West Edmonton Mall
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2011)|
An overview of the indoor lake
|Location||Edmonton, Alberta, Canada|
|Opening date||September 15, 1981|
|Developer||Triple Five Group|
|Owner||West Edmonton Mall Properties Inc.|
|No. of stores and services||800+|
|No. of anchor tenants||8|
|Total retail floor area||350,000 m2 (3,800,000 sq ft)|
|No. of floors||3|
|Website||West Edmonton Mall|
West Edmonton Mall (WEM), located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, is the largest shopping mall in North America and the tenth largest in the world by gross leasable area. The mall was founded by the Ghermezian brothers, who immigrated from Iran in 1959. It was the world's largest mall until 2004.
West Edmonton Mall covers a gross area of about 490,000 m2 (5,300,000 sq ft). 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 28.2 million visitors per year; it also attracts between 60,000 and 150,000 shoppers daily, depending on the day and season. The mall was valued at CAN$926 million in January 2007.
West Edmonton Mall first opened its doors to the public on September 15, 1981. The mall has been expanded three times since its opening in 1981, with these additions completed in 1983 (Phase II), 1985 (Phase III) and 1999 (Phase IV). It was the largest indoor shopping centre in the world until 2004 (History of Shopping Malls) and was put in the Guinness World Records. The four phases of construction are used in a colour-coded system as a guideline for finding stores and attractions.
The mall's amusement park was originally called Fantasyland, until The Walt Disney Company took the mall to court, claiming ownership of the name, which is a themed area found at its Disneyland-style theme parks around the world. WEM lost and subsequently renamed the attraction Galaxyland. Since the name change, they introduced the mall's mascot Cosmo who is the basis for several rides in Galaxyland. The amusement park is located in what is referred to as Phase One, although it stretches into Phase II. However, the mall was allowed to retain the name Fantasyland Hotel for its on-site hotel. The hotel is a separate building but it is attached to Phase III of the mall.
In the early 1990s, the Woodward's department store chain, one of WEM's anchors, went bankrupt, and its locations were purchased by the Hudson's Bay Company. As a result, WEM boasted two full Bay department stores until the late 1990s when the company closed the store that had replaced Woodward's, leading to a renovation (known as Phase IV) that added a Famous Players multiplex, a two-floor HMV location (complete with an HMV stage, which has played hosts to autograph signings for bands, Hollywood celebrities and World Wrestling Entertainment superstars), a $12.6 million Playdium entertainment complex/arcade (now closed), an indoor shooting range, a Chapters bookstore with a Starbucks, as well as several other smaller stores. In 2005, the upstairs space previously occupied by Playdium was rented by three NewCap Radio radio stations: 790 CFCW, K-97 97.3 (Formerly, 97.3 K-Rock), and 96.3 Capital FM (formerly 96.3 Big Earl). The downstairs area was at one point partially used as a paintball playing area, but is now vacant. In 2007, the Famous Players multiplex, formerly known as Silver City, was renamed Scotiabank Theatre.
The closure of the Eaton's chain in the 1990s resulted in another anchor shuffle at WEM as Eaton's vacated its Phase I anchor location; Zellers, which had been located in Phase II near the ice rink, relocated to the Eaton's site, and the former Zeller's location was renovated to house several smaller retailers, as well as add a new ground-level entrance corridor.
The closures of Canadian Tire and IKEA in the mid-1990s left vacancies that sat unfilled until the spaces were converted into a T & T Supermarket in 2002, and an entertainment complex called Ed's Rec Room that consists of a billiard hall, bowling alley and nightclub, respectively.
The mall suffered millions of dollars in damage on July 11, 2004 when a severe storm of hail and rain caused roofs to fail and drains to overflow. The Ice Palace and surrounding sections were the most damaged, and the World Waterpark had a sewage overflow. The damage was promptly repaired. The Ice Palace has suffered occasional flood damage since as well.
In the summer of 2009, the mall's dinner theatre was relocated and Edmonton's second branch of Bed, Bath and Beyond opened in the dinner theatre's old location above the west-end food court. In August 2010, Victoria's Secret opened their first Canadian store in the mall.
La Maison Simons opened a 115,000 sq ft (10,700 m2) store in the mall on October 31, 2012, its first outlet outside of Quebec. The construction of the Simons store resulted in HMV reducing its second-floor footprint. The most recent anchor change at the mall occurred in 2012 when its Zellers location closed; it is currently being reformatted into a Target department store, with a scheduled May 7, 2013 opening; Target becomes the third major retailer to occupy WEM's southeast-corner anchor.
