
Along with hundreds of schools that visit Lagoon during weekdays in May, there are other groups coming to other events such as the America On Stage national dance competition, USU Physics Day and D.A.R.E. day. Promotions with discounted tickets were available for Mother’s Day and Memorial Day weekend.
A couple of new games have taken the place of the old Drown The Clown game next to Opera House Square. The new games are Wrecking Ball and Tubs Of Fun.
Coming in June – daily operation begins as well as the introduction of two new shows in the Carousel Theater. We could even see the re-opening of Centennial Screamer in its new location, so stay tuned!
Fifty years ago this spring, Lagoon was the setting of a key moment in the history of The Monkees.
Although the band was created by Hollywood producers for a TV show beginning in 1966 and media critics nicknamed them the Pre-Fab Four, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork quickly rose to fame as The Monkees. They sold millions of records while constantly struggling to prove they had become more than just actors, but a real, working band.
When their TV show was cancelled after two seasons in early 1968, The Monkees began filming scenes for a motion picture that followed the formula of pop art style films like The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night while still having enough of their own elements to make it unique. As the director, Bob Rafelson put it:
It’s different from the Beatles’ movies. It’s intense and severe, and it exposes much of what all rock groups went through but nobody had the guts to tell. In the movie we saw The Monkees as victims. The energy had run its course with their old audience. We tried to reconfigure them for the more mature audience who had previously rejected them.
The film pioneered some new special effect techniques like polarization and included appearances by Annette Funicello, Toni Basil, Frank Zappa¹ and other stars.
The final scene in the film was a live performance of a new song entitled Circle Sky – a rock song written by guitarist Michael Nesmith. Plans were made to film the performance at their upcoming concert at Lagoon’s Patio Gardens (now the Game Time Arcade). The band arrived in Salt Lake City along with co-producers Bob Rafelson and then-unknown Jack Nicholson. Later that day, the group were guests at local radio station KCPX.
The next day, 17 May 1968, as technical preparations for the concert were underway, The Monkees rode various rides at Lagoon accompanied by an entourage of Salt Lake City policeman and hoards of fans.
Fans were already lining up at the Patio Gardens when it was decided that the venue wouldn’t allow for optimal lighting for the film shoot and the concert was moved about ten miles south to the three-year-old Valley Music Hall (the large dome building visible from I-15 in Bountiful). The venue had a circular, revolving stage making for a memorable scene.
The events of those two days were documented in 8mm film footage and photos by popular rock and roll photographer, Henry Diltz. Some of that footage can be seen in the video below, which is presented with audio of directions being given to the audience who would be a part of the scene. More footage of Lagoon is available on the Jimi Hendrix: The Guitar Hero DVD.
Because of the confusion from changing venues, The Monkees returned to Lagoon after filming at Valley Music Hall to perform a free, half-hour set to show their appreciation to the fans. It was estimated that about 5,000 people attended at each location.
No one anticipated that night that the performances in Bountiful and at Lagoon would be the last American performances with all four original band members before Peter, and later Michael, left the group over the next couple of years.
The title of the movie was changed from Untitled to Head and the band’s name wasn’t really used in marketing campaigns. The film and the soundtrack album largely failed to change perceptions of the band. Instead, many found it confusing and The Monkees were basically rejected by the audience they were abandoning as well as the ones they were hoping to win over.
Almost two decades later, there was an unexpected resurgence in Monkee-mania when cable networks MTV and Nickelodeon began airing the TV series again. This renewed interest in the band helped make their albums top sellers again and a reunion tour was organized.²
As part of the tour, The Monkees returned to Lagoon, this time performing at Lagoon Stadium, on 29 August 1986 along with Gary Puckett, Herman’s Hermits and The GrassRoots. The band continued to record and release music and even the failed movie, Head, has earned a cult following.