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2019 Season Recap

Here’s a quick rundown of the rest of the 2019 season, in addition to what was covered in the mid-season recap that was posted in July.

Speedball relocated. Photo: B. Miskin

The Speedball game reopened around the middle of the season just south of Wild Mouse. The old location was demolished toward the end of last season for the new Biergarten. Its new location replaces the Rising Waters game, which is actually where Speedball used to be in the ’80s and ’90s.

The new food stand, Shake It Up (which had been advertised to replace the Day At The Races game since spring 2018) finally opened in August.

New planter replacing old south restrooms. Photo: B. Miskin

A large planter was built where the old south restrooms used to be. Meanwhile, the old north restrooms closed – almost two years after the new north restrooms opened.

The old bell tower in Pioneer Village is now a cell tower. For unknown reasons, the top of the tower was cut off about halfway up and there is a small cellular antenna on one of the posts.

Frightmares kept the park busy into the fall. Some walk-throughs opened two hours earlier on Saturdays than last year. But the season ended two days earlier than planned due to frigid temperatures.

New ride construction progress, September 2019. Photo: B. Miskin

Steady progress continues on the new ride. A few more details were discussed on Fox 13 in September. You can watch the progress during the off-season thanks to regular drone footage from Delorean’s Garage on YouTube. Here’s the latest update:

Season passport sale will be from 23 November to 2 December this year. At $114.95, it’s the lowest price that will be offered for 2020 season passports.

2019 Mid-Season Recap

As we reach the halfway point of the 2019 season at Lagoon, let’s look at what’s been happening so far.

When the park opened on March 30th, the first noticeable change was the area in front of Dracula’s Castle which had been reconfigured with new steps and new planters.

A section of Wild Kingdom Train’s tracks was replaced after the concrete from the station to the tunnel was torn out and re-poured.

Lagoon-A-Beach opened a week late on May 31st because of weather conditions on the planned opening date. (Spring weather was considerably cooler than most years).

Photo: S. Dustman

The new, ornately-decorated Biergarten had a soft opening June 9th with the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on June 20th.

Photo: S. Dustman

It features two restaurants with completely new menu options not found anywhere else at Lagoon. There’s indoor and outdoor seating and details such as the fountain above, based on one in The Hague in The Netherlands.

Photo: S. Dustman

Construction on the new ride, north of the park, seems to be progressing at a steady pace.

New ride construction, 18 May 2019. Photo: B. Miskin

Drone videos from CrossfireGaming on YouTube has been great at documenting the progress. Recently, construction has gone vertical, as seen in the screenshot below.

Looking west at the construction site from above 200 East. You can follow construction on the Delorean’s Garage YouTube channel.

Other small additions are being made here and there. A new electrical sign was finally placed in front of Centennial Screamer, which was relocated to the north Midway last summer.

Photo: S. Dustman

Lagoon’s Instagram account has been busy lately with live tours of areas off limits to guests and interviews with a variety of park employees. So far they have shown followers around the top of Cannibal’s tower, a greenhouse and some maintenance facilities. Most of the videos are only available for 24 hours so you have to keep an eye on their account – @lagoonpark.

Shake It Up, a food stand in the former Day At The Races location on the south end, seems to be getting closer to opening. We still have half of the season to go.

August 19th will be the last day of daily operation for the park this year. Lagoon will be open only on weekends after that, with a few extra weekdays during Frightmares. Lagoon-A-Beach is set to close September 7th with Frightmares beginning September 13th.

Lagoon’s Lunchtime Legacy

“…the picnics are really the backbone of our business here at Lagoon.” – Peter Freed

With millions of dollars worth of thrill rides and attractions, it may be hard to believe that statement by former Lagoon president, Peter Freed. But its part of what keeps people coming back to Lagoon year after year.

