June 16 1986


June 16 1986



The challenge in visiting Expo lies both in experiencing its most publicized exhibits—and in uncovering its secret treasures. A Maclean’s team of reporters sampled everything from children's rides to a shop that stocks Australian opals. Their report:

The B.C. Pavilion’s patrons line up in a manmade forest that includes 40-foot cedars, planted especially for the fair. The pavilion’s attractions include a fastmoving film about the province’s natural wonders, not recommended for those who suffer from motion sickness. Challenge B.C. is a separate building devoted to the province’s industries. It features singing mechanical fish. Rating: 5.

The Canadian Pacific Pavilion is

among the best of Expo’s corporate displays. It entertains and enlightens rather than merely advertising CP products. The Time Wall is a humorous multimedia show about the frustrations of technological progress. And Rainbow War, a film fantasy about transportation and communications, was nominated for a 1985 Oscar. Rating: 10.

Childrens’ and Adults’ Rides provided some of Expo’s bigger thrills for Sean Richards, 14, of Eckville, Alta. One day last week he and a friend spent more than $40 on rides. There are five rides on the site, costing as much as $3 each. They include the exhilarating Caribou Log Chute, which carries patrons in a synthetic hollow log down simulated rapids. Rating: 4.

The China Pavilion bypassed the Expo transportation theme and concentrated on commerce instead. Canadians will learn as much about China if they visit their local Chinatown. The pavilion offers jade—and a simulated section of China’s Great Wall containing original bricks— but little of real interest. Rating: 3.

The Czechoslovakia Pavilion, focusing on failed ideas in the history of transport, is one of Expo’s most delightful exhibits. While animated cartoons depict inventions that never got off the ground, a live rider mounted on a bicycle which is suspended from the ceiling pedals back and forth. There are also models of other ludicrous means of transport, including a sail-powered train. Rating: 9.

The Electronic Communications Studios,

dotted across the site, offer people an opportunity to tape themselves singing along with prerecorded songs. At the Canada Pavilion, visitors watch live CBC newscasts. And at the B.C. Television Pavilion, the station’s entire newsroom has moved in and is open for visitors to

see news being written and footage edited. Rating: 7.

Fireworks dazzle each evening at 10:30 p.m. in the 15-minute International Nights of Fire—a breathtaking sound, laser and fireworks show. Green lasers dance through the air to an original score of synthesizer music by Vancouver’s KoKo Productions, while multicolored fireworks rocket from a barge in False Creek. Rating: 10. The General Motors Pavilion is a distinctive, wedge-shaped structure displaying GM’s latest designs. One is the Lean Machine, a bullet-shaped car. Another, the Questor, supplies route maps on its computer screen. But the pavilion’s highlight is The Spirit Lodge, a multimedia show about the impact of new transportation technology on West Coast Indian culture. Rating: 9.

Gift Shops offer a range of delights. The Swiss pavilion sells chocolates and army knives. Norway offers pewter and handknit sweaters. Romania sells embroidered blouses, Czechoslovakia stocks porcelain and crystal and the U.S.S.R. shop has amber jewelry. Also available are Korean dolls, stamps, Australian opals and Saskatchewan native handicrafts. Rating: 8.

Highway 86 is probably Expo’s most photographed exhibit. The $4.5-million attraction, created by members of New York City’s Sculpture in the Environment Project Inc., is an undulating, 217-

m ribbon of concrete dotted with more than 200 items used in transportation. Painted grey, the objects range from running shoes to such vintage cars as a 1959 Cadillac Eldorado. Rating: 8.

The Marine Plaza, often overlooked, is an Expo highlight. The harbor provides a berth for exotic craft ranging from a Hong Kong dragon boat for racing to an Indonesian pinisi—a sailing schooner that workmen are currently assembling. Visitors can board many of the boats, including the fishing vessel pictured on Canada’s old $5 bill. Rating: 6.

The Peru Pavilion will almost certainly attract longer lineups when the extent of its treasures becomes known. Inside the building, Andean pan flutes welcome visitors to a dazzling collection of 300 of the finest Indian pieces from the Gold Museum in Lima—including a pair of gold gauntlets, a cloak of brightly colored hummingbird feathers and jewelry of hammered gold and inlaid turquoise. Rating: 6.

The Quebec Pavilion, planned by the former Parti Québécois government, is a $5.5-million high-tech slide and laser show. Visitors stand and view images projected on a 360-degree screen. Quebec’s new Liberal government is compensating for PQ parsimony with a three-day extravaganza later this month featuring singers Réné Simard and Robert Charlebois. Rating: 5.

The Saskatchewan Pavilion is housed in a grain elevator made of mirrored glass. Its highlights include a metal horse which can move—stiffly—and a movie in which a live actress talks to onscreen characters who beg her to return home. Sentimental but sensational, the pavilion has a warm atmosphere. And its home-style cooking is great. Rating: 9.

The United States Pavilion, hidden at the western end of the site, is devoted to transportation and communication in space. It includes a simulated space station hosted by guides dressed as astronauts. At Expo 67, the Americans celebrated their culture with such icons as Elvis Presley’s guitar. Now, in the wake of the Challenger tragedy, their heart does not seem to be in it. Rating: 6.

The World Festival features many of the world’s best performers. One highlight was the Kirov Ballet, making its first North American appearances in 22 years. But frustrations abound: many upcoming acts are sold out. Tickets for others are still available, including the La Scala opera company, whose late summer performances will take place in the 6,000seat Vancouver Coliseum. Rating: 7.