LAS VEGAS Area Attractions
Las Vegas, Nevada
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(11/20/20) Bellagio Fountains Testing Color and MGM Resorts Offer Free Parking (MORE...)
(11/8/20) A Look Inside The New Circa Casino
(10/24/20) Casino Blackout, Adult Only Casinos To Open Soon and Live Entertainment Returning (MORE...)
(10/14/20) Caesars Sells Rights to the Bally's Name (MORE...)
(9/28/20) LOST VEGAS - Behind The Scenes Of Star Trek: The Experience
(9/18/20) Park MGM To Reopen As Strips First Smoke Free Casino Resort (MORE...)
Las Vegas News - (11/20/20) According to an interesting photo post on Twitter, Bellagio’s famous fountain show appears to be testing a colored fountain. The famous Bellagio fountains have always been a collection of white lit fountains, without color enhancement, but perhaps they are looking to spice things up after all these years.
In other Vegas news MGM Grand posted an interesting tweet this week to let everyone know that Parking is now FREE at MGM Grand and all MGM Resorts properties. According to the official page for MGM Resorts, Free Self-Parking is now in effect at all the resorts “as a way to welcome back guests.” Note that they won’t go so far as to say that this is a permanent change, and instead say that “We don’t have a timeline regarding future plans for changes” to the parking policy.
(10/24/20) We’ve got a small batch of news from Las Vegas to share this weekend. For starters it was reported that The Cromwell will reopen to guests on Oct. 29th as the first “adults only” property on the Las Vegas Strip. The Cromwell is located right across the street from Ballys and while only guests age 21+ will be welcome to stay in the hotel and visit the casino floor, guests of all ages are still welcome to dine at the GIADA restaurant.
Adults Only may be the new niche feature some guests are looking for as the brand new CIRCA hotel in downtown Las Vegas is also set to open on Oct. 28th to offer an adults only experience as well.
In other news, guests staying at the nearby PARIS resort were forced to evacuate on Thursday night when the resort experienced a building-wide power outage and plunged into darkness sometime between 8-9pm. Power was restored just before 10pm and guests were allowed to return to their rooms.
On a more positive note, Caesars Entertainment has announced that a variety of live entertainment options will return to their Caesars Palace, Harrah’s and Flamingo casino properties. This includes the return of the “Absinthe” cirque style show at Caesars, “X Country” and “Tape Face” from America’s Got Talent at Harrahs, Miff the Magic Dragon at the Flamingo, in addition to a number of smaller musical acts that will perform in the various bars and lounges. With Live Entertainment taking such a major hit from COVID restrictions, it is really good to see some live entertainment options return at last, especially for the cast and crew who have been desperate to return to work for months.
(10/14/20) According to news reports Caesars Entertainment has now sold the rights to the Bally’s name to hedge-fund investor Soo Kim to use for his Twin River Worldwide Holdings casino company who had also purchased the Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel & Casino not long ago for $25 million. The rights deal gives Twin River the rights to use the Bally’s brand for any of their current or future properties. That said, the deal does not require Caesars to rename their Bally’s casino in Las Vegas, so for now Bally’s Las Vegas will remain as is and still part of the Caesars gaming empire, where the merger with Eldorado was reported to be completed back in late July.
Twin River spent some extra cash with Eldorado too it seems when they bought the Atlantic City Bally’s from them, they also bought the Eldorado casino in Louisiana and the Montbleu casino in Lake Tahoe. Along with other casinos the group has been buying elsewhere, it sounds like they plan on rebranding most of these into new “Bally’s” locations.
(9/28/20) Las Vegas themed attraction fans will always fondly remember the lost Star Trek: The Experience attraction. It is so unfortunate that the attraction was closed and demolished simply because Viacom decided they didn’t want to be in the theme park business any longer when they opted to sell off their chain of parks to Cedar Fair, and simply just gave up on the Star Trek attraction in Las Vegas.
A great video was discovered on YouTube that shows off almost 30 minutes of behind the scenes footage shot within the attraction during the build and testing phase, including a lot of detailed footage showing off just how that mind-blowing Transporter effect worked, as seen from the crew member side of the effect. Check out the video below and relive the fond memories.
(9/18/20) Park MGM has confirmed that the casino will reopen to the public once again on Sept. 30th. In perhaps an even better piece of news, they have also announced that when they do reopen, Park MGM (and NoMad Las Vegas) will be the first fully smoke-free casino resort on the Las Vegas Strip. They also confirm that complimentary self-parking will also be available for all guests.
(9/4/20) According to the local news the creator of the old Fright Dome haunt event that used to take place inside the Circus Circus Adventuredome is back with an all new attraction for 2020. It will be called “Fright Ride” take guests on an immersive ride-through experience inside a 75,000 sqft facility that will be transformed into a terrifying haunted Las Vegas attraction. Look for Fright Ride to be located on Industrial Road and Wyoming Ave, open select nights from 6:30pm to Midnight between Oct. 1 - 31, 2020.
According to the attraction’s creator, Jason Egan, they saw early on what was happening in 2020 and designed the new Fright Ride to be a socially distanced attraction with an experience made to follow COVID-19 safety protocols. You wont be driving your own car here though… you’ll enter a Research Lab and be taken to a Nurse’s Station where you will be diagnosed and then board research transport vehicles that will transport you through the attraction.
Reservations are required as availability will be limited each night, with general admission starting at $24.99. Visit the official website for more information.
(8/17/20) A quick update on the Las Vegas hotel closure story. According to the latest updates for The Mirage, the website now states that The Mirage is set to reopen on August 27, 2020.
(8/16/20) According to local news reports, only a small group of major casinos in Vegas have not reopened at this time, but there are also no immediate plans to reopen any of these properties at the moment. The list includes a number of what would be considered more casinos for the local residents such as a few Stations properties run by the Feritta family or those owned by Boyd. Just off the Strip however the two big closures that stick out are The Palms (Feritta) and Rio (Caesars). Caesars also has some interesting situations going on the Strip itself, with The Cromwell, Planet Hollywood and the Linq hotels closed. The later of the two are more interesting as the mall inside Planet Hollywood is open, but the hotel and casino are closed. Linq on the other hand has opened the retail Linq area outside the casino, and has opened the casino itself, but is keeping the hotel closed. The popular rumor still suggest that they may be in talks with Hard Rock to possibly buy the Planet Hollywood casino from them. Then there is MGM Resorts, who is keeping Park MGM closed on the south end of the strip, but is strangely also keeping the once popular Mirage casino closed in the middle of the strip. MGM says they have no current timeline to reopen either property just yet, but it does make me wonder if they could be in talks to possibly sell off The Mirage. Of course it also wouldn’t surprise me if Hard Rock was also kicking the tires of The Mirage as a possible alternate site for a new Hard Rock Casino if the talks for the Planet Hollywood site fall through.
(8/15/20) According to the local news, the Wynn casino in Las Vegas has announced that their famous La Reve show is closing permanently. About 275 cast and crew members of the show were informed of the unfortunate news via an online conference call on Friday afternoon. This is sad news, but another very telling moment about the sad state of the entertainment industry and the impact is having on the performers, technicians and creatives who normally are able to make a living and have been unable to do so due to the pandemic.
I’m glad I can say I caught the show fairly early on in the run back in 2005 and it was a fantastic production that really impressed me at the time and opened my mind about the shape and form a theater show could take. According to the article. Wynn has no immediate plans for the unique La Reve Theater space that was designed specifically for the show.
(8/3/20) For Vegas area haunt fans… the Freaking Bros have announced that for the first time they will not open a haunt attraction in 2020. The current COVID-19 regulations “will not allow us to present our horror shows with the intensity that we are famous for, nor can we guarantee a way to protect our patrons or our valued employees and volunteers properly during this pandemic.” You can read the rest of their official statement here.
(7/30/20) According to the local news the Clark County Commission approved an application for a magician who wants to set up a show in a tent that will include three tigers on the Strip for a six-month run. The show will be from magician Jay Owenhouse and be located across the strip from Mandalay Bay, not far from where the track pieces of the former Speed: The Ride coaster are located.
(7/12/20) The local news confirms that the long-time deal in process that would see El Dorado Resorts buy Caesar’s Entertainment as part of a $17.3 billion merger deal has been given the final approval needed from the Nevada casino regulators to move forwards. Previously the deal was also approved by the Federal Trade Commission on the condition that El Dorado sell off certain existing properties in Kansas City, Lake Tahoe and Louisiana. It was also reported that the deal was approved by the Indiana Gaming Commission as well.
The deal just needs final approval from regulators in New Jersey to proceed, which is expected to be coming very soon. The new merged company that will still trade under the name Caesars Entertainment Inc, will pass MGM Resorts to become the world’s largest casino company.
(7/1/20) I would nothing more than to say that the follow rumor being posted is entirely false, but time and time-again we have seen Las Vegas casino giants toss aside all elements of theming of the various casinos in their empires in favor of making something plain and generic. So while I hope this proves to be false, Vital Vegas has reported rumors that MGM Resorts could possibly be planning the future demise of the LUXOR Casino.
I can’t even begin to fathom why on Earth they would even think that demolishing one of the most iconic buildings in the entire world is a good idea. The giant pyramid shaped Luxor casino is easily one of the most well known man-made structures on the planet, in both the daytime for it’s themed exterior as well as at night where one of the brightest lights on the planet shoots from the top of the pyramid into space.
Making this rumor worse is the fact that the report also says that MGM has their eye set on doing the same thing to the castle-themed Excalibur casino right next door.
This kind of thing makes me shake my head and almost want to cry, but it falls in line with the blatant attempts by MGM Resorts over the years to attempt to make all their properties generic and as plain as possible. I just can’t understand the appeal of this, as when I was a SoCal local and would frequently visit Las Vegas, I was always more drawn to try out the different and fun themed casinos… with Luxor and Excalibur being the two I probably stayed at the most back in the 90s. Meanwhile I wouldn’t be caught dead staying at the plain and boring looking MGM Grand when I could stay in a castle, maybe in one of the skyscrapers of New York-New York, or the mardi-gras atmosphere of Rio, the magical Mirage, or even in the Roman empire of Caesar’s Palace. Apparently MGM learned nothing from turning the Monte Carlo into the generic “Park MGM”, which is said to have been hurting for business ever since.
