Photo TR: Lagoon & Salt Lake City

Erik & Smisty and Mormons, oh my!
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Photo TR: Lagoon & Salt Lake City

Postby Electerik » Wed Apr 06, 2016 6:37 pm

Hello! Erik and Smisty here. You may not remember us from such trip reports as Lake Winnepesaukah & Rock City or Holiday World & Santa Claus, Indiana, because they were a long time ago.

Here's the deal. We love theme parks. But not just theme parks. So there will be some photos of roller coasters--but there will also be lots and lots of photos of not roller coasters. Sorry about that.
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We live in Las Vegas, so Utah isn't all that far away. Of course, Salt Lake City isn't exactly located in the part that's close to us.
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Zion National Park is much closer. And awesome. I highly recommend it, if you like nature stuff. However, on this trip, we just drove by it.
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Our first stop, just south of Salt Lake City, was Draper--home of the only aquarium in Utah.

Well, actually, I'm lying. We stopped for gas and to pee and stuff a couple times prior to that. But this was the first stop that I'm going to share photos of with you.
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It's a relatively small aquarium, but quite nice.
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It has fish.
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The South American area was the highlight--and was also itself an aviary.
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What do you think, Smisty? Good, right?
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We like mini golf. This was the one we researched ahead of time. It also has a proper golf course, driving range, and putting greens. But who cares?
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There are two 18-hole courses that both culminate in your balls being mummified.

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I like courses that have "rough" and "sand" areas.
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A nice course. We had fun. None of the water features were on yet, though. It's possible we should have waited a couple more weeks to make this trip. Spring hadn't really sprung in SLC yet.
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Leatherby's Ice Cream is a SLC institution, apparently. And it was good. We ended up going twice during our four day visit to the area.
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Saturday morning, we got up and walked across the street from our hotel.
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I will prepare myself mentally for not being entertained, thank you.
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Many parts of Lagoon are very pretty--I imagine even more so once things start to bloom.
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Lagoon has two old-school dark rides, and they're both extremely well-maintained.
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I don't think I'd ever been on a ride called "Roller Coaster" before.
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Lagoon has some issues, however. I was not prepared for the weird mix of "laid back family park" and "corporate park rule enforcement" that exists here. For example: Glasses, no problem. But bags and hats must be placed in fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo prior to entering the queue. Okay, fine. However, fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo either cost 75-cents (and there were no change machines) or they were free for a limited time but didn't work. One helpful employee suggested that we could just wait until it started working.
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This ride was closed in the morning. As you can easily tell if you walk all the way through the queue and up to the platform.
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We did ride it later, and I quite liked it.
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Misty thought Wicked was dull.
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Lagoon has a very casual approach to opening their rides in the morning. Of the four coasters in this area of the park, two were running by 10:30am and two still weren't. Again, we did ride it eventually, and quite liked it. I didn't much like the lines I had to wait in later, but hey.
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I'd always wanted to visit a park with this sort of old school chairlift-over-gardens midway arrangement. Obviously, Lagoon has expanded quite a lot, but it still has that.

It also has a freakin' Rock-O-Plane!
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The Lagoon, I imagine.
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The back half of the park is largely made up of Pioneer Village, which was virtually abandoned for most of the day. But we thought it was great.
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The train goes around the lake and passed quite a few animal exhibits--most of which can't be viewed any other way. So the park doesn't really have a zoo section, so much as a zoo ride.
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Lots of walk-through buildings detailing frontier life. Quite well done, but of course the kids weren't interested in this area. And, believe me, there were a lot of kids in the park. In fact, there are a lot of kids in SLC, period. Like, 3 or 4 for every 2 adults. Is it time to talk about the Mormon thing, yet? No? Okay.
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This is my "no, I don't like trains particularly" stance. Which I have chosen to adopt in the train museum.
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Pioneer Village also contains the park's two water rides, which were running. However, it was still a bit cold.
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Also note in the previous photo (I know, I'm bad at this) that while the park seems to be strictly pay-one-price, and is entirely fenced in, the ride signs (even Cannibal) all list a cost in tickets. Also, you get your hand stamped when entering the park, and are asked to show that stamp at every single ride. I still can't figure it out. We asked several employees why they checked hand stamps, when you clearly had to buy full admission for park entry, but no one seemed to understand the question. Eventually, we gave up. Certainly, there are no individual tickets listed for sale anywhere. It's just weird.
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This is a photo of every single person on the ride at the time this photo was taken.
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Many parts of Lagoon are pretty, but some parts are just sort of "ghetto theme park." This area is both.
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They have Dole Whip. Also (and not pictured) a full-blown rip off of IOA's "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" ride, complete with imitation song. Not that I disapprove, mind you.
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I like the mushroom.

