LAS VEGAS Area Attractions
Las Vegas, Nevada
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(12/2/13) A reader visited the new Marvel Super Heroes 4D attraction added to the end of the Madame Tussauds wax museum attraction in Las Vegas this week and sent in several pictures and a review (MORE...)
(11/26/13) High Roller and Quad Pics / Sirens Sunk at TI
(11/19/13) Madame Tussauds Las Vegas has announced the completion of a two-year renovation to the attraction, including a new Marvel comics themed multi-sensory (MORE...)
(11/8/13) SlotZilla and High Roller Photo Updates
(11/4/13) Victim Experience Much More Than Expected (MORE...)
Las Vegas News - (11/4/13) Want to know more about just what takes place within the Victim Experience at the Freakling Brothers? A reader of Theme Park University spoke with them to spill the beans and tell us all about her horrifying experience that was more intense than she expected… or at least it was before she gave the safety word and quit. I’ve been intrigued by the concept of these new “extreme” and “solo” haunt experiences, but it sounds like the Freakling Brothers have taken things to an entire new tier above and beyond anyone else. Give it a read and see what you think.
(10/29/13) Goddard Group reports that they are working on a new project in Las Vegas “based on a major international brand”. For now the project is still confidential.
(10/23/13) A review of a new Vegas based haunt attraction called Sin City Scare Fair has been posted to VegasChatter.
(10/16/13) ThemeParkUniversity takes a look into the Freakling Bros. Las Vegas haunt experience this week, including that “Victim Experience” I told you about last week.
(10/4/13) The Goretorium may be closed, but if you are looking for other haunted fun besides the FrightDome (in the Adventuredome) you may also want to check out FreaklingBros.com haunt also in the Vegas area, which offers up three special haunted experiences with their Trilogy of Terror: Gates of Hell (the first R-Rated, Full Contact Haunt in the state), Castle Vampyre and Circus of Horrors. They also offer something a little more extreme this year as well… a little item called The Victim Experience for that niche audience who experienced the Gates of Hell and still wanted more.
The Victim Experience is not for everyone… and even on the website it says that the experience is not fun. You must be over 18, in good shape, prepared to experience psychological, emotional and sensory torture with zero retaliation, possibly have your clothing damaged, ok with extreme language and physical contact with your surroundings, and be prepared to ‘stay a while’.
Still interested? There are only 5 tickets for this ultra extreme experience available per night, and you will be the final five victims sent through the Gates of Hell at the end of the night. Ready to scream for your life? It will only cost you about $50.
(10/3/13) The MOB Attraction is leaving the Tropicanna, according to this report by the local news. The Mob Attraction will shut the doors on Nov. 3rd, though the owners report that they are in negotiations with other Strip side properties to find a new location to house the attraction, and hope to make an announcement soon.
Now just a bit of speculation… but I wonder if they are eyeballing the Goretorium location, as the haunt attraction shut down forever on October 2nd.
(10/1/13) It has been confirmed, Eli Roth’s Goretorium will close down for good after the last haunt group goes through on October 2nd.
(9/27/13) BlooLoop reports that a new infusion of non-gaming attractions is helping Las Vegas re-invent itself, saying that market’s consumers between 21-46 demand not only quality dining, shopping and club experience, but want other new non-gaming attractions such as the new High Roller giant wheel that is now starting to dominate the Vegas skyline as part of $550 million Project Linq.
If this sounds familiar at all, you might recall a similar previous push that took place in Las Vegas during the 1990s, as several themed casinos opened their doors (Excalibur, Luxor, Treasure Island, New York-New York, etc...) along with several highly themed attraction concepts. While the themed casinos have survived, the majority of the attractions did not, leaving behind a long list that would include: MGM Grand Adventures theme park, Star Trek: The Experience, a trio of attractions inside the Luxor pyramid, Speed: The Ride at the Sahara, Race for Atlantis at Caesar’s and a handful of other small attractions and free mini-show like spectaculars. Back in the 90’s, Vegas thought they were trying to lure in the Family demographic and I’ve always felt that they gave up much too quickly on that concept when it failed to instantly bare fruit.
