Photo/IllutrationFireworks explode over a model of the Space Shuttle at Space World's last full day Dec. 31. (Jun Kaneko)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

KITA-KYUSHU--It was the final frontier for the Space World amusement park here in the early hours of New Year's Day.

While space boldly stretches into infinity, amusement parks have a shelf life; just like the long-deceased U.S. space shuttle, a model of which served as the symbol of this cosmological playground.

The shelf life of Space World was 27 years and a long line of customers waited for the 8 a.m. opening on Dec. 31 to enjoy the final day.

The highlight was the revival of a popular fireworks show over the model of the Space Shuttle, a demonstration that was scrapped about 10 years ago after Space World got sucked into a financial black hole.

At 6 p.m., blue and pink lights illuminated the Space Shuttle as fireworks exploded overhead.

Space World opened in 1990 on the former site of the Yawata plant of what was then known as Nippon Steel Corp. The theme park had a record 2.16 million visitors in fiscal 1997.

However, its fortunes plummeted, and the big crunch came when the operator filed for bankruptcy in 2005.

There was no "beam me up, Scottie" miraculous rescue and operations were subsequently turned over to Kamori Kanko Co.

But the rocket boosters had fallen off the amusement park and it began its slow descent into oblivion.

On Dec. 31, after the visitors had counted down the new year, the park was left open for two hours after midnight.

Fans could be seen scrawling handwritten messages in various parts of the park expressing their gratitude for many heavenly memories.

(This article was compiled from reports by Eri Niiya and Jun Kaneko.)