Expoland amusement park in Osaka, Japan, opened as the amusement zone of Expo ’70, the International Exposition hosted in the city in 1970. It was supposed to be a temporary part and closed down after the end of the exposition but reopened in 1972 due to its popularity. The park covered an area of 20 hectares and included more than 40 rides and attractions, 19 restaurants, and shops.
On May 5, 2007, a tragic accident took place at Expoland. The Fujin Raijin II rollercoaster derailed, resulting in the death of a 19-year-old university student while 40 people were injured and 31 were taken to the hospital. The investigation revealed that the ride derailed due to a broken axle. None of the ride vehicle’s axles had been replaced for 15 years.
Reopening of the Park
The park reopened after a series of safety inspections but closed again on December 9, 2007, due to a lack of customers. In 2008 there were reports that Paramount Pictures was looking to turn the Expoland site into a theme park. In 2009, 20% of the park’s area was renovated and reopened as a new theme park called ‘Farm Expo’.
Safety Concerns and Violations
Concerns have been raised concerning the security of Japan’s theme parks following the catastrophic roller coaster accident at Expoland in 2007. Similar roller coasters at other parks voluntarily shut down and were inspected for the same axle issue that led to the Expoland tragedy after tragedy. However, further investigation revealed that the park had received a warning from authorities for poor upkeep after identical axle cracks were found on a second train just one month after the first accident. The park’s difficulty in recovering its visitors’ trust was made worse by these safety concerns and violations.
Permanent Closure of the Park
Expoland announced its closure in February 2009 after failing to recover from a catastrophic rollercoaster accident in 2007. After the board voted to liquidate the company, the corporation abandoned its request for corporate rehabilitation protection. The park struggled to regain the public’s confidence in its safety and suffered from the sluggish economy despite its history as a well-liked family and thrill-seeking destination. The park’s future remains questionable until now, with speculations of a possible replacement with a theme park from the US film business Paramount Pictures.