The Expo 2015 happened from 1 May 2015 to 30 October 2015 at Milan, Italy. In view of the
upcoming Expo 2020 at Dubai, the UAE residents were curious to know what exactly an Expo is and hence I also visited the Expo at Milan. I could go only on 20 October 2015 and my visit was for 3 days. This was the worst possible time to visit since there was huge rush since the show was to end on 31 October 2015.
What exactly was Expo 2015?
The theme of the Expo 2015 was “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”
Various countries from around the world set up their own pavilions depicting the architecture of the
respective country. Inside each pavilion there were lot of exhibits, movies, robots etc. which present this theme. It is a huge area spread across 1.5 km radius. The central walk way is more than 1 km just to walk. Huge pavilions are made on both sides of this walk way.
The best time to visit
The last two months of the Expo was extremely crowded and obviously the first couple of months were the best to visit. During the last month, the queue in front of most of the pavilions including that of UAE was 3 to 4 hours long.
Review of UAE Pavilion at Expo 2015
The UAE Pavilion was huge by all means comparing to most of the other stalls. China pavilion was obviously bigger. People had to wait more than 4 hours to get into the UAE pavilion, which means that the word had already spread that this is a great pavilion. In unattractive pavilions of certain other countries, the queue was very short. It seems that the visitors did their homework in selecting the attractive pavilions through a web search based on feedback form earlier visitors. Also reviews might have appeared in local media.
Once entering the pavilion, you’ll realize that the wait was worth. There were magnificent displays in small glass boxes which also incorporate high technology to showcase local culture, food etc. They were attractive by the technology and by the exhibits. I felt proud when the European visitors exclaimed seeing those exhibits.
Then there was this magnificent movie which was really worth all the queue. It was depicting the transition from the past to the present and reinforcing the importance of keeping the values of the past. It was like a story and every one of the visitors enjoyed it. It was on a 180 degree screen and there were two screens one behind the other. The first part was in the first screen. In the movie, a helicopter uplifts a palm tree to relocate to another place. The lifting happens in the first screen and then all the visitors move to the second screen by which time the helicopter reaches the second screen and the second part happens in the second screen. It was a great movie indeed by the theme and the technology.
Overall the pavilion was comparable to all other major international pavilions.
What we can expect at Expo 2020?
Just comparing the area of the Expo 2015, the area allocated to Expo 2020 seems to be more than double. This obviously means that the Expo 2020 is going to be much bigger than Expo 2015. Expo 2015 was having huge attractions for a visitor, and I just can’t wait to see the Expo 2020.
Enjoyments for a visitor
There were many attractive pavilions and UAE was definitely one of the most prominent as could be simply seen by the length of the queue outside UAE pavilion which was 3 to 4 hours when I visited. The visitors, especially Europeans already had a fair idea of the good pavilions and they were
heading to those. In most of those great pavilions there were many attractions in terms of technology and presentation which was really enjoyed by the visitors. And in most of them there are food stalls of the respective country which was a delight to the visitors.
There were lot of stage shows during the day and night which were really enjoyable. Also there were light shows of various types in the night.
The benefits for the Economy observed in Milan
The economy has got a huge boost in Milan as was very visible. Few observations:
All hotels were full and obtaining bookings were difficult or very costly during last two months of Expo. Most of those rooms were purchased in bulk by tour operators and booking portals
The local tour operators were fully booked much in advance for local and regional tours.
Most of the buildings including monuments were refurbished and cleaned to receive visitors
The public attractions had huge number of visitors. Everyone who comes to visit the Expo also visit local and regional attractions (I also did, wherever I could manage a ticket)
What I felt best at Milan Expo 2015
Each visitor may have had different experiences, but I was impressed by the following:
Able to accommodate huge number of visitors. In spite of the huge crowd, it was not cramped.
There were enough of eateries and customers could be served fast
The food, water etc. were not very expensive compared to the outside rates
There were many impressive pavilions which was really worth the visit.
Free WiFi everywhere inside Expo arena
Crowd management in various areas including at the security gate was great.
What I felt could be improved at Milan Expo 2015
People were waiting from 3 to 7 hours in front of the pavilions. This could be avoided by giving slots while booking daily tickets.
Waiting in queue for this long was horrible. It would have been comfortable if there were some seating arrangements. Also some sort of entertainments and snacks would have made the wait more comfortable.
The bus was passing through the outer circle and was not very popular among the visitors. In my case, I had to walk 10 minutes to catch a bus, instead I preferred to walk inside. The bus was fine if we were already familiar with the entire area after couple of visits. But for a new visitor, it was not so.
The application on iPhone was not great and the printed map was more useful.
There were some pavilions which were just small shops exhibiting items from their countries. These were not in line with the overall theme of Expo. These stalls were of not good value to the visitors.