Wheelbarrow race at the Crane Company picnic at Lagoon, July 1910. Photo: Mrs. John Risse

Picnics for families, schools, companies, churches and other groups have been a major part of the Lagoon experience since it opened in the late 19th century. Local papers often announced group and company “excursions” to Lagoon in the early days. In 1946, the Freed brothers and Ranch Kimball began leasing Lagoon and started fixing it up after it had been closed during World War II. Peter Freed was in charge of getting different organizations to hold their parties at Lagoon again. It took time, at first, to generate interest in Lagoon again, but soon it snowballed and helped bring life back to the park. Peter described the process in a 2008 interview:

“We would offer them lots of things. Originally we had about three picnic boweries, very old, old decrepit picnic boweries. We would say, you can have this bowery for yourself. We’d reserve it. We’ll have a welcome sign for you saying ‘Welcome whatever-the-name-of-the-company-is to Lagoon.’ And then if they wanted drinks, we would bring drinks to them. It started very small, like everything else, started small. Actually, the picnic business at Lagoon is absolutely paramount to it now. That’s one of the major reasons that we’ve done as well is because of the picnics.

Throughout the history of the park, it’s been a common sight to see families packing in food to the picnic areas. For a short time in the 1960s, Lagoon operated a tram that took guests from the parking lot to their picnic spot. Other traditional parks across the country used to allow guests to bring in outside food and drink, but Lagoon has kept the tradition going decades after other parks ended the policy.

An outing for the American Smelting & Refining Co. inside the Lake Park Terrace, June 1952. Photo: Shipler Photo/U of U Special Collections

For years, added features like PA systems and bingo supplies have also been available to those who make reservations. In addition to picnic shelters, Lagoon also maintains lawns for small family picnics and large playing areas for group activities.

As Lagoon has grown, new picnic shelters have been added, sometimes several at a time. Six were built in 1957 with four more in 1965. When Lagoon started hosting the Davis County Fair again in 1966, they built the Davis Pavilion, which was used as an exhibition building during the fair each year, as well as many other large events.

Kids enjoy the 4th of July in 1962 at one of the terraces north of the Swimming Pool. Photo: Salt Lake Tribune

Many more terraces were added when the park expanded eastward in the 1990s. Since around 2006, some of the older, wooden structures have been replaced by new steel buildings.

The structures serve multiple purposes beyond providing shade for summer parties. Dance competitions are held in a few of them every spring and the larger terraces have occasionally become venues for ice skating performances, hypnotists and other special shows. Towards the end of the season, some of the picnic terraces and pavilions are transformed into haunted walk-throughs for the annual Frightmares celebration. Once the season is over at the end of October, the shelters become storage for ride vehicles and parts for the winter and some even serve as temporary maintenance shops.

Check out this list to learn more about the history of each of the current and former picnic terraces.

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LINKS

List of Picnic Terraces & Pavilions

Picnic Train

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SOURCES

Picnic Facilities Expand. Deseret News, 26 May 1965.

Freed, Peter. Interview by Cal Boardman. Utah Business History Project. David Eccles School of Business, University of Utah. 24 Jun 2008. Video transcript.

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Old Attractions Hidden In Plain Sight, Part I

As new rides and attractions are added to Lagoon, sometimes it’s necessary to remove an older attraction – often to the dismay of fans. But even when an something is removed, remnants are often left behind or repurposed. Here’s a few fragments of the past hiding in plain sight. These are things guests see all the time without realizing or remembering they were once part of a living feature of the park.

FUN HOUSE, 1957-1990

To anyone visiting the park after 1990, it’s an odd-shaped building with a long, sloping roof. But to others it can trigger a deeply-cherished childhood memory. It’s actually part of a larger building that used to be the Fun House.

The slide tower of the Fun House as seen from the Sky Ride in 2018. Photo: B. Miskin

The attraction, completed in 1957, was a replacement for an older Fun House that burned down in the fire of 1953. There were spinning turntables, moving stairs, a spinning barrel – everything you’d expect to find in a classic Fun House. The odd-shaped portion in back housed a set of gunny-sack slides.

View of the Fun House in 1963. Photo courtesy of Deseret News

A common explanation for the popular attraction’s closure is one that is well-known in the amusement industry – liability. With all of the fun things one could do in the Fun House, there were even more ways to get hurt doing them. There are also many who remember the Fun House turning into a kind of “day care” where adults would leave their kids to play while they went to enjoy less kid-friendly rides.

The slide tower is the most recognizable element left of the Fun House, but the rest of the building still stands as well. Parts of it have been carved out to accommodate new food outlets, games, lockers, the Safety & Security office and storage space.

