Brisbane Expo '88

Expo '88, Leisure in the Age of Technology

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Quick List Info

Brisbane Expo '88 Official Souvenir Guide

Dates Open - April 30 - Oct. 30, 1988. Open 184 days.

Attendance - 15,766,028 (guests), 18,560,447 (including staff & VIP).

International Participants - 36 countries.

Total Cost - $A532,607,000 million (U.S. $383 million). Additional expenditures by international participants estimated at $A200 million plus $A160 investment spent by corporations. There was a loss on the books, $A224,922,000, subject to resale of the site as of May 1989. Thought after resale that liabilities exceeded Assets by $A11,148 million.

Site Acreage - Main Expo site was 25 hectares (62 acres) with 40 hectares total area (appr. 99 acres), which included 5 hectares for World Expo Park and parking plus 10 hectares for service areas.

Sanction and Type - Sanctioned by the Bureau of International Exhibitions on 12-7-83, as a Special Category Expo. Would be considered a Special theme, Recognized Expo today like on the 2-3 or 7-8 years of the decade.

Ticket Cost - Tickets, Season Pass - $A160 adult, $A95 child/pensioner. 3-day tickets - $55, $35. 1-day ticket - $25, $15. Evening (after 5) - $14, $10.

Photo top center: Ceremony at Brisbane's Expo 88, 1988, Brisbane City Council via Wikipedia Commons. Column Top: Official Souvenir Guidebook for Expo '88, Expo Authority. Column Below: Brisbane Expo Map, 1988, Expo Authority.

Brisbane Expo 1988 Site Map

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History of the Event

Sunsail symbols of Expo '88

Bright seems to the operative word for the Special category Expo that Australia championed in their leisure province of Queensland to celebrate their Bicentennial. There were colored sidewalks, brightly clad Expo guides, vibrant sails over the walkways, and boardwalks along the river. Well attended and well organized with great promotion, the fair on the theme "Leisure in the Age of Technology" met most of its lofty goals. Over fifteen million visitors climbed through the gates to witness the exhibits of thirty-six nations, provinces, and corporations along the ribbon strip of land of the Brisbane River. Vibrant sunsails canopied the site, creating a unique visage, as well as keeping the visitors out of the sun. Originally expected to draw 7.8 million guests, the fair exceeded that expectation by a mile.

There was an amusement section known as World Expo Park, and the entertainment program, both at stage onsite and next door at the Queensland Performing Arts Center was broad. There were 14,000 performance, twice daily parades, nightly fireworks and laser shows, an aquacade, and more.

Above photo. Bright image of the sunsails that adorned the site, and here, adorned official Expo Authority documents, 1988, Expo Authority. Middle: Australia Pavilion at Expo '88, 1988. Courtesy Pinterest. Bottom: Images from Expo '88, 1988, Expo Authority.

Australia Pavilion

Despite the success of the fair (there were more than double the season tickets sold than anticipated), it took its fair share of criticism. Some thought the expo mascot, Expo Oz the Platypus, which was created by Disney, had a bad hat and looked like a duck. On a more serious note, a portion of the Aboriginal community were not happy about the bicentennial celebration at all, as it celebrated two hundred years of white rule. Of course, in an odd, ironic, but let's make peace kind of way, the main show at the Australia pavilion was about them. In the end, there was a budgeted loss, that was dependent on site redevelopment. Some think that the initial goals for the site has not been met, although it has been transformed into parklands, a Convention center, and more.

Historian/Participant Perspective Leonard Levitan, Levitan Design - "Usually everybody, the citizenry and the local politicos, love expos once they are open, but up to opening day, most of the general citizenry including government officials, don't know what to expect and are both critical and curious, anxious and terrified they will be crucified for burning taxpayer money. To assuage their fears and protect themselves, everybody is critical, especially the local press that smells blood. Brisbane had high support from most Queensland citizens, but their premiere, Belke-Peterson, was a maverick, disliked by the rest of Australia. The Expo also ran up against strong protests from the Aborigines who titled it: "Xpo! Death of a Planet" Queensland is the leisure state in Australia so the theme of "Leisure in the Age of Technology" is relevant to the State, but not so much the city. "

Bell - "Reason of pride was that Queensland, large in area but small in population, had the foresight and courage and determination to "Together we'll show the World" achieved and carried out this event far ahead of the other states. They showed no confidence in the event, in deed they were not even going to have a display untill the last moment. It was a first class event, judging by the season passes and amount of overseas visitors who came and stayed.

