How will venues deal with the demand?

Post by Mike Klassen in


Holland's Heineken House provides a long wait just to drink a beer
Holland's Heineken House provides a long wait just to drink a beer

We're getting phone calls and emails from all over the province and from Americans planning trips up to Vancouver from Seattle and Chicago. Yesterday we received just over 130,000 page views on and we're trying to keep you, our readers, as informed as possible while finding a little spare time to check out the venues ourselves. The feedback we're hearing so far from our readers is hard to ignore. Many of the free sites are requiring long line-ups, and many are not living up to expectations. So, we ask, how will these venues deal with the intense popularity?

Our challenge to date at is that few venues have had their public relations staff take a moment to introduce their venues to us. For example, the City of Vancouver has hired a major local PR firm to manage their communications, and to date we've received no contact from them. When we reached representatives of Karyo-Edelman they referred us to a web page. Why not have one of their staff dedicated to keeping in touch with us, so we can keep in touch with you?

It's our hope that organizers are reading your comments so they can communicate better with visitors, improve their service or let people know in advance to prepare for high demand. There have been many exceptions, of course. We've been getting great help from the BC Pavilion folks, Canada Pavilion, Ontario Pavilion, La Place de la Francophonie, House of Switzerland, CentrePlace Manitoba, Saskatchewan House, BC Hydro PowerSmart Village, Royal Canadian Mint Pavilion, German Fan Fest, Surrey 2010 Celebration Zone, Poco Zone, the North and West Vancouver venues and even Korea House. Kudos to all of these venues who have put the effort into communications.

For example, on Saturday I visited Richmond's O Zone. There were aspects of the O Zone that worked. They have tourist booths and a (very) modest amount of street entertainment, plus volunteers working to keep the grounds clean at all times. The field where the live music stage stands is soft and dry under foot thanks to the turf playing surface. However, the food on site is simply third rate and far too expensive. The Heineken House is being run a bit like Studio 54, with exclusive access for Dutch passport holders, and unable to cope with the demand from the general public for a dry, warm place to have a beverage.

O Zone should try to figure out to use their tents and ample space to maybe set up an alternative. They should also try to get some better food vendors on site – stat. Some of the best Chinese food in the world is prepared in Richmond restaurants, so why can I only buy a hot dog or a pita pocket?

Day Two of the Games, and of this explosion of enthusiasm for a low-cost good time with friends and family, is well underway. We'll see how the venues deal with the demand.


Last night there were longwaits to get into any of the Houses downtown. I guess it was the first day and a Saturday but hopefully they will work out a way to make it all more accessible. Also signs outside each House indicating what they offer would save a lot of trouble.

A huge thank you to you guys for all the fantastic work that you are doing. You deserve a metal!

Will Heiniken house ever be open to the public? I heard that on Friday the place was trashed and that's why it is limited to just the Dutch.

I don't like to complain, but I have a lot of complaints about the first day at Cypress can find them at As the boy scouts say, BE PREPARED!

In regards to the Holland Heineken House, I respect their decision not to accept non-Dutch ppl when it's packed but they should at least inform ppl when they get off the Canada Line or preferably get ON the Canada Line.

A lot of ppl want to go to the HHH to feel the Dutch vibe but if you travel for an hr (and some even more!) and you can't get it, that's an HUGE BUMMER!!!

My opinion towards the HHH is that it's just an Dutch Town in Vancouver for which you'll be needing a passport to get in. Mind you, even guest of Dutch ppl are not allowed to get in when it's busy!

I'm really disappointed!

I live and work in Downtown Vancouver, so had prepared for a little disruption to normal life when the games arrived. I'm not a huge fan of the Olympics, but I'm also not "against" the games. What I am against is the way that Vanoc and the IOC pretty much closed down public areas beginning in January and really have offered no alternatives to those of us who are residents here, pay taxes, and just want to continue with everyday life. I have a 3 year old and will go for almost 4 months with our local community centre closed, the playground closed, and Science World closed - all places we attend on a regular basis. I had though that all the "family friendly" activities during the games would make up for it. How wrong I was. Our experience so far has not been good:

Casa Italia: We decided to take advantage of living here and visit on the opening weekend, before the hoardes arrived. We got there, only to find a nitice stuck on the door announcing that it was not open to the public. No explanation, no one to ask. I later learned that they had delayed the opening for a few days. This was not publicized on their website. I did not return!

