Located just 18 miles from Salt Lake City, Ut., the family-owned Lagoon Amusement Park is also strongly family-centric, offering attractions for all ages at a destination for both local residents and visitors, according to park rep Adam Leishman.
Today there are 50 rides, historic Pioneer Village, and the surf and slide water park section of the park, called Lagoon A Beach. Waterfalls, fountains, swimming, slides, and hydro tubes are spread over 6 wet acres. A lazy river and rapids are two of the highlights, and guests can rent tubes to float, receiving a coupon for a free soda or bottled water when they return the tubes.
With one of the largest kiddieland areas in the world Leishman says, popular rides for the younger set include Red Rock Rally, which riffs on local geography with off-road-themed vehicles running on an oval track. Puff the Little Fire Dragon is the gentle, fun roller coaster for young children in the kiddieland area.
Overall, the most popular rides in the park are “the roller coasters, with the Cannibal coaster being incredibly popular,” Leishman relates. “The Fire Dragon, one of the only double looping Schwartzkopf coasters in the world, is very popular, too.” Also high on visitor want-to-ride-lists is the tower launch coaster, Wicked, and “in the summer months, Rousing Rapids, our river raft ride.”
The park has a rich history of entertaining families in the area.
“The park originally was named Lake Park, and it first began on the shores of Salt Lake in 1886, 10 years before the lake receded,” Leishman reports. At that time one of the main attractions was a mule-drawn merry-go-round. “We moved 2.5 miles to our current location in Farmington in 1896, which was a railroad destination point at the time,” Leishman says. “The park was placed there to encourage ridership on the railroad, which at the time was owned by the same individual.” It was perched on the banks of a nine-acre pond, which meant a name change from Lake to Lagoon Park. Its first thrill ride was Shoot the Chutes, which sent riders in boats down a slide and into the pond. And in 1906, the park’s original carousel with 45 carved wooden horses was introduced – and is still a big hit at the park today. The first roller coaster was added in 1921.
The entertainment tradition continued with the purchase of the park in 1946 by the Freed Brothers, according to Leishman. “They leased the park and bought it in the early 80s, making us the largest family-owned amusement park in the U.S.” Leishman notes that the youngest brother is now 97, his son Dave is the president and daughter Kristen is the v.p., and with their children also working at the park it is a third-generation-run family enterprise.
Once renowned as a concert venue – the Rolling Stones played at the park - over the years, other highlights have included the addition of historic Pioneer Village to the park in the 70s, and the water park in 1989. In 2015, the park added the $22 million Cannibal coaster to the park. “The Cannibal mega-coaster was custom-manufactured for Lagoon,” Leishman notes. It travels a whopping 70 m.p.h. and offers the thrill of a 208-foot tower.
Most recently, Leishman says “We’re performing a significant amount of infrastructure work, and working on restoration of our historic rides,” he attests. “We are working on new infrastructure changes for planned future expansion.”
In addition to these exciting, cutting-edge rides, Leishman says “We have three rides on the National Historic Registry, including the carousel made by Herschell-Spillman.”
When it comes to fun park food, Lagoon Amusement Park also offers a mix of the classic and the current. “Of course we do well with general amusement park-type food, such as burgers, fries, and funnel cakes,” Leishman states. “But we also have salads and wraps as healthier options.” For hearty full-meal fare, The Old Mill Grill offers grilled meats, mashed potatoes, BBQ beans, and roasted corn on the cob.
There’s live entertainment on offer at the park this year as well, shows with family-friendly appeal. These include an evening show playing nightly except for Mondays, Verano: The Big Brassy Beat of the Bayou, celebrating New Orleans music and culture; and Smoke and Mirrors, a daytime magic show, running daily except for Tuesdays.
One of the most unique aspects of the park is Pioneer Village, with its one-room school house, tool museum, cobbler shop, doll museum, music hall, and more. It features 42 authentic stores, buildings and artifacts from the 19th century.
The park, with its mix of historic and thrill rides uses a strong social media presence, billboards, and radio ads as primary promotion. “We have significant television commercial buys every year, and we do some print, less and less as time goes on, and some digital with the websites,” Leishman attests.
Attendance remains even, Leishman says. “We usually have usually around 1.5 million visitors per year. We are open the end of March through October, and our Halloween promotion, Frightmares, begins mid- September.”
Frightmares includes Halloween-themed live entertainment and 9 haunted attractions, with 3 directed at children. Séance is an immersive live performance with physical effects and audience participation that brings a ghost story to life; the Malevolent Mansion is a scary haunted house experience; Nightwalk offers demons and vampires for guests seeking scary thrills. For the kids, the Spook-A-Boo Walk-Through offers family-friendly creatures, as does Scary and Crow’s Straw Maze. Having family-friendly Halloween attractions is a unique feature of the park’s fall event. In addition, the park offers $1 glow sticks that are designed to “keep the ghouls away” when held. Admission to Frightmares is included in the general park admission.
As to pricing, there are a variety of discounts and group sales available at the park. “Businesses and churches get group rates, and we also partner with retails like Costco and Desert Books for discounts and promos throughout our season,” Leishman relates. 2018 season passports are $135; seniors are just $57. Single day tickets are $58 and $52 respectively, with children under 48” in height priced at $41.95; under age two are free.