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Expo opens.

Expo opens

Summing up Expo 86 is like trying to describe the world in a sentence. Packed into the 173 acres of the Vancouver world's fair are exhibits from 54 nations, as well as theme plazas, theaters, amusement rides, international restaurants.

The 10 Sunset reporters and photographers who sized up the opening agreed on one thing: to see Expo in a day or two, you need a plan and must be selective. Otherwise, burnout will come fast, especially if you have children in two.

Think of the fair site as a 1 1/2-mile-long international mall with three anchor pavilions: the U.S., placed appropriately at the west end; China at the east; the U.S.S.R. at the center. (Host Canada is on Burrard Inlet about a mile from the main fair site.) Each major pavilion draws fairgoers past smaller exhibitors, restaurants, and outdoor displays.

Here are suggestions for getting the most from your visit. (For information on coping with traffic jams and parking shortages, see page 93. For ways to get around town without a car, or to explore more of British Columbia, see the reports beginning on page 94.)

One-day admission costs about $15. Three-day passes offer substantial savings. We give all prices in U.S. dollars; $1 U.S. equals about $1.35 Canadian.

What about crowds?

We saw the fair when attendance was about half the predicted peak of 200,000 visitors a day. Still we found lineups at major attractions: thrill rides, theme pavilions, and the smaller restaurants at some national pavilions--as well as at SkyTrain, the monorail, and some ferries. An early start may not help much. Gates often open before the official hour of 10 A.M., and there's music at the entrances by 9:30. But much of the grounds, and most pavilions and major attractions, stay closed until 10 (unless present policy is changed), so lineups develop early. But some lines may shrink during lunch and dinner hours and in the evenings (pavilions remain open until 10, some rides until 1 A.M.).

To minimize waiting at the three theme pavilions--Ramses II, The Roundhouse, and Expo Centre--stop by first thing and pick up free tickets for later entry.

When lines get too long, enjoy the street entertainers, watch a tall ship being built at the Old Salts Shipyard, or stroll through Marine Plaza to see small craft from around the world (a Pakistani dhow, a British canal barge, Hong Kong dragon boats, a junk from China).

Study the fanciful display at Air Plaza, the wild collection of vehicles at Land Plaza. Or take in free entertainment at theaters and bandstands. Or consider shopping: many pavilions have auxiliary shops in separate buildings nearby.

What's the best way to get around?

Walking is the logical way to tour the long, lean False Creek site; follow 1 1/2-mile-long Central Boulevard under the monorail. The farthest pavilion is no more than 50 yards or so from the main route.

At busiest times, walking may be faster than waiting to board the monorail. The 3.3-mile Swiss system tours the site every 10 minutes, but inefficient loading can cause waits three times that long.

Read pages 94 and 95 for more information on ferries that can get you up and down False Creek or over to Canada Place on Burrard Inlet, the SkyTrain to Canada Place, and buses from around the world that also connect the two sites.

However you decide to get around, a map is essential, preferably a color-coded one. Six color zones divide the False Creek site and help you find attractions. The zones' colors appear on banners, flags, employee uniforms, ticket booths, perimeter fences, even the flowers.

Maps are not given away at ticket gates; you can buy a color-coded pocket map for about $1.35 at shops near the entry gates. Or buy the helpful official souvenir guide (about $3.50).

As you enter, you will be given a daily show guide to performances and events.

The three theme plazas (Air, Land, Marine) provide major landmarks and help you locate adjacent attractions.

At a dozen kiosks, 90 touch-screen computer terminals give entertainment schedules, exhibit information, and so on. Also, personnel at information booths can answer questions and direct you.

What's worth waiting in line to see?

The superpowers showcase space achievements; other industrialized nations feature public transit. Almost every country promotes tourism. But don't expect indepth information: the flash of graphics and film is the rule. Queues aside, it's hard to move quickly through pavilions. You're barred from many until the movie is over. If your time is tight, when doors open, walk right through the theater and into the exhibition area.

Look for these more original attractions:

Canada Place (on Burrard Inlet): beneath an arresting set of "sails,' the host nation's pavilion--Expo's largest--offers a grand mix of live performances, extraordinary slide shows and films, high-tech and humorous exhibits, and artifacts like a 53-foot Haida war canoe. Be ready for crowds and long lines; if you want to see it all, allow half a day.

Entertainment includes performances on four stages. Look for Tabootenay, a revival of an early B.C. traveling carnival, with mime, dance, music, magic, clowns.

An 850-seat food fair overlooks the cruise ship docks. Or you can stroll outdoor promenades, soaking up miles-wide views.

Wandering west to east on the False Creek site, here are highlights:

Great Hall of Ramses II (Yellow Zone) catches your attention with its towering sand-colored columns and sky-reflecting mirrors. Inside, the show centers on some 60 artifacts from the tomb of Pharaoh Ramses II (1290 to 1224 B.C.).