So if you have time and want to stay in the Luxor pyramid (and yes, the elevators actually do go up at an angle and provide a bit of a unique experience), then you might want to get yourself to Vegas sometime soon. And do let them know how much you appreciate the experience of staying at a themed resort over just a plain old casino.
(6/14/20) Time to do a little run down the Las Vegas Strip and lets see which major casinos are open, who is getting ready to open and who isn’t at this time. In general though, it seems that the demand for Las Vegas is strong and properties are now pushing up their schedules to open faster than originally anticipated. Let's start at the south end of the Strip…
Mandalay Bay - Opening July 1, 2020
Luxor - Opening June 25, 2020
Excalibur - NOW OPEN
Tropicanna - Closed, No Set Date To Reopen
New York-New York - NOW OPEN
MGM Grand - NOW OPEN
Park MGM - Closed, No Set Date To Reopen
Aria - Opening July 1, 2020
Cosmopolitan - NOW OPEN
Planet Hollywood - Closed, No Set Date To Reopen
Bellagio - NOW OPEN
Paris - June 18, 2020
Ballys - Closed, No Set Date To Reopen
Caesars Palace - NOW OPEN
Flamingo - NOW OPEN
LINQ - Casino Floor NOW OPEN, Hotel on July 1, 2020
Harrah’s - NOW OPEN
Mirage - Closed, No Set Date To Reopen
T.I. - NOW OPEN
Venetian / Palazzo - NOW OPEN
Wynn / Encore - NOW OPEN
Circus Circus - NOW OPEN
Sahara - NOW OPEN
Stratosphere Tower - NOW OPEN
(6/11/20) We’ve mentioned before about how Elon Musk’s ‘The Boring Company’ was creating two massive tunnels to run between the new and old Convention Center sites, where guests will be moved along at high speed on variants electric Tesla vehicles built for the tunnels. According to this article, not only have they finished both tunnels, but now two new sites in Las Vegas are filing paperwork to have their own tunnels built to connect to the Convention Center prospect, one to run under Wynn’s Encore resort building and another to follow that would run to the new Resorts World Las Vegas resort.
(6/8/20) It has been awhile since I’ve been able to post an update about the situation in Las Vegas, mostly because things were changing and happening so quickly it was hard to keep track of it all. The bottom line though is that many of the big casinos on the Las Vegas Strip and in the Downtown / Fremont Street area are now reopen for business.
Not all of them, but a good enough number that busines is Vegas is starting to boom once again, in a good way. So good in fact that several casinos that were phased to open later are now preparing to open much sooner because the demand from those arriving and placing new reservations to visit soon has been very encouraging. As for the big two chains, Caesar’s has opened Caesars Palace, The Flamingo and Harrah’s so far, while MGM has opened Bellagio, New York-New York and MGM Grand, they are also planning to reopen Excalibur on June 11.
Each casino is said to be currently limiting their capacity levels to be around 35% at the moment.
There have been changes made however, for example many Buffets are closed and possibly gone forever. Free Parking looks to be back at just about every casino as well which is great news. If you are planning to visit you may also want to ask about those annoying ‘Resort Fees’ added to your hotel bill, as several resorts are claiming to not be charging them for the time being, so you will want to ask and get confirmation about this policy ahead of time to find your best room value.
While the change is rumored only at this point, one of the most ground-breaking changes may be yet to come when the Park MGM (formerly the Monte Carlo) reopens. If the rumor holds true Park MGM may reopen as the first 100% non-smoking casino on the Las Vegas Strip. In a world suffering from a respiratory based pandemic, this experiment could prove to be a huge win.
(5/29/20) Good news for Las Vegas waterpark fans, Cowabunga Bay Las Vegas has announced that their 2020 season will now begin on June 1st. The park will also feature season passholder preview days on May 29, 30 and 31st from 11am to 6pm.
(5/20/20) The two big waterparks in Las Vegas, Cowabunga Bay and Wet ‘n’ Wild Las Vegas, are awaiting final word from the Nevada governor to determine when they can reopen the parks. While Cowabunga is hoping to reopen sometime between Memorial day and June 1st, Wet ‘n’ Wild is has their eyes on a possible June 15th date, but everything is still very fluid.
According to health studies the COVID-19 virus ‘cannot survive in the water’ if an aquatic venue is property disinfected, so they feel pretty good about their chances of opening sooner than later. Cowabunga Bay plans to double the park’s janitorial staff to ensure surfaces in the park are disinfected on a regular schedule throughout the day. Both parks also plan on temperature screening guests before they can enter and will offer an array of touch-free dispensers for sunscreen, hand soap and sanitizer throughout the parks when they reopen.
(5/13/20) In an interesting press release, Hard Rock International has struck a deal with Juniper Capital to gain the “full intellectual property rights” to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino brand in Las Vegas. The deals with HRI the full rights to the brand, memorabilia, signage and merchandise along with any other IP rights for affiliated restaurants and entertainment trademarks, website domains and more.
In other words, Hard Rock International now has regained the full rights to develop and operate their own Hard Rock branded casino & resort in Las Vegas. This falls in line with earlier reports that upon the sale of the original Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas to Virgin, that Hard Rock International was looking to revive the brand under their own leadership, either as a new location or as the possible buyout of an existing property that would be transformed into a new Hard Rock Casino.
(5/10/20) Las Vegas coasters fans will remember that last year an auction apparently took place to sell off a bunch of scrap metal and materials in a lot just off the Strip, across from Mandalay Bay, which included all the pieces of the former Speed: The Ride launched coaster than once ran at the Sahara. One of our readers dropped by the site over the weekend and was surprised to find that all the supports and track pieces for Speed: The Ride are actually STILL THERE, basking in the Las Vegas sun. Check out the photos below.
(5/5/20) According to comments made by MGM Resorts’ CEO, the Bellagio and New York-New York casinos will likely be the first two resorts the company reopens. From there they will reopen the rest slowly as they are needed, as tourism returns to the city. You can also plan on big shows and sporting events to be on hold for a time.
(5/4/20) Curious to see what the Las Vegas Strip looks like during the Coronavirus pandemic? A friend of ours sent in a five minute video shot as they drove South down the Las Vegas Strip, starting at the Saraha and it goes all the way down the strip to stop at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign just past the Mandalay Bay resort. Enjoy!
(4/29/20) The Governor of Nevada has announced that he plans on extending the state’s Stay-At-Home order, which was set to expire at the end of April. Sometime tomorrow he will announced a new “Roadmap to Recovery” program for the state that will see some restrictions lifted and begin a multi-phase program towards reopening the state’s businesses. While we don’t know the details yet, he did mention that the phased reopening of casinos would not take place until the 3rd or 4th phase of the plan.
One thing worth mentioning is that while outspoken Mayor Goodman of Las Vegas is pushing to reopen now, her area of control is only the “downtown” area of Las Vegas, including Fremont Street. The “Las Vegas Strip” is actually part of Clark County and under different political control.
Before they reopen Nevada’s casino industry the state wants to see the number of new cases of COVID-19 in decline for a time. Currently they say the state’s new case numbers seem to have plateaued, while hospitalization numbers have just started to decline. So while things may be starting to move in the right direction, they want to see everything move in the right direction for a few weeks before they are ready to let the casinos reopen. With that in mind, May seems unrealistic, and late June to July looking more favorable right now. I would think that smaller casinos located at locations off-the strip, elsewhere in the state could possibly reopen much sooner than the big Strip casinos. (Maybe Buffalo Bills at Stateline? But they better reopen the Desperado coaster).
(4/27/20) VitalVegas has posted details of an interesting new survey the MGM Resorts have sent out to their highest player reward members tiers. They seem to be sending out feelers to get an idea of what it will take to get guests to return to Las Vegas. Questions asked bring up interesting topics like free parking during guest stays, free credits for game play and even the idea of only allowing resort guests on property for a time. Other questions ask for opinions about on-site medical staff, food service options and various new Covid-19 related procedures such as masks, temperature checks, anti-viral room cleaning and more. Perhaps the most shocking question of all is that they actually mentioned the idea of putting a no-smoking policy in efect for the entire resort since Covid-19 attacks the respiratory system.
(4/25/20) While the Nevada governor has not issued new orders as of yet to extend the closure of non-essential businesses, he did mention in a recent video that he felt they were not ready to reopen any casinos. Meanwhile Las Vegas and much of the strip casino empires are chomping at the bit to reopen.
Treasure Island’s website says that they are taking reservations for new arrivals starting May 15th, 2020, though this is subject to change.
Caesars Palace is also accepting new reservations starting May 15, 2020.
The Cosmopolitan is also taking new reservations starting May 15, 2020.
The Wynn is taking new reservations starting May 22, 2020.
The various MGM Resorts are not accepting any new reservations until June 1, 2020.
Other casinos such as The Venetian and Tropicanna are not accepting any new reservations at all at this time.
(4/20/20) The Wynn casinos have posted a lengthy and detailed 23-page proposal about how they plan on changing their casino and resort operations once they reopen. Vital Vegas goes over the highlights for you to talk about some of the biggest changes in store. Wynn’s CEO is also calling upon Nevada’s governor to allow the Las Vegas Strip to begin to reopen by mid to late May, provided new extensive safety procedures are put into place.
(4/19/20) While it hasn’t been officially confirmed yet, the latest rumors about the fate of The Drew in Las Vegas indicate that the project may be dead in the water again. The Drew started out life as the Fontainebleau in 2005 when it was first announced with a planned 2008 opening date. The start of construction was pushed back until early 2007 and stopped in 2009 when the project filed bankruptcy. From there it sat idle for almost a decade before getting purchased and construction began again in 2018 with a new name and hopes to open in 2020, then pushed back to late 2022. Hopefully they will find a way to get it back on track again and finish the project eventually, as I believe the owners were trying to finalize a final construction loan earlier this year to finish it, just before the arrival of the latest coronavirus threw everything into a tizzy.