Now we jump ahead to 2013… 20 full years from when the indoor Circus Circus Adventuredome theme park first opened back in 1993 and we see Las Vegas is starting to build attractions once again. Want to know why? Because all those kids who did come to Vegas back in the 90’s and got to experience those fantastic attractions before they were demolished have all grown up 20 years. They’ve come back to experience the Las Vegas they remember as a child… which once had attractions, as well as get their taste of the classic 21+ and up attractions that the Las Vegas strip has always been famous for.
In a way this is a cycle that I think you can trace back to 1968 when Circus Circus first opened. I remember going on road trips with my parents as a child in the 70’s, and a sleep-over stop in Las Vegas was the highlight of some of these roadtrips. The lights and big casinos were facinating to see, but as a child what I really wanted to do was get into Circus Circus and play those midway games and win prizes to bring home. When I turned 21 in the ‘90s, Las Vegas was ready to welcome me back once again, with new fun attractions, including the Adventuredome at good old Circus Circus. As we come to the close of 2013, a new Vegas adventure is starting for the next generation… and right on time Circus Circus will lead them all with the opening of their new El Loco roller coaster in about 3-6 months.
For some Vegas has always been about the gamling… for others like me… Vegas has always been about the big attractions and spectacles. Maybe this time we can keep more of these new attractions around for the next wave to enjoy.
That said, there has been some unfortunate scuttlebutt on the ‘net courtesy of VegasChatter.com, claiming that Eli Roth’s Goretorium could possibly be on the verge of closing down at the end of the month. According to the report, several workers have been laid off and notified that the last day of operation would be September 30th. Bankrupt or not, I would think someone might be smart enough to infuse a little operational cash to keep Goretorium running for one more month to at least take advantage of the busy Halloween season before either calling it quits, or perhaps switching over to a more seasonal operational calendar. So if you are planning a visit to the Goretorium, either do it quickly, or call ahead before you buy tickets and make the trip. Meanwhile I’m going to cross my fingers and hope that this simply is not true...
(9/11/13) Theme Park University takes another trip back to Las Vegas to venture into the history of the MGM Grand Adventures theme park. This time we get to learn about the park’s most universally acclaimed attraction, the Grand Canyon Rapids. If you never got to experience this ride… unfortunately you really missed out. This was no ordinary River Rapids ride… this was perhaps the most highly themed river rapids ride experience ever built, as the rafts past through not only great outdoor sets, but also through several indoor scenes full of animatronics figures and special effects. One such seen was a flooded bank building, where you floated through the middle of a group of bandits robbing the bank during the flood engaged in a shootout with the law.
(9/3/13) Is Caesar’s in trouble? According to a few Vegas and financial analysts Caesar’s Entertainment may be in a downward spiral and possibly heading towards an eventual Chap. 11 filing. They have been doing what they can to cut costs, buy back debt and such, but there is a looming $23.7 billion debt cloud looming overhead. The large debt situation is only made worse when substantial debts will mature in early 2015 and more in 2016.
Caesars CEO says that they are aggressively acting to improve their situation and others do believe that there is time to refinance some of these troublesome debts ahead of time. In fact the company did buy back over $275 million of their debt that was due to mature in 2018 earlier this year, but that move again was confusing to many investors, some of which believe we may see the company run out of cash sometime in 2014 or early 2015.
This may be something worth keeping an eye on, especially if your planning a stay in one of their properties which include: Caesar’s Palace, Bally’s Flamingo, Harrah’s, Paris: Las Vegas, the Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino, Rio and The Quad. Speaking of The Quad… check out the latest pictures of the High Roller giant wheel below.
In other news, Disney fans visiting Las Vegas may want to check out a brand new and unique Disney Store design that just opened in the Fashion Show Mall on August 17th. The new store is said to “Create Magical Moments for Guests of all ages” through new immersive experiences. It includes a Disney Princess castle, magical trees, a CARS themed neighborhood and a Disney Store Theater. As guests enter the store and look up, they will see a custom skyline with Disney storetelling scenes and Nevada landmarks.
(8/21/13) ThemeParkUniversity takes an in dept look at one of the most infamous and unique attractions than ran inside the MGM Grand Adventures theme park: Deep Earth Exploration. Deep Earth Exploration was a crazy hybrid attraction concept… something that I had never seen before, and have never seen since. Try to imagine the merger of a enclosed cabin simulator ride like Star Tours with Disney’s Submarine Voyage and you’ll end up with the basic idea behind Deep Earth Exploration. You had a simulator cabin attached to a dark ride track… not unlike the concept used today for Spiderman and Transformers, except you were enclosed inside to watch the ride film, but at various points in the ride the side windows of the car would open to give you a view outside of a themed environment. I rode it myself, but I’ve never seen a video of it in action. If anyone comes across it, please let me know.
