The Royal Canadian Mint pavilion is awarded a Gold medal...literally
My family got up early this morning in order that we could head out the door and begin our trek downtown to visit as many of the pavilions as possible. In total we visited (or attempted to visit) about 7 destinations including Korea House, Robson Square, Canada Northern House, Royal Canadian Mint, LiveCity Downtown, CTV Headquarters and BC Hydro PowerSmart. Here is my quick review of each venue...
Korea House: Absolutely boring. We walked in and out in about 5 minutes. There was a small lineup of about 4 people waiting to get their palm read and two kids getting their hands stamped. There was little of interest to the folks heading down there. Despite billing themselves as a high tech wonder to visit, this pavilion falls flat. I would give it a miss.
Royal Canadian Mint: The line up to touch the Olympic medals was around the block. Estimates were around 2 hours or so. This is one heck of a pavilion and the Mint deserves kudos for setting the bar on how this should be done. If you don't want to touch the medals, you can bypass the lineup and head right in. There is so much to see inside that you won't be bored. The 3.5 million dollar gold coin has to top the list. This is a great kid-friendly venue. I highly recommend it. The wait to touch the medals is apparently worth it!
LiveCity Downtown: Can anyone explain to me why you need to go through high level security to enter this site? Compared to all the other pavilions, this just seems over the top. And why is half of the parking lot wasted space? The lineups were terribly long when they didn't need to be. There had to be at least 500 people waiting to get their bags screened in order to visit the Canada and Manitoba pavilions. This is a great concept that seems to have missed a beat. I would suggest the City of Vancouver open up the gates and let people enter the site freely.
Canada's Northern House: When we arrived there were about 200 people in line to get in. Needless to say, this has become one of the top pavilions in town. I had the opportunity to visit it a couple of weeks ago when it first opened, and found it quite entertaining. The e-postcards were a big hit along with many of the exhibits. This is top notch and should be on your to do list.
BC Power Smart Pavilion: There were lineups when we arrived, but they were not very long. You could enter into each of the exhibits rather quickly. We went into the "conservatory lab" and saw a quick 6-minute video which was quite informative. There were plenty of staff on-hand to answer questions and help you get through quickly. The digital graffiti wall was a big hit with the kids, along with the electric dance floor. Well worth a visit.
Olympic Cauldron: The crowds were simply amazing near the cauldron. In fact, things got so out of hand yesterday, they actually erected a massive chain link fence to keep people away from it. Yet again, I must ask why the need for a fence? The rumour swirling out there is the engineers were concerned that the structure below the cauldron couldn't hold the weight of all the folks coming to take a look. Seems a little odd to me. At a minimum, they should cut out some of the chain link fence in order to provide people with a better photo opportunity. The cauldron looks beautiful, but Olympic fans should be able to get up closer. It is located just west of the new convention centre.
Robson Square: We dropped by to see if this was in fact the "place to be". We weren't disappointed as tens of thousands of people were milling about simply enjoying themselves. Having the Ziptrek line buzz over head was definitely a crowd pleaser. I'd highly recommend you head down there at least once during the Games just to enjoy the action.
CTV Headquarters: Hundreds of people huddled around the CTV booth located on Robson Street today to watch the Olympics on the TV screens erected on the outside of the booth. I must say that although having the TV screens there is nice, they are way too small. Kids can get the chance to sit in the anchor booth and read the sports cast for themselves. I didn't have the chance to partake in the activities myself, but it sure looked like those in the booth were having fun. If the lineups aren't too bad, likely worth a visit.
There you have it. This is Day One of the Olympic Games in Vancouver, and some of the free venues are already receiving a gold medal. A few others haven't made it on the podium. I would encourage all of you to read many of the excellent comments posted on each of the venues to get a sense of which ones are HOT...and which ones are not. Tomorrow I'm heading off to Richmond and to the speed skating oval to catch the 3000 metre long-track race. Should be fun!