PIONEER VILLAGE RAILROAD, 1976-1988

Steam engine on display near Rattlesnake Rapids. Photo: B. Miskin

On the way to Rattlesnake Rapids there’s an old miniature locomotive on display bearing the name “Rattlesnake Railroad”. Currently, the Wild Kingdom Train is the only train ride at Lagoon. But from 1976 to 1988, there were two train rides of the same scale, both manufactured by Crown Metal Products of Pennsylvania. The second ride circled the perimeter of Pioneer Village and was named the Pioneer Village Railroad.

Pioneer Village Railroad in 1981. Photo courtesy of Deseret News

Since part of the P.V.R.R. ran through what became Lagoon-A-Beach, it had to close during construction in the late 1980s. At one time, it was planned to connect to the Wild Kingdom track for one long train ride, but that plan was never carried out and the P.V.R.R. ended up staying closed permanently.

The station is now the David E. Sperry Model Train Museum and a section of track can still be seen behind the building. The truss bridges were relocated further upstream on Farmington Creek for use on the Lagoon Trail, which runs along the east boundary of the park. The train that was used for the P.V.R.R. is now used for the Wild Kingdom Train. It replaced the engine that is now on display near Rattlesnake Rapids, which is about where the track used to be when it passed the Log Flume.

Read more about the P.V.R.R. here…

HAUNTED SHACK, 1966-1970s

Scene from Dracula’s Castle in 2018. Photo: B. Miskin

The different rooms and scenes in Dracula’s Castle have been changed and updated countless times since the ride opened in 1974. A gorilla that leans over passing riders was added in 2017. Before then, he appeared in Frightmares walk-throughs including the Pioneer Village Scare Zone and Psycho Dave’s Junkyard. For many years, he could be found at the end of Terroride, but that wasn’t his first home at Lagoon.

Haunted Shack in 1973. Photo: Laura Moncur, Starling-Travel.com (color corrected)

The gorilla was originally featured on the front of the old Haunted Shack, which was a fun house of sorts. Photos of the ride when during its earlier years don’t show the gorilla, but he was there in at least the early 1970s, as shown above. The Haunted Shack closed some time before 1980 and the gorilla has roamed the park ever since.

Read more about the Haunted Shack…

HYDRO-LUGE, 1994-2017

This one is a pretty recent addition to the list of former rides. There’s a fairly large lawn just north of The Rocket and Flying Aces. It may seem mysterious to anyone who hadn’t visited the park before 2018 since it’s completely fenced off with no access points.

The former location of Hydro-Luge as it appeared in 2019. Photo: B. Miskin

This was the site of the Hydro-Luge from 1994 until it was dismantled in 2017. With construction going on just north of here, the logical explanation for its removal seems to have something to do with the new ride being built.

Hydro-Luge around 2007. Photo: B. Miskin

Read more about Hydro-Luge…

SPEEDWAY, SR., 1960-2000

This hill in front of The Spider was once part of the Speedway’s overpass. Photo: B. Miskin

In front of The Spider sits a humble hill, that few notice, even as they rest on a bench under the shady trees. Even people who remember the ride don’t realize this is the last piece of one of Lagoon’s most popular rides of the 20th century. This hill was originally part of the overpass for Speedway, Sr., an automobile ride based on Disneyland’s famous Autopia.

The Speedway, circa 1960. Photo: Lagoon

It’s likely that the ride closed because of increasing maintenance costs. The piece of land it once occupied was replaced by two rides – Cliffhanger and The Spider. The service station was also torn down and the Soccer Darts game now sits in its place. Most of the cars were scrapped, but a few were sold.

Read more about Speedway, Senior…

TOP ELIMINATOR, 1996-2011

Pit Row / Rendezvous building in 2016. Photo: B. Miskin

After riding Cannibal, guests exit through a gift shop that is made to match the feel of the ride – except for the south side of the exterior, which has an unusually large sign above a ticket window for Double Thunder Raceway.

Pit Row in 2005. Photo: B. Miskin

The building was built almost two decades before Cannibal opened. The Pit Row sign used to be on front. In addition to the gift shop, there was a ticket counter in the middle for the Top Eliminator dragsters and later, Double Thunder go-karts. In the back northwest corner, there was a small room used for training drivers for Top Eliminator. The large back doors where people now exit from Cannibal were garage doors for the dragsters to be pulled into the building for winter storage. The ticket window on the south side was formerly a door where riders entered the Double Thunder area, which could only be accessed through the building at the time.

