Puff The Little Fire Dragon

Opened: 27 Apr 1985
Location: Kiddieland
Designed By: Werner Stengel
Manufactured By: Zierer – Deggendorf, Germany
Ride Model: Small Tivoli Coaster
Cost $200,000
Lift Type: Booster Wheel
Max Speed: 16 mph
Max Height: 11 ft
Ride Duration: 50 sec
Track Length: 198 ft
Footprint: 77 x 39 ft
Number Of Trains: 1
Cars Per Train: 5
Ride Capacity: 10 (2 per car)
Hourly Capacity: 600

1983 aerial photo of the area occupied by the Kiddie Coaster and later Puff, The Little Fire Dragon. Photo: Utah Geological Survey

Puff, The Little Fire Dragon opened in 1985 as a replacement for the old Kiddie Coaster, which was installed as part of the new Mother Gooseland area in 1956 and had been closed for at least a couple of seasons before Puff opened.

Puff is a Zierer Tivoli Coaster. The first installation of this ride model was at Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens in 1974. It was designed to look like a row of ladybugs and that design with eyes on the front of each car seems to have been the standard for the ride.

Lagoon had Zierer add a dragon head and tail to the ride and advertised it as the offspring of the popular Colossus: The Fire Dragon, which opened two years earlier. On most of the cars, you can still see the shape of the ladybug eyes in front.

1985 newspaper ad.

In some ways, Puff is very similar to its predecessor, the Kiddie Coaster. It’s a simple coaster that makes multiple trips around an oval track and fits in the same footprint. But unlike Kiddie Coaster, parents can ride Puff with their kids. Another difference is the placement of the station. Kiddie Coaster’s station was on the west side, but Puff’s station is on the east side. A few years later, the tunnel for Lagoon-A-Beach’s lazy river was built directly behind the station.

After a hostage crisis at a school in Cokeville, Wyoming in 1986, Lagoon held a free day at the park for the victims (pictured here wearing visors). Photo courtesy of Deseret News

The center of the ride was landscaped with a waterfall and small pond. There’s no longer water in the waterfall, but there are now mature shade trees and plantings around the edge of the enclosure.

Puff was the only coaster in Kiddieland for years until the addition of The Bat in 2005 and Bombora in 2011.

NOTES

Sadly, one of relatively few ride fatalities at Lagoon occurred on this ride. In April 1989, a young boy thought the ride was over and attempted to get out. The train had gone past the usual stopping point, putting some cars beyond the unloading area. The operator asked if everyone wanted to ride again. The operator started the ride and the boy tried to get back in his seat, but fell down below the track as they went up the incline. He was struck by the train as he climbed back up through the track. After the incident, the ride was closed while police investigated and outside safety experts came to assess the ride. Before reopening, Lagoon made improvements to the restraints and was the first, if not the only park to request added safety features to this particular ride model. The ride has otherwise had a good safety record.

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SOURCES

Lagoon springs into its 90th season with new rides, games and exhibits. Deseret News, 27 Apr 1985.

Rosebrock, Don. Police probing death of boy killed on Lagoon kiddie ride. Deseret News, 1 May 1989.

Campbell, Joel. Youngster killed by coaster had thought ride was over. Deseret News, 3 May 1989.

Small, Middle and Large Tivoli Coasters. Zierer.com, accessed via Internet Web Archive.

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