U.S.A. (Yellow) reviews the space program, gives a 6-minute film journey to a future space station, walks you through a mockup of labs and crew quarters.

West Coast states (Yellow): Washington, Oregon, and California emphasize tourism with films and special effects. California presents some of its high-tech diversity; Oregon adds live entertainment.

The Roundhouse (Green), built a century ago for the first transcontinental train, has been renovated. Through the center of a huge wheel, enter a film theater; watch flying machines and cyclists navigating high-wires; see beautifully restored autos and bikes and a replica of the 1829 Rocket steam locomotive.

The adjacent Holography Gallery houses Spectral Images, the largest exhibit of 3-D laser photography ever assembled.

European pavilions (Green), mostly clustered around the European Plaza, offer serious technical exhibits and attractive historical displays. France, Germany, and Great Britain all show off their latest trains.

U.S.S.R. (Pink) shows the 108-foot-long Soyuz-Salyut-Progress orbit complex. There's also a pond with radio-controlled boats, and fashion shows are promised.

Czechoslovakia (Pink) combines classic forms with modern technology in humorous and informative ways; you'll see antique cars and bikes, and advanced video.

B.C. Pavilion (Blue): glassy 11-acre complex offers logging shows four times a day. In novel elevator videos called Trees of Discovery, don't miss number 4.

Ontario (Red) offers folk music and other concerts in an outdoor amphitheater--the perfect view point for the fair's superb fireworks, nightly at 10.

China (Purple) looks back more than 2,000 years with its replica of a recently unearthed bronze chariot, a piece of the Great Wall, explorer ships. Handcrafts to see and buy; restaurant and cafe.

Folklife (Purple) offers Canadian music, dance, foods, craft demonstrations, as well as shows from participating nations.

Surprises from smaller pavilions

The local staff, often in native finery and anxious to try out some English, turn the small pavilions into friendly oases.

Ivory Coast (Yellow), with its playful stick-figure drawings on exterior walls, joyful music inside, and masks, carvings, beadwork, and other displays, is a winner.

Indonesia (Pink) appeals with a collection of dugout canoes, gongs and drums to beat, and bold dioramas.

Pakistan (Red) has a striking tiled entry, good displays of handcrafts.

Northwest Territories (Purple) has a fine selection of still smoky-scented native crafts ($35 and up; they're less expensive in a satellite pavilion).

Let's go to the movies

Nearly every pavilion has a film or slide show; some have several. Few people have time for them all. We especially liked A Freedom to Move at Expo Centre's Omnimax; Ontario's 3-D Imax (you feel you're flying in a flock of Canada geese); and Transitions, another 3-D Imax at the CN Theatre at Canada Place.

But with so many big-budget productions straining for effect, you may find it's the smaller, simpler films that steal your heart: at the Saskatchewan and Czechoslovakia pavilions (where live actors interact with the film), at the Yukon Pavilion, and at The Roundhouse. California's special effects film is fun, Washington's tourism movie is a real rouser, and General Motors' splendid Spirit Lodge blends visual imagergy and live acting that draw on Indian myth and legend.

How about kids?

From play areas with lots to do to the Scream Machine, there are plenty of diversions for youngsters.

Child's Play, in the Red Zone under Cambie Bridge, is very popular and is great entertainment. It costs $1.75 per child or adult for 45 minutes--but it's not a baby-sitting service for tots.

UFO H2O (Red) is another kid-stopper and kid-cooler. Ribbons of water arc across the site, as pictured on page 90.

The five amusement rides all charge separate admission (about $1.50 to $2); coupon books offer discounts. Easiest to enjoy is the 1907 Philadelphia Toboggan Co. carousel; the Cariboo Log Chute will get you wet; the Space Tower offers a controlled free-fall from 236 feet or views from a revolving platform. The Looping Starship lets you feel weighlessness; the Scream Machine is the world's largest double-loop roller coaster.

Theme sculptures

Most impressive of a fair full of excellent assemblages is the $4 million Highway 86, a 711-foot-long concrete ribbon with 200 vehicles, seaplanes, submarines, baby strollers, wheelchairs--all sprayed monochrome gray (see picture on page 91).

The International Traffic Jam, part of the Land Plaza nearby, is another collection of wacky vehicles--an elaborately decorated Pakistani truck, bright red beer truck, Philippine jeepney, three-wheeled tuktuk (motorcycle-powered taxi from Thailand), and an Indonesian becak (pedicab). The traffic jam winds into a circle, then climbs into an 86-foot-tall spiral sculpture, Transcending the Traffic.

Buy a meal or bring a picnic?

We found the fare tasty and interesting at international restaurants (there are 10, mostly clustered in the Pink and Green zones).

Most entrees cost around $10 or less. We especially liked the Norwegian and Czechoslovakian eateries.