After the 2011 season, the ride closed and demolition began on the track in preparation for construction of Cannibal. The control tower was torn down a few years later. A less noticeable piece that still remains is a hill at the west end of Cannibal, which was part of the long berm that extended along the north side of Top Eliminator to reduce the noise from the dragsters.

Read more about Top Eliminator…

PATIO GARDENS, 1954-1969

The large building that currently contains the Game Time arcade, Dracula’s Castle and the Frightmares attraction, Seance, was originally Lagoon’s Patio Gardens – a legendary concert venue that showcased some of the biggest acts of the 1950s and ’60s. Today, you’d never know it once echoed the sounds of Jimi Hendrix or the Rolling Stones, but there are a few small elements still visible from those days, aside from the building itself.

Top of the stage remains above the Prize Center in Game Time. Photo: B. Miskin

The stage was on the north side of the room and you can still see an overhang near the prize counter. The starburst-style lighting ornamentation is also still intact. The game on the outside southeast corner was where the ticket booth used to be.

Herman’s Hermits at the Patio Gardens in 1967. Photographer unknown

Lagoon always drew the biggest acts of the day, but when popular music started veering away from the family atmosphere Lagoon was trying to uphold, management decided to end the concerts and focus on their own in-house entertainment. Concerts were still held sporadically at different locations in the park in the ’70s and ’80s, but it was rarely anything like what was common in the glory days of the Patio Gardens.

The lighting fixtures, visible in a 1968 photo of a Monkees concert, have been altered, but are still intact. Photos: Unknown/B. Miskin

After the Patio Gardens closed, the building was converted into a roller skating rink for a short time. Then it became the Penny Arcade and finally the Game Time video game arcade. Dracula’s Castle was built into the southern portion of the building in 1974.

Click here for a list of famous performers at Lagoon…

RACE TRACK, 1911-1984

If you’ve visited Lagoon on a busy day, you may have had to park out in a large field north of the park. Or maybe you noticed the field from the top of The Rocket or Sky Scraper. Even looking at aerial images on Google Maps, many might not realize this was once one of Lagoon’s many attractions in its early days.

2018 aerial image showing the former location of the Race Track (red) and Lagoon Stadium grandstand (yellow).

Although horse racing was declining elsewhere in the United States, it was just beginning to gain popularity in Utah when Lagoon added their own horse racing track in 1911. Horse racing was outlawed in 1913, but the track and grandstand were still used for a variety of races and events.

Race Track 1914
Spectators during a race between automobile driver Barney Oldfield and airplane pilot Lincoln Beachy. The area in the photo is where Double Thunder Raceway is today. Photo: ‘A History Of Davis County’

Lagoon’s management was close to having stock car races on the track in the 1960s, but that plan was quickly abandoned. Soon after, Lagoon began hosting the Davis County Fair again every year. A new grandstand was built for that purpose while also hosting rodeos and demolition derbies throughout the rest of the season. The county fair moved to a new fairground east of I-15 in the ’80s and Lagoon expanded northward in 1986, taking a chunk out of the old race track. The concrete grandstand remained and a few concerts were held there in the ’80s, but it was demolished in the late ’90s to make room for the Double Thunder Raceway.

Read more about the Race Track…

GOLF-FUN / PUTTER AROUND THE PARK, 1962-2008

A large, cone-shaped stone planter stands in the middle of several new kiddie rides at the north end of Kiddie Land. Some might think it looks like it used to be a fountain, which it was. But it was also part of something bigger when it was built.

The old Golf-Fun fountain has been transformed into a planter today. Photo: B. Miskin

Lagoon’s first miniature golf course was designed by a nationally-known professional in the 1960s. Known as Golf-Fun, each hole featured an obstacle based on different regions of the United States. A couple decades later, it was renovated and renamed Putter Around The Park. This time the obstacles were miniature versions of Lagoon attractions. There was a double loop resembling Colossus: The Fire Dragon, a swinging pirate ship for Tidal Wave and others.

Originally the fountain at Golf-Fun was taller, as shown in this promotional photo.

