FARMINGTON — Lagoon's major new attraction for 2000 will be Double Thunder Raceway, an elaborate go-cart ride, set to premiere on the park's opening day, Saturday, April 15.

Another significant change at Lagoon this year will be the absence of the Flying Carpet ride at the midway's north end. Lagoon spokesman Dick Andrew said the park has already taken that attraction out because it was becoming increasingly difficult to obtain replacement parts for it. It will be replaced by a new attraction, the Samurai ride, sometime this summer.

The new go-carts will reach speeds of 17 mph and feature 28 cars each on two 1,150-foot-long circular tracks.

Andrew said the idea is for each track to operate for five minutes, then, while one reloads, the other runs.

"We're very excited about this," Andrew said, explaining there has been a void in the go-cart riding market for northern Utah since the Sports Park in Sandy closed because of I-15 reconstruction, about two years ago.

He said there is a trend nationally for some amusement parks to feature new go-cart rides, and Lagoon should boast the nation's premier raceway when Double Thunder opens.

Like the Sky Coaster and Top Eliminator, the Double Thunder Raceway will require an extra fee — beyond normal Lagoon admission. The cost will be $5 for each five-minute ride to drive a go-cart and $3 to be a passenger. Each go-cart can carry two people.

Go-cart drivers will have to be at least 54 inches tall — Lagoon's highest restriction — and passengers must be at least 46 inches tall.

"This should have a broad appeal," Andrew said.

He also expects the ride to be much more of a high-occupancy attraction than either the Sky Coaster for the Top Eliminator dragster. That's because the theoretical usage of Double Thunder could be up to 336 riders per hour.

The go-cart tracks are currently under construction, being built where the old Lagoon cement grandstands were, between the parking lot and the Top Eliminator. The tracks look around part of the Sky Coaster.

Andrew describes the go-carts as mini-race cars, with no center track to restrict drivers — like the Speedway cars. However, for safety, the ride's control tower does have a special remote-control shutoff.

Top Eliminator costs $15 per ride and Sky Coaster charges $15 each for three riders. Andrew said those prices will remain the same this year, but he expects the moderate $5 Double Thunder charge to be much more popular.

Also, unlike the Top Eliminator dragster, where very tall people can't ride because their legs won't fit the cab space, the go-carts have no such height restrictions.

The German-built Samurai ride could be one of Lagoon's most thrilling attractions. Also called "Top Scan" by the manufacturer, it looks like a windmill with five arms. The ride starts flat and then rises up like Lagoon's Centennial Screamer.

However, besides rotating like a windmill, each of the five fingers of the Samurai will also twist on its own, offering passengers an upside-down experience in open-air seats. The thrill of the ride looks similar to what the "Hammerhead" at Knott's Berry Farm provides, though the design is radically different.

The Samurai ride can carry 25 passengers at one time.

In addition to the two new rides, Lagoon will also expand its picnic facilities in a two-year phase by creating a cluster of picnic terraces between Pioneer Village and Rattlesnake Rapids. These will be much smaller picnic terraces than Lagoon's traditional variety.

Lagoon will not be adding a third section to its Rocket Ride this year. It already has both a "Blast Off" and "Re-Entry" variety, but Andrew said the third part of the Rocket will likely be added during some future season.

Season passports are currently on sale and will be offered at a discount price until June 5. The least expensive way to purchase them is in groups of four or more.