Expoland forced into liquidation

by Reiji Yoshida

The Expoland amusement park in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, will call it quits because it has been unable to revive its business in the wake of a fatal roller coaster accident in 2007, the operator said Tuesday.

The company had applied for protection under the corporate rehabilitation law at the Osaka District Court but withdrew the request Tuesday after the board voted for corporate liquidation Monday, a company spokesman said.

“It was hard to find a sponsor company. Also, because of the bad economy, we decided to close the park,” the spokesman said. “We couldn’t regain the people’s trust on safety.”

In the May 2007 accident, a woman was killed and 19 other riders were injured when a roller coaster car derailed.

The operator reopened the park that August but was forced to close temporarily six months later amid a drastic fall in the number of visitors.

The predecessor of the park opened as an amusement area for a 1970 international exposition that saw 64 million visitors and 77 participating countries.

The park had 83 million visitors between 1972, when Expoland started operations, and 2007.

Osaka Gov. Toru Hashimoto said in December he would like to see a theme park of U.S. film firm Paramount Pictures replace Expoland at the site.