West Edmonton Mall Trip

Dobbin kids at Galaxyland, West Edmonton Mall.
Dobbin kids at Galaxyland

Our trip to the West Edmonton Mall was a success. Traveling with my kids is becoming easier, but I still think we took things for granted before having kids. Getting an early start helps to keep the kids in a good mood for the drive in. We live two and a half hours, with stoppage time, from the mall. We took my brother in law along with us as well, and he made a lot of things easier.

The weather and traffic were great for the trip up, and after squeezing through the parking garage, barely clearing the ceiling in our old ’97 GMC Savana 15 passenger van, we easily found a spot outside to park, not far from the entrance to the Fantasyland Hotel. We got there around 9 o’clock, so our room was not even close to being ready, but we picked up our wristbands for the attractions. Our package included the room for one night, supper (paid a little extra), breakfast, day passes to Galaxyland, Sea Life Caverns, a round of Professor WEM’s Adventure Golf, and movie passes which we didn’t end up using.

We started the day at Galaxyland, of course. It was the biggest reason for going, being the combined birthday gift for the older two boys whose birthdays are only two weeks apart. We started together to do rides like the carousel, Solar Spinner, 35th Aero Squadron, MotoJump, Balloon Race, and Galaxy Express.

Having my brother in law along allowed us to split up so that the younger two could stay with me to do the smaller rides over and over while Rebecca and her brother, who both love rides, took the older boys to do the scarier rides. Mathias loved Swing of the Century, but Noah’s not quite there with heights and speed so he refused. He also refused to go on the Flying Galleon. They went for a ride on the Dragon Wagon and made their way to Quirks in the Works and Lazer Vault. We all came together again for Time Freak.

It went quickly in the morning, because there were very few kids in the lines. We chose a Thursday so it wouldn’t be too busy, and after lunch it still was rather easy and timely getting onto rides.

We ate lunch at the food court just off Galaxyland, and because of our desire to keep as healthy as we could, we found a wonderful outlet called Hopscotch. It had a good selection of choices suited to Vegans, gluten-free eaters, and a dairy free smoothie. Rebecca had a quinoa based bowl called Mediterranean, while I had a brown rice based one called Monsoon. We tried out the dairy free smoothie which had almond milk instead of regular milk. We were pleased with all our choices, and the kids liked the smoothie as well. They love all smoothies except for green ones.

After lunch we went back and did a few rides again, then went to try to sort out our room. It wasn’t ready yet, so we went to the Sea Life Caverns. On Thursdays the Sea Lion shows are at 2 and 4, and being quarter to two the line was already massive, so we went down into the caverns. We’ve seen the Sea Lion show before, and it is interesting and well executed, but not worth standing in a large line with four tiring kids to see it again. The Sea Lion show is also not part of the package, so we would have needed to pay for it. While in the caverns we got a text from the hotel saying our room was ready, so we trooped off to get our room and have a rest.

Booking a room at the Fantasyland Hotel was definitely the best idea, and it was all Rebecca. Left to my own devices we would have powered through everything and driven home all in one day. We did that a year ago with younger kids, and it was not a pleasant ride home. Given the option, you must book a room there.

Naomi at the West Edmonton Mall, Fantasyland hotel.
Naomi in the hallway near our room

We had a Modern Polynesian room, because when we decided to do the trip all the theme rooms that are more kid oriented were booked in the size we needed. The beds were some of the most comfortable I’ve ever had in a hotel, and the overall feel of the room was spacious and relaxing. We have been in some real dives before in our travels.

We were able to get supper delivered half an hour earlier than we had originally planned, because we wanted to head back to Galaxyland after supper. We had pizza and wings, boo us. It’s an easy one for the kids, though, and when you’re eating out with kids you don’t want to waste money on something they won’t eat. Healthy food is for at home with grocery store prices. The pizza dough was the best I’ve ever had, nice and light, and unlike most pizza joints it was not dripping with grease.

Rested, we headed back to do some more rides. The smalls and I did a circuit of the gentle rides again, while the others went to do some intermediate ones again, culminating in the Galaxy Quest 7D Theatre. After a few rides, I took the smalls back to the room, and Naomi fell asleep half way there. I was relieved, because it was six o’clock, and I figured she was good for the night. Wrong!

Naomi woke up after an hour long “nap” and she was up until around ten o’clock. Booo. The others all piled into the room around 7:30 talking about shooting werewolves, and were tired enough not to be bouncing on beds. It was rather relaxing and after a while we turned off the TV and video games, and sang a few songs to get them to sleep, which is our usual routine. The boys each have a specific set that we have to sing completely every night before we can leave their room. It’s tiring, but it will be a nice memory when we’re all older.

Day two dawned at our regular time of 5:30 with Noah just being done sleeping. Thankfully we can give him his tablet and snooze until the others start waking up. Everyone was up and dressed by 7 which is when breakfast starts at the L2 Grill.

As part of the package (Vacation Play Away) we got to eat from the buffet, which was mostly the regular continental spread, just kicked up a notch on quality. While there, I spied a few trays of live micro greens, so if you’re ever at the L2 Grill, be sure to ask them about the micro greens. It was too busy even between three adults, so I couldn’t sit there and quiz the staff.

Dobbin kids at the West Edmonton Mall.
Dobbin kids near the Santa Maria

Being too early for the mini-golf, which opens at ten o’clock, we walked around the mall playing “floor is lava” and such, taking video for our YouTube channel (dose of the dobbins), instagram (dose_of_the_dobbins), and TikTok (rdobbin).

Professor WEM’s Adventure Golf went well. I pictured it going a little different given our kids’ temperaments and putting sticks in their hands, but there were no pitched battles. They were quite focused. Mathias has done golf lessons before, so he did really well. Noah’s score I don’t want to talk about, and I’m pretty sure he even lied a little to get the score he did. We capped the scores at five strokes per hole to move things along as there were people behind us. Naomi did better hitting the ball, then picking it up and throwing it at the hole. She’ll get there, she’s only two years old.

The kids all loved the experience of the West Edmonton Mall, and we got lots of good pictures and video to remember the trip.

After a hurried lunch, it being just after eleven o’clock, and because of deteriorating moods we headed home. We had already loaded the van after breakfast and checked out of the room, so it was straight to the van in the swirling snow. I like that it’s a straight drive from WEM to the Anthony Henday. By the time we got back to highway 14 heading east the snow was done and it was clear sailing home with a quiet van as most of the kids took turns sleeping.


Published by jrdobbin

I am a father of four, married for eight years. I live and play in Alberta, Canada.

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