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Like the spider's invitation to the fly, the Lagoon amusement park this year will invite thrill seekers to step into a new parlor of sorts -- a $3 million roller coaster that promises more twists and turns than an orb-spinner's web.

Utahns afflicted with arachnophobia,

though, may find summoning the gumption to climb aboard "The Spider" coaster far more daunting than the ride itself.

Riders will approach the coaster through the legs of a 16-foot tall horror -- a huge metal spider sculpture fashioned by Pioneer Manufacturing and Blacksmiths Inc. of West Valley City.

"It took a lot of studying on our part to get the dimensions and the look just right," Pioneer Manufacturing's owner Richard Prazen said. "We wanted it to look awfully hungry."

While the $50,000 sculpture includes a stylized spider head, the 2,800-pound structure's dimensions hark back to the hairy eight-legged world and one of the most feared spiders of all -- the black widow.

On a real black widow, the front legs are the longest, the back legs are the next longest and the middle four legs are the shortest, Prazen said. "They use the front legs for reaching and back for jumping."

Lagoon's art director, Lori Capner, sketched out the look of the creature and the rough drawing was presented to Pioneer, which designed the piece so it could be broken down, powder coated, transported and then reassembled at the park.

"Prazen was a great find," Lagoon President David Freed said. "We couldn't have found anyone better to do this [spider] for us. We may have another smaller one built to set inside the ride."

Pioneer's team of artisans and welders began assembling the legs with 3-inch pipe, then graduated to 4-inch and 5-inch pipe for the middle and upper segments. The abdomen was created out of epoxy resin, Prazen said.

The fangs were formed by the company's blacksmiths.

The amber eyes and red hourglass for the underside of the abdomen, which will be lit from inside the sculpture, were handcrafted by Utah glassmaker Jenkyn Powell.

The spider will be assembled at Lagoon early next month.

"We were given about six weeks to get the job done, so everyone took a different piece of the spider to work on. Once we got it assembled last week it was so large that we just left it standing in our shop and pulled our trucks in under it," he said.

Prazen, a noted Utah metal sculptor who has done commissioned work for the U.S. Air Force Academy, Universal Studios and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said the spider is by far his largest project to date.

"I've done rearing horses but nothing like this," he said. "Everyone really had to pull together to get it done. And looking at it inside our shop, it looks like we have a bad bug problem."

NIGHTMARE UNDER CONSTRUCTION Richard Prazen, owner of Pioneer Manufacturing in West Valley City, watches Rob Ellsworth work on the 16-foot-tall metal spider that will loom over the entrance of a new roller coaster at Lagoon. "It took a lot of studying on our part to get the dimensions and the look just right," said Prazen. "We wanted it to look awfully hungry."

Steve Griffin/The Salt Lake Tribune