.1 Billion Universal Studios Theme Park Coming to West Edmonton Mall

$7.1 Billion Universal Studios Theme Park Coming to West Edmonton Mall

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada’s West Edmonton Mall is a well-known retail, entertainment, and recreational facility. With its amazing selection of stores, eateries, and activities, it is one of the biggest malls in the world and draws millions of tourists each year.

The mall has begun an ambitious expansion plan in an attempt to solidify its status as a top tourist attraction. A Universal Studios amusement park will be coming to West Edmonton Mall, according to a recent announcement from Universal Parks & Resorts and mall owner Triple Five Group.

In this noteworthy development, Universal Parks & Resorts will take over the mall’s attractions and introduce Canada to its renowned brand of amusement.

The opening of a Universal Studios amusement park is anticipated to increase the mall’s popularity as a location for eating, leisure, and shopping.

A variety of exhilarating thrills and attractions, as well as engaging experiences based on well-known motion pictures and television programs, will be featured at the upcoming Universal Studios amusement park at West Edmonton Mall. There will be several themed regions for visitors to discover, each with its own distinct ambiance and attractions.

The opening of a Universal Studios amusement park is a significant achievement for West Edmonton Mall and evidence of its dedication to giving its patrons first-rate experiences. The mall is certain to maintain its status as one of the best with this thrilling growth.

“We see the fantastic potential from taking part in the evolution of West Edmonton Mall and its storied history of being the world’s pioneer in immersive retail center experiences,” said Carl Dintenfass, president of new ventures at Universal Destinations & Experiences, the division that formerly went by the name of Universal Parks & Resorts.

“Alberta is the perfect place to bring this new indoor theme park concept as part of our strategy to broaden the horizons of our universe, and bring Universal’s renowned themed entertainment attractions to new markets.”

The 62-acre West Edmonton Mall will receive a total reinvestment of CAD 7.1 billion (USD 5.2 billion) to fund two new hotels, the largest renovations ever made to the mall building which will be preserved, an entirely new indoor theme park, and improvements to supporting infrastructure and public services.

The eastern half of the mall will be completely demolished to make way for the new indoor amusement park. To create the amusement park from the ground up, everything between the iconic Ice Palace skating rink and 170 Street NW will be demolished.

In contrast to the considerably busy western half of the mall, the eastern half is now a largely underutilized dead zone that hardly draws a trickle of foot activity. This artwork sometimes referred to as the Phase I and Phase II parts, is also the mall’s oldest.

Conceptual preliminary artistic rendering of the redevelopment of West Edmonton Mall into Universal Studios Canada theme park and Universal CityWalk Canada mall. Not the final design. (Universal Destinations & Experiences)

This includes removing Hudson’s Bay, Starlight Casino, Winners/HomeSense, Marshalls, The Rec Room, and the former Sears space (The Brick/Toyota dealership) in addition to the existing “Galaxyland Powered by Hasbro” amusement park, which recently underwent improvements as part of its partnership with Hasbro.

The parking spaces on the east side of the shopping center will be completely demolished, and new parking spots will be constructed elsewhere.

The 45-acre area of the theme park, known as Universal Studios Canada, is more than five times the size of Galaxyland’s nine acres. Despite being the smallest Universal Studios theme park ever, it will be equivalent to the 49 acres of Universal Studios Singapore. There will be a total of 23 themed rides and attractions, including three roller coasters, as well as 27 restaurants, food carts, kiosks, and over 20 commercial establishments.

Hollywood North Square is the gateway to Universal Studios Canada, and visitors are greeted by a grand entrance that sets the tone for the exciting adventures to come. As visitors venture further into the park, they will be transported into a world of imagination and wonder, with eight themed zones to explore.

One of the most popular zones is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley, which immerses visitors in the magical world of Harry Potter. Here, visitors can walk the streets of Diagon Alley, sample Butterbeer at the Leaky Cauldron, and experience the thrilling ride, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.

Another popular zone is Jurassic World Isla Nublar, where visitors can come face-to-face with life-sized dinosaurs, explore the lush jungle landscape, and experience the heart-pumping ride, Jurassic World Adventure.

For fans of the Transformers franchise, Transformers: Metrobase offers an immersive experience where visitors can join the Autobots in their fight against the Decepticons. This zone features thrilling rides like Transformers: The Ride 3D and interactive attractions like the N.E.S.T. Training Facility.