Some pavilion-based international restaurants are small and crowded; mealtime waits stretched up to an hour for our reporters. Make a reservation in person before you're famished, then sightsee in the area while you wait.

Most fast-food and larger ethnic restaurants are faster, if not much cheaper. The biggest ones, like the 1,000-person Munich Festhaus, are likeliest to have room.

There are some l0 sit-down eateries in all, plus about 40 food carts. Consider bringing your own picnic (but no liquor, glass containers, coolers, or barbecues are allowed). There are lockers (50 cents) at all gates. Anywhere on the waterfront, especially around the U.S. Plaza, you'll find views of boats and fewer people. Or try the grassy terraces between Kodak Pacific Bowl and the Mounties' stables.

Nightlife and entertainment

Three cabarets, an Irish pub, a dinner club, restaurants, and theaters cluster around the B.C. Pavilion. It's difficult to get tickets (averaging $15) for major performances, most scheduled at the Expo Theatre. For information and reservations, call 280-4444 in Vancouver, (800) 663-0223 in the U.S.

What about the weather?

Expect temperatures from the 60s to the 90s, clouds or clear weather, and every form of wet weather. Bring your own umbrella (on site they cost $20) and shoes that will keep your feet dry and warm (rain pocks Expo's asphalt with puddles, and there are few covered walkways).

Tough going for motorists?

Try to avoid driving in Vancouver. If you must drive to the fair, try to approach after 10 A.M., depart before 3 or after 7.

No freeway runs directly to the fair site. Provincial 99, the major approach from the U.S. border at Blaine, changes from freeway to arterial just across the Oak Street Bridge over the Fraser River. For the next 6 miles to the city center, drivers crowd onto 30-mph arterial streets--Oak, Granville, and Cambie with its new six-lane bridge over False Creek leading directly to Expo parking lots.

Expo parking for about 17,500 vehicles on weekdays and up to 25,000 on weekends may not be enough. Cost of about $5 U.S. (private parking is significantly more expensive) includes shuttle bus to and from the fair; the shuttle buses stop within two blocks of official parking lots.

Look for lots displaying a blue-and-white Expo logo or orange-and-brown Impark logo. Large balloons indicate space available; no balloons mean no parking.

Two AM radio channels broadcast traffic and parking reports between 8 A.M. and 8 P.M.; frequencies are 530 and 1600. The broadcasts report which lots have space; lots are numbered and shown on city maps available at Shoppers' Drug Marts. For further parking information or to book parking reservations ($10), call (604) 668-2886.

Photo: Painted wooden face of Ramses II stares down on Expo visitors in 67-piece Egyptian exhibit

Photo: High-tech insect at U.S.S.R. Pavilion is 108-foot replica of currently orbiting craft

Photo: Eye-stopping dancers appear throughout fairgrounds

Photo: Slickered guide and metal Mountie show way from False Creek site to Sky Train and Canada Place

Photo: Loaded with options, Pakistani delivery truck is among 40 vehicles in International Traffic Jam

Photo: Trio ducks are of deoxygenated water pumped from one of nozzles in sculptures at UFO H20

Photo: Take a test sit inside GM Pavilion: two-door convertible like this one led initial lap of the Indy classic

Photo: Huge drive wheel, bug-like flying machine, and hat-tipping mime recall 19th-century transport at The Roundhouse

Photo: Color code is yellow at west end of fair; exhibits mark Space Tower monorail station

Photo: Hostesses with umbrellas at the ready welcome visitors to 3-minute ride on Japan's HSST, latest wrinkle in magnetic levitation trains

Photo: Tall ships are part of changing fleet at International Exhibit Harbour next to billowing white sails of Dream Ship at Marine Plaza. Here's where you can see a succession of boats under construction

Photo: Undulating caravan, Highway 86 sculpture rears from False Creek at fair's east end. Mountain backdrop and bright banners contrast with gray of vehicles

Photo: Saudi hosts in red-checkered ghutrahs record message for opening day visitor

Photo: Replica of huge eighth-century bell is part of ambitious cultural displays at Korea Pavilion, where you'll also see dancers, singers, costumed hostesses

Photo: Hitting 175 mph, Paris to Marseilles, earns French TGV (Very High Speed) its name

Photo: World's largest watch (46-foot dial) dwarfs Swiss pavilion, whichch houses new transport technologies, restaurant

Photo: Red-walled, pole-supported pavilion contrasts with traditional gate. Among buildings glimpsed trhough gate is Chinese gift shop.

Photo: Number of peaks on cotton headdress tells if a Dominican or St. Lucian lady is single. Tied to fit, it costs $7.50

Photo: Smorgasbord at Norway Pavilion offers herring, trout, cheeses, prawns, cold salads, for $10 (lunch), $16 (dinner)
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Expo 86 in Vancouver, British Columbia
Date:Jun 1, 1986
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