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2020 Season Recap

When unusually cold weather caused Lagoon to close two days early in fall of 2019, nobody expected the park’s opening in the following spring to be delayed for almost two months because of a worldwide pandemic.

Lagoon announced the delayed opening this year on March 17th, a couple of weeks before the scheduled opening. At the end of a April, it was announced that season passport holders would be able to use their 2020 pass in 2021 if they didn’t use it this year. For a while there was a lot of uncertainty about when, or if, the park would open in 2020.

Then in May, there were signs of hope. The campground opened on May 8th (only a week later than planned) and on May 14th, the Biergarten opened before the rest of the park with face masks and social distancing required. Lagoon was finally able to open completely on May 23rd, but it wasn’t quite business as usual.

Face-covered guests keeping their distance at the front entrance. Photo: B. Miskin

In addition to the distancing and face mask requirements, a reservation system was put in place to avoid crowding at the front entrance. Anywhere a line was expected to form, there were markings painted on the ground to keep people six to eight feet apart. Starting on June 15th, face masks were also made mandatory in ride queues.

A new Kiddieland ride, Engine 86, was ready and waiting on opening day, just east of Jumping Dragon. Pathways in the area were realigned and later in the season, new elements were introduced to the ride experience. The bell on top of the building rings, smoke pours out and the windows show flames being put out by a fire crew.

The new ride for 2020, Engine 86. Photo: B. Miskin

Lagoon-A-Beach opened a few days after the rest of the park. Then on June 21st, a Facebook post said the water park would not be open because of “unexpected emergency pipe repair caused by a water pressure spike following a brief power outage in the middle of the night.” Everything was up and running again two days later.

The night show at Carousel Theater, Big Top, was cancelled and the Smoke & Mirrors magic show opened May 30th as the only entertainment offering for the summer. Many guests found a different form of entertainment by tracking down small signs that began popping up around the park in June.

Tiny sign on a bench in Pioneer Village. Photo: B. Miskin

The Soccer Darts game on the South Midway was replaced by the new Hang Time Challenge where players would simply hang from a bar for up to two minutes. It’s a lot harder than it sounds, and it drew a lot of players and spectators. Several other games remained closed all year.

Hang Time Challenge before opening in June 2020. Photo: S. Dustman

Discounted admission prices were available during the summer months. In June, students and faculty members were able to get in for about half the normal price since schools weren’t able to have their regular school day trips. Healthcare workers received discounts in July, followed by a back to school special in August. A few different specials were also available throughout Frightmares. There were also plenty of discounts on food and merchandise for season passport holders.

Long-time Lagoon president and manager Peter Freed passed away in late August. He was the last surviving member of the group that brought Lagoon back to life after World War II and helped it grow into the park we enjoy today.

On the night of Labor Day, a huge windstorm ripped through the Wasatch Front with gusts up to 99 mph in Farmington. Lagoon is no stranger to high winds, but this was the worst to hit the park in a while. Employees worked to clear fallen trees and debris in time to open as planned that weekend.

Photo: B. Miskin

Aside from many downed trees, some picnic terraces were damaged and tarps on the top of Turn Of The Century and Musik Express were ripped off by the wind. The most significant harm occurred to Bulgy The Whale. Fans of the ride are hoping for its return. After the ride’s removal, a single whale was mounted in the middle of the ride enclosure and “save the whale” signs were posted around the parking lot. This may have all been sort of tongue in cheek, but at the same time, Bulgy was one of the first Lagoon rides for generations of guests.

Single riders only. Photo: B. Miskin

In September, the Game Time arcade was suddenly half empty. Rumors started flying immediately, but the most likely explanation that’s been heard is that the west portion will be transformed into an employee training room and the Prize Center will be moved to the east portion of the building where the arcade will continue operating in a smaller space.

Photo: B. Miskin

Frightmares started a week earlier than planned in September and the last day was pushed back from Halloween to November 1st. Throughout the summer, the park had been closed by 8pm, but during Frightmares it stayed open until 10pm on Fridays & Saturdays.

Vampires at Nightwalk, 2020. Photo: S. Dustman

The Biergarten remained open well after the end of the season. And now the annual Black Friday season passport sale is underway until December 1st.

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