Published in the July 26th issue of The Edmonton Sun. News
Capital Ex on $25
The mission was a simple one: head to Capital EX and see if I could have fun with a budget of only $25 – not including gate admission or parking.
Was it possible?
A few Capital EX-goers I spoke with didn’t think so.
“You couldn’t, it’s just not possible,” said Lyndon Furman, who had given himself a budget of $100 for the day.
“Not if you want to go on rides, it’s too tempting,” said Sean Zenowski. “This all costs money and $25 is not enough.”
But Capital EX organizers were positive it could be done.
“We think you can find your fun regardless of your budget,” said Sandra Pysklywyc, Northlands spokeswoman. “Once you’re in the door, there’s so much to do.”
Pysklywyc was right about the last bit at least. The activities at the grounds were endless, but most cost a chunk of green to do.
I ended up spending $6 right off the bat on some carnival games in an attempt to win myself a stuffed Pikachu doll. It was a failed attempt.
Next I knew I wanted to spend some of my budget on carnival food: what’s a trip to Capital EX without some mini donuts or a corn dog?
Five dollars and a ketchup and mustard-laced corn dog later, I was down to $14.
At this point the heat was kicking in and I knew that the single ride I could afford to take had to have some purpose.
Niagara Falls, the splashing water roller coaster, was an instant draw and, like most popular rides at Capital EX, would cost six coupons to ride at $1 per coupon.
But boy was I refreshed. With $8 left in my wallet it was time for a break and a search for some fun and free activities.
I managed to catch two free shows, Terrance B’s entertaining hypnotist show at the Telus Stage, followed by a mesmerizing performance at Centre Stage by the Shangri-La Chinese Acrobats. Both were completely packed with people.
A stroll through the Shop Zone was enjoyable enough, but on my budget – window shopping was the most I could do.
There were some free food samples though. I ended up getting a couple slices of free pizza at the Dr. Oetker stand by the Telus Stage and rumour had it there were smores samples at one of the ground gates.
Nearing the end of my day there was still a few dollars left to spend so, parched, $6 was spent on a large glass of freshly squeezed lemonade and with my final two dollars, I played another game in an attempt to win that elusive Pikachu.
Still with my $25, I had managed to play some games, eat and catch some entertaining acts.
While it’s definitely not easy to have fun at Capital EX with a very limited budget, it isn’t impossible. You just have to be a bit strategic.
The atmosphere, sunshine, free shows and, if you’re lucky enough to find, free samples, are enough to keep at least a casual Capital EX-goer entertained.