Lagoon Celebrates its 125th Anniversary

152
Lagoon, Utah’s main theme park, has been around more than twice as long as Disneyland. The first visitors had to travel by horse and buggy or by train. Now you can get there from Provo by hopping on I-15 and driving for an hour.This year, Lagoon is celebrating its 125th anniversary. A week in July was set apart for events and promotions for the anniversary, but the park has been talking about the anniversary all season.

[media-credit name=”Photo courtesy of Matthew Williams” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]
This year, Lagoon is celebrating its 125th anniversary. A week in July was set apart for events and promotions for the anniversary, but the park has been talking about the anniversary all season.
The park began operation in the late 1800s on the shores of the Great Salt Lake with the name “Lake Park.” It was a place of summer cottages, boating, dancing and riding the mule-drawn merry-go-round. During its first season, 53,000 people visited Lake Park. 

The park was successful, but the lake began receding and left a sticky, blue mud. In 1896, the park was moved two and half miles to a lagoon, and the name was changed to “Lagoon.” It is still in the same place today, about an hour north of Provo.

The Patio Gardens at Lagoon was the place to perform in Utah during the middle of the 1900s. Louis Armstrong performed seven times along with Ella Fitzgerald, The Beach Boys, Ray Charles, The Doors and Johnny Cash.

In 1906, a carousel featuring 45 hand-carved horses and characters was added to the attractions at Lagoon. A great fire in 1953 destroyed much of the park, but the carousel was saved by firefighters spraying a constant stream of water on it. The carousel is still operating today.

Other favorite attractions include Rattlesnake Rapids, the Samurai, the Colossus and the new ride installed this year called BomBora.

Dick Andrew, executive vice president of marketing at Lagoon, has worked at Lagoon for 51 years. He started out as a teenager on the midway as a games operator, and said he still loves his job.

“My favorite part about working at Lagoon is that it’s nice to have been able to spend my life at a job, the purpose of which is to make people happy,” Andrew said.

Now more than a million visitors continue to visit the park every summer.

Michelle Bolton, a sophomore from Orem, said she goes every few years with her family and enjoys the rides like Wicked.

“I love the big roller coasters,” Bolton said. “I’m an adrenaline junkie so it’s great for me.”

Tony Pratt, a neuroscience major from South Jordan, remembers going to Lagoon with family, friends and on school trips while growing up.

“Our family just loved it,” Pratt said. “It was a good family time.”

The park is currently gearing up for Frightmares. Andrew said it will be terrific this year.

“We completely re-theme the park with pumpkins and hay bales and tombstones,” Andrew said. “It’s a complete transformation of the park.”

Steven Meyer, an accounting major from Provo, said he enjoys going to Lagoon during Frightmares.

“Every Halloween night, instead of going trick-or-treating, I would go to Lagoon,” Meyer said.  “I always go for Frightmares and I love it.”

Frightmares is a weekend-only operation that will run from Sept. 23 until the end of October. Visit lagoonpark.com for maps and schedules.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email