West Edmonton Mall
We left Banff at 4:49 p.m. that Sunday, after our breathtaking trip on top of Sulphur Mountain and exciting ride on the gondolas. We arrrived in Edmonton at 9:03 p.m and by 9:22, we were checked in at Comfort Inn. That’s Comfort Inn, my dear folks, not to be confused with comfort room, as we call the washrooms in the Philippines.
We were all excited when we saw the banner that said, free hi speed internet access. We thought that there would be computers in the rooms or someplace in the building. But BIL later on explained to us, that it only means that you can hook up your laptop, if you have one, and avail of free internet access. We’ve only been gone away from home for two days and we were already missing the internet. He he he.
There was a Superstore just a stone’s throw away from the hotel. So that was a good thing. We packed rice and canned goods with us, but I had wanted to buy milk and some fresh food since there was no fridge in the hotel rooms. This Superstore also has hot freshly baked pizzas so it was good to have something like that. We wanted to avoid eating out as much as possible because the bills could really add up.
The next morning, we headed to WEM. It was only a six-minute drive from the hotel. I didn’t even realize that we were already there after a few minutes. I was expecting a huge sign or huge globe or something like the one I see in the pictures of SM Mall of Asia, but there was none of that. Well, there was this sign, but I just thought it was pointing in the direction of the hotel, which I learned later on was inside the mall. That is not my picture on the link. But we had this one taken on the rooftop of the mall. You’ll see the WEM sign in the background.
Well, what can I say? The mall is really huge.
According to Wikipedia: (WEM) covers a gross area of 570,000 m² (5.3 million ft²) and cost C$1.2 billion to build. There are over 800 stores and services and parking for more than 20,000 vehicles. More than 23,000 people are employed at the property. The mall receives 33.5 million visitors per year and between 60,000 and 150,000 shoppers daily depending on the day and season. The mall is currently valued at $926 million.
Here are just some of the major attractions of WEM:
Deep Sea Adventure. There is this huge replica of Christopher Columbus’ Santa Maria. The theme is Pirates of the Mall, obviously inspired by the movie Pirates of the Caribbean. The Sea Lions’ Rock is also in this area. We spent a good amount of time here on our first day at the mall because the kids loved watching the sea lions perform their tricks.
Europa Boulevard. Located on the second floor. This part of the mall has a themed street inspired by the art and architecture of Europe’s oldest and best-loved cities. There is a huge Christmas tree right in the centre of Europa Boulevard. Apparently, the movie Christmas in Wonderland, which will come out later this year, was shot here. We took pictures by the Christmas tree. We got our Christmas card pictures early this year. 🙂
Bourbon Street. Located on level one, this part of the mall has a theme of New Orleans – dazzling colour and delectable treats.
World Waterpark. This is the main reason why my sister and her family wanted to go to WEM – to go swimming at this indoor wave pool. (As for me, I wanted to check out the shops in the mall.) This is North America’s largest indoor waterpark with a size of over two hectares. They planned to go swimming the following day but when they found out that the fee was $39.00 per head, they backed out. There were nine of them. Nine times $39.00 was just way too much.
Galaxyland Amusement Park. We just mostly looked at the rides, games and amusements. The kids knew that we parents weren’t willing to pay for the rides. But sis and I put in two dollar coins in this dance thingy where we have to follow the arrows on the floor to dance along to the tune. 🙂
Chinatown. Another themed street on the second floor. There was a huge long dragon hanging from the ceiling. There’s also an Asian grocery store.
Ice Palace. There is a huge skating rink at the centre of the mall and a skylight right on top. My husband says that there is also a skating rink like this in SM Mall of Asia. Is that right folks back there in Manila? A skating rink in hot Manila? And there are people there who skate?
Some of the stores:
There are the major department stores, such as Sears, The Bay and Zellers, which I didn’t see until our second day there when we all went on our separate ways. Ryland stayed with me. Yes, my baby still wants his mommy.
This HMV is on two floors. It took me two days to browse through their movie racks and also Reggie who browsed through their CDs. I got myself my very own copy of Brokeback Mountain. I just watched it the other night and I got to experience the breathtaking views of the mountains of Alberta once again.
We were looking at the Santa Maria when my oldest son, Reggie, pointed out this shoe store to me. “Isn’t that a Filipino word?” he asked me. Of course it is, Sapatos. Although it’s derived from the Spanish word, zapatos, which means shoes.
There are also stores for the small children, like B Sweet, which sells an assortment of candies; the Disney Store, which sells everything Disney; Build-A-Bear Workshop, where you can create your own personalized stuffed Teddy bear.
My boys went inside this game store called Play Me. My middle son, Ryan, checked out the games but he said they were a lot more expensive as compared to Winnipeg. That’s what we parents also noticed. Even without the 6% GST (goods and services tax) in Alberta, the items sold at Edmonton Mall are still pricey. Well, what can you expect? It is after all a tourist spot. When Ryland and I went back to this store the next day, he also checked out the games. He pointed out to a game that was on sale. It doesn’t have its original box and he thought he’d get it for the discounted price. But I asked him first, “Do you really want it, or you just want to buy something here? Because you could save your money and buy something you really want in Winnipeg.” In the end, he decided not to buy it.
And of course, I had to visit the bookstores. We first went to Coles. They had a poster of the new Harry Potter book that was to be released in three day’s time. I saw this magazine where Daniel Radcliffe was on the cover and I read part of his interview. Ryland got tired of waiting for me to finish reading. But he’s been patient.
So I promised to buy him ice cream once we get to an ice cream store. We went downstairs to Baskin Robbins and we both had a cup of delicious ice cream, Pink Bubblegum for him and Mango Tango for me.
Then we went to Chapters where they had a Harry Potter theme. There were paper candles hanging from the ceiling, just like there are candles floating at the Great Hall of Hogwarts. They were going to have a book reading event and/or party on the midnight of July 20, the release date of the book.
Are you finding my shopping trip boring yet? You see, I’m not really big on shopping because I don’t have a lot to spend on things. I’m quite content with just browsing the stores. But if I do find something that I really like, I buy it. And I tell you this. The most valuable purchase I made was from this store called the Rocky Mountain Soap Co. One of my boys has stubborn eczema that won’t go away even with prescription cream. I went to this store hoping to find soap that he could use. And sure enough, I spotted this Pumpkin Patch soap for dry/eczema skin, made with natural ingredients. I bought three bars. And I also bought this body butter, which he could apply on the rough patches of his skin instead of lotion. He used the soap and body butter right away once we got back home and it’s working. So I just have to find a distributor of these products here in Winnipeg since Rocky Mountain Soap Co. doesn’t have a branch here. Or I could always order on-line.
You can view my West Edmonton Mall album here.
More of Edmonton next time.