Category Archives: Past Attractions

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.


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, (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…


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…


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.


Pioneer Village Railroad

Haunted Shack


Speedway, Sr.

Top Eliminator

Patio Gardens

Race Track

Golf Fun / Putter Around The Park

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.


Modeling a suit in the Lagoon Opera House, 1979.


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

Pioneer Village Jubilee

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.

Main Street Clock
Photo from a 1992 Lagoon brochure.

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.

Read more about Pioneer Village here…


Pioneer Village


Deseret News, 11 Jul 1988.

Life in the old West being revived in Pioneer Village Jubilee. Deseret News, 19 Jul 1988.

A Pioneer Holiday At Lagoon

Frightmares has been an increasingly popular Halloween event at Lagoon for over 20 years now. But before Frightmares, Lagoon tried out a short Christmas event.

In November 1994, possibly for the first time ever, Lagoon opened its doors to the public for a post-season holiday celebration. The three-day Pioneer Holiday was basically a community event hosted at Lagoon, similar to the way the Davis County Fair had been held there in previous years. Pioneer Village was the center of activity for the event and no rides were operating. Visitors parked at the historic rock church on Main Street in Farmington, then walked down 300 North to enter a back gate into the park.

Debbie Bernhiesel, left, Olivia King, Liz Heartlin, Sarah Hale & Denise Hillyard plan Pioneer Holiday. Photo: Paul Barker, Deseret News

It was just a few days after Halloween, but the first of many heavy snowfalls during a record-setting November hit the day before the celebration.

The event started Thursday with a craft boutique and luncheon at the Davis Pavilion. Admission to the craft boutique was free. On Friday night and throughout the day on Saturday, admission to the activities in Pioneer Village was $2 per person or $10 per family.

Guests could stop at the Bakery and grab a hot scone with honey butter, blueberry muffin, cookie, Navajo taco or a funnel cake then explore a variety of activities while listening to the Victorian Carolers from Centerville. The activities included:

  • Taffy-pulling, Santa’s Post Office and crafts for kids
  • Indian storyteller Toker Timothy with his two wolves, Kodashaw & Trouble
  • Quilting bee in the old PVRR Train Station
  • Drawing for a Christmas quilt
  • Mountain man exhibits in a teepee
  • Spinning & weaving demonstrations
  • Holiday food booths

The craft boutique continued in the Davis Pavilion on Friday and Saturday where there was also a steady stream of live music provided by local performers. Here’s a schedule of the entertainment line-up:

Friday, 4 November 1994

  • 5:00pm-5:30pm – Christy Taylor, Miss Farmington
  • 5:30pm-6:00pm – Analisa Semadeni, former Miss Farmington
  • 6:00pm-7:00pm – High Priority (Smoot Family band) with High Desert
  • 7:00pm-8:00pm – Ron Behunin Band
  • 8:00pm-9:00pm – Farmington Chamber Ensemble

Saturday, 5 November 1994

  • 10:00am-10:30am – Mike & Angela Page
  • 10:30am-11:30am – Monte Williams & The Crazy Coyote Band
  • 11:30am-12:00pm – Ester Tingey, fiddler
  • 12:00pm-1:00pm – Mike Hansen, guitarist
  • 1:00pm-2:00pm – Ruth Gatrell Singers
  • 2:00pm-3:00pm – The Hay Day Cloggers
  • 3:00pm-4:00pm – Chamberlin Family and
  • 4:00pm-5:00pm – Cinnamon Creek Singers
  • 5:00pm-7:00pm – The Catalyst Band with Joey Hansen
  • 7:00pm-8:00pm – Cori Conners

If not for the success of Frightmares, which began the following year in 1995, the Christmas celebration may have returned and even expanded to include more events and – with the warmer weather in recent years – a few rides may have been opened, too.

It would be nineteen years until Pioneer Village was dressed up in Christmas decorations again, but it wasn’t for a public event. After Lagoon closed for the 2015 season, Pioneer Village became Christmas Land for a Hallmark Channel movie of the same name.

© 2015 Crown Media
© 2015 Crown Media

Did you attend the Pioneer Holiday event at Lagoon? Please share your memories by commenting below or send a message using the form on the Contact page.


