It had been fifteen years since I had last been to West Edmonton mall (WEM) and I had some great memories exploring with my twin sister after we graduated from high school. There was so much to do there besides shopping that I knew we needed at least a couple days to show the kids around and we could have easily used a third day. From the World Waterpark to a pop-up miniature petting zoo, amusement rides, an ice rink, bowling, mini-golf, a pirate ship and more, there are so many activities to choose from that you almost forget that you are in a mall. WEM is cleverly designed with every kind of visual effect, restaurant and store that you can imagine. Expect a crowd, but it is easy to get around and didn’t hinder our exploring.
Take a look at some of the fun you can have — there is definitely something for everyone! The kids loved going to the mall and were wide-eyed the whole time since there is so much to see.
The World Waterpark was the number one hit of the WEM experience for us. My kids are little fish and love the water and the girls are starting to be obsessed with waterslides. At their age, there were not many big waterslides they could go on, but I was impressed that there was still enough to keep them busy for several hours. Jacob loved splashing around in the kid pool, they all loved the dolphin slides and the massive play structure they could climb around and get wet on. Madison loved that she was big enough to go on the “big girl” slides in the kids jungle gym area. The World Waterpark is a tropical paradise. It was the perfect temperature inside so that you were never cold. The waterpark has the world’s largest indoor wave pool and over 21 unique waterslides and play features. It was still a ton of fun for adults, too!
Fun fact: The first time I went bungee jumping, was in World Waterpark. They used to have another platform 106 feet up for bungee; it was the World’s Highest Indoor Bungee Jump. While I wasn’t thrilled with their zipline when I tried it, the bungee was sure a thrill for my first jump. After that, I was addicted to adrenaline. I was hoping it would still be there so I could have another jump for old-times sake, but the attraction closed down a handful of years ago.
World Waterpark will be closed for renovations from September 4, 2018 to October 5, 2018.
Fun WEM Sights
Wandering the mall itself, everything is so vibrant! The mall felt very clean, especially considering the size of the mall. With attractions around every corner, it always felt like there was a great wow-factor. The kids loved stopping at all the photo-ops through the mall where they could pretend to be a pirate, mermaid, princess — so many different things to imagine! We also found an old-school photo booth that we all just managed to squeeze into. Jacob wasn’t too impressed with the squeeze, but the photo that came from it is pure gold.
West Edmonton Mall’s Santa Maria is an exact replica of Christopher Columbus’ flagship used to sail to the Americas in 1492. The kids are obsessed with Pirates and buried treasure, so going on it was a thrill for them to be able to pretend it was a pirate ship and to swab the deck and use whatever other pirate lingo they could think of. It can be closed for private events, but if it is not in use, you can pay $2 (for those over two years old) and wander the main deck. It was fun to admire the details and have a bit of time to pretend!
At WEM you can explore the Marine Life at Sea Life Caverns and at Sea Lions’ Rock, home to four California sea lions that perform daily. The girls enjoyed getting to see some of the tricks. We also wondered how the mall still manages to keep approval for the “attraction” in todays world. Sea Lions sure are smart!
Mayfield Toyota Ice Palace
While we were there a big hockey tournament was being hosted, so we were not able to get out on the ice like we had hoped. Our girls are little ice skaters, so that would have been a perfect activity. How fun is that to have an ice rink in the middle of a mall?!
Galaxyland is North America’s largest indoor amusement park with more than 27 spectacular rides, attractions and play areas for all ages. We did not have time to spend a whole day there, but the girls had the chance to go on a few rides each. It’ll get easier as they get a little older and can go on any of the rides they choose. Our three-year-old, Sadie, was still a little too short for a bunch of the rides she wanted to go on.
I never thought I would see animals in the middle of the mall! The kids loved that they could take a quick stop to show the animals some love. The girls are horse lovers, so they adored being able to brush the pony, as well as pet bunnies, baby goats, a Lama and Donkey.
Professor WEM’s Adventure Golf
The mini golf didn’t look like it had changed much since my last visit, so it was a bit of a nice flashback. Cartoonish caricatures and the vibrant colourful atmosphere really makes this 18-hole miniature golf course fun for the whole family. We did wish that there were some moving parts throughout the course though, that always makes a mini-golf course extra fun!
We stayed in the Fantasyland hotel, that is right in West Edmonton Mall . The convenience of being able to come and go easy to your room is invaluable. It was also neat to have such easy access to walk around the mall before it opened. The hotel itself, with the exception of the beautiful lobby area, felt quite dated. Without the theme in the Polynesian room we stayed in, the hotel room probably would have been nothing more than a basic three star hotel. The room was a ton of fun with the Polynesian decor and jacuzzi, but it was definitely overpriced with the lack of upgrades done to the room over the years. However, the memories we made were priceless. The kids were so thrilled to stay in that room, and that is what keeps selling the theme rooms for them over and over– the kids go wild. One of our favourite memories was buying some fake bubbly (sparkling apple juice) and having plastic wine glasses for a toast and time to relax in the jacuzzi. The girls sure felt like they were super special — they were glowing!
West Edmonton mall was just as much fun as I remembered it to be. It was exciting to watch everything through the eyes of my kids this time around. We’re definitely going to have to find ourselves back there — so many more activities left to explore — and that waterpark was a huge hit! West Edmonton Mall is the most entertaining mall we have been to and to us is one of the best malls out there.
It really does have everything you can imagine. It is fascinating how an ordinary idea like a shopping centre can be turned into a world-class destination that has over 30.9 million visitors through its doors each year. To put it in perspective, that is only about 6 million short of the population of Canada. And, At 5.3 million square feet, the mall is the size of a small city and is accredited as a zoo. How is that for impressive?
If you are looking for a fun and unique getaway in Alberta, I’m happy to tell you that you could spend a lot of time in the mall and still not see all of its attractions.