Many new kiddie rides were being added in the first decade of the 21st century and it’s possible the course just wasn’t popular enough to take up such valuable park real estate. Before Putter Around The Park closed in 2008, Bulgy The Whale had already taken over a portion of it near the entrance. Jumping Dragon was the first to open on the former course, followed by Tipsey Tea Cups, Red Rock Rally, Flying Tigers and Ruka Safari.

LEFT: Ferris Wheel obstacle in Putter Around the Park, 2007. Photo: Sam Wibatt. RIGHT: Ferris Wheel in a planter by Sky Scraper, 2019. Photo: B. Miskin

LEFT: Bulgy obstacle in Putter Around The Park, 2007. Photo: Sam Wibatt. RIGHT: Bulgy obstacle next to Bulgy The Whale in 2017: Photo: B. Miskin

Even with the addition of five rides, Lagoon managed to retain many trees and the old cone-shaped fountain as a flower planter. The obstacles often popped up as decorations during Frightmares. Recently, the Bulgy The Whale and Ferris Wheel obstacles have been repainted and placed in flower beds in the park.

Read more about Golf-Fun & Putter Around The Park…

There are many other pieces of old attractions that weren’t listed here which will be discussed in the second part of the article to come later.

LINKS

Pioneer Village Railroad

Haunted Shack

Hydro-Luge

Speedway, Sr.

Top Eliminator

Patio Gardens

Race Track

Golf Fun / Putter Around The Park

Old Lagoon Attractions Hidden In Plain Sight, Part II

As new attractions are added, sometimes old ones have to go, but they don’t always disappear completely. Here’s a few elements of past rides and attractions that have remained at Lagoon.

Click here for Part I of the article that covers the Fun House, Pioneer Village Railroad & more…

LAKE PARK DANCING PAVILION, 1886

Rose Terrace in 2005. Photo: B. Miskin

Lagoon has dozens of picnic terraces in the northeast portion of the park. The smallest one, the Rose Terrace, sits east of The Bat. It was actually part of a much bigger structure and dates back to the park’s beginnings on the shore of the Great Salt Lake.

Lake Park’s Dancing Pavilion is the tall, open air structure on the left. It was later relocated to Lagoon. Photo courtesy of Deseret News

When Simon Bamberger moved most of the buildings from Lake Park inland and renamed the resort Lagoon, the Dancing Pavilion was taken apart and rebuilt at the new park. Later on, the building was modified to become the Lake Park Terrace with the cupola being turned into its own separate structure. The Lake Park Terrace was demolished after the end of the 2004 season to make room for The Bat, making the Rose Terrace the last surviving piece of the Lake Park resort.

Read more about Lagoon’s Picnic Terraces…

LAGOON OPERA HOUSE, 1968-1989

Nestled in a corner of the Midway, south of Jet Star 2, is a town square that looks like it came from Victorian-era New England. The biggest draw now is the shaded eating areas and fast food restaurants. Fifty years ago it was much more than that.

Opera House Square in 2018. Photo: B. Miskin

Once called the jewel of summer theater on the Wasatch Front, the 300-seat theater and surrounding square was built using as many authentic furnishings as possible. Year after year, successful shows were put on by Robert Hyde Wilson and actors from the University of Utah. Opera House Square also featured the full service Gaslight Restaurant, Ice Cream Parlor, General Store, Popcorn Wagon and ragtime piano player performing in the square between shows.

Interior of the Lagoon Opera House.

In 1980, Lagoon switched from the free admission, pay-per-ride policy to a pay-one-price admission fee, which included unlimited rides, but not shows at the Opera House. Later on, Lagoon leased the Opera House out to other theater companies. In 1989, despite several seasons of critically-acclaimed productions, attendance dropped so much that the show ended two weeks early. It hasn’t reopened since.

Even without the original amenities, the square still provides a quiet, relaxing oasis amidst the modern thrill rides. Subway opened in 1997 with Arby’s arriving in 2001. The theater is still used for entertainment rehearsals and recently, the exterior has undergone repairs to keep it looking fresh.

Read more about Opera House Square…

ROLL-O-PLANE, 1947-2002

Sit & Smoke Station, south of the Touchdown game, September 2019. Photo: B. Miskin

When the Davis County Board Of Health banned smoking in public and private outdoor spaces in 2008, they allowed smoking in areas designated by property owners. Lagoon created eight smoking areas around the park, each with sheltered benches.