Pioneer Village

Pioneer Village stars in ‘Christmas Land’

Lagoon And The Fair, Part I: The Davis County Fair


Lagoon May Beat Record, Exceed 1 Million in ’94. Deseret News, 7 Sep 1994 – Davis Edition.

Boren, Karen. Celebrate ‘Pioneer Holiday’ at Lagoon. Deseret News, 3 Nov 1994.

Lagoon pioneer fest through Saturday. Deseret News, 3-4 Nov 1994.

America Screams…At Lagoon!

There’s an old documentary about amusement parks called America Screams which aired on PBS in 1978. It was an hour long, but was later whittled down to a half hour when it was released on VHS. This edited version can be seen on YouTube. (The Lagoon sequence starts at the 7:30 mark and ends about 30 seconds later).

It’s a rare glimpse at amusement parks and roller coasters at a time when both were experiencing a major resurgence in popularity. On top of that, it’s narrated by the legendary Vincent Price!

The documentary came about when an author and a filmmaker decided to do something that had never been done before. Here’s what the filmmaker, Scott Campbell, told me about how it began and why Lagoon was chosen to be a part of it.

“My partner and good friend, Gary Kyriazi, had written a book, The Great American Amusement Parks, and he wanted to make it into a film. We were both at UCLA at the time and I was majoring in film, so we said, ‘Hey, sounds like fun. Let’s pool our resources and shoot it.’ So we did. He used the contacts he had made while writing the book and he picked the parks. He liked featuring the smaller ‘mom and pop’ parks because that’s how the industry started. He was also very interested in how the amusement park became the theme park – and Pioneer Village was a part of the beginnings of that kind of concept.”

The success of Disneyland and Walt Disney World helped move the industry towards more storyline-based experiences. Pioneer Village opened in 1976 as Lagoon’s first true themed area.

“Interestingly, we shot an entire sequence at Lagoon (and Pioneer Village) for the original hour version of AMERICA SCREAMS that aired around the world. But when it went to VHS, I had to cut it down to 30 minutes, so the nighttime sequence was removed, along with the Lagoon section. There was even a sequence shot in Lagoon’s Fun House (lugging lights from L.A. for that was not a lot of fun), but that sequence didn’t make it into the film – again due to time constraints.”

While we may never see that Fun House sequence, Campbell was kind enough to share the full Lagoon sequences from the original version with the Lagoon History Project. This first clip begins in the parking lot at the old Auto Gate when it was located near the west end of Roller Coaster. Also shown are views from the Sky Ride including a great shot of the old Wild Mouse. It ends with scenes of Pioneer Village which were cut for the VHS version.

It’s easy to see why Pioneer Village was once called a “living museum” when you see employees roaming the dirt paths and boardwalks in period clothing and kids playing with a working water pump.

The original broadcast version also includes another treat. This nighttime sequence is a blend of shots from Lagoon and Lakeside Park in Denver set to the ’60s hit song Palisades Park by Freddy Cannon. It alternates between the two quickly, so I’ve marked the shots that I can confirm are from Lagoon in the clip. The Roll-O-Plane, Loop-O-Plane and possibly the Skee-Ball game could be from Lagoon as well.

Campbell called Lagoon a “wonderful, friendly park” and shared this about making America Screams:

“Price was a joy to work with…and he loved the parks and ‘rolly’ coasters.”

“…that film was a blast to make – most of the parks paid for the travel – they considered it great promotion! You see roller coaster and amusement park documentaries all the time now, but AMERICA SCREAMS was absolutely the first…by a long shot. I remember people saying to me and my partner at the time, ‘What in the world are you making a film like that for – you’re nuts! It will never sell.’ It went on to do great, not only in the U.S., but all around the world, as other cultures peeked in at what the crazy Americans were up to.”

There have been many invaluable photos shared with the Lagoon History Project over the years. They are a great help in confirming dates and attraction information and they have led to very helpful and unexpected discoveries. But unfortunately, these contributions are few compared to how many historical photos of Lagoon actually exist in attics and basements. Film footage (especially from the days before video cameras were commonplace) is even more rare, so I’m extremely grateful for Scott Campbell letting me share these forgotten scenes here. It was great conversing with him about this pioneering achievement.



