My First Olympic Experience
I was fortunate enough (thank you Tasha) to be able to attend the second dress rehearsal of the Opening Ceremonies on Wednesday night. The experience was both awesome and a bit ridiculous all at the same time. After hearing the reports of 90 minute waits to enter the BC Place venue on Monday night we were well prepared. We arrived at 3:30 armed with tea from my favorite Urban Tea Merchant and an umbrella, but there was almost no wait at all to pass through the airport like security.
Tips for Entering BC Place: If you are attending any events at BC Place use the entrance on Pacific and Carrell. It is a further walk from the West End and Coal Harbour and a bit out of the way but had much less traffic than the only other entrance off Nelson. Also if you do not carry a bag or purse you can go through the Express line which is even faster. Plan like you are going to the airport and you will get through very fast.
Long Lines but Great Atmosphere
Once inside all of the lines were long; food, washrooms, even a line up for the drink machine. But everyone was in such a great mood and did not seem to mind the waits. I have to say that once inside the stadium itself the transformation was quite astonishing. It actually did not look like the same ugly, cavernous space in which the Lions games are played. And since I cannot give away the set up or the performers I can just say that everyone should tune in on Friday night for the full event from the ‘pre-game’ to the ‘march of the athletes’ to the ‘show’. While at most times I felt that Canada and BC were very well reflected in the show there were a few segments that I questioned but the whole experience definitely made me proud and happy, as usual, to be Canadian.
Try to Get Out
Now for the ridiculous part – we couldn’t get out! At the typical football game there are usually no more than 30,000 people in the stadium but we attended the 2005 Grey Cup which was sold out at over 65,000. On Wednesday night I would guess that there were about 50,000 people present who had all entered over a period of 2 hours but all wanted to leave at the same time. The problem was that only the airlock doors were in use meaning that you either had to wait in line to be squished into the airlock with 30 or so people you did not know and wait for the back door to shut and the front door to open which was a somewhat slow process. Or you had to line up for one of the revolving doors which was also very slow. During the Grey Cup one of the regualr doors was open at each exit to allow people to walk right out (or be pushed out by the air) and the roof did not collapse. Once out on the concourse the situation was even worse with only two ways to get out – over the walkway and down the stairs to Pacific or down the stairs to Nelson. Imagine 30,000 or so people on the concourse trying to get out two exits both which has a set of stairs. All I can say is that I hope that in case of emergency there are many more alternative exits that can be used!
Since we will be entering and exiting BC Place about 10 more times in the next 2 weeks I have learned that patience will be very important. But for a once in a lifetime experience like this it will be worth it. GO CANADA!