1886-1940 Edit

In 1886, The Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad built a resort on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. It was called Lake Park, and was one of several resorts built along the lake throughout the late 1800s. Through the years, the lake level receded drastically until Lake Park was far from the lake and it closed by the end of the 1895 season.

Sanborn Map of Lagoon (1911).

Lagoon Map 1911

Sanborn Map of Lagoon (1911).

Simon Bamberger, who was building his Salt Lake & Ogden Railroad line from Salt Lake City to Ogden, Utah, was vice president of Lake Park and a 25% owner. To increase passenger traffic on his line he bought most of the original Lake Park buildings from the D&RGW and moved them about 3 miles (5 km) east near Farmington, Utah. This gave the residents of Salt Lake City (and later, Ogden) a reason to travel over the "Bamberger." The resort was named Lagoon for the small body of water located on the original forty acres (162,000 m²). The original lagoon was used to harvest ice in winter; Bamberger had it enlarged to 9 acres (36,000 m2) by clearing some swampland.

Lagoon opened in Farmington, Utah on 12 July 1886, and included "Bowling, Elegant Dancing Pavilion, Fine Music, A Shady Bowery and Good Restaurants." In 1899, Shoot-the-Chutes, the park's first thrill ride, was added.  In 1900 guests began swimming and rowing boats in Lagoon Lake. Over time more rides were added, such as the authentic Herschel Spillman Carousel and Cagney 12 in (305 mm) miniature gauge Miniature Railroad. In 1901, the park hosted a minor league baseball team in the Inter-Mountain League

In 2003 Lagoon celebrated the 110th birthday of its hand carved carousel that was built in 1893 and purchased by Lagoon in 1906. The carousel consists of 47 animals including: a chicken, swan, snail, lion, tiger, a frog in short pants and a bow tie, a sea dragon, a long-horned goat, a zebra without a saddle, a stork, and a giraffe. In 1953 when the "White" Roller Coaster caught fire, (owner) Robert Freed came down and sprayed the merry-go-round with water to protect its hand-carved figures.

One of the most popular rides today is Lagoon's famous wooden roller coaster. Designed by John Miller of Coney Island fame; it was constructed in 1921. Miller gave Lagoon's coaster plenty of dips and turns. Its highest height is fifty-seven feet, and the length of track is two thousand five hundred feet. The ride lasts just under two minutes and the coaster train reaches speeds up to 45 mph (72 km/h). It is locally known as the "White Roller Coaster" due to its white wash paint.

In 1927 a 1.5 million U.S. gallon (5,678 m³) swimming pool with "water fit to drink" was built north of Lagoon Lake. It was one of the first filtered swimming pools in the west, and was a cleaner alternative than swimming in the briny Great Salt Lake.

Lagoon's Carousel. Edit

The 1920s and 1930s were popular years at Lagoon. There was betting and horse racing there in the 1920s, but the Utah State Legislature put a stop to that only a few years after it began. The first Fun House was built in 1929, along with many other midway shows, rides, and games. During the "Big Band" era Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Glenn Miller played Lagoon's stage.

1940-1970 Edit

The park closed for three seasons during World War II. By 1946 the park was in bad condition and on the brink of permanent closure. The Bamberger family considered razing it. However, Ranch S. Kimball and Robert E. Freed, seeing an excellent opportunity, convinced the Bamberger family to lease the park to their newly formed Utah Amusement Corporation. Ranch Kimball served as President with Bob Freed serving as Secretary and Assistant Manager. (The Freed Family's Lagoon Corporation bought the resort outright from the Bamberger family in 1983.)

When the Utah Amusement Corporation took over the lease of Lagoon, a Farmington town ordinance prohibited African-Americans from using the swimming pool and the ballroom. By the end of the 1940s, Robert Freed had fully opened Lagoon to the black community, and further extended this policy to the Terrace Ballroom (formerly the Rainbow Gardens) in Salt Lake City.

Lagoon Map 1949

Map of Lagoon in 1949.

The Freed family made several improvements, including the installation of new dressing rooms and a general overhaul of the swimming pool in 1949, a rebuilt fun house and the introduction of the "Dodgem Cars" and the "Lakeshore Express" miniature diesel train in 1951, and a new Ferris wheel in 1953.

In November 1953 a fire destroyed much of the park, including the fun house, dance pavilion and the front portion of the roller coaster. It was quickly rebuilt to open for the next season and began to surpass the popularity of its main rival, Saltair. Many rides were restored, rebuilt, or replaced, and a few new rides were added. In 1956, Mother Gooseland, Lagoon's first themed area, was opened between the Midway and the swimming pool. It featured rides only for children.