See more old footage of Lagoon and old Lagoon TV commercials on the Lagoon History Project’s YouTube channel and 14 more videos on Vimeo that aren’t on YouTube.



America Screams., accessed 21 Apr 2016.

Selected Television & PBS Specials., accessed 12 Apr 2017.

Email messages to the author from Scott Campbell, Feb-Mar 2016.


Live At Lagoon, 1962!

Painting of Lagoon's Patio Gardens by V. Douglas Snow, from Ford Times, August 1961.
Painting of Lagoon’s Patio Gardens by V. Douglas Snow, from Ford Times, August 1961.

Lagoon has hosted hundreds of performances by popular musicians and entertainers over the decades, peaking with the shows held at the Patio Gardens in the 1950s and ’60s. Those who experienced them in person usually have great memories from them and many of those who never got to the chance wish they could travel back in time. If only there were some recordings that could help us feel like we were there. Well, there is at least one concert recording from the Patio Gardens that has been floating around for some time now and is fairly easy to get a copy of.

From the newspaper ad announcing the concerts, 24 August 1962.
From the newspaper ad announcing the concerts on 24-25 August 1962.

On a couple of warm, late August nights in 1962, Stan Kenton and his 22-piece orchestra filled the open-air pavilion with smooth, polished jazz music. During at least one of the shows, somebody was smart enough to put the live sounds on tape.

A Night At The Old Nugget

Released by Status Records¹, which specializes in recordings of jazz concerts of the mid-20th century, this recording from Lagoon’s Patio Gardens is one of the many previously unreleased titles that the record label has made available on compact disc.

The instruments sound exceptionally clear and the chatting of musicians and Stan Kenton is audible between songs. The atmosphere conveys the intimate nature of the venue which many seem to recall. Fans of Stan Kenton and jazz music of that time period seem to agree that this particular mix of talented musicians were the best ever collected under Kenton’s leadership. But even if you’ve never listened to the genre, it’s worth giving this concert a listen to get an idea of what could be heard emanating from the northwest corner of Lagoon on summer nights about 50 years ago.

Cha Cha Sombrero


You can own this piece of Lagoon history for yourself by clicking here and help support the Lagoon History Project in the process.

Stan Kenton - Mellophonium Moods

UPDATE: Thanks to a comment on another page of the website, another recording of a Lagoon concert is available – Woody Herman And His Orchestra 1956. Read more about it here…separatorLINKS

Patio Gardens

Alphabetical List Of Performers At Lagoon

Chronological List Of Performers At Lagoon


1. The story behind Status Records is a bit confusing and more than I care to dig into for the purpose of this article. But from what I’ve found online, there are two different companies that released music under the Status Records label. The first was based in Bergenfield, New Jersey. It was an imprint of the larger Prestige Records, which specialized in jazz music, and was basically formed to release budget-priced albums. The second Status Records, which is responsible for this Stan Kenton album, seems to have been a revitalization of the old Status Records, but this time based in the United Kingdom. They have reissued many of the older titles in the Prestige, New Jazz and earlier Status catalogs on CD as well as issuing previously unreleased recordings like this Lagoon concert.


Lagoon newspaper ad. Deseret News, 24 Aug 1962.

Recordings. Charlie Mariano Tribute, accessed 3 Dec 2012.

Mellophonium Moods., accessed 3 Dec 2012.

Labels: Status., accessed 8 Jan 2013.


Racing At Lagoon

Competitive racing has been present in some form at Lagoon since it opened in its current location in 1896. Even earlier than that, Lake Park (Lagoon’s predecessor) held boat races on the Great Salt Lake.

In the early days, Lagoon served as a starting point and finishing line for many races on foot and bicycle. Horse racing was a big draw in Utah when Lagoon opened a new race track in 1911. But after only two years, the races were outlawed. It wasn’t until 1925 when horse racing was allowed again using the pari-mutuel betting. But even that only lasted until 1927.

Race Track 1914
Spectators on 11 October 1914 during a race between automobile driver Barney Oldfield and airplane pilot Lincoln Beachy. From the book A History Of Davis County.

