The massive Expo 2020 Dubai comes alive at night with light displays and entertainment — Photo courtesy of Dany Eid/Expo 2020 Dubai
For 170 years, people around the globe have attended World Expos. Expo 2020 may have been postponed by the pandemic but it's back, and perhaps better than originally planned. Despite the fact that the extravagant opening ceremonies were held October 1, 2021, organizers kept the 2020 name.
The largest global event since the pandemic attracted more than 3 million people in the first month and runs through March 31, 2022.
Here, visitors are able to see the world, experience the world, taste the world and be inspired by what is happening around the world, all in one place. With some 200 pavilions, 200 more food venues and dozens of daily live performances, it's impossible to see and experience everything in just one day.
But if that's all the time you have, put on your walking shoes and get ready. 10Best breaks it down with helpful tips on how to make the most of your 24 hours.
Understanding the Expo
Al Wasl Plaza is the heartbeat of the Expo — Photo courtesy of Mahmoud Khaled/Expo 2020 Dubai
The expo site is massive, covering about 1,080 acres divided into three themed districts: Sustainability, Mobility and Opportunity. In these areas are attractions representing the theme, as well as countries from the U.S. and France to Guinea and Palau, and everywhere in between.
Many of the pavilions are breathtaking feats of architecture.
Housed inside some are elaborate audio-visual presentations, interactive displays, entertainment and countless unique experiences. Innovators are featured along with forums addressing pressing global topics. Sustainability is a common thread and the technology is over the top.
Each week, the Expo has a different theme and seemingly unlimited ways in which to celebrate it.
Al Wasl Plaza is the hub. The world's largest unsupported dome is futuristic, with mesmerizing light displays and a stage hosting shows, concerts and some of the biggest names in entertainment.
Entertainers travel from around the world to perform at Expo 2020 Dubai — Photo courtesy of Roger Anis/Expo 2020 Dubai
Tackling an event this size can be overwhelming, so planning ahead is key. While flexibility is important, having a basic agenda will save you from frustration.
Download the official Expo mobile app. It has helpful planning features and GPS maps to guide you. One of the app's most valuable tools is the Smart Queue, which allows you to schedule visits to pavilions or attractions, cutting out lines with waits as long as two hours.
If you do find yourself in a slow line, the app has fun facts and quizzes pertaining to each pavilion to keep you entertained.
Beginning the day
Indoor escalators travel up the side of the Saudi Arabia Pavilion guiding visitors through a typical village in the country — Photo courtesy of David Jimenez/Expo 2020 Dubai
Decide what you're most interested in and use that as a starting point. If it's the pavilion of the country where you or your family are from, or one that has always intrigued you, begin there and expand out.
Foodies who want to experience cuisine from all over the world will be in heaven and may want to plan the day around dining. You'll find food truck parks, live cooking stations and culinary workshops, even a four- and nine-course Chef's Table experience featuring food prepared by some of the best talents in the world.
If entertainment is more up your alley, you'll find it all day long and all over the Expo – from famous recording stars, to the Harlem Globetrotters, to a variety of cultural performances. Check the entertainment calendar to see where the action is and use this as a planning platform.
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Interactive robots are a high-tech feature of Expo 2020 Dubai — Photo courtesy of Stuart Wilson/Expo 2020 Dubai
The size of a city, Expo streets are wide and well-marked, and there is almost always a friendly face (or robot) to offer directions. Robots roll through the streets for both safety and information. Take advantage of the wide red sidewalks; they're cushioned and a welcomed reprieve for tired feet.
People Mover shuttles are found along the Expo perimeter transporting visitors between districts. You'll also find Expo Explorers outside of Mission Possible and the Opportunity Pavilion. The small, yellow electric trains are another method of transportation, along with golf carts.
A new metro station drops visitors off at the entrance — Photo courtesy of Suneesh Sudhakaran/Expo 2020 Dubai
Plan to arrive when the expo opens at 10 am. The mornings are less crowded, and lines are shorter at popular pavilions. Stay until midnight Sunday through Wednesday, 2 am Thursday and Friday. You'll need every minute.
The Expo site is about halfway between downtown Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. From Dubai, a shiny new metro offers transportation to the Expo entrance. The Red Line is fast and clean, and it costs approximately $2.50 round trip.
Expo Rider public buses are free and leave from numerous stops in and around Dubai.
Besides sustainability, a recurrent theme of Expo 2020 is inclusivity, the notion that we are one world living and working together to make it a better place. Pavilions of countries thought to be adversaries stand side by side in this microcosm of unity.
Expo 2020 is exciting, inspiring, uplifting, educational, entertaining and, at the end of the day, even through the exhaustion, it feels good.