West Edmonton Mall – Edmonton, Alberta - Atlas Obscura

West Edmonton Mall

This massive mall has hundreds of shops, an amusement park, and a history of deadly amusement attractions. 


Once the largest mall in the world, it has been downgraded to merely the largest in North America. Despite its demotion in the land of retail monoliths, West Edmonton Mall still claims to have it all–but we suggest you skip the roller coaster.

You want Starbucks? They have Starbucks. You want Bed Bath & Beyond? No problem. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to rattle off a single mall-dwelling chain store that this 800-shop mega-mall doesn’t have – but if you want to compete in the mall industry, you have to do better than that, so there is also a pool hall, an arcade, a bowling alley, a movie theatre, and a mini-golf range.

Still not impressed?

How about an Ice Palace big enough for NHL players (including Wayne Gretzky) to practice in, an indoor lagoon with a replica of the Santa Maria built for the 1986 World Fair Expo and real sea lions, and a 4.9 acre waterpark? If that’s not enough to get you interested, there’s one final selling point that makes the West Edmonton Mall something really special, Galaxyland.

Galaxyland is Edmonton’s 24-ride, indoor amusement park, the second largest of its kind. The space-themed fun park has seven of its own thrill rides, but one particular coaster, a triple-loop screamfest called the Mindbender, has proven to be a bit too thrilling at least once, when it derailed in 1986, killing three and injuring one. After a seemingly normal start, the end car started fishtailing, and by the last loop the lap bar had popped open and the car lacked the momentum to finish the circle. The car rolled back the way it had come, derailed, and smashed into a concrete pillar. It was later discovered that bolts were missing on the left inside-wheel assembly. Everyone in the car died but one, 25-year-old Rob Chayko, who suffered two broken legs, a broken pelvis, broken shoulder, and a punctured lung.

After several months of redesign, the Mindbender reopened to the public. The coaster had been deemed safe with anti-roll back mechanisms, headrests, less cars with a sleeker shape, less capacity, and seatbelts. Since 1986, the coaster hasn’t taken the lives of any more of its riders, but doesn’t the wave pool look nice? 

Hold on, turns out a body was found floating in the wave pool in 2000. Maybe it’s best to just go see a movie.

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