(7/19/13) The local news claims that an extreme sports park may be on the drawing board for the Las Vegas strip that may feature snowboarding, wakeboarding, zip lines, motocross, surfing and whitewater rafting experiences. Welcome to “Vegas Extreme” a $50 million dream that is trying to secure the financing to make it come to life. Check out the concept art here.
Late 2013 - Marvel Super Heroes 4D at Madame Tussauds - NOW OPEN -
“This was my first ever trip to a wax museum. I've never seen the point in spending $20 to look at a bunch of what are essentially mannequins. The announcement of a Marvel 4D attraction, though, gave me enough of an excuse to give it a go. To be honest, I still have no idea what the big deal is. It's a bunch of fake people that tend to look creepy all over the place. Imagine a Ripley's Believe It Or Not but remove all of the cool stuff and replace it with a bunch of extremely cheesy themed rooms with creepy fake people staring at you.
(12/2/13) A reader visited the new Marvel Super Heroes 4D attraction added to the end of the Madame Tussauds wax museum attraction in Las Vegas this week and sent in several pictures and a review of the new experience. It should be noted that while the London location also has a Marvel 4D attraction, it would see that the movie shown at the Vegas location is new and not the same film as far as I can tell. Without further ado… here’s Kyle with the review!
We worked our way through the museum fairly quickly. The Marvel attraction is the grand finale. As you'll see in the photos, it all seems pretty low-key as you walk in. There's a sign on the wall and four figures: Thor, the Iron Man suit, Captain America, and Tony Stark. According to an employee a wax Hulk will be showing up sometime next month.
Aside from the four figures there's really not much going on. There's a camera hanging from the ceiling that wasn't in use when we were there and two flat screen TVs that play a preshow video while you're waiting. (see preshow video below) The theatre holds approximately 50 people. It is a typical 4D theatre with seats and a single, front screen, not 360 degrees like the website hints at. I'm assuming they're referring to the fact that the 4D effects surround you. Good ol' buzzwords for advertising. I was hoping for something like Turtle Trek, myself, so it was a bit of a letdown.
Another lie in the advertising is that the film doesn't involved the Avengers saving Las Vegas. 99% of the film takes place inside of a Stark Industries lab around an Arc Reactor. When some walls get destroyed a city can be seen in the background but it isn't anything specific.
Still, though, the film was good fun. The runtime is right around 10 minutes and involves the Avengers (including Spider-Man!) fighting with Doctor Doom, Doom Bots, Loki, and a Frost Giant. The 4D effects were standard, a few water splashes, two or three scent effects, a thing whipping your legs, a back poker, etc. The best effects, though, were the lasers and strobes when the Doom Bots attacked.
Word of advice: SIT IN THE BACK! The first time through we sat in the third row and could really only see the screen. Any lighting and laser effects in the theatre were lost on us. Our second time through we sat in the last row and really got the full experience. The lasers from the Doom Bots, force fields, Iron Man's repulsor cannons, it was all very well choreographed and really made the experience that much better.
Here's a quick plot rundown. Spoiler alert, BTW.
The preshow talks about how Stark Industries are the leader in green energy, etc. The film opens with Tony giving a press conference for the new Arc Reactor. Peter Parker is in attendance for the Bugle. The conference is quickly interrupted by Doctor Doom and his Doom Bots who want to use the Arc Reactor for whatever evil things he's up to. Spider-Man pops in, shares some one-liners with Tony, Tony suits up, they fight Doctor Doom and the Doom Bots. Enter Captain America, Thor, and Hulk. More fighting ensues. Enter Loki. Enter Frost Giant. More fighting. Exit Frost Giant. Still more fighting. Doctor Doom wants the Arc Reactor to power his weaponized satellite. Iron Man flies to take care of it, Thor joins. Loki disappears at some point. Thor supercharges Iron Man, Doctor Doom gets frozen in a bubble, Avengers win. Hooray! Hulk Smash.
