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.
LAKE PARK DANCING PAVILION, 1886
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
LAGOON LAKE ATTRACTIONS, 1896-1991
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
LAGOON MUSIC THEATRE, 1982-2008
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
MOTHER GOOSELAND, 1956-1984
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.
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.