For my family, going to Lagoon Amusement Park was something of a tradition. Although we didn't go every year, we went often enough that we knew the rides we wanted to hit, in what order, and the best time of day to go on them. Then for a period of about a decade, I didn't go to Lagoon at all. I ended that drought three years ago, and after visiting Lagoon again a few weeks ago, I remembered how great a regional amusement park it is, and was impressed with their newest additions this year.
Lagoon is located in Farmington, Utah--about 17 miles north of Salt Lake City, alongside Interstate 15. If you're traveling between Salt Lake City and Ogden, it's impossible to miss. Lagoon first opened in 1886 to benefit a local railroad entrepeneur, and although it waxed and waned for its first thirty years or so, the park has grown and benefited families in the region ever since.
There are eight roller coasters here, ranging from the "Old Wooden Roller Coaster" which is nearing 90 years old to "Wicked," which opened two years ago and is the fastest ride in the park. It's no Six Flags Magic Mountain--if you're a real fan of coasters, I don't know that you need to stop by Lagoon. They're enough to scare the heck out of little kids, make my girlfriend lose her lunch in the mid-1990s, and give me vertigo as an adult. There are coasters that loop, that spin as they travel around the tracks, and that shake like they'll fall apart.
Other rides range from the traditional Carousel with beautifully painted animals to carnival-type rides like the Tilt-A-Whirl, Scrambler and Rock-o-Planes. There's a train that circles a lake (which is where Lagoon got its name to begin with), a rocking-ship ride, suspended swings, and a long "Sky Ride" with gondolas carrying you across the length of the park. There are two different "scary rides" (one of which still makes me jump 25 years after it reduced me to tears), a drive-your-own-little-car-around-a-track ride, and a parachute ride. Pretty much every traditional amusement park ride can be found at Lagoon, and it's just getting better.
It seems the best rides have been added in the last 10 years, as Lagoon has been putting its profits into upgrading the rides in the park. These include the Rocket, a tower-launching ride that shoots you into the air (or pulls you to the top of the tower and drops you); Cliffhanger, which has you and a row of guests dangling over a cliff and fountain that sometimes sprays you with jets of water; the Spider, a Wild Mouse type ride that spins you and three friends in a car while you careen around a track; the Samurai, which spins on three different axes and is probably the most puke-making ride in the park now; the Bat, a suspended-coaster that's really pretty tame; and Wicked, which has stadium-style seating within the roller coaster car so that every row feels the Immelman turn, half-pipes, and gets the full effect of the 90 degree 110-foot tower.
RIDES FOR THE PUPS
As a father of two young boys, I've also come to appreciate the many kiddie rides that Lagoon has. These have seen upgrades too--there are two different kids roller coasters, one with a long loop, the other with a 40-foot climb and drop that just opened in 2009. Last year we got the Odysea, an octopus-shaped "Dumbo" like ride. A few years before that, the kids got their own mild "lift-and-drop" rides that my boys love. They also have their own mini bumper cars and "drive-your-own-car" track, a helicopter ride, and mini boat ride.
In the 1970s, a collection of Mormon and Utah pioneer buildings was purchased from Salt Lake City and moved to the land just east of Lagoon and named "Pioneer Village." It's now part of Lagoon, and this Old West neighborhood with a Main Street, restaurants, shops, and museums is an interesting way to spend about half an hour at Lagoon. They have Wild West shows complete with gunfights, and there are a few rides there--the water-themed Log Flume and the rafting Rattlesnake Rapids are both rides that you can't miss, and you will get wet on both.
There's also a water park at Lagoon--the (almost) clevery named Lagoon-A-Beach. There are plenty of water slides, pools, and a lazy river that are perfect (and crowded) during the hottest part of the day. Bring plenty of sunscreen, because the sunshine at 4500 feet will fry you pretty quick.
In addition to all of the rides included in the all-day passport, there are some rides at the north end of Lagoon that require an additional fee. This includes drag racers, go-carts, a catapult that bungees people inside a little cage-ball, and the Skycoaster. I rode the Skycoaster and lost my voice doing it about ten years ago--you pretty much climb inside a "safety harness" (kind of like a sleeping bag, but crotchier), are hoisted on a cable to 153 feet, and dropped, swinging in a long arc over the pavement, praying to everyone and everything holy that you've ever even considered that the pimply-faced teen who buckled you in knew what the heck they were doing. In any case, the surcharge for these rides ranges from seven to twenty dollars, but can be worth it for that extra thrill. Bring extra pants.
The food options at Lagoon are limited, and that's one place they could improve. You're allowed to bring your own lunches, picnic baskets, coolers, etc. into the park, but anything you actually buy in the park is going to be pretty nasty. Pizza, burgers, fries, cotton candy, ice cream etc. are all around, and aren't as overpriced as other amusement parks, but there aren't many menu choices if you're trying to go the non-fat and grease route. Then again, it's an amusement park. If I were really looking for a salad, I'd eat some of the plants in Pioneer Village.
The official Lagoon prices get pretty scary, especially once you're looking at bringing the whole family to the park. For Utah residents, there are seasonal passports available, which make sense if you live within about 20 minutes and have teenagers who want to go more than twice each year. For most of the rest of us, we'll go once a season, and see what's new.
Regular Admission (51 inches in height to 64 years in age) $41.95
Kinder Admission (4 years old to 50 inches tall) $35.95
Toddler Admission (3 years and under) $21.95
Senior Admission (65 years and older) $28.95
BUT, there are always discounts available. Every summer for the last twenty years or more, if you bring in an empty can of Coke with the promotion on it, you'll get a discount of $5.00. For this season (2009) the local chain bookstore Deseret Book has regular admission tickets for $28.00. Other local stores, schools, hospitals, churches and organizations usually have discounts that will shave anywhere from ten to twenty dollars off of admission, and for the full day of fun you're going to have at Lagoon, it's worth the price.
During the summer, Lagoon is open from 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM (11:00 PM on Fridays and Saturdays). There are limited hours on weekends after Labor Day through October, and a special "Frightmares" attraction until Halloween.
If you're in the Intermountain West, it might not be the most central place to get to, but it is a fun amusement park with rides and entertainment for the entire family. It's not Disneyland, it's not Six Flags, but it is Lagoon. And sometimes, that's more than enough.
For more information about Lagoon, visit their http://www.lagoonpark.com, or the Lagoon fan site, http://www.lagoonisfun.com/.
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