More free tickets available Saturday for Royal Alberta Museum opening

Due to high demand, 8,000 more free tickets will be available online Saturday for the opening week of the new Royal Alberta Museum, Alberta Culture and Tourism said Thursday.

Of the more than 40,000 tickets for the museum's opening six days, 21,500 were available only online. But within six hours of Wednesday's announcement of the Oct. 3 opening date, all 21,500 had been booked.

Another 8,000 online tickets for Oct. 3-8 will be released at 10 a.m. Saturday on the museum's website.

Remaining available free tickets will be reserved to accommodate walk-up visitors and annual pass holders.

No more tickets will be available for the opening weekend due to capacity and safety regulations.

"This is a testament to the love people have for the Royal Alberta Museum," Culture Minister Ricardo Miranda said in a news release.

The museum is at 9810 103A Ave.

People are encouraged to arrive earlier than the time slots they booked, because a large crowd is expected, said Kelsie Tetreau, RAM communications officer.

One thousand tickets have been made available for each one-hour time slot, said Chris Robinson, the museum's executive director.

John Robertson/CBC

Visits do not have time limits, though the museum has a capacity limit, he said. 

The museum's website was overloaded with traffic Wednesday, causing delays and occasionally crashes.

In the first hour, 4,300 tickets were claimed, exceeding expectations, said Robinson.

"We are absolutely excited by the enthusiasm that is being shown," he said. 

"Edmontonians and Albertans like their Royal Alberta Museum," Robinson said. "We have been dark for a while, and there's a lot of expectation."

Regular admission prices will be in effect as of Oct. 9. The admission price is $19 for adults and $48 for families.

The $375-million museum features 72,000 sq. ft. of permanent exhibition space, roughly double the area in the museum's old location, which closed in December 2015.

The Alberta government invested $253 million in the new museum. Another $122.5 million came from the federal government's Building Canada Fund.