Winterfest at Lonsdale Quay: We made the journey to North Van since the write up about the kids activities sounded so appealing. We were amazed (as were many others with kids that we spoke to) to find that there was nothing different at the quay other than a face painter charging $5. The same sorry ball pit and loonie operated rides that they have every day of the year!

Canadian Mint: Took my daughter out early today to take advantage of the kid's activities strating at 9:30am. Got there to find a note on the door saying it was closed until 2pm due to a special event. Lots of others, many with kids, were also there and disappointed. This was not publicized on their website, which I checked before heading out.

Live City Downtown: Figured I would check it out since I was in the area. At 11:30am on a Sunday morning, the line to get in was an hour and a half wait. Sorry, but this is not "family friendly" in my opinion - my 3 year old will not wait in a line for that long. We left!

I think the organizers really have messed up with these so called free family friendly places and events. A truly family friendly place would have a separate entrance for those with kids - that way they could actually get in and look at stuff before the kids have a melt down after waiting in line for hours. I'm giving up on the olympic happenings.

It's the Olympics, big name bands, international culture houses and the events are free - what do you expect?

We have the whole world in our city and there are crowds on our streets like we've never experienced, and probably never will again. Of course there are going to be huge line ups. How do you expect these venues to accommodate such huge crowds? The only way to reduce the crowds is to make rules, such as passport only, or to charge a fee.

Go earlier in the day. Don't go on a weekend, esepcially the first weekend of the games. Go during the week in the morning. If you really want to see an event on the big screen, or a live band, go hours in advance and be prepared to camp out. That's just the way it is with Olympic-sized events.

back when the Olympic tickets went on sale I had a conversation with myself -Olympic tickets or a big plasma TV so I could watch everything from home. Decided on the TV. Comfortable chair, no line ups, no nasty weather, cheap beer, excellent vantage points and I can see more than one thing at a time.

I also invested in tickets to the world cup test events last year. Got a sense of the venues, the athletes at 1/10th the price. Saw 4 days of ice skating for $180.

feeling warm and smug at the moment.

@ Tracey, it's too bad to hear about your frustrations. Have you just tried heading down to Robson Square to hang out? Maybe even try a little skating? It's really lively down there, and you can have lunch on the patio (weather permitting) at the Art Gallery. No huge line-ups, no disappointments, just a good time in our city.

Mike, we visited Robson Square frequently before the Olympics - It's a great area and the ice skating is fun. I haven't been since the crowds descended, though. I suspect it's much busier now. That's one venue I would recommend, along with BC Hydro Pavilion - we went today and had fun.

Elaine, great suggestions but when you have to work the only time you can really get to any of these places is at the weekend. I wouldn't be complaining if I had to wait in line to see big name bands or sporting events. I'm talking about just getting into the pavilions and kids activities. Someone said that it's like hosting a party that we're not invited to. It is starting to feel a little that way. I'm being optimistic and hoping that it's just because it's the first weekend...maybe things will improve!

I am with the PR firm, Karyo Edeleman working at LiveCity Vancouver. We are really sorry if we didn't have on our initial media outreach as I know we have been sharing your info around the office! This is a great site! We're going to make sure we are keeping you in the loop moving forward!

As for wait times, they do vary during the day and with each day, organizers are making changes to improve the wait times and communicate with folks coming down to enjoy our sites.

Our website is showing our live Twitter feed from our "Twitter Ambassadors" on site. We have started to tweet line up times regularly so hopefully people will follow us there to find out the latest wait times.