Gardens down the middle of Lagoon's Midway. Edit

From the mid-1950s into the 1960s Lagoon made many improvements. A showboat was added to the lake, and a new fun house was built, which featured such attractions as a multi-lane giant slide; mazes, mirrors, obstacle courses and mystery rooms; a large turntable which flung its riders off at great velocity; revolving barrels; and the ubiquitous jets of air - activated by a human operator - which startled those who were unfortunate enough to stand over them. There was also a mini-car ride added in 1960, followed by the "Space Scrambler," spook house, I.Q. Zoo, and shooting gallery in 1961. The first Wild Mouse ride came in 1965. On the Midway, musical groups including the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, the Kingston Trioand Johnny Cash drew the crowds to the bandstand.

The Beach Boys made mention of the park in their song titled "Salt Lake City" on their 1965 Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) album. The Rolling Stones concert at Lagoon was in July 1966.

The 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge Animaland Train began circling Lagoon Lake in 1967. In 1975, authentic Crown Metal Products-built 4-4-0 steam locomotives were put into operation around the lake and the name was changed to the Wild Kingdom Train.

1970-1997 Edit

The turn-of-the-century style Opera House Square opened in 1968 and showcased melodramas, musicals and silent movies. In 1976 Lagoon expanded east by purchasing Pioneer Village, an old west town complete with several historic structures that had been collected and exhibited in Salt Lake City's Sugar House area since 1953. The buildings were moved to Lagoon and the 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge "Pioneer Village Railroad" (featuring "Old Ironsides," a Crown Metal Products 4-4-0 locomotive) circled the town. There was also the "Lagoon Miniature Railroad," which looped around the residential area of Pioneer Village using the original miniature 12 in (305 mm) gauge steam locomotive acquired in the early 1900s. A log flume ride was brought in from the defunct Pixieland Park in Oregon.

One of the most popular rides at Lagoon even today was added in 1976, the Jet Star 2 - Coaster. Before Lagoon purchased the Jet Star 2, it was one of the attractions at the SpokaneWashington's Expo '74.

Colossus the Fire Dragon came to Lagoon in 1983, to huge crowds and great reviews as it was selected by People Magazine in 1984 as one of the top 10 coaster rides in the country. Fire Dragon is Lagoon's first coaster to feature inversions, with a top speed of 55 mph (89 km/h). It still stands as the coaster with the most inversions (two loops) at Lagoon, only challenged by Wicked's one zero g roll.

In the late 1980s, both the famous old fun house and the "Haunted Shack", a walk-through freaky fright attraction, were closed, victims of escalating maintenance costs, safety concerns and increased risk of litigation. The famous swimming pool closed after its fifth decade in 1987. This made way for the $5.5 million Lagoon-A-Beach which was completed in 1989. Its construction spelled the end of the small-scale railroad operations in Pioneer Village, as some of the supports stood in the way of the track.

1997-present Edit

1997 Lagoon, in a major expansion of Pioneer Villahe, built Rattlesnake Rapids, a river rapid ride located in Pioneer Village in the new Rattlesnake Plaza which included a new game - Rising Waters, manufactured by Bobs Space Racers. Also added was a new food stand - Rattlesnake Grub and a new merchandise location, Pedlers Place, that sells candy, toys, Lagoon merchandise, colored rocks and Rattlesnake Parafinia, but also sells ponchos for the wet ride ahead.

1998 Lagoon added Wild Mouse, a Maurer Sohne wild mouse coaster. However, this ride type was not new to Lagoon. Lagoon had a wooden model that was demolished 15 years prior to the current steel model opening.

1999 Lagoon broke the 200-foot (61 m) mark when it built The Rocket, an S&S space shot tower with two different ride towers: (out of three) Re-Entry and Blast-Off.

2000, Samurai, a Mondial Top Scan, was built and so was Double Thunder Raceway.

2001, Lagoon built a Mondial Top Spin, Cliffhanger, on the south midway on the right side of Wild Mouse.

2002, Lagoon expanded its X-Venture Zone by adding Catapult.

2003, The Spider - Coaster, a Maurer Sohne SC 2000, on the south midway across from Colossus the Fire Dragon

2004, Lagoon revamped their children's area, Kiddieland, giving it a garden theme and adding two new rides to the area, Kontiki and Dragon Fly.

2005, The Bat, an inverted coaster, was constructed near Lagoon-A-Beach. It is a family-friendly coaster with a minimum height requirement of 42".

2006, Lagoon expanded Kiddieland further by adding two new rides, Dinosaur Drop and Lady Bug Bop, Zierer Family Drop Towers.

