Expo Milano 2015 is one of the most important events hosted in Italy after the Winter Olympic Games in 2006. Following years of very controversial management and a very shaky start, the event has turned into a success. In good days more than 250,000 people would patiently wait to sneak inside the most popular pavilions. A very hot and dry summer has made it even more crowded, as many people were seating inside the venue only to seek some relief from heat.
As many of my fellow citizens based in Milan, I have waited the very last days of the event to enjoy the glamour and the flavours of EXPO. And since no fewer people than this summer are expected every day to pay visit to it, here the strategy that I have used not only to survive it, but also to enjoy it.
This is a common sense rule for everything Expo related. You have to select carefully the website to buy your tickets. You can spend 39 euro for a single day pass or 20 euro for a single day pass and a night pass (which I did). As you approach the venue, choose carefully from what entrance you want to get in. You might find yourself queuing for 1h from one side, or 10 minutes from the other side. This is true also for the pavilions and events inside EXPO. If you don't make choices, you'll be simply lost wandering around.
To be lost in EXPO is nowhere near a good experience. And the venue is not small. So for your own mental sanity, get a map! I took it at the entrance from a kind volunteer and used as I was queuing to select the next moves. They have done a great job, it was easy to use and fold.
I am not entering any academic topic, and I am not a theoretical physicist. This is a way simpler finding. We all noticed that you should not measure the queue by how large it is. The line to enter the Chinese Pavilion was as large as the one for Colombia, but 3 times faster. It all depends on the structure of the pavilion and on the way they let people in.
The Pavilion O is one of the best. It represents the history of human kind, focusing on how we use natural resources. It is where the topic of EXPO feeding the planet, energy for life is better expressed. Having said that, do not expect all other pavilions to stick with the topic. Some are more "tourism related". If you don't like them, skip them and don't get mad.
I have seen many visitors leave around 5 or 6pm. So by night many of the long queues are long gone. To enter the Russian pavilion took me 5 minutes instead of 45, and the Slovakian one was way easier too. Not to talk about Pavilion 0. A 2h and 30 minutes line at 6pm became a "no queue entrance" at 9pm.
Not everything worked fine. Around 12:30 I got a little hungry. I wanted to anticipate the lunch break and I entered a surprisingly empty restaurant attached to the Colombian pavilion. All sort of south-american delicious comida. The name was very good, but the dish was small, cold, sad and hard as a rock. So don't go to the Colombian restaurant facing China Pavilion to get lunch. Stay away.
On another note, good news for the Brazilians! Their rope-net is one of the biggest attractions and kids and grown ups like it a lot.
Of all the names you see on your map, choose something out of your comfort zone. I am sure we are all attracted by the Spanish Pavilion where we are likely to get nice tapas but how about Iran. What do we know about Iran? Should we bother? Well, yes. One of the nicest pavilion of EXPO.
At 11am the queue to enter the Japan pavilion was 7 hours long. At around 1pm only to get in line to visit the Emirates pavilion there was a queue managed by the Italian Carabinieri (Militar police). I am sure they are fantastic and that many people have chosen to visit EXPO only to get access to one of these pavilion. But if you want to make the most of a single day, don't invest your time only to enter one pavilion.
I must admit the UK guys have done a great job. A very impressive pavilion that brings you insite a hive and makes you feel like a bee flying in a little nice garden. A very impressive effort and a very nice topic, which you can fully appreciate only if you listen to the staff and guides.
You are in Italy and many Italians as well as tourists associate that to a weird idea of there is no clear rule for queuing. There will be plenty of people that will try to skip the queue, get in line ahead of you, exploiting a gap or some sort of lost in translation, as if a queue has to be translated or explained. Don't get mad, let them be.