I grew up in the Lower Mainland of BC, and have been visiting Telus World of Science (better known as Science World to locals) since I was a kid. It was constructed for Expo 86, so it opened to the public when I was 4 years old.
I’ve taken my own kids 3 times over the past few years, and they never seem to get bored. All of the hands-on learning makes it fun, and they always find a new favorite exhibit whenever we go. There’s something for every age, they even have Science World After Dark evenings when you can enjoy a few drinks and explore the exhibits child-free!
How to get there
Science World is located at the end of False Creek, right on the Seawall. It is across the street from the Main Street-Science World Skytrain station, and has a public pay parking lot where you can easily find a spot and park all day for $15. If you’re driving in from out of town, take Hwy #1 (trans-Canada Highway), exit at First Ave and head west – you can’t miss it.
When to Arrive
It normally takes about 3 hours to do Science World in it’s entirety, more if you’re taking in an Omnimax show (shows are typically 30-45min in length).
When it opens first thing in the morning (10am), there is usually a bit of a line-up to purchase tickets and get inside. I would recommend arriving at least 1/2 hour after opening to skip the lines and walk right in.
The building is fully accessible with large curving ramps up to each level, which is wonderful for those with strollers & mobility issues. If you are visiting the Omnimax theatre, it is a 200m uphill climb to get to the theatre, so take your time and enjoy the benches part-way up if you need to take a breather. There is also an elevator, but it’s being upgraded and is out of commission until late July 2017.
You are allowed to bring food into the building, but not into the galleries – they understandably don’t want sticky fingers and crumbs all over the exhibits. I always pack some snacks and water bottles for them to enjoy throughout our visit, they work up an appetite from all the learning!
There are a few different options for purchasing food inside Science World, the most popular being the Triple O’s (White Spot) on the main level. They have great food, but it’s a little overpriced and can get REALLY busy for lunch. If you are looking for a cheaper option, there is a McDonald’s just outside and across the street – just make sure you have a hand stamp so you can get back in.
There is also the ‘Snack Lab’ on the 2nd level, which sells popcorn and other treats, which are perfect for when you’re heading up the ramp to an Omnimax show.
Some of the galleries in Science world are permanent, while others are feature galleries that are only around for a season or two. You can check out what the current Feature Gallery is on their website; until September 4th, 2017 it’s Made In Canada: Inspiring Creativity and Innovation.
If you are short on time, the two galleries that I would definitely check out are Eureka! and the Sara Stern Gallery.
Eureka! is a very hands-on gallery full of opportunities for kids to experiment with the physics of light, sound and motion. Who doesn’t love shooting balls, launching parachutes, or jumping on a giant piano?
If you have animal-lovers in your family, The Sara Stern Gallery is the place to be. Kids can crawl through a real beaver lodge, watch live bees in their hive, or hang out with a T. Rex.
They have some live animals in this gallery, as well as furs, skeltons, rocks, trees, and other specimens for your kids to get up-close and personal with.
The BodyWorks gallery is where kids can learn how their bodies work and how to take care of them. There are a few exhibits featuring nudity & frank information about sex, but it’s a great way to introduce these ideas in a safe environment.
If you have time, make sure to also check out the Sustainability Gallery, Environmental Trail, the KEVA playroom, and various puzzles and illusions & artwork throughout the building.
The theatre itself is 5 stories high and fully-immersive. The best seats for viewing are located in the middle right at the top, otherwise you’ll be leaning back. Head up to the theatre at least 15 minutes early to have time to hike up the ramp & snag the best seats in the house.
Make sure to check out their website so see what’s showing ahead of time since most shows only play once or twice a day. Don’t forget to purchase your tickets when you are paying for admission.
Centre Stage Shows
Centre Stage features free, live science demonstrations. Don’t be shy, audience participation is the best part of these shows – convince your kids to volunteer for some great photo ops, from having their hair stand on end or being inside a huge soap bubble!