We decided to arrive a day early for our family reunion and stay a night at the Fantasyland Hotel at West Edmonton Mall. I didn't really know what to expect. We had been there once when we were in Edmonton for the last family reunion in 1998 so Adam was only 18 months old. I think that time we just walked around a bit and left. This time we took it all in and got a sense of its enormity. I am not a mall girl any more. I don't like shopping and I find the whole thing a bit excessive but I know that WEM is a huge tourist attraction for Edmonton and now, I can see why. We didn't do any shopping at all, but did take in some of the other aspects of the mall.
The boys spent most of Thursday afternoon with their cousins in the World Waterpark. We've been to many a waterpark but nothing compares to this - this place is huge and the variety is amazing. Neil and I did some tube slides with the boys (the family that plays together...) and then they went off with their cousins. Neil and I decided to try a few slides ourselves which was fun.
The boys enjoyed the wave pool with their cousins (try and find them getting crushed by the huge waves and in the middle of the crowds in this video!):
After dinner on "Bourbon Street" we met up with my sister and her two kids in Galaxyland and the boys did one ride with their cousins - a spinny rollercoaster thing. Then we all watched as my nephew and sister did the ridiculously fast, tall and triple-loop rollercoaster. The things mothers do for their children ;)
On Sunday, before we headed for the airport, we visited WEM one more time. The boys had heard about the shooting range there and Neil and I had said probably not all along, before and during this trip. And then my sister, her husband and kids went and did it Saturday morning and talked about how safe it was and it just seemed like an Albertan kind of thing to do. Without the boys knowing, Neil and I decided that we would let them do it because they understood why we had a lot of apprehension about it, respected that and didn't pester us about it at all. We knew this was likely a once in a lifetime thing for them and we knew they would be responsible. But oh, the parental angst I went through. I have very strong feelings about guns but I also know my boys. They have loved archery and target practice and nerf guns and water "shooters" since we finally gave in and let them have those. It is very much about the skill and technique for them and so, because we believe in being responsive and flexible as parents, we let our two boys shoot 9mm pistols with real ammo. They went after zombies on their target sheets. Oh my.
Adam shot a bullseye on his very first shot. The shooting trainers were very impressed and Adam had a perma-smile on for most of the day. Colin enjoyed it too but as you can see in the video, the guns are very powerful and Colin's whole body was affected by each shot. I can't even imagine how that feels. I think the boys are still in shock that we let them do this!
After all that excitement, we had some lunch in the food court and then played some glow in the dark minigolf. I tell ya, that WEM has everything! I can see how families can go for a little holiday there and never leave the building! There's also an ice rink, an aquarium with penguin and seal shows, bumper boats, arcades, theatres and of course, tons of stores and restaurants.
So although I am sure the shopping is great there, we enjoyed many of the other experiences available at West Edmonton Mall. Although we likely won't be back there anytime soon, I've learned to never say never ;)