Wooden coasters in Japan

Saturday, March 20, 2004 12:34 AM
I was wondering if Japan used to have regulations that forbade building coasters out of wood? I noticed that 1) the oldest wooden coaster in Japan is Jupiter, which was built in 1992, and 2) that Japan has all of 6 woodies. Is the latter because it costs much more to build a wooden coaster in Japan than in the US (or anywhere else in the world)? I stumbled upon this info in an old roller coaster program on Discovery (circa 1996).
Saturday, March 20, 2004 5:15 AM
I think one reason could be that wooden coasters were considered to be "old fashioned" and not "new" and "state of technology" in Japan. This is just a guess, from what I experienced in Japan, though.
It is remarkable that all Woodies in Japan (except "Aska" and to an extent "Regina") are extremely huge and big Woodies. It seems that "size" was the only way of succesfully marketing a wooden coaster.
From what I have heard all of the biggies are extremely rough these days.

I guess with all those earthquake regulations it might be quite expensive to build woodies.

Did you notice that Intamin is involved in many of the japanese wooden projects?
I could imagine that Japan would possibly invest in an Intamin new generation woodie. They offer enough "marketable stunts" and less wooden supports for earthquake ridden novelty seekers :)

Saturday, March 20, 2004 9:37 AM
THey were VERY expensive, and very tricky to build with earthquake regulations. I would suppose that a lot also has to do with the post-Magnum coaster boom that happened worldwide. After the new "coaster wars" started in 89, they started looking to build woodies over there, and then built white canyon.

Either way, White Cyclone is one of my favorite all time wooden coasters :)

Saturday, March 20, 2004 12:42 PM
^What about Woodies in California? I´d guess that they would require the same earthquake precautions? (At least Ghostrider looks very "strong").

Hmmm, I see there are not exactly many Woodies in Cali....

Saturday, March 20, 2004 1:15 PM
They are a lot more strict in Japan with building codes and requirements because (I believe) they have more earthquakes that are stronger on average than the ones in California. The fault lines are more active apparently on that side of the Pacific's "Ring of Fire."

Wood - anything else is an imitation

Saturday, March 20, 2004 5:29 PM
I wonder if the new steel supports being put on woodies the last couple of years will maybe help for woodies over seas.
Saturday, March 20, 2004 7:14 PM
I don't think they care, as Japan is in the midst of a major cash flow crisis. Parks are not building more coasters right now, and are in a big conservation mode.

Just look at how many parks have closed in the past 2 years. Unbelievable.

They will continue to build where the money is, but that's still in short supply right now. We might continue to see stuff move into Fujikyu, and the Tokyo area, but I imagine that's about it for now.

Monday, March 22, 2004 6:56 PM

tricktrack said:

I guess with all those earthquake regulations it might be quite expensive to build woodies.

Wow! For some reason I had forgotten all about the earthquake regulations! I guess that explains why it took twice as much steel to build Steel Dragon 2000 than it would have anywhere else.

Monday, March 22, 2004 7:11 PM
Plus, I've heard wood isn't as plentiful over there as it is in the US, so they have to have all that wood imported, which also drives up the cost.

As far as West Coast woodies, granted we don't have many now. Most of the "newer" parks have a token woodie or two. But in the past, the West Coast has seen it's share of wooden monsters. Unfortunately, all the old parks are now gone, with the exception of Belmont and Santa Cruz:


*** Edited 3/23/2004 12:15:24 AM UTC by jomo***

Tuesday, March 23, 2004 2:58 AM

jomo said:
Plus, I've heard wood isn't as plentiful over there as it is in the US, so they have to have all that wood imported, which also drives up the cost.

Hmmm, I am not too sure about that.
But the "ideal" wood for coaster building is considered to be "Georgia Yellow Pine". I don´t know if this is only growing in Georgia, but I know that all newer european woodies are made of that sort of wood, which was indeed imported from there.
I´d say that in todays import/export world the cost factor would not be that high.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004 1:50 PM
Wood is hugely plentiful in Japan, but, smart folk that they are, they refuse to use it, as their forests are sacred. Instead they import virtually 100% of their wood for home building, etc. This isn't that big an impact on coaster building, as they are used to importing their woods. That said, the Japanese are traditionally into breaking new ground with technology, and steel is still sexy.

There you go. :)


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