"There's only one Lagoon" and weather permitting, this year's season at Utah's largest entertainment complex begins Saturday, April 20. It's not too early to be thinking of Lagoon because by far the most cost-effective way to enjoy the fun spot is with the advance purchase of a season passport.

The passports, if purchased early, pay for themselves in less than three visits and provide the flexibility to dodge the crowds and to truly enjoy the Mountain West's premier theme park with rides, games, Pioneer Village, Lagoona-Beach and all the park's shows.When you mention spending $292.00 for your family's Lagoon season passports and season parking pass, that figure seems high to many people. However for a family of five visiting Southern California theme parks, it's easy to spend $300 per day there for hotel, food and park admissions.

Since Lagoon is so close to home, a season passport makes great economic sense.

The two basic requirements to make Lagoon season passport ownership successful are:

1. Have the necessary money to purchase them in the pre-season - before April 1 this year. (Some households use income-tax refunds to purchase passports or they make them early Christmas gifts.)

2. Commit to use them regularly.

Lagoon director of marketing Dick Andrew said the average season passport holder uses them 7 1/2 times a year, resulting in a substantial savings over regular admission prices.

"It's a whale of a buy," Andrew said of the pre-season $49.95 passport price vs. the regular daily teenage/adult admission to Lagoon of $22.50.

He declined to say exactly how many season passports are sold each year but indicated it's not a huge number and that it has remained relatively steady the past few years.

"We'd like to sell more of them," Andrew said about the reason for reducing the pre-season price of passports.

- After three years as a season passport holder, here are my tips/observations to enjoy them even more:

- Some first-year passport holders burn out. That is, they still believe they have to stay at the park for eight hours or more at a time - even though it may be crowded or the weather very hot. The secret is to stay only as long as the ride lines are short, the weather tolerable and your interest is high.

With a season passport, you don't have to stay for eight hours or more to feel you received your money's worth. There's always another day for a visit.

- A related economical purchase is to buy a season parking pass. At $25, it pays for itself in less than six visits. Otherwise, parking is $4.50 a visit

- A season pass also provides opportunity to enjoy Lagoon's Fourth of July and July 24th fireworks and shows. The park's Pioneer Day fireworks are likely the best in the state.

- By capitalizing on Lagoon's unique theme park freedom of allowing you to bring in your own picnic food, having season passports and a parking pass means your family can go to Lagoon each time at no cost. (Of course, Lagoon's wide variety of food, snacks and games are tough to avoid.

- Saturday is Lagoon's busiest day, and as a season passport holder, that's likely the day you also may find it most convenient to go. With season passports, you can go by 10 a.m. and get a couple or hour's worth of rides in when lines are shortest. Then, enjoy lunch, Pioneer Village or the shows and avoid long lines.

- Having a season passport also means you can avoid long ticket window lines each visit and go directly to the entrance gate.

- How about buying a season passport for your children only? How will they get transportation to Lagoon? UTA bus route No. 70 has buses that run at least on-the half-hour going through Farmington, where a special, free trolley shuttle picks up passengers to go directly to Lagoon's front gate.



Buy early and save

Lagoon Season Passports, if purchased early, cost $49.95 (plus tax) for single individuals or family members through March 31.

From March 31-May 28, the cost remains $49.95 for each member of a family of four or more (Example: $199.80, plus tax, for a family member of four), but individual prices increase to $59.95 (plus tax) a person.

From May 29 on, a family of four will pay $239.80 (plus tax) and $59.95 for each additional family member. Individual passports will cost $69.95.

Season parking passes cost $25.