That's not a drug reference.
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The tea cup ride had a very cool chandelier feature.
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Except for Pioneer Village, Lagoon doesn't really have individually themed areas. So sometime they just theme a ride to whatever they want and put it wherever, which is cool.
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At the ticketing windows up front, they listed one ride down for the day. It was not this ride, or any of the other rides that bore this sign. I didn't count, and I obviously would have gone into the park anyway. Still, it seems like bad form.

And, yes, this is a generic sign that blames Europe for their problems.
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Me trying to be artsy.
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Cannibal opened last year, and has sort of a vaguely African theme. They could have called it anything, but they chose Cannibal. Which is, like Lagoon itself, both bafflingly stupid and incredibly awesome at the same time.
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This weird and elaborate set-up was, I think, designed to make people exit through the gift shop (though you could still go around that, so who knows?) Also, there were fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo, but they had all been disabled. Instead, four employees manned an elaborate station where guests placed their loose articles in plastic containers and were given a claim ticket for it. Even Cedar Point (literally, the most paranoid park I can think of) can sort out bins in (most of) their coaster stations.
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Like Lagoon itself...what?
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I'm not a huge fan of being held upside-down by a single restraint, which, were it to fail, would most certainly result in my unavoidable death. However, this ride is pretty great. The deliberate hang-time section just after the block brake is my least favorite part of it, but still. Also worth mentioning that this ride was designed and built largely in-house. What small parks do that anymore?!

Ultimately, we enjoyed our visit to Lagoon. It's a good park, and well worth a visit if you're nearby. However, I didn't love the park, and I really wanted to. It has so much going for it, but it's just kind of...not quite amazing.
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For dinner, we went in search of a place in Farmington called Cherry Hill Pie Pantry, because that sounds amazing. However, despite its hours indicating that it should be open, it was closed. However, however, surprise mini golf!

This, however, is a photo of a (dry) water slide. The whole place is an RV campground complex, or something...?
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This mini gold course didn't even come up in searches when I was standing on it. One 18-hole course, but pretty good.
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Inside the castle.
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An enclosed loop-de-loop.
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Great signage. Fun course. No pie.
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The original plan was to spend both Saturday and Sunday at Lagoon, but we'd pretty much done everything we wanted to by the end of Saturday, and we weren't as in love with the park as we'd hoped to be, so we opted to do other stuff on Sunday, instead.

Misty is kind of a zoo enthusiast. I think this is our ninth proper zoo now? Like the aquarium, it wasn't particularly large, but it was quite good.
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Hogle Zoo doesn't mess around. When you walk in, you're not greeted by flamingos or alligators or something. No, this place is like, blam, giraffes! Zebras! Now Lions! Elephants! Go, go, go!
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Pretty much every zoo we've been to has had some really nice new sections, and some old crappy concrete sections. Not this one. Pretty much everything felt new and up-to-date. So much so that I actually looked it up to see when this zoo first opened.


Best. Zoo. Ever.
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Don't eat too much, Smisty! You don't want to gain weight!
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See? I told you!
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The name of that restaurant was The Beastro, by the way. Man, I am so bad at this.
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No indication that it would, but this did open later. And what a weird collection of animals on it. A praying mantis? Two snakes on a log?
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Sea lion.

I'm just trying to generate responses, man.
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Grizzly bear.
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Not a photo from the aquarium that I accidentally put in the wrong place.

