Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto Canada is more than just glass boxes of memorabilia and the Stanley Cup -- although those are exciting enough. It also features challenging interactive games.
If you’ve never been here before, or you’ve only seen the previous version when it was on the CNE grounds, you might think that it’s just a museum full of cases of hockey memorabilia.
And while there are a ton of artifacts - including the famous Stanley Cup – there’s also a lot more.
SO much MORE, in fact, that my niece Vicki, who's a major hockey fan, visited it recently and pronounced it "awesome".
For example, did you know that there’s a life-size replica of the Montreal Canadiens' dressing room?
And how about those interactive virtual experiences? The “games” here make this place more of an amusement park than a museum. Here are some of the things you can do here: suit up in hockey gear and take shots on goal, or play goalie (you’ll play against video images of superstars); take the mike and call a game at the broadcast booth; listen to replays of great games of the past; watch hockey movies; get your picture taken holding the Stanley Cup.
Beyond the interactive features, there is also a lot of history to see and read, both in the form of personal artifacts (famous sticks, for example) and photos and written material and computer info. Many hockey fans are trivia nuts; the amateur hockey historian will be in heaven here. Here's the case honouring Johnny Bower:
The “star” of the museum of course is the NHL Trophy section, Vicki’s favourite part. “That was very cool,” she said, “…learning the histories, seeing a few of my favourites’ names etched on there. Seeing the first cup.”
The museum covers more than just NHL hockey, too. There’s lots of information about amateur hockey and Olympic hockey as well. Women's hockey is represented here too. I loved the t-shirt in the gift shop that read: "Hockey: Invented by Men, Perfected by Women".
Although the Hockey Hall of Fame caters to fans, it’s interesting to those who aren’t sports nuts as well. My sister, who doesn’t follow hockey that much, still enjoyed her visit and had fun watching the children and adults playing the interactive games. The Collectors Corner which shows consumer items marketed with the hockey theme will appeal to anyone attracted to antiques, hockey fans or not.
The average fan should count on about 2 to 3 hours here. The real FANATIC will want to spend the whole day – half to see the artifacts and half to play the interactive games.
Shopping and dining
The shop on the way out offers a range of souvenirs, including some very pricey items, but also smaller things like pens or pencils for a buck or two, so parents with less money to spend can still pick up a gift or two for their kids.
There are vending machines with snacks, but there is no restaurant in the museum. However, if you walk out into the adjoining mall there’s a food court and there are a few sit-down pricier restaurants in the mall as well. In the neighbourhood you’ll also find several other restaurants. You’re not actually that far from Wayne Gretzy’s Restaurant at 99 Blue Jays Way.
Visitor Information for the Hockey Hall of Fame
The Hockey Hall of Fame is located at the corner of Yonge and Front Street in Brookfield Place (formerly BCE Place). This is right across from the Union station, GO Train Station, GO Bus Station and subway, so it’s very easy access by public transit.
When you think of the Hockey Hall of Fame more as an amusement park than a simple museum, and you compare the price of admission with those other more interactive places, it actually seems quite cheap. In fact, my niece Vicki, who’s a true-blue hockey fan, didn’t balk at the price at all ($15 in February 2010; check current prices at http://www.hhof.com). Here’s what she said when I asked her if she thought the price was steep: “Well I would easily, easily have no problem paying $15 just to touch the Stanley cup so the fact that you get to do just that makes it worth the cost of entry. I don't know any hockey fans that wouldn't.”