Wicked Edit

2007, Wicked. Lagoon built a $10 million roller coaster named Wicked! Wicked is a first-of-its-kind Zierer tower launch coaster. It is powered by linear synchronous motors that launch riders up a 110' Tower, at 55 mph (89 km/h) in 2.5 seconds after the tower riders experience several state of the art thrill elements. An Imelmann turn, a heart-line roll, two half-pipe turns and the signature "lake turn" into a final tunnel before returning to the station. Wicked is located in the south midway section of the park, behind the "Fire Dragon". Wicked opened to the public on June 1 at 3:00pm to rave reviews and piercing screams. In addition to Wicked, Lagoon made several improvements to the park. The area in front of Spider and Fire Dragon was expanded and repaved for Wicked, connecting the surrounding areas for the three coasters.

2008, OdySea was built, a Zierer "Flying Fish" with aquatic themes. OdySea is an interactive ride with a joystick to control the vehicles height, Arrow will blink to direct the rider to dodge jets of water from the sea creatures that attempt the soak you as a (soundtrack) song tells a story. The ride features a giant squid centerpiece, with submarines and fish as cars each holding two passengers. OdySea opened on April 5, 2008, and started a continuing tradition of adding music to every new ride. In addition to 2008, Lagoon expanded its employee kitchen with twice the seating and all new counters, serving areas, etc. the new kitchen made many Lagoon employees very happy. Lagoon also introduced designated smoking areas "Sit and Smoke Stations", in response to a new Davis County law that went into effect on 1 January 2008 that prohibited smoking in privately and publicly owned outdoor places. With the addition of these "sit and smoke stations" caused the removal of one of Lagoons x-venture attractions Peak Exposure, a small rock climbing wall formerly located on the south midway by Roller Coaster.[8]

2009, Lagoon opened the "Jumping Dragon", a Zierer "Dragon Roundabout". Jumping dragon has 20 gondolas (Two are the tail and head) with 2 riders per gondola, each with their own lap bar making for a much more comfortable ride. Jumping Dragon features oriental themes including a 40-foot (12 m) pagoda that the ride travels through and a baby dragon that the dragon of the ride has with the front gondola (added a few months later). Jumping Dragon is also one of the four rides at lagoon to have a soundtrack, (OdySea, Musik Express, and recently BomBora are the others). Jumping Dragon opened to the Public on April 4, 2009.

2010, Lagoon revamped their large Ferris wheel, Sky Scraper. It was taken down in October 2009 and was back with a new coat of paint in April 2010. Though the park ended their tradition of adding a new ride every year since 1994, due to the economic status Lagoon did not install a new ride that season. Instead, the park improved their entertainment division, with all new shows. One show was presented by Cirque Innosta, called L'Orage. Lagoon also installed a new game "3 point challenge".

2011, Lagoon installed another family roller coaster, named BomBora. "We're calling it a family roller coaster" said Dick Andrew, Lagoon spokesperson. From a group of manufacturers and designed by Lagoon Amusement Park itself, this 1960's surfing-themed coaster has on-ride audio and many twists and turns at a height of 45 ft. BomBora was installed in the area formerly occupied by the Lagoon-a-Beach locker building and a pavilion, which were demolished in October 2009. Most of the lockers from that building were moved to an area formerly occupied by janitorial and utility miscellany. That in turn was moved to other locations around the water park.

2012, Lagoon installed Air Race in the concrete flat near Jet Star II. This replaced Psycho Dave's Junkyard that normally appears there during Frightmares, which did not return. Another Frightmares haunt, Deception, was replaced with Backlot.

2013, Lagoon began work on a new coaster at the site of the former Top Eliminator. Two new family rides opened for the 2013 season, Tipsey Tea Cups and Red Rock Rally. Tipsey Tea Cups (Zamperla Midi Tea Cup) features a solid canopy over the ride with a unique chandelier inside. Red Rock Rally (Zamperla Speedway) features an extensive red stone backdrop for the ride. Every vehicle is named after trails only found in Moab, Utah, thus being themed as all-terrain vehicles. Both feature loading to the ground instead of an elevated platform. The opening of these rides also included new pathways with colored benches. Wild Mouse was re-painted to have a green track instead of the light purple paint it featured when first installed in 1998. Rock-O-Plane also got new paint to feature red and yellow spirals, and upgraded LED lighting was installed. For Frightmares this year, Lockdown was branded as Zombie's Lockdown.

2014, Lagoon continues the extensive work on a new coaster, building vertically throughout the entire operating season. With much of its focus on the new coaster, no new rides were added this year. Cirque Innosta came back with another show called Bosque. Many improvements were done throughout the park this season. Lagoon-A-Beach opened Rip-Curl, a new slide which formally housed the previous Rip-Curl slide. A shooting game in Pioneer Village was removed, as the building now houses a retail shop featuring Lagoon-branded goods. A new animal exhibit was added to Wild Kingdom Train which houses wild boars. Another improvement was the addition of Dole Whip to the food line-up at Lagoon. On September 4 at a press conference, Lagoon officially announced Cannibal, their new roller coaster for the 2015 season. The mural in the Terror Ride was removed and the loading and queue were redone during the 2014-15 off-season.