Major attractions 
Galaxyland was originally known as "Fantasyland;" however, during a court battle with Disney, West Edmonton Mall changed the park's name to Galaxyland in July 1995 after completing some minor renovations. It is an indoor amusement park located on the north side of the mall. It is the second-largest indoor amusement park in the world, behind Ferrari World, and features 24 rides and attractions. There are 8 beginner rides, 9 intermediate rides, 7 thrill rides, including the triple loop Mindbender roller coaster, and 5 other "pay at site" rides/games. The Mindbender is the world's largest indoor triple loop roller coaster. The latest attraction in Galaxyland, which opened on July 17, 2007, called the Galaxy Orbiter, begins at the Mindbender and intertwines with the entire park. The Drop of Doom was shut down in the early 2000s. The tower area was replaced shortly after by a more modern launch ride, the Space Shot, a S&S Double Shot Tower Ride. Only recently[when?] was the loading area replaced by an interactive laser ride based on the theme of the park's mascot, Cosmo. In March 2011, new feature, which replaced the Sonic Twister (which succeeded the Disco Dynamo) debuted, the "Cosmic Revolution". It rotates and manoeuvres in a similar pattern to the "Sonic Storm" but with possible upside-down sensations. Other attractions include the TurboRide 3D Theatre, which sits directly underneath the Mindbender, the privately owned Haunted Castle and Fun House (also beneath the Mindbender), the Autosled roller coaster which is a tamer alternative to the Mindbender, the Swing of the Century, and Galaxy Kids, a large play area for young children.
World Waterpark 
The World Waterpark is the world's second largest indoor waterpark, built in 1985, with a size of over 20,000 square metres (4.9 acres). The park has the world's largest indoor wave pool. The highest slides in the park are the Twister and Cyclone, which is 25.3 metres (83 ft) high.
The wavepool has six wave bays, each with two panels with a total of 1,500 horsepower (1.1 MW) generating waves up to two metres high.
The major slides are all on the east side of the park, with a children's play area and change room access behind them. On the west side is a tube ride which has been changed many times over, a three-person inflatable raft slide and the separately owned Bungee Tower where one can bungee jump directly over the wave pool.
Recent[when?] renovations brought new signage, a complete resurfacing of the wave pool, and changeroom upgrades. There have also been large renovations to the children's play park at the far east side in 2008. The new version of this play park is called "Caribbean Cove" and contains a 1200 litre bucket that drops water on the whole play park on regular 2 minute intervals. A small dolphin themed child's park was open during the renovations and is still open to this date. Also more recently, they have added 3 more slides, taking down the Skyscreamer and building a new one along with a skyscreamer extreme and a loop waterslide.
Sea Life Caverns / Sea Lions Rock 
West Edmonton Mall has an indoor lake which contains a salt-water habitat with a sea lion and a replica of the Santa María, built during the 1986 World Exposition in Vancouver. The Santa María has been used for an annual Christmas fundraiser, raising toys for underprivileged children. Also, the submarines, a longtime favorite, had been replaced with the Deep-Sea Derby, a bumper boat ride with squirt guns. Deep Sea Adventure is also home to the mall's aquatic life, most of which are housed beneath the main floor in the "Sea Life Caverns". Today, what was once the Dolphin's Lagoon is now the Sea Lions' Rock, with three sea lions (Clara, Kelpie and Pablo) providing the entertainment for the current presentation labeled "Swim, Slide, and Splash!".
Ice Palace 
Ice Palace is a scaled down version of a National Hockey League (NHL) regulation sized ice rink located in the centre of the mall. The Edmonton Oilers occasionally practiced at the Ice Palace. This drew huge crowds during the Wayne Gretzky years in the 1980s. The Oilers' contract for using the rink, however, has since expired. The rink is used for various hockey and other sporting tournaments.
Professor WEM's Adventure Golf 
Professor WEM's Adventure Golf is an 18-hole miniature golf course. The miniature golf course was originally known as Pebble Beach Mini Golf, and was designed to be a mini golf version of Pebble Beach Golf Links. The course was refurbished and given the Professor WEM theme in the mid-1990s.
Movie theatres 
Originally, the mall was home to four movie theatre complexes. However, as of 2008, only the Scotiabank Theatre, formerly Famous Players SilverCity, (with an animatronic fire breathing dragon and IMAX screen) is in the mall. Until 2005, a discount cinema, owned by Cineplex Odeon was located outside the Phase I entrance to Galaxyland; the majority of the space it occupied was bought out by skateboarding/snowboarding store West 49 which also built an indoor skatepark in the basement. Prior to the opening of SilverCity, in the late 1990s there was a Famous Players theatre located near the Palace Casino, as well as a second Cineplex Odeon below Ed's Recreation Centre (formerly Red's), on the main level with the Gourmet Court (Phase III).
