An Edmonton Adventure

courtesy:,_Alberta/When I began telling people about my plans, everyone always would ask, “so what exotic destination are you going to  visit first on your trip around the world?”.   I would look at them with a straight face and say, “Edmonton!”.  Inevitably the next question was always, “why?” and I would always respond, “because I really want to see The Mall”.   It really is to see family and friends.  So of course, one of the first stops on my trip to Edmonton was The Mall… West Edmonton Mall to be exact, North America’s largest shopping mall (and currently 5th largest in the world).   Now don’t get me wrong, when I lived in Edmonton I visited the mall often, and in fact I grew up just a few blocks away from the future site of this massive complex, and used to play at the farm on the land it was built on. 

What can you say about a shopping centre?  Well it is over 6 MILLION square feet of shopping and entertainment… a Mecca for shopaholics, with over 800 stores to spend your money in.    More than 28 MILLION people visit the mall every year since it was built in 1981.  There were future expansions (to keep the #1 ranking) and in 1985 I was one of the emcees for the new Phase lll.  It has something for everyone including, a massive waterpark with slides, a huge wave pool,  a bungee tower, and even a fake beach to relax on.  You can browse through the shops on Europa Boulevard,  with facades made to look like a street in Europe.  There’s a skating rink, that the Edmonton Oilers of the NHL used to practice on (in the days when Wayne Gretzky played for the team). There is a lagoon, that once held more submarines (real subs) than the Canadian Navy, and also has a replica of the Santa Maria (from the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria fame). And it also has the world’s largest indoor amusement park.  It was originally called Fantasyland but the mall owners ended up in a court fight with Disney over the name, so they had to change it to Galaxyland (for some reason the Fantasyland Hotel -also in the mall-  was able to keep it’s name). Among the rides is the Mindbender Rollercoaster – world’s largest triple loop indoor coaster.  Eventhough I’ve always loved rollercoasters, that was one I refused to go on.  It didn’t help that there was a deadly crash of the Mindbender back in 1986 that killed 3 people and left a 4th person critical.    So it really was not on my ‘bucket list’, but when we wandered the mall,  I decided to take the risk and take the Mindbender for a spin.  It was amazing, probably one of the fastest rollercoasters I have ever been on.  It definately shook up the fillings! Not only did I fulfill my promise to re-visit the mall, I ended up with an experience I will long remember… and isn’t THAT what this trip is supposed to be about?

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