The film was a lot of fun, the 4D wasn't extremely cheesy, so I consider it a big plus for the strip. Hopefully they'll get some more figures in the preshow lobby because right now it is pretty empty.”
(11/19/13) Madame Tussauds Las Vegas has announced the completion of a two-year renovation to the attraction, including a new Marvel comics themed multi-sensory 4D theater opening on November 20th. If anyone goes to see this, I’d love to see a brief write up. According to the official description you’ll start by viewing a room full of your favorite life-sized Marvel heroes and end with a 360║ animated 4D cinema attraction where you watch the heroes battle one of Marvel’s most notorious villains in Las Vegas.
Late 2013 -
Slotzilla / Fremont Street Zipline - (11/8/13) A reader sent in a great new picture of SlotZilla on Fremont Street taken on 11/3 and it looks incredible now, with just about all the external themeing now in place. Still no sign of the actual ziplines themselves, but I’d imagine that they would be put into place in the very near future.
(11/4/13) Slotzilla hasn’t opened yet on Fremont Street, but apparently they are planning on being able to open it at last sometime before the end of the year. You can find a great picture of a gigantic slot machine fašade already in place on the towering structure here taken in early October. Anyone have a new picture to share? The previous temporary zip-lines that ran down Fremont Street closed back in July to make way for Slotzilla, so it wont be much longer before people are screaming through the air once again.
Speaking of Vegas ZipLines… any progress reports on the VooDoo Zipline planned for the RIO would also be appreciated.
(11/16/12) The guys at CoasterCrew talked with Skyline, the people making the new perment ZipLine experience coming to the Fremont Street Experience. They are going to make a big structure themed as a giant slot machine when it opens in mid-2013. Door panels will open as the riders zip out of the tower on one level, and on the top level they will introduce a new experience where riders will be launched for the first time at the start of their ride from the top of the tower in a superman style prone position. They describe it as essentially being shot out of a canon on your flight down through Fremont Street. They expect to start construction on this new permanent attraction shortly after the start of the new year.
2014 - High Roller / LINQ / The Quad - (11/26/13) A reader sent in some great new shots of the High Roller, now loaded up with a good number of the rider capsules, as well as a look down into the new Quad area under construction.
ast week and the very next day after it was spotted sitting on the ground, it was already installed onto the wheel itself and hoisted high into the sky.
(11/8/13) The first cabin for the High Roller arrived in Vegas this p
(10/22/13) Thanks to a local reader, we’ve got a new look (see below) at the High Roller this week, as the wheel’s structure is complete, the extra steel supports have been removed and all the cabling is now in place. The wheel has been seen spinning lately as well, so it won’t be too much longer before they start to install the cabins.
(9/16/13) Sources tell Screamscape that the expected price of a ticket to ride the High Roller giant wheel will be approximately $20, and I’m sure there will be other more expensive “VIP” level offerings beyond that price point as well. I’m told that we can expect to see the cars being attached to the wheel over the winter months, as well as installing the lighting package followed by several weeks of testing.
A reader send in new pictures of the wheel, which has now completed installing the entire circular spine for the beast. The plan right now is to remove all those blue support beams from the inside of the structure and replace them with all the giant cables that will attach the wheel to the hub like giant bicycle tire spokes. They hope to get the first cabins on site by late October.
(9/3/13) A new incredible picture showing off the latest progress made on the High Roller giant wheel was sent in over the weekend. From the look of this latest picture, they now have about 75% of the wheel’s spine now in place.
(8/19/13) Great new pictures of the High Roller giant wheel were sent in this weekend. The wheel is simply HUGE… you wont be able to miss it once it is finished.
(7/25/13) We’ve got a new picture (see below) of the High Roller wheel going up at The QUAD. As you can see about 25% of the spine of the wheel’s outer ring is now in place.
(6/3/13) A reader returned by Vegas this week and end in the latest look at the High Roller giant wheel construction site at the end of LINQ. There is lots of blue steel in the background that may be for the wheel structure itself, as they get ready to start putting the rest of the wheel into place.
(5/22/13) While progress on the High Roller giant wheel is moving slowly, a reader did send us a new look at the current state of the LINQ shopping area which is already looking good… though the path is a big on the narrow side if things get crowded in there.