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Artistic rendering of Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan. (Universal Destinations & Experiences)

Kung Fu Panda Land of Awesomeness invites visitors to explore the world of Po, the lovable panda, and his friends. This zone features exciting rides like the Kung Fu Panda Journey of the Dragon Warrior and the Furious Five Challenge, as well as interactive attractions like Po’s Kung Fu Academy.

Super Nintendo World is another must-visit zone, where visitors can enter the world of their favorite Nintendo characters, including Mario, Donkey Kong, and Zelda. This zone features exciting rides like Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge and interactive attractions like Yoshi’s Adventure.

The Dark Universe invites visitors to explore the mysterious world of monsters, including classic creatures like Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Mummy. This zone features thrilling rides like the Dark Universe Coaster and interactive attractions like the Monster’s Lair.

Last but not least, Gotta Catch ‘Em All in the Pokemon World is Universal’s first-ever themed experience solely devoted to the popular franchise. This zone features two main ride attractions, where visitors can join Ash and Pikachu on exciting adventures through the world of Pokemon.

The upcoming Pokemon-themed attraction promises to be an immersive and exciting experience for fans of the beloved franchise. Using 3D interactive technology, visitors will embark on a safari adventure through the diverse environments of the Pokemon World, with the ultimate goal of capturing as many Pokemon as possible. The experience will be narrated by Ryan Reynolds, who will reprise his role as Detective Pikachu, adding an extra layer of excitement and authenticity to the adventure.

In addition to the safari experience, visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy a motion-based simulator. This ride will immerse them in the exciting storyline of Mewtwo’s quest to release Pokemon from their trainers. The action-packed ride will bring visitors into the heart of the Pokemon Stadium, where they will witness Ash Ketchum and Pikachu’s fight go awry as a result of Mewtwo’s actions.

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Artistic rendering of Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan. (Universal Destinations & Experiences)

The Pokemon-themed attraction will be located within the Super Nintendo World zone, which recently opened at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Japan. The Pokemon area will seamlessly transition from the Super Nintendo World zone, creating a cohesive and immersive experience for visitors. The main attraction within the Super Nintendo World zone will be Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge, an interactive dark ride based on the popular Mario Kart 8 video game.

The Dark Universe is set to be a spine-chilling themed area, akin to the popular Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios, but with a year-round appeal. It will be the second permanent horror experience following the upcoming off-site attraction in Las Vegas, making it the first permanent horror-themed area within one of Universal’s theme parks. By bringing to life the vast collection of iconic Universal horror films, such as “The Mummy,” “Dracula,” “Frankenstein,” and “The Wolf Man,” “The Dark Universe” is sure to both frighten and thrill guests.

Meanwhile, in the brand-new Universal Studios Beijing, Kung Fu Panda World of Awesomeness will be an exact replica of the popular indoor zone. Guests will be transported to the karst mountains of ancient China, with Po’s glowing lantern coming to life and illuminating the area.

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Artistic rendering of The Dark Universe zone at Universal Studios Canada. (Universal Destinations & Experiences)
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Artistic rendering of Kung Fu Panda Land of Awesomeness at Universal Studios. (Universal Destinations & Experiences)
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Artistic rendering of Kung Fu Panda Land of Awesomeness at Universal Studios. (Universal Destinations & Experiences)

In Transformers territory, Metrobase serves as the battleground where the Autobots defend the AllSpark against the Decepticons on a thrilling high-speed roller coaster ride. This exciting coaster is comparable to Disney Parks’ Space Mountain or the newly opened Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction. The fate of the Earth hangs in the balance.

At the heart of the Jurassic World Isla Nublar zone lies the main attraction, the Jurassic World Adventure ride. Equipped with animatronic dinosaurs and multimedia, it brings to life John Hammond’s vision of a dinosaur theme park off the coast of Costa Rica – until the dinosaurs break free and start preying on tourists once again.

In The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, the hidden wizarding alley and business district of London are brought to life. The main attraction is a thrilling dark ride on a 3D-motion-based steel roller coaster that tells the story of the daring escape from Gringotts Bank, the wizarding institution located in the heart of Diagon Alley. This ride will be comparable to the one in Islands of Adventure at Universal Studios Florida.

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Artistic rendering of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley at Universal Studios. (Universal Destinations & Experiences)
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Artistic rendering of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley at Universal Studios. (Universal Destinations & Experiences)
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Artistic rendering of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley at Universal Studios. (Universal Destinations & Experiences)

During Phase III, the only part of the current structure of the shopping center that will be retained and receive the majority of reinvestment is the western side of the West Edmonton Mall. However, most of this investment will flow towards the eastern side of Phase III, which happens to be the newest section of the mall.

