VIDEO: 45 seconds of thrills on Playland's new ThunderVolt, 'Canada’s fastest electric launch coaster'

The new Italian-made ride opens Saturday at Vancouver amusement park

Thrill-seekers have a new attraction to enjoy at Playland.

The Vancouver amusement park's new ThunderVolt is ready to ride on the former site of the beloved Corkscrew coaster, closed in 2019.

Dubbed "Canada’s fastest electric launch coaster," the $18-million ThunderVolt opens to the public at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 6.

Built by the Zamperla company of Italy, the coaster's three-car train carries 12 passengers at a time with 1.3 G’s of acceleration through an illuminated tunnel, up a steep incline before an 18-metre drop.

Local news media had a chance to test-spin ThunderVolt on Friday, July 5, a day before its public launch.

The jet-fast ride lasts around 45 seconds – not 90 as earlier reported – on 380 metres of yellow track, north of Playland's famous wooden coaster.

A word of caution: People who carry extra pounds around the middle might be too large to ride, as this reporter learned firsthand when the safety bar couldn't be properly locked into position.

Otherwise, Friday's first riders seemed thrilled about ThunderVolt, including Lana Popham. B.C.'s tourism and culture minister.

"It's one of the best rides I've ever been on," she said Friday. "It's so fast at the beginning, and then you kind of settle into it. I would give it five stars, yeah."

A "Thriller Seeker Pass," priced from $45 a day, is required to ride ThunderVolt, which has safety bars "that may restrict certain guests from riding due to body shape and size," according to a post on pne.ca, with a minimum rider height of 52 inches.

"Due to the nature of the ride, those with both visual and hearing impairments are not permitted to ride," the PNE/Playland website notes. "Those with hearing impairment must be accompanied by a companion, and those with visual impairment must be accompanied by a companion. Due to the forces and evacuation requirements of the ride, all riders require a minimum of two functioning legs and one functioning arm to ride."

ThunderVolt will operate at Playland in the weeks ahead of the annual PNE summer fair, which opens Aug. 17.

This year, the PNE Summer Night Concerts move into the Pacific Coliseum while a new 10,000-capacity outdoor amphitheatre is constructed on the fairgrounds.

The 2024 concerts kick off Aug. 17 with Burton Cummings Band/Colin James and end Sept. 2 with an “I Love the 90’s” lineup featuring Vanilla Ice, Rob Base and All-4-One. The diverse pop, rock, country and R&B concerts will also feature Amanda Marshall with Serena Ryder (Aug. 18), Bachman-Turner Overdrive (Aug. 20), Blondie (Aug. 21), John Fogerty (Aug. 22), Brad Paisley (Aug. 23), Charlotte Cardin (Aug. 25), The Commodores with The Pointer Sisters (Aug. 27), Flo Rida (Aug. 28), Blue Rodeo (Aug. 29), Ludacris (Aug. 30), Punjabi Virsa Night (Aug. 31) and Barenaked Ladies (Sept. 1).

For the PNE concerts, the Coliseum will become a concert bowl for between 5,500 and 9,500 fans, with floor seats (reserved) and no general seating/standing in the arena. Fair admission is included in the cost of a ticket, sold for $40 and up on ticketleader.ca/events/detail/snc-2024.

Due open in 2026, the PNE’s new $65-million amphitheatre is designed by local company Revery Architecture.

As for the ThunderVolt, Saturday is "a very significant and exciting day for our park,” says PNE president and CEO Shelley Frost.

“Adding this ride shows the commitment of the PNE to investing in Playland and this ride, one of the best of its kind in North America, will be an incredible juxtaposition to our beloved historic Playland Wooden Coaster," Frost stated.

"It sets Playland up to thrill many more generations of British Columbians and guests from across Canada and around the world, making it a jewel in the crown of our organization.”

Last fall, themes of “wild energy” and “electrifying speed” emerged in a contest to name ThunderVolt. More than 3,000 ideas were submitted, with the winning name announced in November, a year after the PNE revealed plans to build the attraction.



Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news for Surrey Now-Leader and portdanielpress
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