21 Reasons Why West Ed Is Perfect for Your Next Staycation!

Who needs to buy plane tickets when you have everything you need under just one roof?!

by emil tiedemann

LET'S face it, West Edmonton Mall will always by synonymous with Edmonton in general. But what's so bad about that! Besides, our hometown has evolved expeditiously in the last five years alone and has now become so much more than just "that place with the big mall."

We're the Oilers, the Eskimos; we're Whyte Avenue and the Art Gallery of Alberta; we are the Fringe and Folk Fests, "Festival City" and always the "City of Champions"; and of course we're the upcoming Ice District. And we're West Edmonton Mall, too. 

More than 32 million people visit West Edmonton Mall every year! That's almost the entire population of Canada!

And although it is no longer the world's largest shopping centre, West Ed will always remain one of the most sought-after tourist attractions province-wide, and in fact is a popular staycation destination for folks from throughout Alberta and even here in town. And why not! It's got everything you need!

West Edmonton Mall covers a gross area of about 5.3 million square feet, and was the world's largest shopping centre from when it opened in 1981 to 2004!

If you're still not convinced, we've compiled a list (in no particular order) of all the reasons why you might want to consider West Edmonton Mall (8882 - 170 Street/ 780.444.5321) for your next family, couples, or even solo staycation! 

1/ Bourbon Street 
Styled after the world-famous district in New Orleans, Bourbon Street is West Ed's adult playground. There are more than a dozen places to choose from to eat, drink and/or play, including 1ST RND, Moxie's Grill & Bar, Sherlock Holmes, Oranji Sushi Bar, The Red Piano, and Rick Bronson's The Comic Strip. Grab a bite to eat, catch a stand-up or dueling pianos show, and cap the night off with a few cocktails. 

Bourbon Street is full of cool spots to wet your whistle, including the Red Piano, best-known for their dueling pianos shows!

2/ Jubilations Dinner Theatre
There's nothing quite like Jubilations Dinner Theatre, which hosts quality live theatre five days a week. In-character servers bring you a better-than-you-might-expect four-course meal in between acts of their original live musical performances, which usually run for about two months. Once Upon a Time in Graceland is playing at Jubilations until August 23, and then Modern Family Vacation runs August 28 - October 25

Jubilations' production of 'Once Upon a Time in Graceland'!

3/ Santa Maria ship
This exact replica of Christopher Columbus' 1492 flagship is perhaps the most memorable and unique entity of West Ed, one of those postcard photo ops for anyone new to the giant ship. Although it is not open to the public at all times, the Santa Maria does host the occasional event or can be used for private functions as well. You can also rent paddle boats or squirt boats that surround the nearly 30-year-old hand-carved & hand-painted Edmonton icon. 

The Santa Maria replica was built in B.C. for the 1986 Vancouver EXPO, and then transported to Edmonton through the Rockies soon after!

4/ The nightlife
There are plenty of spots around Edmonton to get your dance on, but why not skip traffic and cabbing by remaining under one roof! West Ed has plenty of options for downing tipsy juice and meeting new friends, including Encore, SET Nightclub, 300 Club Lounge, The Red Piano, L1 Lounge, and Ed's Rec Room. And you don't even have to leave the parking lot! 

Dance the night away to live DJs at "Edmonton's newest nightlife revolutin," SET Nightclub!

5/ Palace Casino
The multilevel Palace Casino has more than 20 gaming tables, over 600 slot machines, a poker room, and an exclusive VIP room, as well as food & drinks and free live entertainment on the weekends! It's the perfect place to win a sh*tload of cash or lose your next month's rent! Some of the entertainment in the coming weeks at the Palace Casino include bands All the Rage (Aug. 14-15), Uptown (Aug. 21-22) and Capital News (Aug. 28 & 29). 

The Palace Casino is also a good place to check out a UFC or boxing match on the big screen!