Auto races then became the new thrill in racing and a variety of races were held at Lagoon. After the initial Davis County Fair took place at Lagoon in 1906, it eventually became an annual event from 1929 to 1942. During World War II, Lagoon closed indefinitely and the county fair moved to Kaysville.

In the early 1960s, Lagoon was thinking seriously about expanding and bringing in a wider variety of entertainment. One part of their long-term plans including stock car races on the old track. Even though their proposal was approved by the Farmington City Council, the backlash from local residents was enough to cause Lagoon to withdraw.

Demolition Derby in 1984. Photo courtesy of Lagoon
Demolition Derby in 1984. Photo courtesy of Lagoon

The Davis County Fair returned to Lagoon in 1966. Lagoon constructed new buildings to accommodate the fair and other events including the Davis Pavilion and Davis Stadium (later known as Lagoon Stadium). The stadium would become home to weekly rodeos and demolition derbies until the early ’80s. It was after the 1984 county fair that it relocated once more, allowing Lagoon to expand onto the land utilized by the fair. The Midway was extended northward in 1986 with Flying Carpet placed at the far end (where Samurai stands today).

A few concerts were held at the stadium in the late ’80s, but the venue was used less and less. The concrete grandstand still stood when Top Eliminator was installed on what used to be the race track’s home stretch. These controlled dragster rides were the first to let park guests compete against each other on such a large scale.

The grandstand was demolished around 1998 and Double Thunder Raceway, featuring two go-cart tracks, opened in its place in 2000. Top Eliminator closed for good in 2011 to make room for a record-breaking new roller coaster, Cannibal.

The tradition of racing at Lagoon still continues in 2015. The first foot race in decades, a half marathon/10k/5k was held on April 3rd with the final leg of the race winding around Lagoon’s rides.



Race Track – All about the race track and events held there

Lagoon & The Davis County Fair – The story of the fair at Lagoon

Top Eliminator – History of the ride



Lagoon Speed Carnival newspaper ad. Deseret News, 3 Sep 1920.

Unknown Vandals Attempt To Wreck Big Racing Cars. Deseret News, 6 Sep 1920.

Blodgett, Gary. Auto Racing At Lagoon?. Deseret News, 1 Oct 1964.

Racing Opponents Prepare Petitions. Deseret News, 12 Oct 1964.

Blodgett, Gary. No Lagoon Racing. Deseret News, 13 Oct 1964.

Hess, Margaret Steed. My Farmington: A History Of Farmington, Utah: 1847-1976. Helen Mar Miller Camp, Farmington, Utah, 1976.

Westergren, Bruce N. Utah’s Gamble with Pari-mutuel Betting in the Early Twentieth Century. Utah Historical Quarterly 57, number 1, page 4. Winter 1989.


© Braden Miskin

Lagoon And The Fair, Part III: The World’s Fair

1893 World's Columbian Exposition
Along the Plaisance by C. Graham

The World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 was held in Chicago as a tribute to four centuries since Columbus landed in North America. It would become recognized as a pivotal point in history and culture. Many innovations were introduced at or inspired by this fair including the Ferris Wheel, the Midway, Cracker Jacks, Juicy Fruit gum and Quaker Oats to name a few. It became a standard for future world’s fairs as well as amusement parks, which were increasing in popularity. Among the millions of attendees was Simon Bamberger, a German immigrant who had become an entrepreneur in Utah’s mining and railroad industries. Beginning with his involvement in the Lake Park resort on the Great Salt Lake, Bamberger strove to create a place of beauty and joy. In an age of rapid growth in urban and industrial areas, the exposition with its White City sharply contrasted with American cities at the time. It portrayed the idea of a utopian society which served as added inspiration for Bamberger. After the level of the Great Salt Lake had lowered and left many resorts far from its shore, Simon Bamberger looked inland and with the ideas sparked by the exposition, he created the three-acre Eden Park at the end of his Salt Lake & Hot Springs Railway in Bountiful in 1894. The railway benefited from traffic to the park. When it was decided to extend the line north to Ogden, plans for a larger park to be located at the halfway point were developed. A large man-made lagoon was excavated west of Farmington, buildings and equipment were brought in from Lake Park and the new park, Lagoon, opened there in July 1896.

