Lagoon will come full circle when it opens its $5.5 million water fun park, "Lagoon A Beach," this June.

In 1886 when Lake Park first opened near the Great Salt Lake, the main attraction was swimming. When the park moved inland, Shoot the Chutes, a distant cousin of a log flume, opened as the park's first thrill ride. In 1927, Lagoon opened a concrete pool and advertised its water as "fit to drink." All that those attractions offered visitors will be part of the new water park.The four and a half acres where the pool used to be located outside Pioneer Village are being transformed to house a maze of slides, raft runs and pools. Wave generators and other equipment will splash, pump and spurt 550,000 gallons of water.

"This is a major improvement," said Dick Andrew, Lagoon spokesman, comparing it to rides installed during recent years at the park. The Colossal Fire Dragon, for example, cost the park $2.5 million in 1983.

The water park was built, in part, because of competition from Salt Lake County's Raging Waters and other water parks, according to Andrew. It is also one of a long line of improvements that Peter Freed, Lagoon Corp. president, hopes will make Lagoon an entertainment center, not just an amusement park.

"Most people have to pick and choose a little bit. I think going to Raging Waters became an acceptable alternative for people or some families," Andrew said.

The park had a decrease in attendance the year that Raging Waters opened. The park's number of yearly visitors has rebounded and remained constant over the past few years, but it is hoped the new water park will again boost attendance, he said.

Three serpentine slides will send people twisting and splashing from a 56-foot tower. People will also cascade off three "hump" slides attached to the same tower. The sensation of falling 65 feet straight down will be experienced by those riding on a "freefall" slide.

Four enclosed tubular slides will twist people in and around each other, while rapids and a tube ride down a serene canal will be featured in other areas. The attraction will also have a sun deck, wave pool, hot tubs and a waterfall. The pool features an island of tunnels, bridges, slides, swings and an artillery of water guns. The building will house new gift and food shops.

The park was designed by Leisure and Recreation Concepts Inc. of Dallas, Texas. The company has recently designed attractions for a new Disney theme park in Paris. *****



Location: Farmington

Year opened: 1886 on the shores of the Great Salt lake as Lake Park.

Ownership: Lagoon Corp., privately held by several local families since 1947.

Annual payroll: $3.8 million

Number of Employees: 135 ful-time, 1,200 seasonal

Operating season: Late April through early September

Number of annual visitors: About 1 million

Out-of-state visitiors: 19-20 percent of annual attendance

Number of rides: 38

Major attractions: Roller Coaster, Colossal Fire Dragon, Pioneer Village, Lagoon Opera House and "Lagoon A Beach" (scheduled to open in June 1989)