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“Shows ok, exhibits need a lot of work”

HR MacMillan Space Centre
Ranked #288 of 365 things to do in Vancouver
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour
Owner description: Multi-media astronomy shows in the Planetarium Star Theatre are enhanced by 20-minute live demonstrations in the GroundStation Canada Theatre that keep you up-to-date on the latest space news. The Cosmic Courtyard exhibit gallery contains a real piece of moon rock you can actually touch, a J-2 Rocket Engine, artifacts and simulations. On Saturday nights you can visit the Gordon Southam Observatory right next door and, if the skies are clear, you can see stars and maybe even a planet through the .5 metre Cassegrain telescope.
Useful Information: Activities for young children
Reviewed October 26, 2010

The space centre is surprisingly small compared to how large it looks from the outside - a large part of the building is taken up by the MOV (Museum of Vancouver). They have live shows featuring talks on various topics (I saw two - one on a "day in space" for an ISS astronaut, and a second on the possibility of asteroids hitting the earth), hands on exhibits, and of course, the planetarium theatre upstairs which features 'movies' and laser light shows.

First the kudos - the live shows were good. About 20 minutes long, and the presenter kept things lively and moving. My 6 year old was kept interested for the whole thing with no attention wander at all. Presenter took time to answer all questions from the audience and was deft with his delivery and enthusiasm.

The planetarium shows in the big theatre upstairs are fun just for the experience of sitting back and watching the action unfold on the ceiling. About 30 - 40 minutes long, and well done.

Now the criticism... the exhibits were very dull (didn't really seem to have any cohesive theme?) and in serious need of upgrading if not complete revamping. Some were out of order, and it was a little jarring to see interactive exhibits for kids in a "space centre" that required you to use roller balls (like that arcade game from the 1980's - Centipede) and an industrial style push button to activate. Most interactive exhibits I've seen lately are much more touch screen oriented - these were all old CRT TV's. The touchable moon rock was a small triangle maybe 3 inches on the long edge, and the meteorite was kept in a plexiglass box that was in serious need of repair. In a world with the Discovery Channel, National Geographic channel, and PBS' NOVA available for kids, the exhibits seemed extremely amateurish and quaint.

Personally, we ended up walking around the grounds of beautiful Vanier Park to kill the time between shows since the exhibits were so poor.

For parents with kids, I'd recommend taking the time to review the show schedule, pick out what you want to see, and then build your trip schedule appropriately.

On a value for money scale, I'd give this one 'average'. It was around $28 total admission for adult and child. I would have rated this one closer to $20 in value. I didn't feel totally ripped off, but also would not come back here until it gets upgraded significantly with something new to do in between waiting for a show to start.

2  Thank clone_trooper
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"black holes"
in 3 reviews
"moon rock"
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"space travel"
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"pay admission"
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162 - 166 of 170 reviews

Reviewed July 3, 2009

I'm a big space fan but I felt let down after visiting this space centre. I could only imagine that this show is good for school Children who never read a book about space or who don't have the Discovery channel. The Galileo show made me cringe & I felt bad for the guy who had to act that out. This show needs to be scrapped, it belongs in the 1980's !

1  Thank hotelcustomer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 18, 2009

We visited the space centre in late April 09 with our 7 and 9 year old boys. We loved it and it was a highlight of our trip through the US and Canada. Thanks for a great day.

1  Thank Travelinwkids14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Seattle, WA
Reviewed November 2, 2003

Wow, my husband and I took my two kids (8 & 12) to the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver. What a place, it completely blew us away.
All of thier programs from the Cosmic Courtyard to the Planetarium Theatre and especially the Virtual Voyage ride were great! You have to take a trip to Mars on the Virtual Voyages, YAHOO!!! The building looks like a big UFO and it is surrounded by beaches on all sides - Free Parking!! We had a picnic afterwards on the beach - what a great day - we will return!!

13  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed May 1, 2017
Google Translation

Thank TheNike
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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