(4/18/20) While there's still time for the Nevada Governor to extend his shutdown orders that are currently sent to last through April 30th, many of the big casinos in Las Vegas are already accepting reservations for new stays starting on May 1st. For the big casino chains from MGM and Caesars, this will mean opening their properties in phases, as the need rises, rather than opening everything at once. For example, according to a tweet from Vital Vegas, MGM Resorts will likely open their Bellagio and Excalibur properties first. This makes sense, as the two are at the opposite end of the price/luxury range from each other, and each featuring just shy of 4,000 rooms. Not too big… not too small, and both are visually iconic features of the Las Vegas skyline.
May 1st or not, when the casinos do open, expect some changes. Expect to have your temperature taken before being allowed inside, and depending on the property, this may require limiting the number of entrances into the resort. All staff will likely be wearing masks and gloves, from the front desk to the gaming tables. Speaking of the tables, expect there to be fewer of them, and seating at the tables may be reduced as much as 50%.
The Governor may have teased another extension earlier this week when he stated that, “I cannot end the shutdown until I feel confident we're in a good position as it relates to the spread of the virus”.
(4/13/20) Forbes has posted an article showing off how casino operations have resumed in Macau once again. Currently casino operations are only running at a fraction of the normal pace due to the huge drop in visitors to the area at the moment. Instead of seeing over 100,000 guests per day, Macau is currently only getting about 50,000 guests per week. Guests who do arrive have to undergo temperature checks, show clear health screenings and wear face masks on the gaming floor, as well as during any bus and taxi rides. Potential tourists arriving from select countries also must undergo a 14-day quarantine procedure upon entering Macau before they can do anything else.
The casino floors have been rearranged with fewer gaming tables, and are much more spread out, and many games now offer fewer seats. Since transportation options to Macau are also limited right now, they have even gone the route of offering local permanent residents gaming cards pre-loaded with $327 to spend on the games to help keep business flowing through the doors.
It does make you wonder if this is a view of how things might be in Las Vegas when it eventually reopens.
(4/8/20) According to this local report, the MGM Resorts have cancelled or postponed all shows that were slated to take place at their Las Vegas properties through to May 10th. The list includes Lady Gaga, David Copperfield, Blue Man Group, Cirque Du Soleil shows and more. Currently MGM is currently accepting new room reservations for dates starting on May 1st.
(4/3/20) While times are tough right now for many people and companies, it is a pleasure to see which companies out there are going the extra mile to ensure that their staff are being taken care of through this crisis. Case in point today, a letter posted to twitter from VitalVegas from the Las Vegas Sands Corp company who own the Sands convention center as well as the Venetian and Palazzo casino resorts. When the crisis is over and the world tries to return to normal, it’s the things like this that people will remember when making choices about which businesses to support.
On a somewhat related note… those who make the living in the entertainment business in town are on edge about what the future may hold. It isn’t enough to simply reopen the casinos, but tourism will have to return to Vegas in force before things get back to normal. With that in mind, the performers and crews of just about every show in Vegas are unsure about is to come. The general feeling is that many shows in town may simply never reopen again. Some may be forced to wait until the crowds return, others may simply depend on which resorts choose to reopen and in what order, as the Las Vegas Strip is simply not going to reopen at 100% capacity overnight.
(4/2/20) Much like how I’ve anticipated that we wont see all four Walt Disney World theme parks reopen on the same day once the Stay-At-Home orders are over, Vital Vegas reports that they believe we will see a similar phased opening play out in Las Vegas with the various casinos. According to this tweet, the rumors they’re hearing is that Caesars will likely reopen Caesars Palace and LINQ first, and keep Harrah’s and the Flamingo closed until there is enough demand.
With all the properties owned by MGM Resorts, I would image we will see a similar plan of action when it is time to reopen those casinos as well, with the bigger and more profitable in-demand locations to reopen first.
(4/1/20) I had a feeling this was coming sooner or later, but the Gov. Sisollak of Nevada has extended the state’s “Stay At Home” directive until April 30th. Prior to today, the original 30-day order was to end on April 18th. This pushes back all casino re-openings until at least May 1st, 2020.
(3/31/20) The Wynn casinos sent out a long newsletter (read here) to their fans yesterday that ended with a possible reopening date. The last section of the newsletter titled, “Looking Ahead” mentions that they are now accepting new bookings for “any arrival date after April 17, 2020”. While this is sooner than most attractions believe they will reopen, this would actually be the end of the 30-day closure order of all casinos from the Nevada state Governor.
Just something to keep an eye on as this date grows closer, as it would apply to all the casinos in the state unless the Governor extends the closure.
(3/28/20) While the Las Vegas casinos sleep, one new business deal took place regarding a sale of the Tropicanna. This appears to be yet another lease-back deal, as the owners of the Tropicanna, Penn National Gaming, has sold the casino to a real estate investment trust, Gaming & Leisure Properties, Inc.
Penn will continue to operate the casino and instead of a lump sum from the REIT, they will be getting $337.5 million in “rent credits” from the new owners. According to Vital Vegas who posted the story, this seems to be a move that has been in the works for awhile, but likely was pushed ahead quickly to avoid financial problems for the casino due to the Coronavirus shut-down. Meanwhile Penn has said they will be furloughing about 26,000 employees across their company’s properties (41 casinos in 19 states) starting on April 1st.
(3/23/20) While the shutdown in Nevada has turned Las Vegas into something of a ghost town, one thing that hasn't stopped yet in Vegas is several of the high profile construction projects. Work on these projects have been allowed to continue as long as the workers practice social distancing. According to this article construction is still pushing ahead on the $2 billion Allegiant Stadium for the Las Vegas Raiders, the $980 million expansion to the Las Vegas Convention Center (including the underground tunnels from Elon Musk’s Boring Company), the $4.3 billion Resorts World Las Vegas resort and the new Circa Casino resort under construction off Fremont Street.
I don’t know if work is still ongoing on the MSG Sphere, but you can see an amazing picture of it taken from the air this past week embedded below.
(3/18/20) Following a statement from the Governor of Nevada on Tuesday evening, all casinos as well as every other “non-essential” business in the state is ordered to shut down for 30 days.
(3/17/20) Amid rumors that most other major casinos in Las Vegas could soon shut down, a statement posted to the Caesar’s Entertainment website says their hotels, casinos and even the High Roller observation wheel and Eiffel Tower are still currently open. However, live ticketed entertainment productions are closed until the end of the month along with all Buffets and select restaurants within the chain. The list of Caesar’s hotels includes: Caesar’s Palace, Bally’s, The Cromwell, Flamingo, Harrah’s, The Linq, Nobu, Paris and Planet Hollywood. So far Treasure Island (T.I) and Circus Circus also seem to be staying open, and unless they’ve forgotten to update their website, they still have open hours posted for the Adventuredome theme park.
With that said, a few other casinos have opted to announce closures. This list includes the Venetian, Palazzo and the Cosmopolitan which all plan to stay closed until April 1.
Keep in mind that Nevada Governor, Steve Sisolak, is slated to make an announcement about new “proactive” measures sometime around 6pm PST (9EST), so everything could change drastically later tonight.
(3/16/20) Over the last 12 hours or so a couple of crazy announcements have come out of Las Vegas that I did not anticipate that we would see happen anytime soon.
Sunday evening the Wynn company announced that they would be temporarily closing both the Wynn Las Vegas and the Encore Las Vegas casino resorts as part of efforts to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The closure of both resorts will begin at 6pm on Tuesday, March 17th and is expected to last at least two weeks.
The impact of this unusual news went even bigger when about an hour later MGM Resorts announced that they too would be temporarily suspending operations at all of their Las Vegas properties, which all together make up about half of the hotel rooms on the Strip. The casino floors will begin to close today, and hotel operations will close on Tuesday, March 17th. MGM Resorts has not set an opening date, but as of this moment their website says they are only taking new reservations for dates starting on April 2nd and beyond. The MGM Resorts in Las Vegas affected include the MGM Grand (6,852 rooms), ARIA (4,004 rooms), Bellagio (3,993 rooms), Delano (1,118 rooms), Excalibur (3,981 rooms), Luxor (4,400 rooms), Mandalay Bay (3,211 rooms), New York-New York (2,024 rooms), NoMad, Park MGM/NoMad (2,700 rooms), The Mirage (3,044 rooms), The Signature (1,728 rooms) and Vdara (1,495 rooms).
(3/15/20) If you were planning to visit Las Vegas during this period of attraction closures, your entertainment options will now be limited. Cirque du Soleil, the force behind many of the Strips most popular shows, has announced that they are suspending operations for their shows starting today until at least the end of the month. The shows affected would be “O” at the Bellagio, “KA” at MGM Grand, “The Beatles LOVE” at the Mirage, “Mystere” at T.I., “Zumanity” at New York-New York, and “Michael Jackson ONE” at Mandalay Bay. As previously noted, “R.U.N.” at Luxor ended their run already on March 8th.
According to Cirque du Soleil they are also suspending all their various shows, including the Blue Man Group shows, that are in performance in various locations across the globe.
As for Las Vegas, many other major headline shows have also announced temporary shut-downs including Penn and Teller and David Copperfield as well as a long list of planned concerts over the next couple weeks. As the list of things being closed seems to grow every few hours, please check the status of anything before trying to visit if you are in town.
(3/11/20) More interesting things are starting to happen in Las Vegas as the local news confirmed that MGM Resorts will actually soon close down the buffets at several of their major casino resorts along the Las Vegas Strip. The claim is that they are closing them to help prevent the potential spread of the coronavirus, but other sources claim this may be more of a cost-cutting measure.
Starting March 15th, MGM Resorts reports that the buffets at Aria, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, Luxor and Excalbur will close “temporarily”. I’m sure the other players in town will be monitoring the situation and how it impacts things before making their own changes, if any. For now, Carsar’s Entertainment says that the buffets at their properties will remain open as they incorporate new cleaning and hygiene protocols into all their operations.
