Skip to content

PNE Fair reopens with news about iconic wooden coaster, Challenger Map

Advance tickets are required for the Vancouver fair this year
Surrey’s Josh Lalisan, left, and Emma Hader of Maple Ridge, right, perform in the “Bones and Scully, ‘Tis Fun to be a Pirate” show on the PNE Fair’s BCAA ToonCity stage. The show runs three times daily, and is free with admission to the Fair. (Photo courtesy PNE/Craig Hodge)

As the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) opens Saturday (Aug. 21) with limited capacity and advance tickets only, caretakers of the Vancouver fair have news about two of its most popular attractions.

The Playland Wooden Coaster will remain closed for the remainder of 2021 during “a major refurbishment project” for the popular thrill ride, built in 1958.

The upgrade should be done for the opening of the Playland season next spring, at a cost of between $500,000 to $750,000.

“Doing this larger refurbishment during a quieter COVID season, combined with wanting to make sure that the Coaster is ready for the next 60+ years as a flagship attraction within the Playland Redevelopment Plan, makes this the right timing,” PNE management said in a news release Friday (Aug. 20).

Meantime, the famed Challenger Map is coming home to Hastings Park, with plans for its display during the 2022 PNE fair.

The Challenger Map, a topographical scale model of British Columbia made from fir plywood cut into 986,000 pieces, occupied 1,850 square metres of floor space at its original PNE home, in the BC Pavilion complex, from 1954 until 1997. It’s been mothballed at an airport hangar since then.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed with the family of the late George Challenger and his son, the late Robert Challenger, creators of the Challenger Map, which took the family seven years to construct.

“Our family is so excited that my grandfather’s Map will be returning to its rightful home at Hastings Park,” stated Bill Challenger, president of the Challenger Relief Map Foundation and son and grandson of the map’s creators. “We believe the map is an incredible asset to the people of British Columbia and we’re grateful that it will be on display once again.”

More project details are posted to, or call 604-253-2311.

A portion of the Challenger Map will be on display at this year’s PNE Fair, from Aug. 21 to Sept. 6.

This year, for the first time, advance tickets are required for the PNE Fair and must be date-specific, via or Admission fees are $15 for adults, $12 for kids/seniors, and free for those aged five and under (must reserve free tickets).

There are no “ins and outs” at the Fair this year, in order to maintain accurate capacity counts.

This year’s fair footprint will be outdoors in Hastings Park.

“Whether listening to great live music, watching a show or enjoying lunch with friends or family, maintaining comfortable distances will be possible across more than 50 acres of beautiful parkland,” fair organizers say. “For 2021 the indoor space will be limited to the Livestock barns, which have high ceilings and are well ventilated.”

The PNE’s primary form of payment is contactless cards (debit/credit/gift cards), and many on-site vendors will not accept cash.

Hours of operation are from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and the PNE will be closed on Aug. 23 and Aug. 30.

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

At the livestock barns, Surrey’s Santiago Melgar, 1, wasn’t the only kid in attendance during the opening day of the 2021 PNE Fair FUNdamentals, on Saturday, Aug. 21. The fair runs until Sept. 6 (closed Aug. 23 and 30) at a reduced capacity, and admission tickets must be purchased online in advance. (Photo courtesy PNE/Craig Hodge)

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
Read more