Tag Archives: Wild Mouse

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.

CENTURY 21 EXPOSITION – SEATTLE 1962

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.

NEW YORK WORLD’S FAIR – NEW YORK 1964-65

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.

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LINKS

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

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SOURCES

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. ExpoMuseum.com, 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 ’65

Lagoon '65
Photo/Artwork: Deseret News

When Lagoon first opened in its current location, it was much smaller than it is today. New rides and attractions are being added almost every year, but eventually the size of the park needs to expand to accommodate everything, not to mention the added crowds that come to visit.

One major expansion began in 1964 when 60 acres were acquired north of the park. A portion of Lagoon Lane (which used to run east to west along the northern boundary of the park) was closed and park offices were moved with the intent of some day hosting the Utah State Fair. The agreement was that Lagoon would take ownership of the land and the park would make improvements on the land. Some attractions were relocated, new ones were added and the area opened in spring of 1965.

This expansion was so significant at the time that an entire section of the May 28th Deseret News was devoted to Lagoon. Many of the advertisements¹ in the section even included references to Lagoon and the new expansion. Here’s a look at each of the attractions in the area.

North Midway '65
Drawing of the new North Midway from the Deseret News.

THE JULIAN M. BAMBERGER FOUNTAIN

Bamberger Fountain Plaque
Photo: B. Miskin

The centerpiece of the addition was a new fountain named in honor of Julian M. Bamberger. Son of Lagoon’s founder, Simon Bamberger, Julian took over operations of the park and the Bamberger Railroad after his father was elected governor of Utah. He remained the owner as the Freeds began leasing the park in 1946 until they bought it from Bamberger in the ’70s. The paper described the fountain as, “a 50-foot pool with sprays and jets that will shoot water 35 feet high accompanied with dramatic lighting effects”. A plaque can still be found on a rock sitting next to it which states the fountain was “presented by his wife to Lagoon for its beautification and the enjoyment of its patrons”.

FLYING SWINGS

Added to Lagoon in the previous season, this may have been one of the relocated rides. The Flying Swings were, at least in 1965, on the west side of the Midway not far from the Patio Gardens, roughly where Space Scrambler currently sits.

FERRIS WHEEL

This particular Ferris Wheel replaced an older one in 1953. It survived the devastating fire that November and has been moved a few different times, but has always been somewhere on the north end. It was permanently removed in 1990.

WILD MOUSE

Wild Mouse, ca. 1970
Wild Mouse ca. 1970. Screen capture from Parks Of The Past, Volume 1 DVD²

The major attraction was a Mack Wild Mouse which had previously been in use at the recent World’s Fair in Seattle. (The same World’s Fair for which the iconic Space Needle was built). The ride only lasted here a few years before being removed. Soon after it was rebuilt and improved on the South Midway.

SPACE SCRAMBLER

Originally opening at the park in 1961, this ride has also moved around quite a bit. In 1965, it was placed just east of the Wild Mouse, close to where the entrance to Jet Star 2 is now.

HI-STRIKER

Wild Mouse, Bing-O-Reno, Popcorn Wagon
Image from a May 1965 newspaper ad.

Hi-Striker, the classic midway game where participants test their strength³, came to Lagoon in 1964 and could be found next to the Basketball game in 1965. Both Hi-Striker and Basketball would have been moved when Opera House Square opened in 1968. There could also have been more than one different Hi-Striker before and after 1964. An electronic Hi-Striker was installed in 1995, but it wasn’t operating in the 2015 season. Instead, a much smaller, portable version called Rocket Launch was placed in front of it. An even smaller, kid’s Rocket Launch game opened south of the Gourmet Burgers & Chicken stand. A new electronic Hi-Striker with sound effects and a scrolling marquee replaced the old one in 2016. Allegedly, it was purchased from Knott’s Berry Farm and refurbished.

BASKETBALL

Also known as the Basketball Toss, this game was introduced in 1964 as well. It’s very similar to the Slam Dunk game that exists today.

BING-O-RENO

The only mention of this game I’ve found is in advertising from May 1965. It might simply be some kind of variation on the game of Bingo.

POPCORN WAGON

Ranch Kimball (left) and Robert Freed (right) at the new Popcorn Wagon. Flying Swings in the background. Photo courtesy of Deseret News

This antique popcorn wagon originally served hamburgers at 2nd East and 3rd South in Salt Lake City. These popcorn wagons were produced by C. Cretor & Co. around 1910. According to the May 1965 Deseret News article, it’s a 1907 White Motor Company truck which was “completely restored and rebuilt by Charles W. Cram of the Kimball-Cram Sign Company”. It was moved to Opera House Square when it opened in 1968 and can be seen on the left in the photo below.

Opera House Square

The next major expansion to Lagoon opened about a decade later when Pioneer Village opened on the east side of the park.

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LINKS

Lagoon And The Fair, Part I: Davis County Fair

Flying Swings

Wild Mouse

Space Scrambler

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NOTES

1. You can look through the special Lagoon ’65 section and see the special Lagoon-related ads from Broadway Music, Clover Club, Lynn Wilson’s, Felt Electric, Continental Bank, Mountain Dew, Hi-Land, Wirthlin’s, Anderson Lumber & AG Food Stores. The Felt Electric and Anderson Lumber ads both mention their services were used in the new expansion.

2. From the DVD Parks From The Past, Volume I available from Sharpshooters Productions. Used with permission.

3. Here’s an article from an issue of Popular Mechanics in 1935 which explains how High Striker games were controlled by operators to alter the results.

 

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SOURCES

Lagoon ’65. Deseret News, 26 May 1965.

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

Lagoon’s Games. LagoonIsFun.com, accessed 8 Dec 2010.

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