6/ World Water Park
How often is it that you can wake up, eat, drink, shop, drink, dance, drink, and dive headfirst down epic water slides all without having to step outside in the -30 winter even once?! Not often! The World Waterpark in West Ed is the world's 2nd largest indoor water park and boasts the biggest indoor wave pool on the planet (12.3 million litres!), as well as a surf simulator, bungee jump (currently not in use), and a 450-foot zipline! 

The temperature at the World Waterpark is set at a tropical 31 degrees Celsius, perfect for a wintertime swim!

7/ Wild West Shooting Range
Have you ever shot a gun? It's unlike anything else, let me tell you! The Wild West is Canada's largest indoor shooting range, and offers many varieties of weapons to either buy or rent at their safe and experienced shooting range. For as little as $70 you can pick your weapon of choice, blast out a couple dozen shots, and take home your obliterated target poster afterwards. No license is required, but an extra change of underwear might be!

The shooting experience at the Wild West Shooting Range!

8/ Ed's Rec Room
Ed's is the perfect spot for a family night out, a date night, or even a tame bachelor party! There's tenpin bowling (including glow-in-the-dark), plenty of pool tables, and more than 40 arcade-style games to choose from, not to mention food & drinks. Oh, and on Wednesday nights you can grab four beers and 20 wings for just $20! You're welcome! 

Check out Ed's Rec Room on Thursdays for $9.75 All-You-Can-Bowl from 9PM until closing!

9/ Fantasyland Hotel
Located right inside the Mall is the one-of-a-kind Fantasyland Hotel, a luxury experience with more than 350 rooms, including 120 fantasy-themed options that are designed to recreate a specific era or place. Some of those themes include Polynesian (see below), Roman, Arabian, Western, Victorian, African, Igloo, and yes, even Truck! If you don't feel like room service, you can also head downstairs to check out their L1 Lounge or L2 Grill.  

The Polynesian room is one of the many themed options at Fantasyland Hotel! BTW, there's also the West Edmonton Mall Inn just across 90th Avenue!

10/ Newplay arcade
Remember when we used to have to leave the house, get on our bikes, grab our buddy, and peddle 20 minutes to the nearest arcade in order to play video games? Me neither, but this was how it happened back in the day, and you can relive your childhood memories - or even bring your own kids along - at Newplay in West Ed. There are dozens of games to choose from, and you can collect tickets to exchange for toys and trinkets.
Revisit your childhood at the Newplay arcade, including a giant Connect Four game?!

11/ Little Chinatown
Let's be real, West Ed's mini version of Chinatown is nothing to write home about, but it's at least a brief glimpse into Chinese cuisine and decor. This small corner of the mall is designed with Asian-influenced architecture and ornaments, with specialty shops that "reflect a traditional Chinese market." It is anchored by the popular T&T Supermarket, which was featured on an episode of Undercover Boss Canada.  

You might be surprised at some of the things you can find here, at the T&T Supermarket in West Ed's 'Little Chinatown'!

12/ Galaxyland
You can't really go wrong with the world's largest indoor amusement park, Galaxyland! Some of the more than two dozen rides include the world's largest indoor rollercoaster (the Mindbender) and tallest indoor tower ride (the 12-storey Space Shot), as well as a giant swing, sidewinder, zipline, Tilt-A-Whirl, kiddie coaster, and Canada's first spinning roller coaster, the Galaxy Orbiter. There's also many arcade-style games, bumper cars, a kids' train ride, and the 7D movie theatre!  

Take a tour of the world's largest indoor amusement park via the all-ages Galaxyland Express!

13/ Ice Palace
Under a glittering glass dome is the newly rechristened Mayfield Toyota Ice Palace, a National Hockey League-sized recreational skating rink right in the middle of the Mall. There's the off chance that you could be lucky enough to catch the Edmonton Oilers playing here, but don't hold your breath. It is, however, great for anyone who just wants to put on their skates and glide across the sunlit ice surface surrounded by shoppers and spectators. 

The Ice Palace is also home to the annual Brick Invitational Hockey Tournament!

