If you haven't yet planned your late summer or early fall vacation, here is a hot tip: don't miss EXPO 86! This is a truly worthwhile World's Fair — the best, by far, since EXPO 67 in Montreal.
Technically, EXPO 86 is not a "universal" (or Class A) fair, such as the
one in New York in 1939 or EXPO 67 in Montreal, but a "special category" (Class B) fair, as classified by the Paris bureau that licenses World Fairs. Seattle, Spokane, Knoxville ('82) and New Orleans ('84) were all "special category." But don't be fooled by this; while EXPO 86 should not be compared to EXPO 67 or New York '39, it is many times better than the last four fairs in the US. All those were little better than good State Fairs.
[quoteright]In contrast to the last American and Canadian fairs, this one has pavilions for the US, Russia, and mainland China, as well as nearly fifty other countries. There are not many commercial exhibitors; the only two impressive ones are the "Spirit Lodge" of General Motors and the 360-degree screen presentation of Telecom Canada. These should not be missed. The images in the campfire smoke at the GM show are truly amazing. And don't miss the I-Max 3-D theater — the best 3-D ever.
Food prices at EXPO 86 are higher than outside, but not unreasonably so. I particularly recommend the food and the German band and singers in the Munich Festhaus. We also found the Czech restaurant quite good. The Ontario Restaurant is an excellent place to see the nightly fireworks, if you go there late in the evening. The only place we ate where the food was both expensive and tasteless was the Russian pavilion.
One pavilion deserves particular mention, since it is not in the main line of traffic: the Pavilion of Promise. Inside one moves through three theaters with an 18-minute show in each. The three shows are based on a musical, "The Scroll," by Bruce Stacey, Director for Crossroads Christian Communications, Inc. The theaters are loosely modeled on the National Film Board of Canada's famous "Labyrinth" at EXPO 67, which people stood in line eight hours to see. The first theater has images (clouds, trees, etc.) projected on the floor with recorded comments by children, followed by a rather strange account of the creation by "I AM" and two very competent live dancers representing Adam and Eve. At one point the floor rises eight feet and the Fallen Angel darts about like Tinker Bell in the Disney film.
After Adam and Eve succumb to the Angel, the audience moves to the second theater. Here the life of Christ is depicted in color clips from a variety of Hollywood and religious films; you may recognize the Wise Men from Ben Hur. The third theater features an impressive "sound and light" show with many lasers and two circular screens overhead, titled "God's Promise of Hope." Your reaction to all this will depend in large measure on your religious orientation. "Born again" people love it. But see it and judge for yourself.
Based on my experiences at seven World Fairs, here are some tips to help you get the most out of EXPO 86:
It is a great fair. So go and have fun. With these tips (which we did not have), maybe you can see more than 44 pavilions in three days.
World fair aficionado PAUL W. HEALY has also written articles on films, science, futurism, and old magazines. He shares his ranch-style home with an orrery.
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