Actually, the "small animal house" was the one thing at the Hogle Zoo that felt a bit dated.
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Still, a great zoo.
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The train had two sections. First it goes around the Savannah area, then it goes off on a weird "Rivers of America" type thing. Well worth the $2 upcharge to ride it, though.
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Zoo was good. How about a garden?
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They were having a special orchid show. All I know about orchids is that Hugo Drax must be stopped. But it won't be easy.
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Again, this place was really nice. But it'll probably be freaking amazing once SLC decides to join the rest of us here in Springtime.
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The map makes it look more intimidating than it really is.
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Sometimes I take okay photos.
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This one is for all you camouflage enthusiasts out there.

If that comment confused you, look closer. There's actually a woman in this photo!
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Red Butte Gardens
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And right next door, Utah's Natural History Museum, why not?
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I was a little disappointed. I was hoping for some creationist stuff. The joke's on me, though, as a bit of post-visit research reveals that the Church of Latter-day Saints has no official position on evolution.
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Utah is actually quite famous for dinosaur fossils.

That's not a joke.
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I'm all for Native American stuff. But is it really, "Natural History"?

It is? Okay.
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Nice view of the city from here. This is as good a place to mention that Salt Lakers are a bit stand-offish. Not rude, exactly. But not friendly, either. Or, at least, they tend not to engage first.
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Eh, it's a museum.
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I'd wanted to check out a place called Chedda Burger for dinner. But, like so much of Salt Lake City, it's closed on Sundays. Luckilly, Lucky 13 was not. probably because it's pretty much a bar. But whatever, the burgers were amazing.
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Our home away from the hotel in Farmington quickly became Harmons Grocery Store. It has two stories and a gourmet salt section...?
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Monday was our last full day in Utah, and we wanted to see the Great Salt Lake. I guess I'd just assumed it would be a presence in Salt Lake City, but not really.
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Anyway, this is Antelope Island, accessible from the mainland via causeway.
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At one point, many of the LDS church leaders kept their animals on this island.
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Bison are doing quite well here. Some have even started to learn the art of camouflage.
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Demonstration ranch. Proceeds from which once went to the Perpetual Emigration Fund, which helped pay the way for new Mormon coverts to move to Utah.

I learned a lot about Mormons on my trip to Salt Lake City.
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F-off, all you unimportant birds!
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Unimportant bugs who tried to get into our car the hard way.
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Downtown Salt Lake City is amazing. Of all the downtown areas I've been to, this one seems the most vital and of-a-piece with its city.

What's not amazing, though, are the street names here. See, they don't really have them. And when they do, they're not actually real. (No, seriously, most actual street names here are honorary, and cannot by law appear on maps.) Instead streets are numbered in the style of longitude and latitude. Which might be pretty cool if you lived here and had mastered it, but ain't no damn good if you're a tourist.

"Misty, where do I turn?"

"Um...East 11600 South."

"Excuse me?"

"It should be here."

"The signs says, 'Stevens.'"
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Right across from the true center of town--we'll get to that in a minute--is a giants indoor/outdoor shopping mall with underground parking called City Creek Center.
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Farr's is the other big deal local ice cream brand here. It was good, but Leatherby's was better.
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We weren't originally going to visit Temple Square or any of the "Mormon stuff." But, it quickly became apparent that so much of the character of Salt Lake City comes from that, that to skip over it would almost be not to see the city.
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So, I'm just going to lay it out here. We're atheists. So I think all religion is misguided foolishness, at best. Having said that, the Mormons aren't MORE crazy than anyone else. If anything, in my view, a lot of their beliefs make perfect sense--if you already believe the basics of Christianity.

So, there you go, Mormons. Some faint praise from an atheist. Enjoy.
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Temple Square is the most visited tourist attraction in Utah, with more annual visitors than all of their many national parks combined.
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There are two separate visitor centers, the tabernacle, some administration buildings, a couple of restaurants, lots of gardens, statues, and fountains, and of course the Temple itself.
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There are also plenty of missionaries stalking the grounds, eager to proselytize unwary visitors. But, hey, you came to them--so you can't really complain, now can you?
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So, under fundamentalist Mormonism (and not currently endorsed by the modern Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), Adam and God are actually the same person...?
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In a nutshell, Mormons believe in the regular Christian bible, plus some extra stuff that came from their founder, Joseph Smith (or I guess, from God to Joseph Smith, if you're of a mind). For the most part, this "extra stuff" isn't particularly incompatible or even really all the different from the normal Christian stuff in terms of what it asks of its followers. Where it's a bit out there is in that it states that a tribe of Jews came to the Americas before Christ's birth, and that Christ appeared before them shortly after his resurrection.