(3/7/20) Despite increasing and very vocal guest satisfaction about this practice, four of the Caesars properties raised their resort fees this past week. The already pricy Resort Fees at the Linq, Harrah’s Las Vegas, Flamingo and Bally’s have risen to $37 a night, and with tax on top of that guests are now being hit for an extra $41.95 per night. The company excuse is that they are raising them to be ‘in line’ with the fees charged by their competition, which is currently $39 a night at The Mirage and MGM Grand.
(1/31/20) An auction to sell off the 38.5 acres of empty property that sits right across the street from the Mandalay Bay casino will soon take place as part of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy auction. While on the surface you would think this might be a perfect site for a major new casino resort, the property sits right next to the McCarran International Airport property, which means that the FAA will impose height restrictions on anything that might go there.
(1/17/20) According to the local news, the underground tunnel being dug 40 feet down by The Boring Company is now about halfway done. The new transportation system will move guests between three underground stations that attach the segments of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Currently the section of the tunnel already complete is about the length of six football fields. The hope is that the $52.5 million tunnel transportation system will be up and running in time for the 2021 CES show next January.
(1/16/20) Cityneon Holdings, the company behind Victory Hill Exhibitions, announced this week that they have purchased Animax Designs, an animatronic and figure design company based in Nashville, TN. According to this article Victory Hill has been a long-time customer of Animax, who builds the dinosaur figures for their Jurassic World exhibits and much more.
Speaking of Victory Hill Exhibitions, the group has attractions world-wide featuring top level IPs like Avengers, Transformers, Hunger Games and Jurassic World. While these are located at major cities throughout the world, perhaps the one location that features the most might be Las Vegas which isn’t surprising as I believe that is also their North American HQ.
Speaking of which a report from Vital Vegas also mentions some good gossip about their Vegas offerings as well. According to this report the Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. attraction at T.I. is expected to close this month for a “major overhaul” that will see it reopen in time for Summer 2020. Meanwhile a new Transformers attraction is also expected to open at T.I. in March 2020. They also claim that one of the new Jurassic World attractions is also rumored to be in development for somewhere in Las Vegas as well, possibly at The Venetian. (And while we listing their Vegas attractions, they also have a Hungers Games attraction at MGM Grand)
(1/15/20) The first details of yet another mega casino deal involving MGM Resorts came out a few hours ago. The company announced that they would be selling the MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay casino resorts to a new “joint venture” company they have formed in a partnership with Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust and their own spin-off company, MGM Growth Properties.
MGM Growth Properties is a separate company that owns the actual casino properties and then leases them back to MGM Resorts. Mandalay Bay was one of the properties that they MGM GP owned, but they are moving it over to the new joint venture with Blackstone REIT along with the newly sold MGM Grand itself in a deal worth an estimated $2.5 billion. From the sound of it, this is a similar deal to the one MGM previously worked out with Blackstone REIT for the Bellagio casino, though I’m not sure if the joint company that now owns the Bellagio is the same one that will jointly own MGM Grand and Mandalay bay or not.
Other casinos in Las Vegas currently owned by MGM GP include: Excalibur, Luxor, The Mirage, New-York, New-York and Park MGM.
(1/14/20) Catching up on the latest Vegas news, it seems a couple of big projects have been pretty much canceled. This includes the Kind Heaven attraction that I was really hoping would make it, as well as the plans for that “4th” Wynn casino project. Of course I called it the “4th” because at the time it was first announced, Steve Wynn was still calling the shots and trying to build that beach resort project next to the Wynn as the 3rd casino, but that too was canceled long ago.
There have also been a few more delays announced to various projects. In addition to the previously mentioned delay of Resorts World to 2021, the MGM Sphere arena has also been pushed back a year to 2021. The Drew casino has also been delayed, but until 2022.
(12/11/19) For those familiar with the long drive from SoCal to Las Vegas, a new travel option appears to be moving forward. For years they have talked about building some kind of high-speed train route to cover that desolate expanse in record-time, and now it looks like plans are moving ahead to seriously bring that effort to life… or at least for part of the journey.
According to this article Virgin Trains USA could break ground in the second half of 2020 on plans to build a new 170-mile route that would run a high speed train from the Victorville, CA area to Las Vegas. The project is being aided by a $3.25 billion tax-exempt bond from the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank to be used towards paying for infrastructure on the California side of the project. The plans call for a train able to run up to 180mph along the route, which would cover the 170 mile distance in just 90 minutes.
Work would begin first in California and not even begin in Nevada until about a year or so later, as they only have to build the station and 35 miles of track in that state, with a goal of having the $4.8 billion project finished by 2023. The plan is to place much of the California track between the lanes of I-15, and move over to run along the eastern side of the freeway once in Nevada, with the station to be located somewhere on Las Vegas Blvd between Blue Diamond and Warm Springs Rd.
While this is all great and all, it does make me wonder how many people will still make the drive out to Victorville and opt to leave their cars there to finish the route by train. Maybe if the route can be expanded to head closer into the LA or down towards San Diego along I-15, there would be even greater use for it.
(12/9/19) According to reports Caesars has completed the sale of the Rio casino in Las Vegas to a company affiliated with “Dreamscape Companies” owned by Eric Birnbaum for $516 million. As part of the agreement, Caesars will operate the Rio for at least two more years, and pay $45 million per year in rent, with an option in place to extend the deal for a third year. So essentially it will still be business as usual at the Rio, which will keep the existing Caesars Rewards loyality program in effect while they operate the casino, and will keep the World Series of Poker here through to 2020.
(11/21/19) Blackstone Real Estate has announced that they have completed the previously announced deal to purchase the Bellagio from MGM Resorts for $4.25 Billion, along with a lease-back to MGM Resorts to continue to manage and operate the property.
(11/16/19) According to a new press release Eldorado Resorts and Caesars Entertainment announced that at separate Special Meetings of Stockholders held on Friday, both groups approved the needed transactions that would allow for Eldorado to move ahead with their acquisition of Caesars. The deal is expected to be finalized sometime in the first half of 2020, pending regulatory approvals.
(11/9/19) Next time you visit Las Vegas you may want to really take a moment to read over your bill before you sign it, because a new scheme is on the rise that you need to be aware of. According to the LA Times, a number of restaurants are now adding odd mystery fees to your bill, sometimes listed as a “concession fee”, a “venue free” or even the mysterious sounding, “CNF”, which adds as much as 5% onto your bill, after tax is applied.
Apparently you are not required to pay these fees and if you spot one, you can ask the server to remove it from your bill, because it is not anything they are mandated by law to charge, but instead is simply a way to increase their profits. According to the article the only official charges you should see are sales tax and a venue fee if there is live music being played and ‘everything else is made up”. So watch your bill, and tweet it out on social media if you encounter a restaurant or bar on the strip partaking in this shady practice to let everyone know to avoid them. The “nickel and diming” trend in Vegas from the casinos is bad enough, so doesn’t help that image at all.
(10/27/19) According to this report the CEO of Hard Rock International has now stated that they are looking into a possible property purchase somewhere along the Las Vegas Strip. The current Hard Rock Hotel and Casino was purchased by Virgin Hotels last year and will close in February 2020 to undergo an 8-month long transformation into a new Virgin Hotel branded resort. No details were given about where on the Strip that Hard Rock might be considering as a prime location to plant a new flag, or if they would be looking to build from scratch or transform an existing property.
A number of casino resort properties have been swapping owners as of late, and you can add The Rio to that list as well. Caesars has announced that they are selling The Rio casino to a New York real estate firm called Imperial Companies for $516.3 million, and according to this article it is also suspected that Caesar’s may be mulling over the idea of selling off the Planet Hollywood property as well. Funny enough, the CEO of Hard Rock did mention the Planet Hollywood site when talking about a possible future purchase for the Hard Rock brand. As for The Rio, the deal will see Caesar’s sell the cassino and then lease it back and keep running it for the next two years, but beyond that? No one knows as Caesar’s own empire is currently in the process of being purchased by Eldorado Resorts for $17.3 billion.
(10/16/19) MGM Resorts has signed a couple of very large and interesting deals this week.
For starters, the rumors have been confirmed and they are selling the Circus Circus Las Vegas property (along with the attached Adventuredome theme park) to an “affiliate” company of T.I. owner, Phil Ruffin, for about $825 million.
Meanwhile they have also struck an odd deal with Blackstone to buy their Bellagio property, but lease it back to MGM for an astounding $4.25 billion! MGM Resorts will have just 5% equity in the joint venture with Blackstone, and will pay $245 million in annual rent going forward.
According to this report MGM Resorts plan is to “fortify its balance sheet in the event of an economic downturn.” The two deals combined certainly will make the company flush with cash for the foreseeable future, and if the economy appears to be heading the other way, it should also prove interesting to see what they could do with all that cash on hand.
(9/21/19) According to a few reports MGM Resorts may be in talks to sell off their Circus Circus casino / resort / theme park property to business billionaire, Phil Ruffin. Ruffin has bought a casino from MGM Mirage before when he purchased Treasure Island (now simply known as T.I.) back in 2009 for $746 million. Ruffin is also the co-owner of the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas. While he knows how to run a successful business, the changes made to the former Treasure Island casino under his ownership were not well received by most who enjoyed the casino’s original pirate theme and nightly pirate show performance. With that in mind, I do shudder a bit to think of what his ownership might do to the famous Circus Circus property and Adventuredome theme park.
The possible sale of Circus Circus may only be one part of a larger restructuring of the MGM Resorts empire as they have been under pressure from select investors to restructure the company and properties they own. As part of this there are also rumors saying they may be in talks with others to possibly sell off the Bellagio and/or MGM Grand casino properties as well.
(8/8/19) An online bidding event is going on in Las Vegas to purchase the “Contents of Yard Scrap Metal for Skyvue Observation Wheel”. As you may recall the Skyvue observation wheel was in a race against the High Roller to be the first big wheel in Vegas, but other than putting up a couple of large support pieces, SkyVue never really got off the ground on the empty site across the strip from Mandalay Bay.
Meanwhile the yard of scrap metal now up for auction is about a block away and instead of holding scrap from the SkyVue wheel, it actually contains all the coaster track and support pieces for the former Speed: The Ride coaster that used to run at the Sahara. The bidding is currently up to $3,050.00 as of this moment and the auction set to end on Monday, August 12th at 6pm. Looks like any hope of seeing Speed rebuild someday in a new location will soon come to an end.