(4/29/13) I’ve got a few new pictures of the High Roller wheel under construction in Las Vegas, taken by our own Staff Member Mark a couple of weeks ago. If you think the legs for this thing is massive, wait until they start to put up the wheel structure itself.
(3/7/13) On March 1st the first phase of The Quad quietly opened to the public and one of our local readers sent in some pictures to share. From what I’m told, if you have ever been in the old Imperial Palace, the new look of The Quad is very different. Currently they are set up and running the site as two separate casinos… the new one that just opened and the remainder of the old casino, which will soon be walled up to transform it as well.
(2/25/13) I’ve got three new pictures sent in by a pair of readers this week showing off the progress being made to the High Roller wheel. From what I’m told, they are up to the height of the hub area, which will be the focus of the work for the next few weeks, which is around 280 feet tall. (Taller than the old 250 ft Skycoaster that used to sit at the MGM Grand for comparisons sake.)
(1/16/13) Las Vegas Weekly takes a up close look at what we can expect from the LINQ when it opens at the end of 2013, creating a new open-air entertainment corridor of attractions between the Flamingo and The Quad (formerly: Imperial Palace). The article also features a long list of confirmed tenants for LINQ including FAME (a 2-level Asian restaurant), Ghiradelli, something called Style Bar (combo bar & salon for women), Sprinkles cupcakes, Tilted Kilt, Starbucks and something called Brooklyn Bowl… an XL sized version of the original New York facility which mixes together a huge bar, bowling alley, restaurant and concert hall.
(1/7/13) One of our local area readers sent in three new pictures of the High Roller giant wheel going up at The Quad. From what I’m told the huge supports at already 192 feet up in the air, with a final 60 foot section needing to be added to connect to the huge central hub piece, which is also on site and seen in one of the images.
(11/30/12) Several more pictures of The Quad / LINQ construction site can be found here, showing off some interesting interal views as the walls between resorts come down to merge into a new single space.
(11/27/12) A reader has sent in a large update of construction photos showing off High Roller, LINQ and how Imperial Palace is being transformed into The Quad (which now seems to be pushing the “Q” part of the name more than “Quad” on the promotional materials. It’s kind of amazing how they are going to make use of this once narrow looking space to funnel the Tourist masses as they flow from Harrah’s, into LINQ and then into The Quad. Check it out.
(11/26/12) A new picture of the High Roller wheel and nearby LINQ mall development has been sent in by one of our local area readers.
(11/12/12) I’ve been sent another view of the High Roller giant wheel going up behind The Quad, this time from a different angle.
(11/5/12) One of our local Vegas area spies sent in a great new pictures of the High Roller wheel making a bit of progress as seen poking out from behind the back side of Harrah’s Monorail Station. In addition to the basic structure holding the loadind/unloading end of the wheel at the bottom, they’ve now connected it up to the multi-level entrance building for the attraction connected to it.
High Roller could end up being the only Giant Wheel in Las Vegas, as rumor has it that all work on SkyVue may have stopped, and construction equipment pulled off the site. Anyone else know more?
(9/21/12) It is official… the Imperial Palace is being officially renamed and given perhaps the worst name I’ve ever heard of for a Vegas casino. Say goodbye to Imperial Palace… and meet THE QUAD. Yes…. THE QUAD, where a giant “Q’ will now become the casino resorts icon. The current Asian theme will be scrapped for a generic “contemporary” look. Ummm… so it will be theme-less, generic and as boring to the eye as the rest of the Strip is becoming?
QUAD… Hmmm… nope… it just doesn’t roll off the tongue, does it? If anything you almost have to grunt when you say it… like it’s a angry word or something. I just don’t know… QUAD… nope… still don’t like it. Look for the conversion of Imperial Palace to be complete by December 2013… in the meantime I’m going to go contemplate taking a Quad.
(8/2/12) A new progress picture of steel for the High Roller wheel was sent in this week. Looks like the first sections of steel for the loading area have been put up, with the wheels giant cabins expected to slide non-stop in between.
(7/30/12) Caesars Entertainment reports that they have obtained the final permit needed to build the world’s tallest observation wheel in Las Vegas. The giant wheel that is part of the Project LINQ expansion will stand 550 feet tall and fit in between Harrah, Imperial Palace and The Flamingo casinos. With a total height of 550 feet, the High Roller will dwarf the 443 ft London Eye and just hedge out the 541 ft Singapore Flyer. It will also be taller than the 500 foot SkyVue wheel already under construction on the south end of The Strip. The High Roller will be oriented to run parallel to The Strip itself and take 30 minutes to make a round trip.
