West Edmonton Mall, not all it's cracked up to be!
Yesterday, we decided to take a trip up to the West Edmonton Mall, in guess where? Edmonton! We are not great shoppers, so although we wanted to visit here, we have been putting it off.
So, what's so special about the West Edmonton Mall (WEM)? Well, for a start it is the largest shopping mall in North America with over 800 shops and services in 5.3 million square feet, so quite big! It also has several attractions inside it such as an amusement park, aquarium, and a water park. Up until 2004, it was the largest indoor shopping mall in the world, but several have superseded it since then.
Many years ago, in 2005, I went to the Mall of America in Minneapolis which at the time was the largest mall in the USA, and is now the second largest, I believe. I was gobsmacked at the size of it as coming from the UK, I'd never seen anything like it. It too had an amusement park in the centre of it but with "only" 500+ shops and 2.5 million square feet, it is small compared to WEM.
It's a three-hour drive to WEM from Calgary and I have to say the drive there, although easy as it is basically one road the whole way, it is sooooo boring! There is absolutely nothing of interest en route. It is just one field after another and it is very, very flat.
But, we got there and managed to park easily enough, although this is probably a different story in the holidays or weekends. We were hungry by the time we got there, so after getting our favorite hot chocolate from Second Cup, we found a food court and got a stromboli each. We saw this guy enjoying his burger at the next table!
We then decided to tour the mall in our usual fashion. That is, just keep going around the edge keeping the stores to the right and you should end up going past all the stores and ending back where you started.
It is big and yes there are over 800 shops, but to be honest it was nothing special. The vast majority of the shops are the same ones we have in the malls around Calgary. Have I ever mentioned how many big malls there are in Calgary? Well, that's another blog post! So, overall, we were a little disappointed. I'm not sure what we were expecting to be honest, but it just didn't blow us away.
I'm sure if you a family with kids then the added amusement parks and water parks etc is a big benefit, but for us, it could never justify the travel time to get there when we can find all we need in Calgary.
There are some cool areas, such as a large ship you can rent for parties etc, and of course the water park.
We did consider trying out the marine life place with the aquarium but just didn't get around to it. The only things we bought was a top each! In fact, we only stayed for about 3 hours, then we made the boring drive back home.
We did have a little excitement, as when we were just 11 km from home we got caught up in a traffic jam on Highway 2. The road sign told us there were an incident and a section of road that would normally take 8 minutes to drive was showing 48 mins. We ended up getting off the highway and cutting across town - now we are locals we can do that sort of thing! It did extend our journey by about 30 mins, but obviously, the people involved in the incident must have been far worse off, so cannot complain.
I doubt that we would bother returning to this mall, but at least it is another place we can cross off the bucket list, although I'm not sure it was ever on it!