(4/27/19) It’s a sad day for Las Vegas, as yet another step showing the decline of the casino empires reared its head. MGM Resorts announced a first-round of layoffs affecting 254 positions in the company has taken place, with more to come in the future as the company attempts to streamline their operations. The 254 layoffs are said to cut $100 million from the company’s labor costs, however MGM also announced a plan to “boost earnings” by $200 million in 2020 after shares have dropped 12% since August.
Just a thought, but maybe charging everyone to park wasn’t such a good idea after all. Lets hope they realize how to correct their mis-management issues to fix the problem, rather than just laying off more staff to appease the stockholders.
(3/8/19) In a kind of “out there” announcement, the “Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority” has announced their support to construct an underground tunnel to connect various busy tourist corridors by Elon Musk’s “The Boring Company”. They envision a system that would use over 100 autonomous electric vehicles transporting passengers through a network of underground tunnels that would connect McCarran International Airport to the Las Vegas Convention Center, downtown Las Vegas and other locations. According to The Boring Company, the cost would be somewhere between $35-55 million and it could be open within a year once approval is given.
FREE PARKING LIST - (12/14/19) After the comments from the new owner of Circus Circus to keep parking free and how he felt paid parking in Vegas was a dumb thing, I’ve had emails from others pointing out and asking about other popular destinations with free parking in Vegas, so here’s a quick list.
On the south end of the Strip, I think the only sites to offer free parking is at The Tropicanna and next door at the OYO, formerly known as the Hooters hotel.
Up in the middle of the Strip you will find free parking at the T.I., Planet Hollywood, Venetian / Palazzo and the Wynn / Encore. There is also free parking at the nearby Fashion Show Mall.
On the north end of the Strip look for free parking at Circus Circus, the Sahara and at The Strat. It should also be mentioned that parking at the Sahara comes with the benefit of being connected to the last stop on the Las Vegas Monorail that runs all the way south from here to the MGM Grand, stopping at many locations along the way.
If you are looking to visit Casino’s off the strip west of I-15, then I believe there is still free parking at the Rio and Palms casinos.
Unfortunately if you are looking to go downtown and see Fremont Street, I don’t believe there is any free parking available at this time.
If something has changed and there is an error listed here, please let me know.
DESPERADO STATUS at Buffalo Bills - (2/8/20) A reader sent me another interesting Tweet from the Primm Valley Casinos account regarding the fate of the Desperado roller coaster. From the sound of things, they are clearly not planning on scrapping the coaster, as they won't confirm that it is closed forever, so my hunch is that it may simply be closed for the off-season.
Last year they did the same thing and said to expect it to reopen in the summer, but I don’t think they finally got it up and running until August or September last year, so there is no telling anymore.
(2/4/20) Since the news dropped about the Desperado being closed again until further notice, it sounds like quite a few readers and fellow coaster lovers out there have been contacting Buffalo Bills trying to get some answers. Unfortunately the casino resort isn’t being too forthcoming with anything that you might consider a solid “yes” or “no” answer regarding the fate of the coaster.
The answers we’ve been getting from readers have varied a bit as well. One reader sent in a copy of a message they got from an “Amanda” who said she is the “new Marketing Supervisor” for the Primm resorts. According to this message, “I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the roller coaster will no longer be running.” Based on that it sounds like the Desperado may have reached the end of the road.
However, a few more reports have flowed in on Monday that seemed a bit less dreadful. Another reader called in on Monday to get an answer and they wouldn’t say it was closed for good, only that the rides are closed for “the foreseeable future”. This conversation also revealed that they have been getting a flood of calls about the fate of the Desperado as well, so it is good that there seems to be a lot of public interest in the ride.
And finally, a local area reader has stopped by Buffalo Bills twice in the last month only to find Desperado closed. Upon those on-site visits, the employees in person told this reader that all the rides were just closed until closer to the summer season when it warms up and the traffic flow to the casino picks up, so perhaps we could see something change in May. Again, this report also mentioned that not only are they getting asked a lot about the status of the rides, but not some of them are actually getting annoyed by the constant questioning.
I find this mildly amusing myself, as the entire Buffalo Bills casino/resort was built in the middle of nowhere, with a huge and bright yellow roller coaster that towers over the bright red main building, and sprawls out and circles the entire property. That design was the whole point of why they built the Desperado, to be a visual lure to get people to pull off the freeway and stop at Buffalo Bills on their way to and from Las Vegas.
Clearly the current management either doesn’t get it, or they just don’t care anymore because no matter what, the traffic that once stopped has simply moved on. Many reports I get about the status of Buffalo Bills paints the once busy casino as a virtual ghost town for much of the year. This means that in the end, the fate of the Desperado may simply come down to a financial issue for the casino. One some point, the cost to maintain the coaster is simply going to be more than they can stand, or perhaps they will leave it sit closed too long only to discover that the cost to reopen it is more than they are willing to spend.
Either way, even if Desperado opens, the end seems near… for the coaster and perhaps for the entire resort. For now, we can only wait to see what happens and if they decide to reopen it or not.
(2/2/20) Some sad news from Buffalo Bills regarding the Desperado once again. According to a post on Facebook, this person was planning a trip to ride Desperado and had been in contact with the casino for an upcoming trip in June, and was told yesterday that “all rides are no longer operational”.
Of course we’ve seen that before, and months later they did reopen them, but there is always a good chance that this may be it for Desperado. Anyone local have any connections who might be able to confirm and know a bit more? It wasn’t that long ago that the rides had just reopened and we had a daily schedule as well.
(1/10/20) A Screamscape reader dropped by Buffalo Bills the other day, and while the rides were not running at that time, they were able to snap a very interesting picture showing off the ride operational schedule posted at the casino to be followed on the days when the rides are open.
It's a little weird, but makes more sense when you realize that it looks like they are only staffing enough crew members to run one ride at a time. The same crew apparently runs each ride for an hour, rotates to the next, and then closes entirely twice during the day to send the crew on breaks. So if you were hoping to visit to ride the coaster and log-ride real quick and then leave, that isn’t going to happen, as you will have to wait for each attraction to open separately or time your visit just perfectly.
(1/1/20) I don’t know if anyone has tried to head out that way, but as a reminder, Buffalo Bills did previously state that their resort and rides were supposed to have reopened starting on Dec. 27th. If they follow the previous operational schedule, the rides should be open Fridays through Sundays, but you might want to check with the casino before driving out.
(11/12/19) According to what I’m told the Desperado roller coaster at Buffalo Bills continues to be operational only from Friday through Sundays, from 10am to 9:30pm, weather permitting. HOWEVER, what you also need to be aware of is that the entire Buffalo Bills casino/resort will close down entirely this year from December 3rd through to December 26th. Following that we’re told that the rides should return to the Friday through Sunday operational schedule starting December 27th.
(9/6/19) Just a heads up for anyone wanting to ride Desperado. I’m told that it has finally reopened, and according to one reader the Blue train looks to have been completely rebuilt/refurbished as well. That said… Desperado is also said to only be running on Friday, Saturday and Sundays only, and you’ll often find the crew alternating between running the reopen log ride for a time and then shutting it down to run Desperado for a time.
(6/1/19) A reader sent a video link our way shows off a walk-around tour showing off the current state of the Buffalo Bills casino with all the closed rides as well as other closed features of the Primadonna Resorts property in general, such as a monorail between casinos.
According to another reason, they did spot Desperado making a test run the other day, but it still has not reopened. Another reader who attempted to visit to ride back in April chimed in to say that the staff told them they didn’t expect it to be running until July.
It’s hard to see what was once a fun and successful business location now spiraling downward, but unfortunately this is another example of the decline of Las Vegas. As Sin City is no longer looked upon as a value tourist destination by the Southern California market, those who would have previously just jumped in the car and drove out with buddies for a quick unplanned getaway, are now choosing other options. While this hurts Las Vegas, it hurts the casinos on the stateline property at Primm, NV even more, as they relied on this same traffic from California to stop by Buffalo Bills as the first casino these drivers would spot as they entered Nevada on I-15.
October 2019 - “R.U.N” at Luxor - (3/3/20) Cirque du Soleil’s newest Las Vegas show, the action oriented R.U.N. located at the Luxor casino, will soon meet the end of the road. According to various reports the underperforming show was unable to find it’s audience and will come to an end after a final performance on March 8th after just opening in October 2019.
The concept sure sounded interesting and even appealing to me, though I never did hear how well liked the show was by guests who did see it. If you saw it, I’d be curious to know what you thought of it. Tickets for the final shows are still up for sale online, so grab them while you can.
(5/17/19) Earlier this month Cirque du Soleil seemed to confirm our rumor from last year that they were working on a new stunt and action oriented show to take up residence in Luxor in 2019. At the time we had heard it was working under the codename “The Jump” and was thought to include stunts with wheeled vehicles and bikes.
According to the early teaser from Cirque, the new show’s official name will be called “R.U.N” when it opens in late October 2019. Cirque describes the new show as being “The First LIVE Action Thriller by Cirque Du Soleil” that starts in the desert at dawn… at a quiet chapel where a “gangland wedding” is interrupted and a guy begins running for his life. From there the action is said to be non-stop for the next 75 minutes as we learn just what he has done as the two gangs and a bride lead the chase through a fictional dark underground Las Vegas world.
Digging a little more it seems the story for R.U.N was written by famous action director Robert Rodriguez (Alita: Battle Angel, From Dusk Til Dawn, Sin City), so this really does seem to be quite a departure from the norm for Cirque and makes me very interested.
2020 - Area 15 / Meow Wolf: Las Vegas - (9/12/20) Area 15 in Las Vegas posted a teaser video clip of their new Haley’s Comet attraction, an indoor Zip Coaster style attraction where riders in a harness go on a wild ride along a single-rail coaster track. Check it out below.