(7/23/12) Time for a little update from the Imperial Palace… what may become known as The Quad, though another reader took a survey where they asked for opinions on the use of the name Hotel 3535 instead. (WHA?????)
Whatever they are going to call it, a large crane is now on site next door for Project Linq, with large footers poured and in place for Las Vegas’ second giant wheel project. So with construction moving full speed ahead, it does look like Las Vegas will indeed really become home to two giant wheels.
(7/11/12) VegasTripping has posted some new artwork showing off the new and improved look on the way for the Imperial Palace. There is also a possible new name for the resort being tossed out on select guests ears during customer surveys… The Quad. Ummmm… yeah. The Quad. That just so does not sound like a fun place to visit. Lets hope they toss that name out in favor of something else.
(5/1/12) By the time you read this it may be too late, but a section of the Las Vegas Strip will be shut down tonight to allow for the implosion of the O’Sheas parking garage to make way for Project Linq. The implosion is planned to take place around 2:30am on May 1st.
(1/31/12) VegasInc reports that construction on Project Linq has started. According to the report Linq is expected to be open by late 2013.
(9/12/11) From what I’ve been told Caesars Entertainment’s “Linq” project across the strip from the resort is officially on the way and looking to open by 2013. The highlight of the attraction project will be the giant wheel which this article claims will be bigger than the Singapore Flyer and will take 30 minutes to make a single revolution inside one of the 40 passenger cabins. O’Sheas will be closed to make way for the Strip side entrance to Linq, which itself will be branded and linked to their existing Imperial Palace casino next door, which will also receive some needed updates. Construction will begin in 2012.
(6/1/11) I’ve got a few more details about the proposed giant wheel from Caesars. To be clear… it’s not going into Caesars… but will actually become a little development project proposed for a site across the street between Imperial Palace and The Flamingo called Project Linq. The idea is to essentially revamp the O’Shea’s site and nearby alleyway into a new pathway full of shops, restaurants, bars and other entertainment options, with a giant wheel set into the back end (near the Monorail beam) which will act as a giant visual anchor for the project.
(5/30/11) According to this article, Las Vegas has two potential giant wheel projects in the running…the already announced Skyvue and another one at Caesar’s Palace which is to be part of their overhaul to the old Octavius Tower project.
2014/2015 - NY/NY and Monte Carlo Updates - (8/2/13) New York, New York has closed their 300-seat Broadway Theater to allow for the expansion and remodeling of the entire front section of the casino opening in 2014.
(4/19/13) According to VegasChatter, the front of both New York-New York and the Monte Carlo casinos are going to get a dramatic $100 million facelift over the next few years. The goal is to create a new outdoor retailing and dining experience that will run from NY-NY all the way down to CityCenter. Included in the plans are a new 2-story Hershey’s Chocolate World flagship stone (right across the street from the M&M World no less) as well as improvements to Nine Fine Irishmen, the addition of Double Barrel (a roadhouse restaurant & bar), 800 Degress Neapolitan Pizzeria, Shake Shack along with a new peaceful park in between the two areas.
2014 - VooDoo Zip Ride at The Rio - In Development - (5/3/13) Another ZipLine project is coming to Las Vegas… this one from Stan Checketts who will install the VooDoo Zip Ride at the Rio. This is reported to be a version of his Soaring Eagle attraction that will fly between the Rio casinos two towers and then back again, 350 feet in the air. The launch platform will be built onto the VooDoo Lounge’s outside deck up on the 50th floor of the Masquerade Tower.
2014 - Cowabunga Bay Las Vegas - Under Construction - (9/5/13) A better article covering what is really going on with Cowabunga Bay Las Vegas can be found here.
12/5/12) The big announcement for Cowabunga Bay Las Vegas took place on Tuesday showing off the final layout of the new Vegas area waterpark attraction, as well as serving up all the details on the various attractions. The new Cowabunga Bay Las Vegas park will cost $23 million and feature a fun ’60 beach-themed environment on a 23 acre site at Galleria Drive and Gibson Road.