One of these sits in the middle of a small lawn next to the Touchdown game on the South Midway. This marks the former location of the Roll-O-Plane, not far from its cousin, the Rock-O-Plane.

Roll-O-Plane in 1991. Photo courtesy of Lagoon

The Roll-O-Plane that stood here was actually the last of three different Roll-O-Plane rides at Lagoon. The first was installed in 1947, but after being damaged in the 1953 fire, a new one was purchased in 1954. An updated model replaced that one in 1972 and it operated on this spot for about 30 years before metal fatigue led to the ride’s removal.

Read more about Roll-O-Plane…

LAGOON LAKE ATTRACTIONS, 1896-1991

Sunset on Lagoon Lake, 2018. Photo: B. Miskin

Reportedly originating as a pond for harvesting ice, Simon Bamberger purchased the acre of land the pond was on and developed it into Lagoon. In the beginning, activities on Lagoon Lake included boating and even swimming for a short time until a portion was sectioned off and made into a pool.

Water Skeeters, 1991
Water Skeeters in their final season. Photo courtesy of Lagoon

Over the years, other water attractions were added such as a fleet of small motorboats and a miniature steamboat. The Water Skeeters – human-powered paddle boats – were the last of the attractions to let guests venture out onto the lake. They closed in 1991.

Row boating on Lagoon Lake, 1953. Photo courtesy of Deseret News

In the early ’90s, Lagoon had some grand plans for the lake that were revealed in the Deseret News. The idea was to build a boardwalk around the edge and place a tall masted ship in the middle for diving shows. Unfortunately, nothing ever came of the plans. Turn Of The Century swings out over the lake the same way the Rockets did before it and a train has circled the lake since 1947.

Read more about the Water Skeeters…

STAGECOACH, 1976-2009

Stagecoach and skeleton horses in the Pioneer Village Scare Zone, 2017. Photo: B. Miskin

The Stagecoach was one of the first rides in Pioneer Village when it opened at Lagoon in 1976. With a loading area south of the Pony express Museum (where Swig is now), guests took a ride behind the Telephone Museum and over Farmington Creek to the open land east of the village. After Rattlesnake Rapids opened, the path was altered.

A view of the east side of Pioneer Village and the Pioneer Pavilion in 1980. From a film by Joseph L. Hatch
Stagecoach in the '90s.
Stagecoach in the 1990s. Photo: Lagoon

The Stagecoach was operated by the Thurston Family who owned the Clydesdale horses. When patriarch Dale Thurston retired, his children took over for a season or two before closing the ride in 2009.

The wagon sat by the old stable for many years before being moved behind the Train Museum. During Frightmares it has been used to decorate different walk-throughs in Pioneer Village.

Read more about the Stagecoach…

LAGOON MUSIC THEATRE, 1982-2008

Front of the Biergarten along what was the back of the Lagoon Music Theatre. Photo: B. Miskin

The Biergarten recently opened in an area bordered by Cliffhanger, The Spider and Roller Coaster. Much of this area was where Speedway, Sr. was located from 1960 to 2000. The Lagoon Music Theatre was built between Speedway, Sr. and Roller Coaster in 1982.

The entrance to Lagoon Music Theatre in 1992. Photo: Lagoon

Many park guests remember relaxing in the shady amphitheater for nightly performances of song and dance. But it closed in 2008 and remained closed until construction began on the Biergarten in 2018. Most of the east planter and part of the short wall along the back of the theater were saved and incorporated into the design of the small German village.

Read more about the Lagoon Music Theatre

LAGOON MINIATURE RAILROAD, 1976-1986

Engine No. 999 on display in Pioneer Village. Photo: B. Miskin

In the Model Train Museum there’s a small train encased in glass. Unlike the toy trains surrounding it, this was once part of a train ride that operated in different parts of Lagoon starting around the 1920s. After two or three decades, the engine and tender were put on display next to Lagoon Lake. When Opera House Square opened, the display moved over there, which is where a miniature train enthusiast saw it and connected Lagoon to someone who could get it running again. The train was brought back to life again in time to become a part of Pioneer Village in 1976. The loading platform was just south of the Bonanza Shooting Gallery and west of the Log Flume.