(9/4/20) If you are visiting Las Vegas soon, then prepare yourself, because AREA 15 is now set to open on Sept. 17, 2020. While the Omega bMart attraction from Meow Wolf wont be ready until next year, AREA 15 is much more than that. The unique attraction will feature a variety of larger than life art installations, special events and more. The list of things to be open inside include a variety of art exhibits, Birdly Virtual Reality Experience, Haley’s Comet (an indoor electric dual-track suspension ride), along with plenty of wild food and beverage options.
In short, a visit to AREA 15 will be hard to describe in words, until you get a chance to see it in person. As they so wisely put on a piece of promotion art… “Enter Curious, Leave Changed”.
(8/12/20) Meow Wolf has released some early details about what they have planned for their new Las Vegas location inside Area 15. According to a press release, much like how the original Santa Fe location is known as the ‘House of Eternal Return’, the Las Vegas location in Area 15 will be known as Omega Mart. Omega Mart will be a 52,000 sqft attraction themed as a shopping experience where all the products “have an uncanny ability to fulfil desired beyond expectation”.
Omega Mart will be ready to open in early 2021 and serve as the anchor attraction of the entire Area 15 complex. Be sure to check out the new and official Omega Mart website and social media accounts.
(1/30/20) BlooLoop has posted an in depth look at what we can expect to see from AREA 15 when it opens in Las Vegas later this year. The immersive and “experiential” retail bazaar will be unlike anything we’ve seen before, stuffed into a 200,000 sqft complex that will feature live performances, virtual reality, interactive art, dining, retail, and of course if that wasn’t enough, it will also be home to the new Meow Wolf Las Vegas attraction.
In addition to Meow Wolf, Area 15 will also feature VR from Nomandic, Dueling Axe Throwing, an immersive bar called Emporium and another themed bar called Oddwood. Since this is Las Vegas there will also be a wedding chapel inside Area 15, along with a food h all, music hall and much much more.
Follow the link to learn more about how the idea for Area 15 came about, what it evolved out of, and what the future may hold for the concept going forward. Private and corporate previews of Area 15 are said to start sometime in February, with a public grand opening set to happen sometime in Spring 2020.
I’ve got to admit, I don’t know when I’ll make it out to Vegas again, but this is one of the new attractions opening this year that I’m really kind of excited to see and learn more about just because it is so unique and out-there. So consider this one as something you should keep an eye on.
(1/16/20) C-NET dropped by Area15 under construction in Las Vegas and took some great photos of the site as it starts to shape up. No photo allowed where Meow Wolf is going in, but the rest of Area15 will be just as just of eye candy to enjoy when it is finished. Follow the link to see their impression of the new upcoming attraction area.
(12/19/19) Celebrity chef, Todd English, will return to the Las Vegas market with a new unnamed food hall that will be part of Area15 when it opens in 2020. The venue will feature a menu created by Todd English where the guests can “dine among large-scale art installations, music, performance” and more when it opens in Spring 2020. If the name Area15 sounds familiar, it should… as this will be the location where the second MEOW WOLF installation will arrive, also in 2020.
(1/19/18) A rather interesting concept was announced for Las Vegas this week... a new retail and entertainment complex set to go near the intersection of Desert Inn Road and I-15 called Area 15. High end and somewhat eccentric themeing will be the norm here of the project, which they have dubbed as an "immersive bazaar", that will offer exhibits, retail and food tenants.
Follow this link to see some of the crazy pictures of what was shown at the announcement and my first response was that this looked exactly like the kind of thing we've seen from the unique Meow Wolf attraction that opened up in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2016. Turns out there is a good reason for that... as Meow Wolf was also announced as being the first official anchor tenant of Area 15 when it opens in late 2019. This all new Meow Wolf walk-through attraction/exhibit/experience will fill a 50,000 sqft space, with this one "themed around consumerism", similar to an exhibit seen at the life is Beautiful music festival.
The idea for Area 15 isn't just to be a new entertainment mall complex where tourists come to take their Instagram pics, but rather to create an attraction for locals, the art community and the tourists that will be a must-visit stop on any trip to Las Vegas. More teasers for the project can be seen at the Area15.com website.
2019/2020 - Stratosphere Tower Renovations / The Strat - (2/8/19) VitalVegas reports that The Strat has filed initial permits to add a new attraction to the top of the tower. According to the article the attraction is described as a new ‘observation deck” that will feature “glass platforms and connection to supports”, “glass exterior walls and barrier walls” and “cable ties and actual connections to plates/supports”.
It will be called the “Skypod Walk” and based on these hints, I’m guessing that it will either be one of those glass-floor bridge style pathways that may extend over the edge of the tower and back, similar to the Grand Canyon Skywalk, or perhaps it could be similar to the tethered EdgeWalk attraction on the CN Tower, but with added glass floors and barrier walls.
(2/3/19) We first heard about this plan almost a year ago and now the local news has confirmed that the owners of Stratosphere are going to move ahead with $140 million renovation plans to the casino resort that would see it get renamed as “The STRAT Hotel, Casino and SkyPod”. I still hold to my original assessment that renaming it as ‘The STRAT’ is just kind of weird, even though I’ve seen many a tourist in Vegas call it that anyway for years, it just seems odd to official adopt the nickname as the new official name. If that wasn’t odd enough, renaming the top of the tower where the rides are located to the ‘SkyPod’ is just even weirder to me.
Maybe it’s just me… I dunno… but it is what it is I guess. Just reminds me of how the once fun Treasure Island suddenly became “T.I.” and then removed all the fun, theming and pirate shows to become a former shadow of itself.
That said, the entire property will undergo renovations in stages over the next year, including the guest rooms. The later of which should be greatly appreciated as I stayed there once in the late ‘90s while attending a convention and the rooms were about a generic as can be even then.
Late 2020 - Circa Resort & Casino - (11/8/20) Our Las Vegas friend Mark dropped by the opening of the new CIRCA casino in Downtown Las Vegas last week and sent back some pictures to enjoy. None of the casino floor itself, since that is not really allowed, but we do get a look at some of of the casino’s decor, the Mega Bar, the HUGE sports book area they have set up and other interesting icons, like the return of the refurbished Las Vegas Vickie neon sign which is placed in the lobby just outside her new namesake bar, Vegas Vickie’s.
(3/25/20) A Screamscape source in Las Vegas sent over a couple of pictures taken the other day. One shows off a view into the enclosed Fremont Street area, which is now closed with barricades, and the other gives us a view of the new Circa hotel project where construction crews are still hard at work trying to finish it in time to open by the end of 2020 or early 2021.
If you are interested in seeing more views of the Las Vegas strip taken just after the shutdown orders went into effect, please do follow our official Screamscape Instagram account, as we posted about a dozen of them there about six days ago and expect to have even more in the days and weeks to come. Plus it’s a great way to stay notified about when the bigger news updates are also posted here on the website.
(6/27/19) A new website has launched to promote the new Circa Resort & Casino now under construction at the end of Fremont Street. The website has a video they’ve posted show off the slick new hotel design for Circa as well as giving you a great little history of Las Vegas itself in the process, which you can see below. Otherwise visit the official site where you can site up to get the last info as they prepare to open this new resort / casino in 2020, and promise to office access to a new Circa construction cam when it is ready.
Fun note: They are going to name their parking structure the ‘Garage Mahal’! I really kinda like that kind of touch, which just speaks a bit about the fun attitude they are projecting for this project.
(7/21/18) A new casino is coming to Fremont Street as the plans for a yet-to-be-named 777-room, 1,224,485 square-foot casino resort with a 459 foot tower was just given approval from the Las Vegas City Council. The new property will take up the space vacated by the removed Las Vegas Club, Mermaids and Glitter Gulch locations, but will actually "resurrect" the classic "Sassy Sally" neon sign figure that used to sit above Glitter Gulch for decades. The project also includes a parking structure across Main Street that will offer direct access via a pedestrian bridge.
Late 2020 - Virgin Hotels Las Vegas - (2/5/20) The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is officially no more, shutting down forever. Virgin had purchased the property and will work over the next several months to renovate and reopen the property as the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas in Nov. 2020. Follow the link to visit the official website to see a little more concept art and read about their plans.
Summer 2021 - Resorts World Las Vegas - (6/27/20) Want to see something cool? Vital Vegas has posted a tweet showing off the massive video wall on the side of the Resorts World Vegas tower testing this week. This is sure going to change the look of The Strip once again.
And now I’m having Blade Runner flashbacks…
(4/13/20) Our local man in Vegas sent in a few great pictures of the Resorts World casino under construction. Previously we read that one of the towers was to feature one of the world’s largest video screens (about 100,000 sqft) and I think that may be what we are looking at on the tower on the left side of the images.
(12/6/19) According to the local news work is progressing on the Resorts World Las Vegas, but an update from the casino’s owner, Genting Group, claims that they have expanded their plans a bit for increased capacity and entertainment offerings, and Resorts World Las Vegas now wont be ready to open until Summer 2021. By the time it is finished, the casino resort is expected to have cost $4.3 billion!
They have also updated their plan for the resort’s themeing a bit, dropping the idea of an all Asian or Chinese themed resort, and instead will open it as a top level luxury experience with “Asian-inspired touches”. So any previous rumors of it having a Panda exhibit or a Great Wall of China exhibit were dropped from the plans a long time ago. The resort will also built a 5,000 seat performance theater, with plans to offer top level residency act deals to make Resorts World a top entertainment draw.
(2/4/19) Resorts World Las Vegas and Wynn Resorts have settled their differences from when Wynn accused the Resorts World buildings of looking too much like the Wynn and Encore buildings. Resorts World has agreed to make a few changes to more clearly make the buildings look different from the Wynn properties, and Wynn has agreed to this.
Resorts World Las Vegas is currently looking to open in late 2020.
(12/27/18) In a strange bit of news, the Wynn Resorts company is filing a lawsuit against Resorts World because they think the new tower going up across the street looks a bit too much like their own Wynn and Encore towers now that the glass is starting to be put on the Resorts World tower. At this point however, I think Wynn’s fuss is all about trying to delay the construction on their new competition across the street, because while the look of the structure at the moment does look slightly similar, once you see the concept artwork showing off the finished product, I don’t think there will be any confusion at all between the two casino resorts.
