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Here's why so many movies are filmed at Vancouver’s favourite amusement park

It has attracted thrill-seekers and film sets for years.

The Playland that Vancouverites know and love has attracted thrill-seekers and film sets for years.

The standalone amusement park has been around for just over a century but has undergone a roller-coaster of renovations. Its roots are tied to the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE), which is North America's second-largest fair, and the properties make attractive filming locations. 

Playland also recently announced that it's building Canada's fastest launch coaster just months after unveiling another new ride


The story of how Playland came to be begins in 1910 when Canadian Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier officially opened the first annual PNE fair.

The PNE was a chance for B.C. to gain recognition from the rest of Canada and the world, and earned the ranking of second largest fair in North America, behind the New York State Fair.

In its first decade, the PNE had several rides including a roller coaster which was installed in 1915. However, a permanent amusement complex wasn't built until 1926, with the "Giant Dipper" ride replacing the 1915 roller coaster, "Dip The Dips." 

This new amusement park was called "Happy Land" and was a forerunner to Playland, opening for its first full season in 1929. 

Playland and Wooden Roller Coaster 

After around 30 years, Happyland relocated to a new part of the property under a new name: Playland.

The original site was demolished and eventually repurposed for the Pacific Coliseum.

Just a decade before Happyland closed its gates, locals were protesting the demolition of a widely popular ride, "The Giant Dipper."

According to the Vancouver Heritage Foundation, the current wooden roller coaster "was designed a year after the original PNE amusement park, Happyland, was closed. It replaced an earlier roller coaster designed by Phare, The Giant Dipper, which was torn down in 1948 to make way for an expanding Hastings Park Race Course."

The Wooden Roller Coaster, which opened in 1958 and cost $200,000 to build, was also once threatened with demolition.

Fragments of the ride were intended to be used as garden ornaments in a park that was supposed to replace Playland. But in 2009, the ride was designated as American Coaster Enthusiasts organization's (ACE) 21st Coaster Landmark and as a ‘Classic’ roller coaster. The local attraction is the only ride to receive both of these designations. 

The park was owned by a number of parent companies and became a division of the PNE family in 1993.

Movies and TV shows filmed at Playland

The amusement park began attracting film sets as early as 1990, seeing many popular movies and TV shows, including: 

  • Psych
  • Happy Gilmore
  • The Flash
  • Imposters
  • Fringe
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
  • Supergirl
  • Arrow
  • The L Word
  • MacGyver
  • Fear
  • Batwoman
  • Miracle
  • Best in Show
  • 3000 Miles to Graceland
  • Kyle XY
  • Are We There Yet?
  • Riding the Bullet
  • Rocky IV
  • Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
  • Alcatraz
  • The X Files: I Want To Believe
  • Final Destination 3
  • Smokin' Aces 2: Assassins' Ball
  • Highlander
  • Bird on a Wire
  • Splitting Adam
  • Saint Sinner
  • Deadlocked: Escape from Zone 14
  • Da Vinci's Inquest
  • The Odyssey
  • Secret Agent Man
  • Sliders
  • Smallville
  • Intelligence
  • Rollercoaster
  • The Edge of Seventeen

With files from Vancouver Is Awesome staff