If there's one thing consistent about Lagoon - the only amusement park along Highway 89 between Canada and Mexico - it's likely the constant change that takes place there.
Some rides have come and gone, the park has expanded dramatically over the years, and more expansion is planned.Other than the wooden roller coaster and the carousel, the only thing that has remained the same is that people still go to Lagoon to have fun. From the "Fun spot of Utah" theme in days past to the modern themes of "Your brand of summer fun" and "There's only one Lagoon," the park is one of the most visible man-made developments along U.S. 89 - with the 10-story high Colossal Fire Dragon coaster ride and its antique-looking wooden roller coaster.
Peter Freed, his brothers Dan and Robert, and Ranch Kimball leased Lagoon from the Bamberger family, the park's original owner, in 1946. Kimball had previously worked for the Bambergers. Lagoon only had eight rides and a few games back then, and the men had to clear large weed patches left over from the park's inactive years during World War II. Extensive painting and remodeling also was completed. Development was slow but steady.
Income from the park was low at first, and only the Freed's finance company and a ranching business kept the brothers going. In the 1950s, the Freeds bought Kimball's share in the park. In the 1980s, Lagoon Corp. began buying the park from the Bambergers and now owns the park and land.
A big setback came in November 1953 when a fire of unknown origin destroyed the fun house, ballroom, cafe, the west side of the midway and a portion of the wooden roller coaster.
However, the Freeds vowed to rebuild the park, and it was open six months later, minus a fun house. It seems that after that, the pace of the park's development picked up, despite the spiraling purchase prices for new rides. Rides only cost about $40,000 apiece in 1946, but by 1969 the cost was $100,000 each.
In 1980, Lagoon spent $500,000 just to buy the Tidal Wave ride. In 1983, it took $2.5 million to purchase the Colossal Fire Dragon coaster, and in 1989, $5.5 million was spent to develop Lagoon A Beach.
With the added attractions came added visitors. For example, Dick Andrew, Lagoon's marketing and public relations director, said the park has a higher percentage of its patronage coming from large group outings than perhaps any other amusement park. LDS stake Lagoon days and various company Lagoon days form the core of those outings.
The park is also probably the largest employer of teenagers in the Intermountain West.
"We have a huge economic impact on the youth of the area," Andrew said, explaining Lagoon's alumni of former employees would number in the tens of thousands.
Andrew said Lagoon's setting next to the Wasatch Mountains is another important aspect that guests appreciate. The Lagoon Marching Showband is one of the area's most recognized musical groups each year.
What's ahead for Lagoon?
"We're getting better every year," Andrew said. "We have a master plan. . . . We make improvements every year."
Andrew said several new picnic areas will open this spring and several major thrill rides will be coming in the near future as Lagoon expands eastward. Lagoon also plans on opening a walking-jogging trail east of the park later this spring. Access will be from several cul-de-sacs to the east, and the trail eventually will connect with a mountains-to-the-Great Salt Lake trail system.
This article is one of a weekly series on the people, places and issues along Utah's U.S. 89.
When attractions came and went
Lagoon attractions added and other highlights - World War II to present:
1943-45: Lagoon closed during World War II.
1946: Lagoon leased from the Bamberger estate by the Lagoon Corp. and opens in June.
1947: Cafe and tavern, streamliner, Ghost Train, Sky Ride, baseball dates, Telequiz and swimming entrance and building.
1949: New swimming dressing rooms.
1951: Remodeled fun house, Lakeshore Express, Shooting Gallery, Balloon Race and Roman Target.
1952: Bamberger trains stop running to Lagoon.
1953: Ferris wheel. October fire of unknown origin destroys the fun house, ballroom, cafe, west side of the midway and roller coaster.
1954: Octopus, Rock-o-Plane, Roll-o-Plane, Spook House, Lakeshore Express Train, Kiddie Planes, Spill-the-milk, prize center and many other games.
1956: Mother Goose Land.
1958: New fun house; reduced-rate tickets.
1960: Speedway cars.
1961: Space Scrambler, Fascination, Spook House, new tap room and I.Q. Zoo.
1962: Golf Fun.
1963: Helicopter and Shooting Water.
1964: Spiral slide in fun house; European Carousel, Hi-Striker and Hi-Land Playland. Lagoon has 29 rides and 21 games.
1965: Wild Mouse, Popcorn wagon, four new picnic area and the Bamberger water fountain.
1966: Haunted Shack, Paratropper, Auto Skooter and World Fair Picnic Train.
1967: Terroride and Animaland Train.
1968: Lagoon Opera House and Flying Saucer.
1969: Roller skating.
1970: Summer rodeo. Lagoon had 32 rides and 81 attractions.
1971: Paddle boats and a campground.
1972: New stretch of I-15 from Bountiful to Farmington improves access to Lagoon.
1973: Zugspitz, Rotor and Wilder Wild Mouse.
1974: Sky Ride, Dracula's Castle and a deer farm.
1976: Jet Star and Log Flume. Pioneer Village opens and is dedicated by LDS Church President Spencer W. Kimball.
1977: Boomerang and Scamper.
1978: Historic 1880s Farmington stone house moved into Pioneer Village. Acapulco High Divers perform.
1979: Stage Coach and Tri-Star.
1980: Tidal Wave. $2 minimum entrance fee and all-day passport plan installed.
1981: Putter Around the Park, golf, Carousel Square and Wac-a-Mole.
1982: Flying Elephants, UFO, Super Shifter and Musik Express.
1983: Colossal Fire Dragon ride and Moonraker. Mudslide in Rudd Canyon closes Lagoon for four days.
1984: Whirlwind and Red Baron. Heavy winter/late spring causes flooding damage to park. People Magazine selects the Fire Dragon as one of the nation's top 10 coaster rides.
1985: Puff the Little Fire Dragon kids' coaster, Tin Can Alley, Leap Frog, Cyclone and new warehouse is built near the parking lot's northwest corner.
1986: Flying Carpet and Scaliwagying Aces. The Flying Aces return after a several year hiatus. Lagoon's 100th year.
1987: Centennial Screamer and Turn of The Century. Final season for the "Water fit to drink," million gallon swimming pool.
1988: Seals and high-divers perform.
1989: Lagoon A Beach, $5.5 million water park opens.
1990: No new rides, but Lagoon fine-tunes Lagoon A Beach. Final season for the Fun House, Tri-Star Wild Mouse and Ferris Wheel.
1991: Skyscraper Observation wheel.
1992: New high diving show. Many rides and portions of the park are made accessible to the disabled.
1993: Ice skating show, new auto gate, parking lot improvements, a separate employee entrance. Lagoon A Beach is expanded.