(7/28/18) According to this article the new Resorts World Las Vegas casino that has slowly been poking along since the site was purchased in 2013, is now shooting to complete their new resort by late 2020. If you follow the link you'll find a new rendering released showing off the shiny red and gold look of the new Resorts World casino complex. I'm kind of digging the Iron Man color scheme, but I think that's just the geek in me speaking.
(5/22/17) The dates keep getting pushed back for Resorts World Las Vegas, with the latest reports announcing the arrival of a new boss to oversee the project, a new 2020 opening date, and the promise that full scale construction work would begin again soon.
(5/7/15) The local news reports that Resorts World Las Vegas officially broke ground this week for the huge new Vegas strip casino resort. They didn't go into too many details about what we can expect once it opens, only that project is estimated to cost $4 billion and carry a Chinese theme to it along with four resort towers, a 4,000 seat theater, aquarium, a giant panda exhibit, indoor waterpark and some kind of replica of the Great Wall of China. For now they are looking to open in 2018.
(5/13/14) The latest news on Genting’s planned Resorts World Las Vegas casino resort is that they have been given the initial go-ahead to proceed through the process of obtaining a Nevada Gaming License and that the initial phase of construction on the 87-acre site will cost around $4 Billion, take about 3 years to open, and feature 3,000 hotel rooms, a huge casino, 30 food and beverage options, a 4,000 seat theater, a huge garden that will serve as the front entrance from the Strip, a “rooftop sky park” and observation deck from the top of the 674 foot tower (already FAA approved), a 50,000 sqft 58 ft tall aquarium, and possibly some kind of “studio tour” style attraction.
The project will take over the partially built Echelon project site, which was built on the site of the former Stardust Casino, and repurpose 80-85% of the existing Echelon structures already built. Overall the resort will have an Asian theme, with primarily bright red buildings and a Chinese Village themed shopping area. As for that rumored ‘studio tour’ attraction concept, it is being considered for a future phase of the resort and may be based on attractions and themes under construction at the 20th Centry Fox World theme park going into into Resorts World Malaysia.
As for those previous Panda Exhibit rumors... it is something that they may pursue bringing to Las Vegas, but there is a long and complicated process involved for anyone who wants to petition to the Chinese government to have a Panda exhibit.
(3/7/13) The latest word on what Genting has planned for their Resorts World Las Vegas project includes plans for a live Panda exhibit, a replica of the Great Wall of China, a 7.5 acre indoor water park, theaters and ‘other family-friendly attractions”. They hope to restart construction on the stalled Echelon site sometime in 2014 in order to get the first phase open to guests in 2016.
2021 - MSG Sphere - (4/13/20) For those wondering, here is the current state of the MSG Sphere structure, as seen from the street level.
(4/5/20) While construction work on the Madison Square Garden Sphere is still taking place, the company did announce that within the next week all construction will stop. This is due to a disruption in the supply chain of materials needed to keep going. Construction of the various aspects of the arena will come to a stop as they reach the point where they can’t do anything more until new materials arrive. Unfortunately, the company also stated that this will make it very difficult to open the Sphere in 2021 as they had hoped, so I’d expect to see the opening pushed back to 2022.
(1/14/20) Delayed until 2021.
(3/6/18) Just when you figured that Las Vegas must have enough big arenas for all the various special events, shows, sports and concert events, along comes one more. A deal between Sands Corp and Madison Square Garden will create a new and unique looking venue called "MSG Sphere Las Vegas", which will look like a giant sphere themed to look like the planet Earth had landed on the ground.
The venue is focused more on concert events rather than sporting events, but construction is set to begin sometime this year with the goal of opening the MSG Sphere by 2020. Look for it to rise on a site located somewhere near the Venetian and Wynn casinos.
2021 - FlyOver Las Vegas - Announced - (2/28/19) A new flying theater attraction was announced for Las Vegas to be called “FlyOver Las Vegas”. According to the newly launched website, the attraction is expected to open sometime in 2021 and will suspended riders in front of a 52.5 foot spherical screen, enhanced with wind, mist and scent special effects. The attraction is coming from the people behind FlyOver Canada and the soon to open FlyOver Iceland and is expected to begin construction later this year. While the exact location of the attraction is not given, they do confirm that it will be somewhere on Las Vegas Boulevard.
???? - Circus Circus Renovations - (12/13/19) According to Phil Ruffin, the T.I. owner who is now in control of the Circus Circus property, he is making plans to add a $11 million, 2,000 seat theater to the front half of the property that will likely be home to Cirque du Soleil’s “The Illusionists” show. According to Ruffin they have a commitment from Cirque to put in a show at Circus Circus and The Illusionists, which is currently playing in New York, is said to be Cirque’s most successful show to date. While Cirque would not confirm any details, Ruffin knows Cirque however, as the owner of the T.I. which is home to the Cirque show that started the whole craze in Vegas in the first place, Mystere.
Ruffin also touched on other plans for the Circus Circus property, which includes a room renovation plan similar to the one he just completed at the T.I., plans to reopen the currently closed Slots-A-Fun building in front of Circus Circus as well as fill up 20,000 sqft of empty space on the building’s second floor. Ruffin says he wants to keep the property running as a lower-budget ‘family’ oriented destination, and to that end the Adventuredome theme park would definitely be staying, as they see it as a huge draw to the property. The RV park however will be going, with plans to renovate that property into a large sand-beach pool with a wave machine, similar to what was built at Mandalay Bay. There are also plans to renovate the casino floor to feature more ‘stadium-style’ casino games to create a “greater social environment.”
And for those wondering… Circus Circus does not currently charge for parking, and Ruffin confirmed that would not be changing, commenting that the paid parking trend in Vegas is a ‘stupid idea’.
???? - 4th Wynn Resort - Planned - (1/14/20) The latest word claims this project is now dead, or at least off the schedule for now, with nothing new planned for the former Frontier property at this time.
(2/8/18) I’m not sure if this will have any effect on the Wynn Resorts already announced future growth plans, but CNN reports that Steve Wynn has stepped down as CEO from the company following recent allegations of “sexual misconduct” Their Board of Directors has confirmed the acceptance of Wynn’s resignation and has announced that their current company President, Matt Maddox, will take over as CEO effective immediately.
(1/30/18) Remember that land the Wynn Resorts just purchased across the strip a few weeks ago? According to the latest reports Wynn Resorts isn’t going to wait long to use it, as they are planning to add a 4th Resort property on the site that should be ready to open in about 3 years. The new casino property is expected have between 2000 - 3000 rooms and will include an air-conditioned pedestrian bridge over the Las Vegas Strip to connect it to the rest of the Wynn Resort properties.
(12/15/17) A couple of interesting news items from Las Vegas came in today, starting with the news that Wynn Resorts is buying the former New Frontier site across the strip from them. The former Frontier site was originally brought to become The Alon hotel/casino, a project that just never materialized, leaving a large empty plot of land across the Strip from the Wynn Resorts, and sitting next to the valuable Fashion Show Mall site. Wynn is said to be buying the property for $336 million, but has no firm plans in place for it yet. With Wynn busy developing their own Paradise Park expansion project currently, I’m sure they will turn their focus to the former Frontier property when work on Paradise Park begins to wrap up.
2022 - Las Vegas Convention Center Expansion -
(5/5/15) The infamous Riviera Casino in Las Vegas closed down on Monday forever, to make way for an eventually expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center as it extends towards the Strip. The Las Vegas Sun takes a final look at the Riviera and it’s 60 year history along with a few photo galleries to remember it by. Meanwhile, look for the casino to be imploded sometime later this summer.
(2/21/15) it's official, the Las Vegas Tourism Authority has given their OK for the $182.5 million deal to purchase the Riviera hotel in order to demolish it to make way for a huge expansion to the Las Vegas Convention Center that will push the famous site all the way over to have an entrance off the Las Vegas Strip itself. The Riviera will close down forever on May 4th, 2015.
(2/18/15) It is official... the Las Vegas Tourism authority did confirm their intent to buy the Riviera casino and tear it down to help make way for long term expansion plans for the Convention Center. They will meet again this Friday to make their final discussion of the plan and probably vote on going ahead with the $182.5 million purchase. The Clark County Commission has already voted to approve issuing $185 million in bonds for the authority to fund the purchase.
???? - Las Vegas Monorail Expansion - (7/15/18) According to the local news the new plan to extend the Las Vegas Monorail down to Mandalay Bay just hit a snag that will delay the start of the project. Construction was set to begin in June, with hopes to finish it in time for the start of the 2020 Football season and opening of the new nearby Las Vegas Raiders stadium. For now the permits needed to allow construction to begin was still under review by the county, plus the company has yet to obtain the needed $110 million in bonds to pay for the project.
(4/2/18) A quick update on the Las Vegas Monorail Extension plans. As I suspected, they still aren't planning to run to the airport unfortunately, but instead a map of the proposed extension is now posted to official website shows the line being extended away from the strip at the current MGM end of line point, going back to turn down Koval Lane where it will make another couple twists and turns to get around the Tropicana site, and head back to the strip to park into a new end-of-line station between Mandalay Bay and Luxor, adding just the one to stop to the line.
No wonder they say MGM likely going to be the one to help with the financing as they are the only one served by the extension. Makes me wonder if they've asked the Trop if they were interested at all in this opportunity or not, as they could shave off about a third of the new track needed on this expansion by simply passing through the Tropicana property and adding another station there, but that's just me talking.
In addition to servicing the southern end of the MGM casino empire, it does link up Vegas guests for easy access to the large convention facilities at Mandalay Bay as well, allowing easy access and potentially removing this extra traffic from the crowded ground-roads. And bonus for Mandalay Bay... the monorail station location means all those convention guests have to walk all the way through the casino to get to the convention center located on the opposite side.
I also think this could be a potential two-part long-term plan. How so? Well, they would just have to add another small expansion beyond the new Mandalay Bay station and run a beam-way across the I-15 freeway to create another station right next door to the site of the new Las Vegas Raiders football stadium which is supposed to be ready for the team's 2020 season. Should be interesting to see just how fast they can build this first expansion.