The entertainment and shopping districts outside the theme parks of Universal Studios around the world are known as “Universal CityWalk.” As a result, Phase III, the only retained part of the West Edmonton Mall, will also be renamed Universal CityWalk Canada in accordance with branding guidelines.

The existing Phase III area of the shopping center will undergo extensive renovations, including a complete recalibration of the retail offerings to include luxury retail chains and international brands, as well as a new focus on top-tier culinary experiences. New businesses that align with the brand and concept of Universal CityWalk will replace almost all current shops and services.

In Phase III, the current Europa Boulevard of the shopping center will also receive significant theming, and the current indoor lake for Deep Sea Adventures will be completely transformed into a WaterWorld-themed area modeled after the WaterWorld action show at Universal Studios.

Minions Paradise will be the new name of the current World Waterpark, which is currently the second-largest indoor waterpark in North America. The waterpark will undergo a substantial mid-life restoration and retheming inspired by the Minions from the popular Despicable Me series created by Illumination.

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West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton, Alberta
The Phase III food court at WEM

The Fantasyland Hotel, currently located within the shopping center and featuring 355 suites, is set to undergo some improvements and be renamed as Universal’s Adventure Hotel. It will join the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, with 233 suites, and the Universal Studios Grand Hotel, with 620 suites, as part of a new, 40-story iconic building.

Additionally, a new convention center featuring a 180,000-square-foot ballroom and meeting space will be connected to both new hotels. The casino floor of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino will replace the current Starlight Casino and Caesar’s Bingo of the shopping center. The new replacement casino will offer over 1,000 slot machines and 40 tables, with a total floor space of 160,000 square feet.

A new Cineplex VIP cinema featuring six screens will be constructed in place of the current Scotiabank Theatre and connected to a brand new The Rec Room. Additionally, an iconic two-hectare indoor Epic Plaza will be built to connect Universal CityWalk Canada (which will receive Phase III of renovations and upgrades) and the Universal Studios Canada theme park.

This plaza will serve as the primary entrance and security checkpoint for both the theme park and shopping center. Instead of the current ice rink, a new indoor space under a seven-story glass dome will house the recognizable giant “Universal” globe of Universal Studios.

Mindbender rollercoaster at Galaxyland

On the west side of the shopping center, all on-site parking spaces are located. These parking spaces are undergoing a comprehensive renovation, including the transformation of all areas into a multi-level parking garage with up to five underground and up to six above-ground levels. A five-story parking garage will be built on the currently used overflow parking lot north of 90 Avenue NW. The multi-level parking garages increase the parking capacity while replacing the parking spaces lost in the eastern part of the shopping center to make way for the theme park’s footprint.

To accommodate Universal Studios Canada, Universal CityWalk Canada, additional hotels, the casino, and the conference center, there will be a total of 40,000 stalls.

A traffic hub will be constructed in the south of the property, near the planned Valley Line LRT station that will serve the shopping center. It will have designated areas for taxis and ridesharing, as well as a significant bus loop for tour buses and public transportation buses, including shuttle bus connections to the Edmonton International Airport.

Thanks to a closed pedestrian walkway, direct pedestrian access will be provided between the transit hub and Epic Plaza. Immediately north of the shopping center, a section of NW 90th Avenue will be closed and combined with the planned new developments.

The east wing of the new indoor theme park complex will feature a significant programmable LED lighting system for its exterior, which will give Edmonton a fresh, eye-catching landmark.

A site-wide geothermal exchange system spanning almost 1,300 km of underground piping, extending up to 250 meters beneath the floor plans of the indoor theme park and new parkades, will be implemented. The piping will be long enough to bridge the distance between Edmonton and Vancouver, making it one of the largest geothermal exchange systems in the world and the largest in Canada.

During the summer, the geothermal exchange system will bury heat for use during the cold winter months with mechanical devices. Conversely, during the winter, the geothermal exchange system will extract warmer ground temperatures below Edmonton’s 2.4-meter frost line. This will avoid the release of 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and significantly reduce the cost of heating and cooling the extensive indoor spaces of Universal Studios and Universal CityWalk.

Furthermore, almost 29,000 solar panels will be installed on the extensive roof of the 45-hectare indoor theme park, generating a total capacity of approximately 12 megawatts, which is equivalent to powering nearly 6,000 households in Alberta. This capability will further reduce the energy costs and emissions of the complex.

To complete this project, NBCUniversal, the owner of the intellectual property, entered into a licensing agreement with the Triple Five Group, the owner of the shopping center. The Triple Five Group and Universal Destinations & Experiences will jointly operate the destination.