(8/29/13) The news about the sale of Cowabunga Bay caught me a bit off guard, but it seems there is a bit more to this. According to my sources, this is simply a restructuring of the current ownership which needed to be done in order to secure financing to finish the park. With these last pieces being put in place and financing secured, I’m told that we should see construction on Cowabunga Bay resume shortly.
(8/28/13) I’m surprised by this, but according to VegasINC the developers of Cowabunga Bay Las Vegas have now sold the property under the park for half of what they paid for it. They had confirmed this with GM Shane Huish on Friday that the 23-acre site was sold for $2.3 million to Tom Welch of Utah, who helped secure Salt Lake City as the site of the Winter Olympic games in 2002.
According to Shane Huish the sale puts the park in a good position to meet the planned April 2014 opening date still. While it will keep the Cowabunga Bay name, he would not confirm if he would stay on to manage the property. Follow the link to read the rest of the details.
(4/29/13) Some unfortunately news for those in Las Vegas who were waiting for Cowabunga Bay to open, I’m sorry to report that the park will not be ready to open until 2014. The opening has been pushed back due to construction delays caused by some difficulty in obtaining certain materials as well as a slow down caused by the discovery of ‘caliche’ in the ground during excavation. If they pushed, they could get it open by August, but it does no good to rush to open for the very end of the waterpark season, so they’ll slow down, get everything right and open it in 2014 instead.
(3/11/13) Several construction pictures showing off the formation of the lazy river, pools and infrastructure going into place for the new Cowabunga Bay Las Vegas can be found on their Facebook page.
(12/7/12) Lots of new concept artwork has been released from the new Cowabunga Bay Las Vegas, showing off the park’s great collection of slides and attractions. Including an interesting shot of the park’s racer slide, which drops below ground level and then goes uphill at the end. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one do that before anywhere else.
The park will have three themed areas: Aloha Shores near the kiddie play area, Surf City USA with a retro California look and a Boardwalk themed area. Attractions will include a 33,000 sqft wave pool, the first of it’s kind Wild Surf slide, a lazy river, a very tall multi-lane racing slide and more. They are planning to have it finished and ready to open by Memorial Day weekend, 2013.
(11/15/12) Catch a peek at Surf Safari, the name of that strange new half-pipe / funnel hybrid slide as seen in the layout for Cowabunga Bay Las Vegas. It will be built by Polin and I believe this will be the very first one when it opens in 2013. Check out the model on display at the IAAPA show, as posted to the park’s Facebook timeline.
(11/12/12) Screamscape has obtained some leaked layout plans showing off the new Cowabunga Bay Las Vegas waterpark opening in Henderson by late Spring 2013. Unlike the first Cowabunga Bay in Utah, the Las Vegas version will be a full sized waterpark.
From what I can tell the park appears that it will have a large water fortress / play structure that will include at least half a dozen body slides. There is also a kiddie play pool area, a tower with two larger raft slides, one of which seems to have a unique half-pipe looking feature, a wave pool, matt racers, a tube slide complex, a double sided Flow Rider stationary surf wave and instead of an old-style lazy river, it looks like they will offer one of the high speed current rivers, which are a lot more fun.
From the layout it looks like the park was designed from the start with a large number of private cabanas for guests to rent either around the wave pool or off to to the side in a quiet little area listed as an Adult Pool. I’m also happy to see that there looks to be ample room set aside for future expansion down the line as well.
(10/10/12) A news letter sent out to industry people who visited the Polin booth at the WWA tradeshow mentions that Polin is excited to announced they will be a supplier for the new 22-acre Cowabunga Bay Las Vegas park opening in May, 2013. “Plus what is most exciting is the new ride we are creating for the park. The details of the new attraction are to be announced.” It goes on to mention that the details about their new themed attraction concept will be put on display at IAAPA next month in Orlando.
(9/26/12) The local Las Vegas news has discovered that the water park project in the Henderson area will actually be a new waterpark project called Cowabunga Bay Las Vegas, as part of the partnership with Shane Huish who owns the first Cowabunga Bay in Draper, Utah.
(11/22/11) Details about a second waterpark (22 acres) planned for the greater Las Vegas area, this one in Henderson, have been posted to the Las Vegas Sun.
