Lagoon Amusement Park is a smaller attraction in Farmington, Utah, a small town about 30 minutes north of Salt Lake City (and an hour south of the S&S factory, which I visited to ride the AXIS prototype roller coaster).
By Justin S. Landers
Lagoon Amusement Park is home to 10 roller coasters, including an absolute legend just five years after its making – but we’ll get back to that.
Containing multiple flat rides, restaurants, and an entire history lesson in the back of the park, this small family-owned theme park is an oasis in the middle of a theme park desert … and a literal desert for that matter, as well, since most of Utah is a high-altitude desert.
Opened in 1886, Lagoon Amusement Park has remained privately-owned, which no small task into today’s attractions industry. The park operates from late March to early October during a normal year, but this year, they opened up in mid-June.
The park is taking some precautions, however. Noticeably missing are the temperature checks you will find at many other parks. Another thing I noticed is their policy only called for masks being required in queues, as opposed to throughout the entire park. They were, however, enforcing masks as well as social distancing in lines. Throughout the park, about 65 percent of guests were wearing masks at all times. On Wednesday, June 17, the park was not very busy. In fact, the longest line I waited in was about 15 minutes. A reservation is required to visit, along with having your ticket purchased in advance.
The park also has a water park with heated pools. I did not visit the water park, however, even though it was open.
The coasters in the park have some uniqueness, and some are clones. One standout thing about Lagoon Amusement Park is that it has not one, but two Schwarzkopf roller coasters. Unfortunately, if you visit the park now, you will only be able to ride one of them. On “Jet Star 2,” there’s no way to practice social distancing, as you must ride with a partner.
“Colossus: The Fire Dragon,” the other Schwarzkopf in the park, is the last operating double-loop Schwarzkopf in existence – a rare coaster for sure. Near Colossus sits its little brother, “Puff: The Little Fire Dragon.” This is a Zierer kiddie coaster themed to give the kids a thrill ride of their own.
The park also has a wild mouse coaster, a Vekoma family flyer called “The Bat,” and a spinning coaster called “Spider” – all providing a decent amount of thrill for the whole family.
Then there’s “Roller Coaster,” which is such a unique name for a, well … roller coaster. When you realize this wood thrill machine that provides a fair amount of airtime is turning 100 next year, the name makes a lot of sense; 100 years ago, coasters didn’t need unique names. This old wooden coaster is the icon of the park having survived a fire, and being saved and restored, it is amazing how smooth this classic remains.
“Wicked” is exactly what went through my mind as the second Zierer coaster in the park – a ride meant to be thrilling – launched me 90 degrees straight up, over a top-hat maneuver and 90 degrees back down. I have been on multiple launch coasters in my life, but never one that had a vertical launch upward. It’s a weird sensation, and when you reach the top, there’s a quick pop of airtime before being thrust over the side.
All of those coasters would make for a decent collection for this family park, and they do, but remember when I said the park has an absolute legend? It’s the ace up its sleeve, a monstrous creation that can be seen from the highway. Standing at 208 feet tall with a elevator lift that is completely enclosed is “Cannibal.” This roller coaster held the record for the steepest drop in the world for many years and still holds the record for the tallest beyond-vertical drop. It also features a unique element called the “Lagoon Roll,” which takes you at a very slow speed through a barrel roll left, then back right immediately after giving sustained hang time through an insane element over a waterfall.
This ride has it all. Crazy elements, beautiful theming, and, as if that wasn’t enough, most coasters are designed by an outside company. RMC, B&M, Intamin, S&S, Vekoma, Zierer – the list goes on. Cannibal, however, is a true monster fit of the name. This ride was designed and built by Lagoon. Yes, this small, family-owned park designed and built their own record-breaking coaster that towers over everything.
About a week before my trip I went onto their website and, without difficulty, was able to purchase a day ticket for roughly $60 and make my free reservation for a 10 a.m. entry time, which is right when the park opens. When I arrived at the park, the lot was nearly empty. Making my way inside, I found the crowd to be light. I was able to ride Cannibal six times; Wicked four times; Spider, Roller Coaster, and the Wild Mouse twice; and The Bat and BomBora once each. I also managed a handful of flat rides and not one, but two dark rides! Yes, as most parks are tearing out their dark rides, this park is supporting two unique and spooky rides that are essentially haunted houses, scoring points for this park!
Lagoon Amusement Park has a very carnival feel with the safety of a full-sized theme park. There’s an old history section in the back that explores a lot of Utah history with old buildings, antiques, and artifacts. As I walked back from the historical section, I began to realize the true size of this park – I went out one area and came back in on the other side of the park. I noticed a lawn section, where people brought chairs, hammocks, and coolers. It really felt like a county fair! I was able to find all your traditional theme park food, plus some unique fair-like items, including BeaverTails, funnel cake, and cotton candy.
I couldn’t believe how festive the atmosphere of this park was. The food was great, but what’s even better is that they allow you to bring in a cooler if you desire! I was impressed with the collection of rides in this park, yet what’s even more exciting is the construction zone for a new roller coaster! Very little is currently known about it except the name: “Primordial.” Could this new indoor coaster also be built by Lagoon? I can’t wait to find out!
The park also has a campground, multiple hotels in the area, and its close proximity to Salt Lake City Utah makes it easily accessible via air travel. Lagoon Amusement Park certainly is an unexpected destination park worth a visit!
• 29-year-old Justin Landers owns Just Shoot Light Multimedia Productions. He has been involved in the amusement and theme park industry since 2013 as a freelance photographer and videographer. You can follow him on Instagram @Inverted_Therapy and Just Shoot Light on YouTube.