Baby Boats

a.k.a. Boats, Kiddie Boats
Opened: 27 May 1949
Location: Kiddieland
Manufactured By: Allan Herschell Co. – North Tonawanda, New York
Ride Model: PT Boats
Number Of Boats: 6 (plus 1 lead boat)
Ride Capacity: 12 (2 per boat)

Because of the baby boom that followed World War II, small amusement parks with rides built just for kids spiked in popularity in the middle of the 20th century. The Allan Herschell Company was one of the major manufacturers of children’s rides at the time. One of their many different ride models was a boat ride. They called them PT Boats and were loosely based on the Patrol Torpedo boats used by the Navy.

Baby Boats in its original location, taken sometime from 1949 to 1954. Notice the two kids on the right seated on the tugboat, facing backwards. Photo: Lagoon

In the late 1940s, Lagoon was also building up its collection of kids’ rides. They added a Herschell PT Boats ride in 1949 and called it Baby Boats. Early photos of the ride show it with the Kiddie Autos in a spot not far south of the Carousel. It would’ve been relocated from there by the mid-1950s when the Octopus was moved to that spot. That’s most likely when Baby Boats moved to its current location east of the Carousel. In 1956, many more kids’ rides were added and the area became Mother Gooseland.

Baby Boats in 1952. Photo: Shipler Collection, University Of Utah
Baby Boats, sometime before 1956. Photo: Janice Staker Brown

Baby Boats (also occasionally referred to over the years as the Kiddie Boats, or simply, Boats) was originally in a metal trough that sat on top of the ground, like most Allan Herschell boat rides. Lagoon filled the center of the ride with soil topped with lawn and flowers.

Around the mid-50s, the metal walls around the trough were either replaced or a lip was added along the top of the walls. Photos show that guests were able to walk right up to the edge of the trough until about 1977 or ’78 when a fence was placed around the ride. After the end of the 1981 season, the metal trough was removed completely and a new concrete trough was poured which was lower to the ground. Knee pads were recently added around the edge.

The rotating arm in the center supplies power to the lead boat, which propels the linked boats along the channel. The lead boat does not have seats. Today there are six boats that seat two kids each. Older photos show as many as seven or eight boats with a tugboat as the lead boat.

The boats may have been replaced by models from Bradley & Kaye in the ’70s or ’80s. The current fiberglass boats were added in 1992. The boats were repainted in various bright colors in 2008. They were each given a name at that time with a small flag mounted on front. Each boat was given its own name. The current names are:

  • S.S. Sally Mander
  • The C. Horse
  • The Goldfish
  • S.S. Dolphin
  • The Starfish
  • The Guppy

The lead boat says “Lagoon Tug & Tow, Since 1963”. The significance of that year is unknown, unless it was just confused to be the opening year of the ride (the nearby Helicopters did open in 1963).


Kiddie Autos

Kiddie Coaster

Sky Fighter

Speedway, Jr. (original cars)



An unfortunate incident occurred in 1954 when a small child accidentally backed into the waterway and was hit by the propellers of the tugboat. He was reported to be in satisfactory condition the next day after receiving hospital treatment.


Lagoon Opens Friday, May 27. Salt Lake Telegram, 25 May 1949.

PT Boat History., updated 4 Apr 2005.

Facebook message to author, Sep 2022.

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