Opening Day: 29 March
Closing Day: 28 September
All Day Ride Pass: $5.75
In 1975, Glen Campbell was singing “like a rhinestone cowboy” and a software company called Microsoft was just starting out. Steven Spielberg’s Jaws was a major success and the movie Earthquake was still playing in Utah theaters when an actual quake rumbled through the area on the night of 27 March 1975.¹ The Vietnam War was coming to an end in April and the U.S. was climbing out of two-year recession. A Deseret News interview with Lagoon’s management team featured on the front of the business section reflected their optimistic outlook for the upcoming season.
Two rides from the failed Pixieland park in Oregon were added to Lagoon’s ride list: a Crown Metal Products “Little Toot” miniature train and an Arrow Development Compact Log Flume. Lagoon Corporation president Peter Freed explained, “The trend is away from the circle rides that make people dizzy – and sometimes ill.” The new rides, along with the new Sky Ride added the previous year, were much needed additions after years of new “spin ‘n’ puke” rides like the Rotor, Tumbler, Satellite and Flying Saucer.
The Crown Metal train became known as Wild Kingdom Train and circled Lagoon Lake much like the Animaland Train that opened in 1967. The Log Flume was placed in a new area of the park east of the Swimming Pool which would become Pioneer Village a year later after pioneer homes and buildings were transplanted from other locations.
Lagoon has always offered some form of entertainment along with the rides and other attractions and the 1975 season was no different. F.G. Ferre presented a weekly demolition derby on Friday nights (Saturday nights during the early spring) and rodeos were held every Saturday night during the summer. Robert Hyde Wilson his University of Utah Theater players (including Ron Van Woerden who would later became Lagoon’s entertainment director) presented three different plays at the Lagoon Opera House from May to August. “Bye, Bye Birdie” opened the season, followed by “Damn Yankees” and “Paint Your Wagon.” The Lagoon Marching Band began nightly performances on June 17th. A concert was held at Lagoon Stadium on Pioneer Day featuring country artists Jack Greene & Jeannie Seely in three separate performances.
EVENTS & PROMOTIONS
Like most amusement parks at the time, Lagoon sold tickets to each ride instead of charging an all-inclusive entrance fee. The option to “Pay One Price” was available for $5.75. If you went on Sunday, Monday or Thursday it was $.50, or as low as $3.50 with a discount ticket from 7-11 stores. Better yet, if you waited until the end of the season, the carload special could get you and up to 9 other fellow travelers an All Day Ride Pass for $1 each. Every Saturday night was Date Night with 2-for-1 pricing available.
Bingo Nights were held at the Gaslight Gardens terrace in Opera House Square on Sunday and Wednesday nights. The rodeo grounds, pavilions and other nearby areas were used for Boy Scout jamborees and county fairs and rides were open to those who attended. The Salt Lake Tribune sponsored an Old-Fashioned 4th of July celebration with free prizes, go-kart races, a rodeo, square dancing, fireworks and even a high-wire act. Here’s a list of other events and promotions that brought guests to Lagoon in 1975:
Apr 5 – (Belated) Easter Egg Party (“Thousands of FREE Easter Eggs, Hundreds of FREE Prizes”)
Apr 19 – KCPX Sock Hop (6pm, $1 per person)
Apr 24-25 – KALL & KUTV’s Spring Bargain Spree (“10¢ on most all rides!”)
May 2-3 – Great Salt Lake Council Boy Scouts “Explo ’75”
May 11 – Mother’s Day (“Mothers Ride Free! On all Lagoon’s 31 rides when accompanied by a child!”)
May 24-26 – All Rides By The Hour 99¢ (“Ride all the rides you can for only 99¢ an hour! Kids and adults!”)
Jun 4 – KCPX’s School’s Out Party (“All Rides, Swimming and Dancing $3.00 per person 7:00 p.m. till closing”)
Jun 13 – Deseret News 125th Birthday Party (Coupons from the paper give you $2 in tickets for only $1)
Jun 15 – Father’s Day (“Dad rides Free when accompanied by Child”)
Jun 20-Jul 3 – Free Rides for A’s and B’s (“Bring Your Report Card to Lagoon – Limit 8 rides per Student”)
Jul 4 – The Salt Lake Tribune’s Old-Fashioned 4th (Contests, free rodeo, fireworks and more)
Jul 5 – Free tickets available at Smith’s Food King and Warshaws Giant Foods stores
Aug 2 – KCPX Summer Splash (“Swimming, Dancing and All Rides $3.00 Per Person”)
Aug 21-23 – Davis County Fair
Sep 1 – Labor Day Treasure Chest Give-A-Way – Free Fireworks Display!
Sep 13-14 – All Day Ride Pass only $3.50
Sep 20-21 – $10 per carload (“Ride all the rides – all you want – all day long. Parking is included.”)
Sep 27 – 15 Free Rides per person, Free Hot Dog, Free Bingo, Free Rock Group, State Championship Demolition Derby
Sep 28 – 15 Free Rides per person, Free Hot Dog, Free Bingo
MORE FROM LHP
1. Earthquake was inspired by the San Fernando Earthquake of 1971. The Pocatello Valley Earthquake of 1975 was centered near the Utah-Idaho border and was coincidentally “the strongest quake in the U.S. since the 1971 shock in San Fernando,” though not as destructive. Newspaper reports told of how some people were in theaters watching the film when they felt the ground shaking, but assumed it was part of the film’s special effects. Multiple accounts of the event can be found here.
1975 Year in Review: Financial Crisis. UPI.com, accessed 20 Apr 2013.
Lagoon to open; new rides planned. Deseret News, 26 Mar 1975.
Irvine, Arnold. Soon…Lagoon can turn a frown upside down. Deseret News, 5 Apr 1975.
‘Birdie’ opening at Lagoon. Deseret News, 24 May 1975.
Pearson, Howard. ‘Birdie’ gives Lagoon exciting opener. Deseret News, 30 May 1975.
Spend your 13th with DesNews. Deseret News, 11 Jun 1975.
Seeley, Greene slated at Lagoon. Deseret News, 21 Jul 1975.
Pearson, Howard. ‘Paint Your Wagon’ a triumph. Deseret News, 1 Aug 1975.
Stone, Mike. Pixies in the Valley: Oregon’s Pixie Kitchen & Pixieland. Infinity Publishing, West Conshohocken, PA. 2010.
Hannigan, John. Disasters Without Borders. Polity Press, Malden, MA. 2012.
Wilson, William S. On the Celluloid Chopping Block: Earthquake (1974). Video Junkie, 12 Aug 2012.
Pixieland. PdxHistory.com, accessed 9 Feb 2013.
Summary of Pocatello Valley 1975 Earthquake. University of Utah Seismograph Stations, accessed 8 May 2013.
Fall of Saigon to Communist troops marks the end of the Vietnam War on April 30, 1975. HistoryLink.org, accessed 8 May 2013.