An ice hockey rink seen from a second story above it. There are two teams playing at the far end. People are watching the game from both levels; there are stores behind them. Above the rink is a glass ceiling from which advertising banners hang promoting the tournament sponsors, as well as the Canadian and U.S. flags (circa June 2015).
Ice Palace

If everything goes according to plan, an application will be submitted to the local administration in June 2023, and extensive construction work could begin by the end of 2025. The reconstruction would be completed in phases, with the Universal Studios opening the refurbished shopping center in early 2030, along with new hotels and entertainment options by mid-2028 and the new parking lots on the west side of the property opening in early 2028. All of this will happen just before the West Edmonton Mall, which opened its first wing in 1981, celebrates its 50th birthday.

“I am thrilled to welcome Universal Studios to our city and see the potential economic boom it will bring to our community,” said Edmonton mayor Amarjeet Sohi.

“Not only will this theme park create numerous job opportunities, but it will also attract visitors from around the world, solidifying Edmonton’s place on the global tourism map. As the Mayor of Edmonton, I am proud to be a part of this exciting new chapter for our city.”

The statement mentions that in the first full operational year of 2031, Universal Studios is expected to welcome over three million guests. This number is expected to double by 2041, with approximately six million guests anticipated to visit. It is estimated that over 30,000 people could enter the indoor theme park daily. The visitor and daily capacity are expected to be similar to that of Universal Studios Singapore.

This information suggests that Universal Studios is anticipating significant growth in its visitor numbers in the coming years. The figures provided indicate that the theme park is likely to be a popular destination for tourists and locals alike and that it will be able to accommodate large crowds.

The statement does not provide any information on how the theme park plans to handle the increased volume of visitors, such as expanding its facilities or hiring additional staff. However, it is clear that Universal Studios is preparing for substantial growth in the years to come, and that it expects to be a major player in the theme park industry for many years to come.

When the figures for the renovated and expanded shopping center and the new indoor theme park are combined, the current name of the shopping center, “The Greatest Indoor Show On Earth,” is expected to see an increase in total traffic of several tens of millions of additional people per year. By 2041, it is expected that at least 20,000 people will regularly use the LRT station that serves the property.

As a result of the overall renovation, approximately 35,000 people will have direct on-site employment, an increase of 11,000 from the current level of the shopping centers, and 15,000 indirect jobs will be supported throughout the Edmonton region.

In the first decade following its full completion, the theme park is projected to produce over $12 billion USD ($8.9 billion USD) in direct and indirect economic benefits for Alberta’s economy, effectively diversifying and expanding the province’s tourism industry. It will also generate tax revenues of $4 billion CAD ($2.96 billion USD) for all three levels of government. By 2041, Universal Studios and Universal CityWalk will have brought almost one million additional overnight guests to the Edmonton region.

According to Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, “the creation of a world-class theme park at West Edmonton Mall would not only diversify Alberta’s economy but also create new jobs and generate significant tax revenues in the long term.”

“This exciting venture will also catalyze the growth of new businesses and increase tourism, further bolstering Alberta’s reputation as a top destination for visitors from around the globe. This is one of the largest private sector investments Alberta has ever seen outside of our natural resources sector.”




Universal is currently expanding its Universal Destinations & Experiences attractions worldwide, with several new projects in the works. One of the most notable developments is Universal Studios Beijing, which opened in 2021. The park, which spans 420 acres, is located in the eastern suburbs of Beijing and cost CA$8.8 billion (US$6.5 billion) to construct. The theme park features a range of rides and attractions, including several based on popular Universal franchises such as Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and Kung Fu Panda.

In addition to Universal Studios Beijing, Universal has also been expanding its Super Nintendo World attractions. The first Super Nintendo World area opened at Universal Studios Japan in 2021, and a second area debuted at Universal Studios Hollywood in February 2023. Currently, work is underway on a third Super Nintendo World area at Universal Studios Singapore, which is scheduled to open in 2025.

Universal’s expansion plans also include the development of several new hotels and resorts, including the Universal’s Epic Universe park in Orlando, Florida, which is expected to open in 2025. This new park will be the fourth theme park at Universal Orlando Resort and will feature a range of new attractions based on popular franchises such as Fantastic Beasts, How to Train Your Dragon, and more.

Overall, Universal’s ongoing expansion efforts demonstrate the company’s commitment to offering innovative and exciting experiences for guests around the world. With a range of new attractions, hotels, and resorts in the works, Universal is poised to continue to be a major player in the global theme park industry for years to come.