14/ West 49 Skateboard Park
If your son or daughter (or perhaps husband or wife!) is a skateboarder, they might want to visit the West 49 shop, which includes its very own extreme skateboard park where you can test out their products and/or your own skills! The two-storey shop also, of course, offers plenty of skateboard, snowboard and blading fashion, equipment and accessories. 

A demonstration at West 49's epic underground Skateboard Park!

15/ Scotiabank Theatre
If you're into indie features or foreign documentaries, you might wanna go for the iPad, but for all those wide releases and blockbusters this is the place to be. There's no longer that giant fire-breathing dragon hanging from the ceiling, but Scotiabank offers over a dozen theatres, including a pair of UltraAVX Screens and an IMAX 3D Screen. There's also the large XSCAPE Entertainment Centre, where you can play any of dozens of arcade-style games before or after the latest 50 Shades of Grey screening! 

Tom Cruise's 'Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation' is NOW playing on Scotiabank Theatre's IMAX 3D screen!

16/ Professor Wem's Adventure Golf
One of the most unique and fun family experiences at WEM has to be this 18-hole, all-ages miniature golf course next to the giant Santa Maria ship. The cartoonish caricatures and architecture allows you to escape the hustle & bustle of the mall without even having to leave it. There are nearby lockers in case you want to store your purse or bags, and the larger of the two food courts is conveniently located right next door! 

One round at Professor Wem's Adventure Golf is less than $10, and they are open seven days a week until 8 or 9PM!

17/ Dragon's Tale Blacklight Mini-Golf
That's right, there's actually a second mini golf experience at West Edmonton Mall! Dragon's Tale is new to the block though, arriving only in 2014, and offers glow-in-the-dark miniature golf at the Mall for the first time. Located near the main Galaxyland gate, Dragon's Tale is an 18-hole course that features all sorts of colourful characters and villains that you need to avoid on your putts! 
Kids ages two and under play for free at one of WEM's newest attractions!

18/ Marine Life & Sea Life Caverns
Even some of the locals are unaware of what's right below their feet when they're shopping at WEM. There are more than 100 species of colourful and exotic fish, reptiles, sharks, sea turtles, amphibians, and even penguins in the underground Marine & Sea Life Caverns, located at the world's largest indoor lake. Make sure you catch one of their interactive exhibits or daily live presentations. 

19/ The events
There's always something happening at West Edmonton Mall, whether it's some sort of giant exhibit, talent showcase, hockey tournament, charity function, stand-up show, autograph signing, live concert or even the filming of some Hollywood movie (such as the abominable Christmas in Wonderland)! In fact, it was during a recent fundraiser concert in which the stage in front of HMV became the focus of a viral video that featured pop star Ed Sheeran performing one of his songs alongside an adoring fan!

 The official trailer for the dismal 'Christmas in Wonderland' film, which was shot in West Edmonton Mall, and stars Patrick Swayze, Carmen Electra & Tim Curry!

20/ Galaxy Quest 7D Experience
Have you ever wanted to experience the pants-pissing thrill of a roller coaster or an interactive shooting range, but were too afraid that you'd piss your pants? Galaxy Quest (in Galaxyland) is made for folks just like you! You don't even have to leave your seat of this state-of-the-art digital theatre, which comes complete with surround sound, 3D effects and the latest in laser technology. Go for the high score while battling bad robot cowboys or surviving the zombie apocalypse!

Remember to bring a change of undies if you're gonna try Galaxy Quest!

21/ The shopping
It would take you more than three full days to visit each and every one of the more than 800 shops and services at West Ed! In other words, it's heaven for anyone who loves to spend money. There are options for anyone and everyone here at the Mall, including all of the most popular brands and chains across the country and around the world. They include Simons, The Bay, Sears, Tiffany's, The Brick, SportChek, Victoria's Secret, The Gap, Chapters, the Apple Store, Abercrombie & Fitch, Winners, Old Navy, and just about anything else you can think of! 

You can even shop in themed zones in the Mall, including Europa Boulevard!

Just one last tip for those of you who are now seriously considering West Ed for your next staycation: remember where you parked! #WEM


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