Canada’s fabulous and amazing West Edmonton Mall

North America's largest mall has more than shopping. It is a complete entertainment center under one roof. Photo: Indoor roller coaster at WEM Photo: WEM

EDMONTON, CANADAJuly 14, 2013 — If the West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Canada isn’t among the “Seven Wonders of the Shopping World,” it would be amazing to experience the places that can beat it.

West Edmonton Mall is the Disneyland of shopping. Though it was surpassed as the world’s biggest shopping center under one roof in 2004, it remains the largest in North America. But words like “big” and “large” and “monstrous” and “gigantic” don’t come close to describing what this mall is all about.

Largest mall in North America

West Edmonton is a mall walker’s paradise. For perspective, if a visitor begins at one corner of the mall and walks non-stop to the opposite end at a steady pace, it takes a full half-hour to reach the other side.

In the process, the walker will pass more than 800 stores and 200 restaurants during a stroll that covers 48 city blocks or the equivalent of 104 football fields

The concept evolved in the late 1970s after the four Ghermezian brothers fled Iran with their father in 1959 to escape Islamic fundamentalism. Initially the family opened a Persian rug business that resembled a traditional bazaar so typical of their native culture.

Eventually the idea of combining shopping and entertainment became a reality in September 1981, and the rest is history. The element that makes West Edmonton Mall unusual is not so much the shopping, however vast, but the sheer scope of entertainment that transcends the shopping experience.

WEM’s waterpark & slide

For travelers, it’s the array of attractions that make the lifeblood of this mall. Consider the full-sized indoor Mindbender roller coaster, which is part of the onsite amusement park. Or how about the World Waterpark: it covers nearly five acres with six wave pools and an 83-foot tall slide known as the Twister and Cyclone.

But we’ve “only just begin” as the song goes. The mall contains an indoor salt-water lake that accommodates a sea lion habitat as well as a replica of the Santa Maria, one of Christopher Columbus’ ships used in the discovery the New World. The deck of the ship, by the way, can be reserved for private functions.

Land ho! Columbus’ Santa Maria

For those who enjoy Bumper Cars, the Deep-Sea Derby is the aqua equivalent of a dry land operation complete with squirt guns.

Beneath the main floor, the lagoon is home to the Deep Sea Adventure and features an aquarium called Sea Life Adventure. Sea Lions Rock is home to Clara, Slide and Splash, three sea lions who entertain visitors throughout the day.

No facility of such magnitude in Canada would be complete without a skating rink to honor the national sport of ice hockey. Meanwhile, the original 18-hole Pebble Beach Mini Golf course has been redesigned as Professor WEM’s Adventure Golf.

Naturally, there are movie theaters, a dinner theater, and even four radio stations with broadcast facilities inside the mall.

Ed’s Recreation Centre is a complex consisting of a bowling alley, pool hall, arcade, restaurant, and a stage that is one of Edmonton’s major venues for musical entertainment.

However, if Ed’s doesn’t whet your appetite, there’s always the country music nightclub known as Whiskey Jack’s.

Canadian version of Bourbon St.

Perhaps even more impressive is the scaled down replica of New Orleans’ famed Bourbon Street featuring music clubs, restaurants and even a comedy club. For special events, Bourbon Street can be closed off from the rest of the mall to allow private openings and closings from normal mall activities.

Why not visit Europe or Asia as well? Europa Boulevard has sidewalk cafes and eclectic shops amid a typical European streetscape. Or travel even further east to enjoy the pleasures of Chinatown as well.

Chinatown at WEM

Try the indoor shooting range known as Wild West Shooting Centre, or the 24-hour Gold’s Gym facility.

If all this grandiosity overwhelms you into a world of temptation, you can repent at the inter-denominational chapel.

Travelers and shopaholics with reasons to stay awhile can check out, and into, Fantasyland Hotel. It offers 235 classically decorated guest rooms inside the mall.

Plenty of country sleeping

Ahh, but remember, this is the West Edmonton Mall, a one-of-a-kind experience. Rather than choose a traditional room, why not select one of Fantasyland’s 120 themed rooms instead? Not sure what suits your taste? Here are some suggestions: you can journey to ancient Rome or sleep in an igloo. Travel back to the Old West, visit the jungles of Africa, relive the Arabian nights or, if all else fails, settle down in the back of a pick-up truck.

Edmonton, Canada is truly a land for all seasons, where it really is a mall world after all.

Contact Bob at Google+

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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com) and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.

 

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