One of Vancouver's most iconic rides returns to Playland following an 18-month hiatus.
The Playland Wooden Coaster is open to the public after undergoing a major refurbishment project prior to the 2022 season, which included the addition of lap belts in the 16-passenger train to meet new safety standards.
The popular ride first opened to the public in 1958 and has won numerous awards, including Coaster Classic and Coaster Landmark from the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE).
The coaster is considered a "living" structure because it is made "entirely of wood outside of the friction plates where the train’s metal wheels meet the frame of the ride structure."
Beloved for its "old-world" charm, the rough and tumble ride offers an unexpected jerk of motion at the peak of its first hill followed by a dramatic plunge down a steep incline, as well as plenty of thrills after that. The knuckle-whitening experience also offers breathtaking views of the city from its 75-foot-high peak and reaches speeds up to 45 miles per hour.
“It’s exciting that our beloved Wooden Coaster is now open,” says Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) spokesperson Laura Ballance. “A ride on the Coaster is a tradition that goes back for generations in British Columbia, and this retrofit ensures it will be in top form to ride millions more thrill seekers for years to come.”
Over 1,200 lengths of structural grade Douglas Fir were installed in the coaster's latest retrofit, which equates to more than 12,000 feet of lumber.
Landmark status at the PNE Playland
In 2009, the ACE named the Coaster an ACE Roller Coaster Landmark, a designation that is reserved for rides of “historical significance.”
The ride is the only one in Canada to earn the designation and was the first outside of the U.S. The first recipient was named in 2002 and since then a little more than 40 rides have earned an ACE Roller Coaster Landmark plaque.
It has also been designated one of the city’s Places that Matter by the Vancouver Heritage Foundation, which aims to highlight and commemorate the people, places and events that have shaped the city.
- With files from Jessica Kerr