See? Trip reports can be educational.

Unless you're a Mormon, in which case it's likely that all you've learned is that I'm going to Hell.

Psych! Mormons don't believe in Hell!

Okay, I'll stop.
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This is the Assembly Hall. Looks like a church to me. A pretty one, too. Misty says this one is better looking than the Temple.
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A model of the inside, since tourists are (not unreasonably) not allowed in the Temple. It's hard to see in this photo, but my favorite bit is the oxen.
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This is the angel Moroni, which no one had heard of before Joseph Smith started talking about him.

(What? That's pretty neutral!)
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This is where God is buried.

Okay, that was wrong of me. I actually don't have any idea what it is, but I like the photo.
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The Lion House is a restaurant. But it was once the home of Brigham Young, the second president of the church, the guy who led the Mormons to Utah, and the one who started the whole polygamy thing. Essentially, "Fundamentalist Mormons" still follow the policies and teachings of Brigham Young, while the modern church has moved away from (or, in some cases, rejected) them.
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One last shot of Salt Lake Temple. I'm glad we ended up visiting Temple Square--not so much because I wanted to make fun, but because it's legitimately interesting (to me) and quite pretty.
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Thank for reading about our trip to Salt Lake City, and I apologize to anyone that Misty may have offended!

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Re: Photo TR: Lagoon & Salt Lake City

Postby robbalvey » Wed Apr 06, 2016 6:53 pm

What a triumphant return!!!

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Re: Photo TR: Lagoon & Salt Lake City

Postby djcoastermark » Wed Apr 06, 2016 6:54 pm

Great to see you guys back here again ! And I love your critique on all the mormon stuff. Too fun.

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Re: Photo TR: Lagoon & Salt Lake City

Postby DoinItForTheFame » Wed Apr 06, 2016 7:06 pm

Awesome trip report, and great photos! Glad you all had a good time!

I too do not understand Lagoon. . . Everything about the park is so... strange.
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Re: Photo TR: Lagoon & Salt Lake City

Postby Nrthwnd » Wed Apr 06, 2016 7:20 pm

Amazing episodic travelogue!

Some really nice out-of-park photos, there.

Thanks for sharing your visit to Lagoon. :smile:
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Re: Photo TR: Lagoon & Salt Lake City

Postby urzishra » Wed Apr 06, 2016 7:43 pm

I've gone to Lagoon many many times since I live here. I pretty much agree with everything you said about it. It has some really inconsistent policies.

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Re: Photo TR: Lagoon & Salt Lake City

Postby thrillseeker4552 » Wed Apr 06, 2016 8:02 pm

Excellent trip report!

Did Spider get repainted this season? When I visited last June (2015), I am 99.9% sure it was still the faded red and purple but I could have just not paid attention.
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Re: Photo TR: Lagoon & Salt Lake City

Postby JimmyBo » Wed Apr 06, 2016 9:15 pm

Awesome Report! You nailed the craziness of Lagoon and Salt Lake City to a T. I went there awhile back but I definitely remember the "nice park... ghetto park... nice theming... slap a ride where there used to be a parking lot" atmosphere for Lagoon. I'm really bummed I missed out on Leatherby's. That might be a reason to head back to SLC.....might.

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Re: Photo TR: Lagoon & Salt Lake City

Postby SharkTums » Thu Apr 07, 2016 5:16 am

Wonderful TR on so many levels!

- Totally agree with you on all of your Lagoon opinions. I had heard such wonderful things, calling it the Knoebels of the West Coast, but it was very odd. Not bad, just odd.

- Yay Atheism. Also you forgot the nice thing about Mormonism is that they're really freakin nice!

- The 'grid' system of downtown is hilarious. So many numbers, directions, and names.

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Re: Photo TR: Lagoon & Salt Lake City

Postby PKI Jizzman » Thu Apr 07, 2016 6:36 am

Damn, I've missed these reports. Excellent photos and the captions made my day. I've never been to SLC or much of the west coast, but I now have endless things to do if I do go! Thanks for taking the time to tell your story, Erik and Smisty
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