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The Mall has it all

By Joe Lipovski

In the late ‘80s West Edmonton Mall looked and felt vastly different from today.

The mall was impressive, a true sight to be seen with fountains all through the mall and brass fixtures. One of the fountains looked like the school band left their brass instruments sitting in the water.

The noise of Peacocks and the ball machines could be herd through the mall. The ball machines where fun to watch as a kid, and one still catches the eye as it sits at the Telus World of Science.

The mall had lights covering the place, even the railings had a strip of lights going down them. As a kid I couldn’t help but look up at the ceiling and be mesmerized by the twinkling lights. Bourbon Street almost looked and felt like the real thing with an atmosphere that made a kid feel like he had left a mall and was wondering down a New Orleans street.

On top of this though the mall always had something to do whether you were stuck shopping or just taking it all in. In just one trip I could be left at the ball pit while my parents shopped at IKEA, take skating lessons at the Ice Palace, follow that up with a Cinnabon, and finish the day off with a big group performance by one of the fountains. They were probably buskers but to a kid they seemed like stars.

My uncle used to take me to Fantasy Land (known as Galaxy Land today). My favourite part was the tunnel in the kids play park. It was designed to be like a cave, they even made the floor uneven to really get the feeling right. Unfortunately, “safety” has taken control of things there, like everywhere else, and the tunnel is now boarded up.

The mall was such a big deal at the time that when I was in High School field trips to the mall were almost expected. I remember the first time we went, it was to this new theatre called Silver City. The movies weren’t even the big selling feature back then, they installed a dragon that breathes real fire. We would also take a trip to see the malls very own navy, taking a couple tours on the malls subs. Unfortunately for both the dragon and the subs, time marches on. The dragon has been taken down, maybe someone realized shooting fire indoors wasn’t a great idea, and the subs have mostly been shut down.

Today IKEA, Canadian Tire and many other stores have gone, with The Bay being the only department store to remain as a link to the past. Gone are the pay phones, dolphins and submarines. With the help of Youtube channel “Best Edmonton Mall” though we can relive everything the mall was to us while we were growing up, while still enjoying the modern conveniences it offers now.

 

 

Photo provided by Explore Edmonton

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