In a word “W-O-W!!”. It is huge and so packed with stuff, the best way to describe it would be to think of combining a huge mall with a sports/community centre, throw in parts of a wild animal park with an amusement park and then some.
If you can’t find it, you just haven’t looked far enough and long enough. I was able to spend parts of three days exploring and I never really got a chance to see the second level. There is a full sized ice rink, a swimming pool and water slide complex, a mock up of the Santa Maria, Sea Lions, Flamingo’s, statues of Dinosaurs and soooooo many shops and services that you’ll suffer culture shock just walking in the doors.
West Edmonton Mall is by no means the only thing in Edmonton, but it was the only thing I had time for during my trip, as I was also helping polish a 2004 Coupe for the 2006 International Mustang Show that was held on the site during the Labour Day weekend. Each year a different club hosts this event and it alternates between the US and Canada. Gorgeous cars but that is a completely different story, worthy of its own write-up.
One of the really amazing features of the mall is the use of natural light. Huge skylights abound and you really notice a difference as the sun goes down and the artificial lighting takes over. The other thing that overwhelms you is the “noise”. You do get used to it, I suppose, but it was quite a change from other malls one goes to during your life. You can hear the Sea Lions “barking” as they go through their show routines and the echo from the swimming complex, etc. Then the level of chatter from all the shoppers and visitors. If you are shopping with a friend or family and want to go in different directions, take cell phones or Walkie Talkies, they came in handy on my visit as you can find your friends and family without having to set a time frame to meet up.
Shopping is by no means the only reason people go to West Edmonton Mall. Kids take lessons on the ice rink and there are always people skating around. The swimming complex is very active and well used by locals and visitors. With the hard winters that Edmonton gets you can certainly see why the complex would be so well used. I don’t know who came up with the idea for this mall complex, but they did an amazing job.
There are movie theatres, restaurants and a hotel attached to the mall and lots of specialty shops mixed in with the country wide chain store outlets. If you are looking for something unique, you’ll find it.
If you are going to visit Edmonton please make time for the Mall, but don’t make it your only reason for going. There are lots of other things that Edmonton and the surrounding area offer and are well worth the effort to see. I’m just sorry I didn’t get a chance to explore the area further, but cars need detailing. One more thing, take comfy walking shoes, you “will” need them.