In the first post, I mentioned that a big motivator for this trip was to visit the West Edmonton Mall, one of the world's largest shopping malls, for the sake of visiting Galaxyland Amusement Park. If wanting to visit the mall from Calgary, it is only about a three-hour drive to the North to get to Edmonton, which a lot of prairie and farm land that you pass by on the way.
The mall itself (which is owned by the same folks that operate the Mall of America in Minnesota and are proposing the building of the American Dream Mall in New Jersey) has quite a bit to see as you walk around the large complex. Near the entrance I took, the mall pays tribute to one of Alberta's main industries with this statue of oil rig workers pumping out oil. This serves as inspiration for Edmonton's NHL team nickname, the Oilers. There is also an ice rink that is for public skating sessions, and from time to time, the Oilers have held practices on this rink for mall visitors to watch.
While Edmonton is known for their cold winters, that doesn't keep people from being able to enjoy a swim as the West Edmonton Mall also features a rather large indoor water park known as World Waterpark. I unfortunately didn't get a chance to check it out on this visit, but would certainly enjoy a chance to try it out in the future as it appears they have some great water slides to choose from.
The mall also features a replica of the Santa Maria, one of the ships taken across the Atlantic Ocean by Christopher Columbus and his crew. The replica ship is open to explore, and can also host private events including weddings. In all honesty, I think that half of the fun of visiting West Edmonton Mall is just walking around and exploring everything. Between the special walkways, decorations and displays, there is quite a bit to see before you even set foot in one of the shops of the mall.
For lunch, I stopped by a place called Jungle Jim's. I decided to order the Headhunter Burger, which was a triple burger with a pound of fries! I ended up removing one of the patties, and still couldn't even finish the burger, or the fries. Had I been on the television show Man vs. Food, I would have failed miserably.
This brings us to one of the main attractions of the West Edmonton Mall, Galaxyland. This large indoor amusement park is placed near the center of the mall, and in its own wing to the side from the center walkway. It has a variety of rides including four roller coasters, several children's rides, a S&S launch tower, and shooting dark ride. The park has a general space theme, although a few of the rides don't necessarily fit with the theme.
When going for the four coasters, it's about a 99.999999993% chance that you will only get three of them unless you're a kid. One of the coasters, Dragon Wagon, would be a denied credit as they had a maximum height requirement, meaning no shameless kiddie credit for me on this visit.
The first coasters that I did get to ride was Autosled, a junior coaster from Zierer that travels around the park. The layout is interesting it feels like a smaller version of the Orange Streak at Nickelodeon Universe in the Mall of America since it covers a large area around the park, but on a smaller scale. This is going to be a great step-up style coaster for a lot of the kids going up from Dragon Wagon.
The next coaster would be Galaxy Orbiter. To date, this is by far one of the most uniquely laid out spinning mouse coasters I have ridden. Coming from Gerstlauer, the ride has moments that make you think you'll be crashing into the ceiling, and it interacts with
other rides throughout the park. This is definitely one of my favorite coasters of this style!
The highlight of Galaxyland is their largest coaster, Mindbender. The Schwarzkopf looping coaster is one of the world's largest indoor coasters, and is an increadibly intense experience. The size of the coaster feels even larger because of how close to the ceiling it is. It's as if they needed the largest shoehorn to get it into the building. It is also a great ride to watch as there are several vantage points for viewing around and above it.
The intensity of the ride comes from its steep drops and high speeds, and the incredible positive g's are very evident during its three loops. It might be among one of Anton Schwarzkopf's most intense creations.
If the high g-forces aren't enough for you, then you can kick it up a notch by hopping in one of the trains that has it's last car turned backwards. I don't know if I have ever gone through such a crazy experience on a roller coaster before as to experience those forces riding in the reverse direction.
Many of my fellow coaster enthusiasts dream of coming to Edmonton so that they can experience Mindbender, and I would just like to say that it's worth the journey to experience! If you have to opportunity to visit, I would highly recommend giving this coaster a spin as you will be hard pressed to find a similar experience as this ride gives.
After enjoying a day at West Edmonton Mall and getting to visit Galaxyland, I would drive back South to Calgary for the night, and tomorrow would include a ride to the West for some beautiful sights, and stopping by an Olympic venue.