For almost 20 years, West Edmonton Mall was the largest indoor shopping centre in the world. That may have changed, but the mall’s importance to Edmonton endures. Although it’s home to more than 800 retail stores, there’s so much more to do at WEM than just shop—you can hop on the Mindbender at Galaxyland (the indoor amusement park), go down the Sky Screamer at the World Waterpark, or spend the night in one of Fantasyland’s themed hotel rooms.
Critics call it garish, but WEM makes an impression on anyone who navigates its sprawl; it’s a monolithic hub of food, fashion and fun. And everyone who’s lived in the city has heard an urban legend or two about it: that there’s an LRT station built underneath it, or that there’s a species of cockroach that only lives there, for examples. There might not be much truth to them, but rumors like these are a testament to how ingrained the mall is in Edmonton culture.
Matthew Dutczak is the administrator of Best Edmonton Mall, a website and YouTube channel devoted to the Greatest Indoor Show on Earth. The site features maps of the mall’s four phases, pictures and descriptions of major, minor and retired attractions and even a discussion forum. Check it out if you want to dig a little deeper into the history of Edmonton’s claim to fame.