(3/30/18) A tweet from Vital Vegas indicates that those long-in-limbo plans to expand the Las Vegas Monorail may actually happen after all, thanks to increased pressure from MGM Resorts who may also take an active role in the financing needed for it.
Now, exactly how far they expand it isn't clear... I just hope this is the much needed plan to attach the line to the airport, which would be a big enough win that I would think the line would pay for itself in no time. Unfortunately the local cab drivers scream and yell any time this is mentioned and have thus far had enough clout to prevent it.
???? - Light Rail Transportation - (4/24/17) Have they finally given up on the dream of extending the monorail to the airport in Las Vegas? While that's something that should have been done in the initial build, and that's a story for another day... now it seems like that costly dream is over, and replaced by a new plan that could see a Light Rail system instead link the McCarran Airport to Downtown Las Vegas. A new bill that has been passed by the state senate lays the groundwork for a new light-rail plan system that would bypass the Strip in favor of a route near UNLV, the Boulevard Mall and Sunrise Hospital, and could be up and running by 2025.
New 2019 Attractions Now Open in the Las Vegas Area -
Eataly - at Park MGM, essentially a 40,000 square-foot “amusement park for foodies”.
The Hunger Games: The Exhibition - at MGM Grand, the exhibit will feature costumes, props and recreated scenes including President’s Snow’s Office, District 13, The Hall of Justice, an interactive archery training experience and more.
“R.U.N” at Luxor - “The First LIVE Action Thriller by Cirque Du Soleil” that starts in the desert at dawn… at a quiet chapel where a “gangland wedding” is interrupted and a guy begins running for his life. From there the action is said to be non-stop for the next 75 minutes as we learn just what he has done as the two gangs and a bride lead the chase through a fictional dark underground Las Vegas world.
New 2018 Attractions Now Open in the Las Vegas Area -
Fly Linq - Ten side-by-side ziplines (so you can fly with your friends) starting 114 feet in the air that make the 1,121 foot run across the promenade to the landing tower located near the base of the High Roller observation wheel.
The Official SAW Escape - New escape room experience themed to the famous horror movie series.
Esports Arena Las Vegas - The first dedicated Esports Arena in Las Vegas opened at the Luxor. The space features a competition stage area, LED video wall, seating as well as daily gaming stations and production studios.
The Void - The VOID VR experience opened inside the Grand Canal Shoppes inside The Venetian. Experiences offered the first year include Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, Ghostbusters: Dimensions, Nicodemus: Demon of Envanishment and Ralph Breaks VR.
New 2017 Attractions Now Open in the Las Vegas Area -
Fear The Walking Dead Survival – (CLOSED Mid-2019) A “dead”icated new and mostly walk-through adventure attraction themed around AMC’s popular Fear The Walking Dead show opened in the Fremont Street Experience over the Summer as part of a deal between AMC and TRIOTECH.
The Twilight Zone – Monster Mini Golf – A new themed indoor blacklight mini-golf attraction has opened inside the Bally’s casino themed around the famous Twilight Zone TV series. The site also features mini bowling, an arcade, gift shop and even a SciFi themed Wedding Chapel.
New 2016 Attractions Now Open in the Las Vegas Area -
Kiss – Monster Mini Golf – A new blacklight mini golf attraction themed around the famous rock band, KISS, is now open at The Rio casino. A previous version opened in a local mini-mall back in 2012, but they closed up shop and moved into The Rio instead as an all new attraction in 2016. The site also includes space for Birthday Parties as well as a Rock ‘n Roll wedding chapel.
New 2014/2013 Attractions Now Open in the Las Vegas Area -
High Roller Giant Wheel (2014)
Slotzilla Zip Lines (2014)
VooDoo Zip Ride (2014)
Cowabunga Bay (2014)
Wet ‘n’ Wild Las Vegas (2013)
Are The Las Vegas Casino Resorts in Decline? -
Various other report over the last few years seem to think so, including my own rant from 2016.
(8/10/18) Much like I've been saying for some time now, I think the world is proving that they are sick of Las Vegas casino resorts “nickel and dimeing” their guests with excessive fees, and laughing with glee all the while. Daily resort fees, parking fees and now even some new fees being placed on already high Salon and Spa service fees by MGM Resorts. Yes, it has gotten to the point where you would almost think MGM stands for "Money Grabbing Management" these days.
The times are changing and guests are now finally voting with their wallets, opting to skip trips to Las Vegas for other options. One after the next, the big Vegas casino companies have been reporting declining numbers for their properties this year, including MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment, where the RevPAR numbers (aka: Revenue Per Room) has already dropped by an average of 4% for the first half of the year, room occupancy rates are down 1% and Convention attendance is down 3%. The declining numbers, while not huge, have resulted in casino stock prices dropping double-digits as investors flee.
Oh... and gambling is also down, particularly because the payout rates for winning have been altered in many cases to now pay out less than they have traditionally paid for decades. It seems many of the big fish have opted to gamble closer to home, both domestic players as well as international, especially those prized Chinese gamblers who can now play Baccarat to their hearts content at the casinos in Macau. The news that the first casinos have finally been approved to come to Japan is certainly not good news for Las Vegas either.
I've said it here on Screamscape for a few years now... the perceived "value" of taking a vacation to Las Vegas has been lost due to corporate greed. We've already seen the Wynn resorts try to fight back against parking fees by offering to validate parking for guests who spend at least $50 on site. It also looks like Caesars and MGM may be ready to take a step in the right direction by lowering their room rates for the later half of the year. Most importantly, I think they need to take a long look at the parking fee issue as well, which was put into effect due to the opening of the T-Mobile arena.
(5/4/18) An interesting article was posted to the LA Times regarding the possible beginning of visitor decline to Las Vegas over the past 10 months, and goes into more detail with a local Vegas publication who claims guest irritation with outlandish daily “resort fees” combined now with the crazy parking fees that may be to blame.
Me? I have to agree… considering that resort fees alone, something that used to never exist, are now as high as $45 per night (with Venetian and Palazzo being the highest in the city right now, followed by $39 per night fees at the Caesars and Wynn properties). Add in daily parking fees and you are looking at a combined cost that is about even with what the average room rate alone used to be in Vegas… but then you get to add in the new higher room rates… and tax… don’t forget that… and it’s no wonder people are starting to realize Vegas isn’t the bargin vacation destination it used to be.
No wonder gambling profits to the casinos has also been reported to be in decline for years now… because they’ve been taking the money out of your pocket long before you even had a chance to get to the casino floor. Sometimes I think all it would take is one bright casino chain to see the light here, reverse the trends that have transformed the industry for the worse over the past 10-15 years, to see if a return to the old ways would brighten not only the guest experience, but also their own coffers as well. Win over your guest’s hearts and you’ll win their loyalty. Just a thought...
(2/22/18) Is the bottom getting ready to fall out in Las Vegas? Are tourism and convention business both ready to turn elsewhere due to rising costs and the overall impression that Vegas is no longer a value destination? A great bit of commentary was posted to the Las Vegas Review-Journal this week that nails the potential problem on the head with the first hard-data that could show that 2017 was the tipping point.
Screamscape Rants - The Recession Is Not Vegas’ Biggest Problem
(1/12/16) CNN wrote an interesting article about how the overall business at the Las Vegas casinos was down and has been down for the past six years. They report that Vegas casino lost $662 million in 2015 alone, and lost a dumbfounding $6.8 billion back in 2009 when the economy got really bad. They go on to point out that there are plenty of tourists in Las Vegas, and they are all spending lots of money on hotels, restaurants, merchandise and entertainment… it’s the gambling side of things that is way down by comparison and as they point out, “if people aren't gambling as much, that means they're not losing as much.”
CNN blames the recession on this, but this is where I have to disagree and point out what they are blind to as someone who used to visit Vegas on a regular basis in the 90’s when it was a growing boomtown of opportunity. The Vegas of today and the Vegas of the past are two entirely different animals, and it seems that today’s Vegas has forgotten the lessons of the past and how the business model worked.
Today’s Vegas has forgotten that the best lure to increase gambling revenue was to make everything else as cheap as possible. Frequent free drinks, insanely low cost food and buffets everywhere, and to give the hotel rooms away as cheap as possible. For a good period of time, back when Circus Circus has just opened the Luxor they would run ads in in the San Diego paper every week advertising rooms as cheap as $13 a night at Circus Circus, $23 a night at Excalibur and $33 a night at the Luxor. Want something better? You could get a suite at the Mirage for $50-60 a night on the right night. Mix that in with $2-5 buffet meals, drink specials and tons of free or low-cost entertainment and you could go on one hell of a fun vacation without breaking the bank… which still left over a good bit of income in your wallet to spend some time to gamble and try to make your dreams come true. At the very least you could gamble with a rewards program and maybe earn yourself a couple of tickets to one of the big shows for fifty bucks.
Compare this to the price of a Vegas vacation today and you’re dropping top dollar just for the room itself quite often, paying anywhere from $10 to $25 a person (sometimes more!) for a buffet meal, and not to mention paying $100 to $150 on average for a ticket to see one of the big shows in Vegas these days that has almost become a mandatory part of the Vegas experience. Now do you wonder why the good old gambling revenue numbers are down?
Of course they are down… because people are spending everything they have on the rest of the Vegas vacation, much like you would on regular vacation, and have less cash to spend than before on gambling. I could spend four nights in Vegas in the 90’s for what I’d spend for just one night at today’s prices. I know that after I’ve dropped about $250 for the wife and I to see the latest Cirque show, in addition to another $50 to $100 on a nice dinner out before the show, the last thing on my mind is putting another $100 at risk at the Blackjack table.
Somehow the Vegas of today has forgotten that tourists wowed by the spectacle of the casinos, stuffed by cheap food and drink prices, who find themselves walking through the casinos feeling good (and maybe a little buzzed) with a fat wallet in their pocket are the one who are most willing to try their luck at the gambling tables before heading home. And don’t get me started on how many machines no longer drop coins as your payout… the sound of coins endlessly dropping throughout the casinos of old was like siren’s song to many a potential gambler, luring them in to try their luck.
So is the recession really the problem? I like to think that the problem goes much deeper than that.