FARMINGTON — Rumors about Lagoon's newest ride, the Cannibal, are spreading faster than the coaster's expected 70 mph speeds. But most of them are false.
The ride, which has a highly visible tower, is featured on billboards and on the amusement park's season passports. But the opening of the new attraction has been delayed and no one is saying exactly when thrill seekers will be able to plunge into an underground tunnel from a 116-degree "beyond vertical free-fall" and enjoy a 140-foot tall inverted loop.
The park's website only says the highly anticipated ride's opening has been postponed "until a later date" because of "ongoing testing and commissioning."
One myth making the rounds is that the delay is because dummies are falling out of the coaster during test runs. Lagoon officials say that rumor is false.
"We actually use sandbags. We do not use dummies, nor have we ever used dummies. The sandbags are used instead to simulate the weight of people," said Lagoon spokesman Adam Leishman.
The sandbags are off-white and beige and are difficult to see on the ride — especially if you are watching the carts from outside of the park or you have never seen the sandbags, Leishman said.
He insists nothing has fallen out of the coaster's restraints during the testing phase.
Another rumor is that the ride's large standing structure does not meet Farmington's fire code, which is why the ride is not yet allowing passengers.
"That is 100 percent false," Leishman said. "The entire entity is considered a ride, not a structure, according to city code."
The decision to classify the structure as a ride was made in early February by the Farmington City Council, meaning that the tower does not undergo city inspections similar to other buildings in the park, such as the structures that hold the midway games.
However, the park follows the ASTM International standards, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, for all of its rides.
"There is the industry standards, we are tied into all of those," Leishman said. "ASTM is the strictest of the standards. We follow and usually exceed the ASTM standards — they are critical. Safety is No. 1 for us."
Another rumor is that Lagoon is starting to pull the Cannibal logo off of its promotional advertising both inside and outside of the park because the ride may not open this season. While the ride is only displayed on one of its website pages, Leishman says that rumor is also false.
"We have different promotions throughout the year, but Cannibal is still very much visible in the park," he said, promising that the ride will be open soon.
"They put up all the billboards, they have gotten my kids all excited — it's misleading, not so much for adults, but for kids," said Courtney George, a season passport holder from Clinton and mother of three children.
George says it's disappointing that the ride wasn't open at the beginning of the season and said the lack of information about its eventual debut is equally disappointing.
"We've written on the Facebook page, and every time we ask about it, they have kind of been avoiding our comments," she said.
John Haire, of Centerville, also bought season passports. He, too, is disappointed by the delay and the fact that no opening date has been set. But he said he also understands that Lagoon wants to make sure it's ready and safe.
"The caveat is, I don't want it to be open until its completely ready to be open — there might be a safety issue," he said.
The delay, however, hasn't prevented him and his family from enjoying the park.
"We have multiple crews working and we are making great progress. We have to get this right, we are not going to compromise," Leishman said.
He said another reason for the delay is because some rollercoaster parts manufactured on different continents have not been shipped on time. Cannibal is a unique ride and the parts are custom made.
But whenever the ride opens, Leishman says it will be "worth the wait."
Until then, roller coaster fanatics will have to settle for a few Cannibal trivia facts.
- Nearly 75 percent of the contractors and vendors involved in the construction of the ride are Utah businesses. "We built all of the track for them. We helped them back with Laguna Beach and worked with other contractors on Bombora — it's been an excellent relationship," said Ray Crandall, CEO of Intermountain Lift Inc. He emphasized that Lagoon's choice to use local contractors means the park gets both a good quality product and helps keep the economy in Utah flowing.
- The stone lions decorating the ride once adorned the Utah State Capitol.
- "They were originally four lions of the Capitol. We were able to get three. One of them went to another bidder — but the three we have were restored," Leishman said.
- For those who do not have a preference for who they ride next to on the coaster, there will be a "single rider" line for park guests to use, according to a comment from Lagoon's account on Facebook.