Lagoon Miniature R.R. in 1977. Photo courtesy of Deseret News

This train ride closed again in the 1980s in preparation for the construction of Lagoon-A-Beach, but never re-opened. The little locomotive was a unique piece of equipment (which was likely custom-made), and it was probably getting difficult to maintain by that time.

“The Olde Engine House” used to stand at the loading area for the Lagoon Miniature R.R. Photo: B. Miskin

Some stretches of track were still visible for at least a decade after it closed, but all of the track has been removed now. The structure from the loading platform was moved east near the Log Flume exit and now covers a group of vending machines. The engine and tender were repainted and put back on display at the Model Train Museum in 2002.

DODGEM & AUTO SKOOTER, 1925-1976

The former Dodgem building in 2019. Photo: B. Miskin

The Scamper bumper cars have only been around since 1977, but the building it occupies has been home to a bumper car ride since the 1940s or earlier. The existing building could’ve replaced an older one that originated with the Dodgem that opened in 1925.

Dodgem building visible beyond the damaged Roller Coaster station after the 1953 fire. Photo courtesy of Deseret News

The building currently houses Scamper and Carousel Candy It can be seen in the photo above, which was taken the day after a large fire destroyed much of the park in 1953. Dodgem continued to operate there until 1965. A newer bumper car ride – the Auto Skooter – opened the following year. Around the early 1980s, this and other buildings along the central Midway got a new Victorian-style facade.

Read more about Dodgem and Auto Skooter

MOTHER GOOSELAND, 1956-1984

The Old Woman’s Shoe in 2012. Photo: B. Miskin

Not far from the Carousel, near the Baby Boats, sits a giant shoe that’s been turned into a house. It represents the old nursery rhyme about the old woman who lived in a shoe. Many people will easily make the connection and some will remember being able to go inside when they were kids. This was just one of several small attractions based on nursery rhymes that were originally part of Mother Gooseland when it opened in 1956. There was also Jack & Jill’s Hill, Peter Peter’s Pumpkin Shell, Humpty Dumpty on his wall and others.

The Old Woman’s Shoe as it appeared sometime around 1956-60. Photo: Janice Staker Brown

Over the years, pieces of Mother Gooseland were removed, but the shoe has remained for over 60 years. The doors were locked some time around the early 1980s, but it still adds character to Kiddie Land, as the area has been named since 1985.

Read more about Mother Gooseland…

LINKS

Picnic Terraces

Roll-O-Plane

Stagecoach

Lagoon Music Theatre

Dodgem

Auto Skooter

Mother Gooseland

Old Lagoon Attractions Hidden In Plain Sight, Part I

2018 Monthly Recap #7: October

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.

New south restrooms. Photo: B. Miskin

Old south restrooms demolished. Photo: B. Miskin

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.

Photo: B. Miskin

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.

2018 Monthly Recap #6: September

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.

Photo: B. Miskin

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.

Photo: B. Miskin

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.

Photo: B. Miskin

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2018 Monthly Recap #5: August

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.

Photo: B. Miskin

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!

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Live At Lagoon, 1956!

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.

1956 newspaper ad

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.

OWN THE ALBUM

LINKS

Live At Lagoon, 1962!

Own the Stan Kenton concert on CD

Patio Gardens

Alphabetical List Of Performers At Lagoon

Chronological List Of Performers At Lagoon

SOURCES

Bang, Derrick. Vince Guaraldi on LP and CD. FiveCentsPlease.org, accessed 13 Jun 2018.

About Storyville. StoryvilleRecords.com, accessed 13 Jun 2018.

Neilson, Craig. Comment on Chronological List Of Performers At Lagoon. 5 Apr 2018.

From The Runway To The Midway

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.

Models show off clothing and portable electronics in Opera House Square, 1978.

words

Modeling a suit in the Lagoon Opera House, 1979.

LAGOON-A-BEACH TOGS

Lagoon’s biggest foray into the fashion world was a clothing line sold at J.C. Penney stores in the area during June and July of 1989. Designed by local artist Martin Blundell to help promote the new water park. The line featured swimsuits, sweatshirts and t-shirts that were specifically designed to endure water, sand and sun. They were later made available exclusively at Rad Brad’s Surf Rags at Lagoon with the possibility of expanding outside Utah if it became profitable enough.

Showing off Lagoon-A-Beach Togs in 1989. Photo courtesy of Deseret News