Opened: 12 Apr 2003
Location: South Midway
Manufactured By: Maurer-Söhne – Munich, Germany
Ride Model: Xtended Spinning Coaster 2000
Max Speed: 38 mph
Max Height: 53 ft
Max Banking: 82°
Min Slope: 50°
Ride Duration: 1 min, 10 sec
Track Length: 1,410 ft
Footprint: 76 x 148 ft
Number Of Cars: 8
Ride Capacity: 4 per car (2 rows of 2 seated back to back)
Hourly Capacity: 900
After Speedway, Sr. closed in 2000, two new rides were added to the space it once occupied. The first was Cliffhanger in 2001 and the second was The Spider in 2003.
The Spider was Lagoon’s sixth operating roller coaster up to that time, arriving only five years after the current Wild Mouse. While they both have about the same footprint and were both made by German manufacturer Maurer-Söhne, The Spider is a very different ride experience. With spinning cars that unlock after reaching the top of the lift hill, every ride on The Spider can be unique.
The Spider at Lagoon was the first of this particular model by Maurer-Söhne to be installed in North America. A couple others had been traveling the German fair circuit before they were more permanently installed at different parks in Europe. Both have since been relocated, making Lagoon’s the longest-running installation of this model to remain operating in a single location.
In a first for Lagoon, photos of construction progress were posted on their website almost daily from December 2002 until the day before the park opened for the year. The 12th of April was opening day for 2003. It was a cold, windy Saturday and The Spider opened as planned – but only operated for a mere 15 minutes. It opened the next day for three hours. The cause of the ride’s problems was determined to be the wheels on the cars. Maurer-Söhne sent new wheels overnight and crews worked for almost 72 hours straight to get it ready for the following weekend.
Finally, on 19 April, The Spider had a proper opening at 2pm with sunny weather and hundreds of guests waiting to ride. The counts showed the number of riders that day nearly matched the amount of people who were at the park (although many of those were re-rides).
The ride alone cost $3 million and Lagoon spent another $1 million on theme elements and landscaping. The giant black widow spider at the entrance was made by Pioneer Manufacturing & Welding in West Valley City. Owner and sculptor Richard Prazen had six weeks to build it and said, at the time, it was the biggest thing he had ever built. His team spent time researching black widow spiders and even observing real ones to get the sculpture to look as accurate as possible.
The giant spider stands about 15 feet tall, covers a 27-foot diameter, weighs 2,800 pounds and cost $50,000. The legs, waist and head are made of steel, but the abdomen is epoxy resin and fiberglass. Every few minutes, a spray of water bursts from the spider’s mouth. The hourglass marking and eyes are made of glass in order to be lit from the inside and were created by local glassmaker Jenkyn Powell. Lagoon liked how the sculpture turned out so much that they had a second one built to put inside the ride. The smaller spiders on the ride’s fencing were created by Lagoon’s in-house welders.
Before opening, the planned name was The Spider And The Fly, but it was soon shortened to The Spider. A logo with the longer name still appears on each car. The apparent idea behind the name was that the cars were like flies trying to escape a spider’s web. Inspiration for the original name and the winding staircase may have come from an old poem by the same name.
“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,Excerpt from The Spider and the Fly
“‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I’ve a many curious things to shew when you are there.”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”
by Mary Howitt
The castle tower also makes Lagoon’s Spider unique compared to other installations of this ride. Normally, riders enter and exit the station from the front. At Lagoon, riders enter the concrete tower at the southwest corner of the ride, then climb the stairs to the top where the queue crosses the track and enters the back of the station. At the end, riders exit down a concrete ramp in front, which is also used for wheelchair access.
During the 2015-16 off-season, The Spider was completely dismantled and repainted. During the repainting, the color of the supports were changed from pink to grey.
The ride’s PLC, the computer that controls the ride, was replaced during the 2016-17 off-season and the ride re-opened the following May. After that, the canopy over the station was extended a little to the east.
A switchback portion of the queue before the tower used to wind through a small, wooded area between the ride and what used to be the Lagoon Music Theatre. In 2019, that portion of the queue was cut off when the Biergarten opened. Within the next year, the large trees and the cobblestone queue were completely removed and replaced by an access pathway.
MORE FROM LHP
Other Lagoon Rides by maURER-SöHNE
Oberbeck, Steven. 2,800 Pounds of Ugly to Lurk at Lagoon. The Salt Lake Tribune, 21 Mar 2003.
Arave, Lynn. Spider debuting at Lagoon. Deseret News, 11 Apr 2003.
Ball, Fred. Speaking on Business – Pioneer Manufacturing & Welding Inc. KSL Radio, 18 Apr 2003.
Minton, Eric. It’s a spinning coaster! The Loop, Apr 2003.
RCDB.com, accessed 1 Jan 2023.
Construction Progress. LagoonPark.com, accessed 26 Feb 2023 via Internet Archive.