Ed's Recreation Centre 
- Ed's Recreation Centre (formerly Red's), is an entertainment complex consisting of a bowling alley, pool hall, music stage, arcade, and restaurant. The stage is one of Edmonton's major music venues. Past players have included many bands, both Canadian and international. Wilco, Arcade Fire, The Mars Volta, Motörhead, Sloan, P.O.D., Joe Satriani, Cradle of Filth, Theory of a Deadman, Our Lady Peace, In Flames, Lifehouse, Children of Bodom, Bring Me the Horizon, Testament, DragonForce, Opeth, GWAR and Switchfoot are just some of the bands that have played at the venue. It was formerly known as the nightclub/restaurant/rec room Red's. At the end of June 2006, the owners of Red's closed its doors after they chose not to renew their lease. The mall separated it into three areas: converting the stage/restaurant area into a separate concert venue known as the Edmonton Event Centre; the other area which contains the lounge, the arcade and the bowling alley was re-dubbed Ed's Rec Room and a mini-golf course, Putt 'n' Glow.
Other attractions 
- Fantasyland Hotel, located within the mall; WEM is also affiliated with a second hotel, the West Edmonton Mall Inn, located across the street from the shopping centre on 90th Avenue.
- Victoria's Secret: the first Victoria's Secret to open in Canada
- An indoor shooting range (named "Wild West Shooting Centre")
- Large-scale replica of the Santa María, one of the ships sailed by Christopher Columbus. The deck can be booked for private functions.
- 24-hour Gold's Gym.
- Dinner Theatre: Jubilations Dinner Theatre offers original Canadian three-act musical comedies along with a four-course dinner. Full bar service is available and the theatre's productions run Wednesday to Sunday.
- Nightclub Empire Ballroom. The mall has had a history of night clubs, as the space occupied now by Empire as well as other locations nearby the Edmonton Events Centre and Ed's Rec Room have seen several tenants over the years including The Joint and Ka'os Nightclub.
- Nightclub Whisky Jack's; a country-themed nightclub.
- West 49 skate shop with indoor skate park, built in a converted cinema.
- An Internet café
- An inter-denominational chapel
- Four radio stations. Three of them, K-97 (classic rock), 790 CFCW (classic country and news/sports programming), 96.3 Capital FM, are owned by Newcap Radio. The fourth, HOT 107, is owned by John Charles Yerxa. The Newcap-owned area features studios, offices, and a small free museum. Newcap is located in the space formerly occupied by Playdium, with the broadcast studios visible from the mall (illuminated "on air" signs indicate when broadcasts are under way from those studios).
The mall also includes several "theme areas" including:
- Bourbon Street: Features clubs and restaurants in a New Orleans-influenced setting. Several restaurants and clubs are located here including Boston Pizza with BP's Lounge, Hooters, Tony Roma's Ribhouse, The Old Spaghetti Factory, Albert's Family Restaurant, Moxie's, Earls, Jungle Jim's and the Comedy Club. The lighting in this area is left intentionally darker than other parts of the mall to simulate a nighttime atmosphere. The area is situated in such a way that it can be closed off from the rest of the mall, allowing for hosting of special events, and for its establishments to stay open past the closing time of the rest of the mall.
- Europa Boulevard: Eclectic shops in an area designed to look like a European streetscape. It is home to A Piece of Cake, G-Star, Energie/Miss Sixty, Urban, Paradox, Europa Cafe and several rentable conference rooms that look down on the Boulevard. Also, Europa Boulevard is home to the first La Maison Simons to open outside Quebec.
- Chinatown: Asian-themed area anchored by a T & T Supermarket (in the former Canadian Tire location). It is located directly above Bourbon Street. The "Chinatown" signage was removed in May 2012 and the section, though still maintaining an Asian decor, is no longer exclusive to such businesses.
Future developments 
Plans are underway for a total retrofit of the mall shopping areas through all the phases. Construction began in spring 2011 and are be staged, expected to last 18 to 24 months.
In 2002, the City of Edmonton approved plans for the mall to expand with an additional 30,000 m2 (320,000 sq ft) of retail space, a facility for sports, trade shows and conventions, a 12-story office building, and a 600-unit apartment building, along with more parking. As of early 2012[update], however, construction on any of these items has yet to begin. Currently, a number of large shopping malls, all larger than the West Edmonton Mall, are under construction in China, and the retail centre in Beijing has already displaced the West Edmonton Mall as the world's largest. The SM Mall of Asia, located in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines has also surpassed the mall's gross floor size by 36,000 square metres (390,000 sq ft).
West Edmonton Mall was the object of a controversy when, after arresting a woman for trespassing, their security staff were caught on videotape allegedly assaulting her. A judge had agreed to release the video after the charges against the woman were dismissed.
See also 
- List of largest enclosed shopping malls in Canada
- List of shopping malls in Canada
- List of largest shopping malls in the world
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