Location: X-Venture Zone / North Midway
Manufactured By: Sky Fun 1 – Longmont, Colorado
Designed By: Bill Kitchen & Ken Bird
Ride Model: Dual-Swing Skycoaster
Max Speed: 80 mph
Max Drop: 144 feet
Arch Height: 173 ft
Launch Tower Height: 150 ft
Number Of Flight Cable Sets: 2
Ride Capacity: 3 per cable set
Hourly Capacity: 36
Height Requirement: 46 in & over
Sky Fun 1 started in 1992 when Bill Kitchen and Ken Bird began offering bungee jumping from a crane in Colorado. Soon they developed the Skycoaster. Instead of a bungee jump, riders swung from galvanized steel cables like a giant swingset. This new ride quickly gained popularity. After the first permanent installation at Kennywood in Pennsylvania, they went on to sell many more in countries around the world in just a few short years.¹ Kennywood is where Lagoon officials first saw the ride in action. “When we saw how exciting and successful it was, we contracted to purchase our own,” marketing assistant Peter O’Bagy told Weber State’s Signpost in 1995.
The site chosen for Lagoon’s Sky Coaster was north of the Game Time arcade and south of Boomerang and the Lagoon Stadium. The old Sun ‘N’ Fun Theatre, where high divers and sea lions once performed, had been sitting there unused for a couple seasons and was demolished to make room for the new ride. Now, instead of world class divers, Lagoon guests could also feel the thrill of plummeting toward the earth.
The giant arch and tower were still being constructed when the park opened for weekends in April 1995. When completed, it surpassed the Sky Scraper as Lagoon’s tallest ride. It was also the park’s first ride to charge an additional fee since the all-day park pass was first required for admission in 1980. Other upcharge attractions were added over the next few years like Top Eliminator and Double Thunder Raceway, forming what became called the X-Venture Zone.
As part of the contract with Sky Fun 1, Lagoon couldn’t change the name of the ride and had to charge the fee of $25 each for 1 rider, $20 each for 2 riders and $15 each for 3 riders. Once the contract was up, Lagoon changed the price to a flat $15 per person. But even with the extra cost to ride, there’s often a good amount of people waiting. In the beginning, you had to schedule an appointment when you bought your tickets and return later for your “flight”.
The experience begins in a small building out front where riders are given a rundown of what to expect and how to ride safely. Employees then help them into their harnesses and the flyers head out to the loading platform. The platform is a scissor lift with walls that fold down to create a ramp for flyers to walk up. Once on the platform, the walls raise up and the platform lifts a few feet into the air. The previous flyers are unhooked and then switch sides with the next group. The platform then lowers slightly so the flyers are left dangling. After a few more checks, the flyers are quickly pulled into the air by a winch on the top of the launch tower and the loading platform returns to the ground.
After being lifted up 153 feet, a designated flyer pulls the ripcord and they immediately begin their free fall descent. Riders come within six feet of the ground before swooping upward over the Midway and Space Scrambler in an arc about 300 feet long. As they swing back and forth, they slow down until they’re able to grab a hoop on the end of a stick being held up by an operator. This helps to slow them down faster so they can be unharnessed and the next group can prepare for their flight.
The cables and ride structure can hold up to 9,000 pounds safely, but the weight limit for the ride is 850 pounds (in order for the winch to work properly).
Until around the early 2000s, riders could buy a video souvenir of their flight on VHS for $10. In the little building to the south of the main building, you could preview the video and decide whether or not to keep a copy. Below is an example of the videos guests could take home and show off to their friends and family.
The video also shows the old concrete grandstand of the former Lagoon Stadium. In 2000, when Double Thunder Raceway was built, part of the track wound around the base of the launch tower.
A powerful security camera was mounted on top of the arch that was not only able to zoom in to focus on a coin on the ground, but could also see traffic for miles up and down I-15. In 2003, the park’s telecommunications administrator was interviewed by Security magazine. He explained that this could help to know if more ticket takers would be needed to handle the arriving guests. He also talked about the challenge of maintaining the camera.
“To reach the camera on top of the Skycoaster, one of our guys needs to climb up the arch wearing a safety harness. The camera is offset from the arch so it can look down on the ride without the structure being in the way, which makes it a little difficult to reach. You have to just lean over and work on it. Its really easy to maintain though, because the doors on the unit fold open for easy access.”
For many years, the Utah state flag and a Lagoon flag were flown from the top of the launch tower, now it’s just the American flag that’s still posted at the top of the arch. The arch originally had color-changing lights, but they haven’t been used for over a decade. For many years, a large, white ghost would hang from the launch tower during Frightmares. Recently it was switched out for one using black material.
MORE FROM LHP
1. After the company changed hands a few times, the original company, known as SkyVenture, became iFly and Sky Fun 1 also developed a sky diving simulator called SkyVenture. It later became iFly and one of the simulators currently operates at the Salomon Center in Ogden.
Lincoln, Ivan M. Lagoon set to open this weekend, weather permitting. Deseret News, 14 Apr 1995.
Lincoln, Ivan M. Flying high at Lagoon. Deseret News, 19 May 1995.
Rose, Mindy. Lagoon amuses patrons with ‘Skycoaster’ ride. The Signpost, 24 May 1995.
Safe Ride. Security Magazine, 8 Sep 2003.
Michelson, Harry. Sky Fun 1, Inc. The Amusement Parkives, 7 Nov 2017.
Skycoaster Information & Specifications. Thrilltime.com, accessed 5 Mar 2023 via Internet Archive.