While the 1893 exposition contributed to the origin of Lagoon, the park’s management in later decades brought home some significant souvenirs of their own. Following are the stories of three World’s Fair attractions that were relocated to Lagoon in the 1960s and ’70s.


Wild Mouse at the 1962 World's Fair in Seattle. Photo from Roller Coasters of the Pacific Northwest, uncredited.
Wild Mouse at the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle. Photo from Roller Coasters of the Pacific Northwest, photographer unknown

The tight turns and quick movements of the Wild Mouse was an unforgettable experience for many including Seattle native Bill Gates, who recalled this and the monorail as his favorite rides at the fair. It continued operating on the fairgrounds after the exposition closed until Lagoon bought the ride and it opened as part of a new expansion north of the park. It operated just north of the Bamberger Fountain from 1965 to 1971. There has been conflicting information about whether or not it was the same Wild Mouse that ran from 1973 to 1989 on the South Midway, but it’s possible that it was the same ride.


Transportation was a necessity of modern fairs that sprawled across hundreds of acres of land. For the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, Greyhound had a large fleet of vehicles built to relieve weary visitors. There were smaller, golf cart-like vehicles called Escorters and three-car trams called Glide-A-Rides. After the fair they were sold off at $5,000 each. One Glide-A-Ride tram was sold to Lagoon who called it the Picnic Train and used it to carry park guests between the parking lot and picnic terraces. So far, I haven’t come across any information about how long this was in use at Lagoon or what became of it.

This photo is claimed to be the Jet Star 2 at Expo '74. Photographer unknown
This photo is reportedly the Jet Star 2 at Expo ’74. Photographer unknown

EXPO ’74 – SPOKANE 1974

The smallest city to hold a World’s Fair was Spokane, Washington in 1974. Railyards and abandoned buildings were cleared away near the Spokane River to provide space for the fair, but also to rejuvenate the city’s center. The star of the fair’s Great Northwest Midway was an innovative Schwarzkopf roller coaster called Jet Star 2. Lagoon bought the Jet Star 2 and it opened there in 1976. It was the park’s fourth roller coaster at the time and has been operating in the same location for over 30 years.



Lagoon And The Fair, Part I: The Davis County Fair

Lagoon And The Fair, Part II: The Utah State Fair

Wild Mouse (1965)

Picnic Train

Jet Star 2



Lagoon Sets 69th Season. Deseret News, 26 May 1965.

Bargains – The Great Souvenir Sale. Time, 8 Oct 1965.

Fun Way To Picnic. Deseret News, 6 Apr 1966.

Smith, Jacob. The Lagoon Resort: A Thrilling Urban Escape. 2005.

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

World’s Columbian Exposition., accessed 3 Jul 2013.

Glide-A-Rides. New York World’s Fair 1964/1965, accessed 30 Jul 2013.

Greyhound Escorter. The World’s Fair Community, accessed 30 Jul 2013.

Amusements. Expo ’74: The Spokane World’s Fair, accessed 29 Aug 2013.

History. Expo ’74: The Spokane World’s Fair, accessed 29 Aug 2013.

The Legacy of the Fair. World’s Columbian Exposition: Idea, Experience, Aftermath, accessed 29 Aug 2013.

Lagoon And The Fair, Part I: The Davis County Fair

Davis County Fair at Lagoon 1906
Part of an advertisement for the 1906 Davis County Fair at Lagoon from the Davis County Clipper.

In the days before big box retailers and internet shopping, state and county fairs were prime opportunities for exhibiting locally-produced goods to nearby areas, aside from being major community events.

It was especially important in the comparatively isolated settlements of Utah before the introduction of major railroads. The first territorial fair was held as early as 1856. Years before Lagoon opened, Farmington – a centrally-located county seat – was considered as a possible host for a fair in Davis County. One of the first recorded references to this was probably a letter to the editor printed in the Davis County Clipper in 1892 when the county’s population was around 7,000 people. It stated, “We have been waiting for the bright minds of Farmington to suggest means for a County Fair to be held in that place about September 25th next.”