We are also using our Facebook page to send out info on what to bring (or not to bring) that will help shorten the line up times and keep people current.

We also have street entertainment outside that definitely helps pass the time.

It's true, the line ups can look daunting at times, but we're actually finding that the average wait time is about 20 - 30 minutes.

Evenings can get a bit longer as we see an increase in people coming down for our nightly concert shows.

The organizers are monitoring the process every day and making changes to help speed things up and keep people aware of what's happening. We're only 4 days in so sometimes there are kinks to work out to makes things work even more efficiently. For the most part, we're finding people are in really good moods and have a good time.

So check LiveCity Vancouver out on the web, Twitter and Facebook and we'll do our best to keep you guys up to date on where things are at!

It would be very beneficial for the venues to put up some sort of message to say how long a wait it is expected to be from various points in the line-up. Numerous people can not stand in line for 3 hours or longer and not know what they can expect if and when they are able to gain entrance. Just a little PR would be appreciated

Excellent suggestion, Larry - kind of like waiting for rides at Disney. Wait time from this point is ....minutes. You can then decide whether or not it's worth it to you to wait! I like that Livecity Vancouver is posting wait times on Facebook now, though earlier today the wait time was posted as 20-30 minutes but when I got there and asked a lady in blue she told me an hour and a half. I couldn't risk waiting that long and having my little one melt down, so left. It would have been helpful to have signs posted stating the wait time!!

@Tracey. Perhaps another quick and easy solution might be to tear down all the walls surrounding the LiveCity sites? Why are these venues all behind security fencing and requiring people to go through metal detectors? These are not official Olympic venues and shouldn't be treated like Fort Knox. I think people should be allowed to enter at will and visit the pavilions they are interested in. All the other pavilions don't have this type of security.

@julia. I know you're trying to be cheeky and make a point about the crowds. However, we humans are social animals. Today at Robson Square, I saw the very best Vancouver there is, and I've lived here all my life. Thousands of truly excited and happy people, tons of families, kids, seniors, youth. People from around the world, many languages, and many smiles.

You just don't get that from your living room. I hope that you get onto transit, a bike or on foot and get down here and see what I'm talking about sometime in the next 2 weeks. Watching Olympic competition with thousands of other excited fans on a big screen. There ain't nothing like it.

Appreciating your reviews - so helpful in deciding where to go and what to see.

Thanks for the hard work.

Absolutey - I agree 100%. Why the need for fencing and airport like security to get into these live sites? There's a reason I avoid flying these days and there's now a reason I'm avoiding the live sites!!

We were down at HHH on saturday about 11 and waited about 40 minutes to get in but we certainly did get in. The prices of the official clothing was outrageous!!! but the Heineken souvenirs were reasonable. The food was good and the people were very friendly.
We had lineups everywhere we went but for the most part they moved along at a decent pace.
Am disappointed with the security around the cauldron display. I haven't been in all the houses yes, but my biggest disappointment is Alberta House and Switzerland's house. I would have thought they would try to promote their province/country but its just a restaurant. What is up with thA?!? I want to see something.... displays of some Atlantic House, Saskatchewant house.
People, in general are in a great mood; even packed as tight as sardines in a skytrain car.

Am extremely disappointed in all the fencing and security. I find it totally unnecessary.
Signage leaves a lot to be desired. When you get off Skytrain there is NO indication where the "houses" are.... none. It would be helpful if they had signs pointing the direction to each.
the police are doing a GREAT job. They are very helpful. If you look a little lost, they will ask if they can help. Kudos to them; they are very pleasant and they are a quiet, confident presence that makes me feel very safe. Good work, ladies and gentlemen!

We went to the Heineken house at noon, that was at the time when there was a speed skating session going on, most off the Dutch people where at the oval, so it was quiet! and yes when you have a dutch passport you get in very quick, but the line up for others at lunch time was not bad. It was fun being there when the dutch where skating,

Is there any way to tell how much bandwidth I would need for a small website?

It's hard to believe there has been 10 billion tweets

Check out!

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