TV Channel 10 had completed, continuous coverage of events, The opening and closing days ran almost 24 hours. This encourged more to attend again and again. Brochures, handouts, newspaper coverage all helped. (New Ideas) Applauded - some treasures of the Vatican had never left Rome before. Transportation - cleanliness - no litter on site or any surrounding streets. Excellent bus and train services and numerous car parks. Together we'll Show the World encouraged local people to offer voluntary work, put on our best faces, and make this the magnificent occasion it was. It put the Q Back into Queensland (judging by the enormous queues at each Stand) Queenslanders are very patriotic people, and believe in our state. Specially when we achieved something none of the larger populated states would even attempt."

Sources: Official Report of the Expo '88; The Anthropology of World's Fairs; Les Fastes du Progrees; "Oh, So Many Fairs" by Mike Gregory; New York Times; Historical Dictionary of World's Fairs by Alfred Heller.

Images of Expo '88

BIE Special Expo

Brisbane, Expo 1988

International Participants
Nations and Colonies

Australia, Britain, Tonga, New Zealand, Solomon Island, USA, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Japan, People's Republic of China, France, Nepal, Republic of Korea, Cyprus, Federal Republic of Germany, Thailand , Italy, Vanuatu, Canada, USSR, Spain, Kenya, Western Samoa, Hungary, Switzerland, Greece, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Malaysia, Yugoslavia, Brunei, Cook Islands, Singapore, Holy See, Pakistan.

International Organizations - European Community, United Nations.

Provinces, States, and Cities: Queensland. Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Kobe City, Saitama Prefecture, Communities of Australia, South Australia, Australia Capital Territory, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Tasmania, Northern Territories, British Columbia.

Corporate and Other Participants: Japan Technoplaza (Hitachi, Idemitsu, Leisure Development), Univations. Universal Telecasters, Ford, Queensland Teachers Credit Union, Australia Post, Fujitsu Australia, Suncorpx, Australia Airlines, IBM Australia, Cadbury Confectionary, Primary Industries Pavilion, Pavilion of Promise, Captain Cook, FM104, Magna Carta, Opalsearch, Queensland Newspapers, Queensland Maritime Museum, Surgery - The Art, Technoplaza, Telecom, Univations, Westpac.

Note: It is sometimes difficult to tell whether certain nations actually participated in a significant way. Newspaper reports as well as the official guidebook may indicate participation when actual participation did not occur, or occurred minimally. Take the above as a guide, not gospel.

Expo Tidbits
USA renting largest pavilion for $1.8 million. "Sport and Its Science," to have 3 parts: overview of sports in America, sports science section demonstrating condition, fitness, etc., and actual gym with U.S. athletes on hand. 5 million people attended the U.S. pavilion.

Monorail went through the Australia and Queensland pavilion.

The stage performances of the entertainment program were held at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, which was adjacent to the site.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II opened the fair on April 30.

World Expo Park: Amusement zone was open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. with entry included in Expo price. There were three rollercoasters, a mock space ship Orbitron, and other attractions.

Highest Attendance Day was October 29 with 182,762.

There were great intention for the post legacy expo site. The winning bid for post-Expo development went to River City 2000, who were to begin a six year A$1b project with two hotels, world trade center, low-rise offices, "space science" center, amphitheater, exhibition and convention center, commercial space, residential and retail accomodations. There was also to be parkland. Today the site is home to South Bank Parklands with the only remaining structure the Nepal Peace Pagoda. Two of the entertainment venues, Riverstage and Courier Mail (Suncorp) Piazza remain in some form in the parklands. The World Expo Park amusement park continued for one year, but was closed. It now is the site of the Queensland Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Those in Charge

Commissioner General was Honorable Sir Edward Williams. Chairman of Expo Authority was Chairman Sir Llewellyn Edwards with other board members including Deputy Chairman Queensland Co-ordinator-General Sir Sydney Schubert, Queensland Under Treasurer Sir Leo Hielschera, Chief Comm. & Chairman of the Land Adm. Comm. W.J. Baker, Chairman of Directors of National Homes Pty. Ltd. K.J. Driscoll, CBEE, F.G. Maybury, J.B. Reid, A.O., A.S. Blunn. General Manager: Bob Minnikin was in charge of daily running of Expo.

Expo '88 Site

Photo column top: Brightly glad Expo '88 Staff, 1988, Expo Authority. Bottom: Expo '88 site from the Queensland Performing Arts Center end, 1988, Expo Authority.

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