The idea was tossed around for years afterward. A large meeting was held at the Kaysville Music Hall in June 1906 to discuss the possibility of a fair in Davis County. The meeting featured speeches punctuated by performances from the county’s three brass bands. According to a news report, one speaker “pointed out in glowing terms the great resources of the county, what she could produce from her soil, her livestock and manufacturing industries, etc. and also the great benefits the county and her people would derive from exhibiting her products to the other counties of Utah and perhaps other states.” Residents voted unanimously to hold the first Davis County Fair that fall at Lagoon. Simon Bamberger, founder of Lagoon and a senator at the time, also spoke saying, “The Lagoon is at your service,” and told those in attendance, “you have the best county in the state.”

After the success of that first fair, a Davis County Clipper article stated, “The Lagoon is an ideal place for holding a fair as there are so many suitable buildings and outdoor attractions.” However, it seems the fair was not initially intended to be an annual event at that point in time. The next fair was two years later when Davis County joined Box Elder, Morgan and Weber counties in the Big Four County Fair. The combined fair was hosted at the Ogden fairgrounds for a number of years as it grew to include counties in neighboring states as well. Davis County had an ongoing tradition known as Farm Bureau Day which was essentially a one day fair at Lagoon. Around the mid-1920s there was talk of expanding the celebration into a full-fledged, annual fair. Governor George H. Dern spoke at the festivities in 1926 urging the county to do just that.

Preparing for the Davis County Fair at Lagoon in 1939. Photos from Deseret News

It wasn’t until 1929 that the Davis County Fair became a regular occurrence and Lagoon was home to the fair until World War II. In 1942, exhibits were dropped and the two-day fair reverted back to a single day. Lagoon remained closed for two or three seasons during the war and it seems there was a chance of it being closed for good. Land was purchased east of Davis High School in Kaysville as a permanent site for the county fair where school buildings such as the fieldhouse were also put to use.

When county fairs were first held on the Kaysville site in the 1940s, fair officials hoped to expand in that location, but surrounding plots of land later became unavailable. Residents of the homes being built around the perimeter of the fairgrounds complained of dust and noise from the fair. By the ’60s, the Davis School District needed space to build an equipment shed and the most obvious choice was the largely unused fairgrounds next to Davis High. The land was sold to the school district in 1964 with an agreement to have one last fair on the site in 1965. A county-owned park in an unincorporated area between Kaysville and Farmington was a decent place for relocating the county fair, but the required buildings and improvements could have taken years to complete. Meanwhile, Lagoon had been thriving since its World War II closure and it already had a race track and several practical buildings for exhibitions and contests. The former home of so many earlier county fairs was starting to look like an attractive venue once again.

Construction of buildings for the fair’s return to Lagoon in 1966. LEFT: Animal exhibit sheds were built west of the grandstand with the help of Davis County Jail inmates. RIGHT: Davis Pavilion was an exhibition building meant to double as a picnic pavilion during the regular season. Photos: Davis County Clipper

A deal was settled upon in 1965 for the fair to come back to Lagoon.¹ New animal sheds, pavilions and a grandstand were constructed on the property. The race track was revitalized after decades of going unused. The return of the county fair to Lagoon in 1966 brought in record crowds estimated to be three times the size the attendance of any previous fair.

Fixing up the fairgrounds at Lagoon in August 1977. Photo: Deseret News

The tradition continued each August with the fairgrounds also being used for events like Boy Scout jamborees. In the early ’80s, another multi-year lease was about to run out and Davis County was looking for a new site for its fair once again. In 1981, Lagoon began maintaining the county-owned grandstand (which stood where Double Thunder Raceway is now) as part of an agreement to purchase them from the county at the end of the lease. But the following winter, Lagoon showed interest in becoming a permanent host for the fair and even talked about donating land north of the park to the county for that purpose. Davis County had $50,000 budgeted for buying land for a new fairground and if it was decided to stay at Lagoon, that money would have gone towards construction of new buildings. The county also looked into the possibility of allowing the grounds to be used by equestrian groups to generate more revenue year-round.

