For better or for worse, the capital of Alberta, Canada, Edmonton, is most known as being the home to North America’s largest mall, the West Edmonton Mall – which also encompasses the world’s largest indoor amusement park, lake and wave pool.
A week before I arrived in town, the mall, which sits on former farmers’ fields, celebrated its 30-year anniversary. It’s basically what most of out-of-towners come here for (excluding me), attracting approximately 30 million visitors each year.
The retail behemoth is spread over what is the equivalent of about 50 city blocks (basically a large chunk of Manhattan). Perhaps this was why downtown Edmonton appeared like a little more than a ghost town on a recent Sunday afternoon.
Although I did come across a festival in the city’s Churchill Square revealing these characters:
A group of folks were gathering for an annual Aids Walk.
Coincidentally, the mall’s owners are out-doing themselves by building what will be the ‘new’ biggest-mall-in-North America, The American Dream | Meadowlands (sounds more like my nightmare), in a place near and dear to my heart with its own ‘mall’ reputation: New Jersey.
The project is supposed to include many attractions, similar to the other Triple Five malls:
- SkiDome: A 250,000 sq ft (23,000 m2) indoor ski/snowboard slope that will be open year round. It will be the first indoor ski/snowboard slope in the U.S. (the first one I saw was in Dubai LINK) and feature equipment rentals, a working chairlift, ski lessons, and a ski bar.
- Skydiving Simulator: A skydiving simulator and Vertical wind tunnel.
- Indoor Ice Rink: an indoor ice rink open to the public with ice skating lessons and occasional touring shows.
- Live Performing Arts Theater: a 3,000 capacity live theater that will hold concerts and other live performances.
- Amusement Park: A full-scale, climate controlled, indoor theme park open year-round under a glass dome.
- Water Park: A full scale, climate controlled, indoor water park open year-round under a glass dome.
- Movie Theater: An upscale 26-screen movie theater with 5,000 seats and a rooftop lounge overlooking New York City. It will be the largest movie theater in the Northeast.
I would rather they kept the title in Edmonton. I can’t imagine that New Jersey needs another shopping mall.
Due to all kinds of delays, the latest caused by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is requiring the developer to submit a formal wetlands-mitigation plan, a large part of the facility will not be finished as hoped for the 2014 Super Bowl which will be held in the Meadowlands.
Not sure they can really call the area the Meadowlands anymore though. The huge commercial structures and parking lots aren’t looking very meadow-like these days.
For the record, I happily never set foot in the West Edmonton Mall.