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Utah roller coaster enthusiasts who have driven past Lagoon for months and watched the venerable Farmington park's most expensive ride take shape have wondered when it would finally open.
Cannibal, the 208-foot-high, $22 million in-house creation, finally opened to the public last week after weeks of test runs.
The new coaster ride runs just over a minute in length once the train reaches the top of what is basically an enclosed elevator shaft. The first drop out of the shaft is a 116-degree, beyond-vertical hill that leads into an underground tunnel.
According to the park, riders travel up to 70 mph over 2,735 feet of track and through three inversions.
Cannibal has attracted national interest from coaster enthusiasts, largely because it is the rare ride that was designed in-house and not ordered from Europe. About 75 percent of the contractors who built the ride were from Utah.
"That is rare, for a park to design its own coaster," said Tim Baldwin of the American Coaster Enthusiasts. "There is a lot of testing involved for the investment, safety and reputation of the park. It was late opening this year in terms of the rest of the pack [of new coasters]."
Baldwin said three members of the coaster enthusiast group were invited to take pre-opening rides while filming a documentary at the park. The group is planning to hold its 2016 convention at Lagoon.
"It's amazing, wonderful and incredibly smooth," wrote Robert Ingle, one of the ACE members who came to Lagoon. "The entire coaster has no slow parts in it at all and is easily re-rideable. It also currently stands as my number one steel coaster and will probably stay that way for a long time."
Kris Rowberry said hype surrounding the ride and the suspenseful wait for it to open were justified by the final product.
ACE's Nicholas Laschkewitsch wrote that his favorite part of the ride came at the start when he looked straight up into the elevator shaft as the train rolled through at the bottom. That shaft is one of the unique parts of the coaster.
Lagoon spokesman Adam Leishman said line waits of up to two hours have been common now that Cannibal is open.
Traveling musicians sometimes entertain those in line, and refreshment stands are located nearby to make the wait as comfortable as possible.
"Most people say the wait is worth the effort," he said.
Leishman said that because the ride is still in its test phase, it sometimes opens later in the day and there are periods of downtime to work out kinks.