A deal was never reached and the Davis County Fair had its last year at Lagoon in 1984. Livestock pens used since the ’60s were sold off and removed by early June of that year. Temporary pens were set up for the 1984 fair and afterwards, Lagoon went ahead with projects utilizing land once set aside for the fair. In September, construction began on a new maintenance and warehouse building where the pens had been located. A Deseret News interview with Peter Freed in 1982 revealed, “…Lagoon soon will expand to the north, building rides where the Davis County Fairgrounds now stand and the rodeos are held. He [Peter Freed] expects one of the first rides to be a new roller coaster, which he said he expects will cost about $3 million.” It’s very likely that the coaster mentioned was Colossus: The Fire Dragon which cost about the same and was installed the following year on the south end of the park. It wasn’t until 1986 that Lagoon’s midway expanded northward onto part of the land occupied by the race track. There were even plans to build an IMAX theater² somewhere on Lagoon’s property which never came to be.

The Davis County Fair would return to Kaysville for a time before a new, permanent fairground was completed southwest of Lagoon and Interstate 15 in 1990.



Lagoon And The Fair, Part II: The Utah State Fair

Lagoon And The Fair, Part III: The World’s Fair

Lagoon And The Fair Gallery



1. The first ten-year contract required Davis County to pay $3,000 annually for year-round use of the land. In 1975, a new ten-year contract was signed allowing the county to use the grounds for 10 days per year, free of charge. This was based on the fact that the county had made improvements to the property during the previous ten-year lease. It was also at that time that Lagoon paid $20,000 for facilities “previously used for cutter and horse racing tracks.”

2. Read more about the Lagoon IMAX which was never built.



Public Opinion. Davis County Clipper, 17 Jun 1892.

Kaysville Kinks. Davis County Clipper, 23 Mar 1906.

Will Hold A County Fair. Davis County Clipper, 29 Jun 1906.

Excellent County Fair. Davis County Clipper, 5 Oct 1906.

Proved A Big Event Farm Bureau Day. Davis County Clipper, 3 Sep 1926.

Food Cookery Exhibits Feature Davis County Fair At Resort. Deseret News, 26 Aug 1931.

Farm Bureau Sets Davis County Fair At Lagoon, Aug. 15. Deseret News, 26 Jun 1934.

Davis County Fair Opens At Lagoon; Exhibits Colorful. Deseret News, 24 Aug 1939.

Davis County Fair Sets All-Time Attendance Record. Deseret News, 26 Aug 1939.

“Davis Howdy Days” Announced as New Davis Fair Name. Davis County Clipper, 7 Jun 1940.

County Fair Cut To One Day To Aid Victory. Davis County Clipper, 10 Jul 1942.

Davis County Fair Opens at Kaysville. Deseret News, 25 Aug 1950.

Davis Too Considers Fair Site At Lagoon. Davis County Clipper, 4 Sep 1964.

A Fair Question- Where To Locate. Davis County Clipper, 19 Mar 1965.

County Fair, Lagoon Ready For Signature. Davis County Clipper, 28 May 1965.

County Fair Is A Success. Davis County Clipper, 2 Sep 1966.

Davis County’s Fair Aug. 17-19 At Lagoon. Deseret News, 6 Jul 1972.

Fair time in Davis. Deseret News, 23 Aug 1973.

Davis Signs Contract For Fairs At Lagoon. Davis County Clipper, 3 Jan 1975.

Davis celebrates with parade. Deseret News, 21 Aug 1976.

Lagoon to purchase fair-site bleachers. Deseret News, 12 Feb 1981.

Lagoon possible fair site again. Deseret News, 26 Jan 1982.

Davis County Fair expected to pack Lagoon. Deseret News, 4 Aug 1982.

Pearson, Howard. He’s the master of the midway. Deseret News, 6 Aug 1982.

County unlikely to buy new fair site soon. Deseret News, 7 Sep 1982.

Lagoon stock pens are being removed. Deseret News, 31 May 1984.

Winter hasn’t slowed the work at Lagoon. Deseret News, 5-6 Feb 1985.

Arave, Lynn. 4 days of fun on tap at Davis fair. Deseret News, 16 Aug 1999.

History of the Fair., accessed 2 Sep 2012.