PNE Historic Wooden Roller Coaster Restoration

Owner: Pacific National Exhibition (PNE)  |  Vancouver, BC


About the Project

Playland’s Wooden Roller Coaster is Canada’s oldest operating wooden coaster built in 1958 and designed by the award-winning Carl Phare and Walker Leroy. The attraction is built from old growth Douglas fir which in 2009 was given “Landmark” status by ACE (American Coaster Enthusiasts) for this historical significance. The coaster was named one of the top 15 wooden roller coasters in the world reaching speeds up to 72 km/h.

Hedgehog Technologies acted as the owner’s engineer in collaboration with the PNE to outline the project scope. With a team of professional engineers, they supported the remediation construction and received operational status in 2022. The project aimed to preserve the historic wooden structure design while incorporating newer materials to prepare it for continued operation for generations to come.


The building science team at Read Jones Christofferson (RJC) conducted a thorough assessment of the wood condition. Strain gauges were then installed for analysis by the structural engineering team at RJC with on-site construction completed by Martin and Vleminckx Rides (MVR), a manufacturer of wooden roller coasters. The project had expertise in functional safety and mechanical engineering from Hedgehog Technologies, as well as building science and structural engineering from RJC. This was in accordance with the requirements of the local regulator, Technical Safety BC.

The original coaster design blueprints from the 50’s was used with the strain gauge data and old growth timber strength testing to outline the construction requirements, maintaining the original design intent. Strain gauge testing was completed in November, creating challenges as the coaster had never operated at this time of the year previously. The PNE maintenance team worked digitally to get it running for a month to gather data for the structural team’s analysis.

A functional safety risk assessment was completed on the train cars and new safety-rated locked and monitored seatbelts, manufactured by Kumbak – The Amusement Engineers, were installed to meet updated safety standards. Local regulator requirements were reviewed by Hedgehog Technologies with the appropriate BC P. Eng. assigned scope to successfully open the ride in 2022, following the previous year where it was not available to the public.


The regulator approved the coaster’s operation for the 2022 season, allowing the community to enjoy the historic ride once again. Canada’s oldest wooden coaster, located in Vancouver and highly rated among wooden coasters in North America, is now operational thanks to the support of PNE, local professional engineers, and MVR.

Service(s) Provided
Functional Safety Engineering
Structural Engineering
Mechanical Engineering

Project Team (Consultants)
RJC Engineers
Metro Testing and Engineering

Project Team (Contractors)
 Martin and Vleminckx Rides (MVR)
Kumbak – The Amusement Engineers


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