A drawing of Playland’s new Skybender ride, first of its kind in the world. (Submitted image)

A drawing of Playland’s new Skybender ride, first of its kind in the world. (Submitted image)

ENTERTAINMENT

New Skybender and retrofitted Coaster at Playland, to open June 18 without 2 other popular rides

Music Express and Crazy Beach Party rides are gone from the East Van amusement park

Playland opens for the summer June 18 with a new Skybender arriving soon, along with one refurbished Coaster, and the retirement of two popular thrill rides.

The amusement park in East Vancouver has undergone “significant changes” over the past two years, operators say.

They include the expected early-July arrival of Skybender, a $2.7-million ride constructed by Italy’s Zamperla company.

“Skybender is unlike anything currently available in Canada and is one of the few rides anywhere in the world offering a single rider experience,” noted Shelley Frost, PNE president and CEO.

Skybender features “a spectacular light package, dynamic action sequences and a thrilling combination of gravity drops and accelerations,” according to a news release.

This year, Playland-goers won’t find the classic Music Express and Crazy Beach Party rides, both retired.

Music Express was known for loud music and the catch phrase yelled by its operator, “Do you wanna go faster?”

“We all loved the Music Express, but that ride had reached the end of its lifecycle, so it was removed and recycled, making way for the addition of Skybender and other exciting park improvements in this and coming years,” explained PNE spokesperson Laura Ballance.

STORY CONTINUES BELOW

Meantime, Playland’s iconic wooden Coaster is back in operation after a $1-million retrofit – “the most extensive” in its 64-year history, including the addition of lap belts “to meet incoming safety standards.”

First operated at Playland in 1958, the Coaster is slated to offer rides again in early to mid-July. The delay is blamed on the late arrival of materials.

The retrofit “will ensure that this special piece of global ride history is ready to celebrate its 65th birthday in 2023 as well as many more decades thrilling Playland guests,” Ballance said.

This year, all guests visiting Playland will need to purchase their tickets in advance online through TicketLeader.ca. Capacities are limited. For details visit PNE.ca/playland, or call 604-252-3700.

Looking ahead, the 2022 Pacific National Exhibition Fair will return this summer with some familiar features and new rules for entry. Pandemic-triggered daily attendance capacity limits will continue at the annual fair in Vancouver, and all of the Summer Night Concerts will require a paid ticket.

The B-52s “Farewell Tour,” Blue Rodeo, Barenaked Ladies, Steve Miller Band and Nelly are among concert highlights during “British Columbia’s longest running and largest ticketed event,” Aug. 20 to Sept. 5.

Date-specific tickets will be required for PNE entrance, Playland ride passes and all Summer Night Concerts, which went on sale May 27 on ticketleader.ca.

RELATED: Rolla Skate Club wheels into PNE building with help of Surrey event planner



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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