2014 - Skyvue Las Vegas Super Wheel - (8/19/13) One of our readers was o
ut in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago and had a perfect view from his room of the stalled out SkyVue giant wheel construction site. As you can see… nothing new has happened on this project in a long time. With the High Roller now forming up quickly down the street at The Quad, I’ve got a feeling the SkyVue is DOA.
(1/29/13) The local news reports that as of last Thursday, the 11 companies who had filed liens against the SkyVue giant wheel project had filed motions to have then liens discharged. Now lien-free, the SkyVue project can move ahead to complete the financing to finish the project. Giant parts and pieces under construction for the SkyVue are slated to start arriving in Vegas in May. So it looks like Las Vegas will end up with two giant wheels after all as SkyVue rumbles back to life.
(1/18/13) As rumored on Screamscape several weeks ago, the local news has confirmed that the Skyvue giant wheel project has run into financial problems, and all eight companies who have worked on the project so far have filed liens on the property totaling $5.4 million. Meanwhile Skyvue claims to be very close to securing new funding that will solve the problem and get things moving once again. So for now we wait and see.
(11/30/12) Two of our readers staying in Vegas this week have confirmed with their own eyes that the pieces of Speed: The Ride are still on site across the street near the SkyVue construction site. A new photo shows off the state of the track... looks like the blue is fading quickly in the elements.
(11/28/12) Anyone in Vegas feel like checking in on the old Speed: The Ride coaster tracks, once seen on the ground near the SkyVue wheel project area? I’ve heard from one reader that they did not appear to be visible on the site when they looked this past week. If they have been moved off-site for some reason, I’m curious where they could have ended up.
(11/26/12) We have received confirmation from a local source that there is no activity at all going on down at the site of the SkyVue giant wheel project across from Luxor and Mandalay Bay. No major pieces of construction equipment are on site, and nothing has progressed since the last photos. The site does still employ a security guard at the entrance however, so it does seem to indicate that at least someone intends to keep the project alive for the time being, once they work through whatever issues are taking place.
(11/6/12) A reader pointed out that while the webcam for the SkyVue giant wheel project in Las Vegas is still active, it seems pretty clear that currently there has been little to no activity on the site as of late.
(6/22/12) A reader who stayed at the Mandalay Bay this past week snapped a great shot of the giant wheel under construction across the street. Thanks to Rob for the pic!
(5/29/12) A reader just returned from Las Vegas and sent in a great photo showing off the massive SkyVue wheel project going vertical. Look carefully… see something extra in the background? Yep…zoom in tighter and you can find a huge pile of Speed: The Ride track and supports sitting in the lot just next door. Bonus!
(5/23/12) The giant columns are for the SkyVue wheel in Las Vegas are now going up. Check it out here.
(3/14/12) Concrete has started to pour this past week on the site of the SkyVue giant wheel in Las Vegas, which finally moves this project from the realm of just being an idea to being real. According to the Las Vegas Sun, who has nice pictures of the huge concrete pour job, they are planning on having the 500 foot tall SkyVue wheel open by July 4th, 2013.
(5/26/11) An animated video preview of the new Skyvue Las Vegas wheel can be seen below.
(5/24/11) The latest plans for adding a giant wheel to Las Vegas have now supersized the project. According to this article, the new name is Skyvue Las Vegas Super Wheel, which will stand 500 feet tall (bigger than the London Eye) and open as early as 2013 as part of a $100 million privately funded project that will also include at least one roller coaster and 200,000 sqft. of retail and entertainment space.
Site clearing was said to have begun on Monday, which will also include the demoltion of a 1950’s era motel on the site. The wheel itself will offer 40 gondolas, each able to hold up to 25 passengers, and will be available to be reserved for private events.
(3/4/11) Plans for that mini amusement park attraction on the south end of the Strip were approved according to this article. The developers plan to have the attraction open by 2013 if all goes well, and in addition to the 500 foot giant wheel, they are also planning “several rollercoasters”. Call me a skeptic, but somehow I’m thinking they’re looking at kiddie Dragon Wagon coaster and not a serious thrill machine, but I hope I’m wrong.
(2/21/11) According to the local news, a new plan is being proposed to build a small amusement park with eight rides (including a very large Sky Wheel) on the south end of the strip across from Mandalay Bay. (This is said to be the site of the former Cloud 9 balloon ride) They are also planning a small convention center and a retail/restaurant site on the property as well.
There are pros and cons to building an amusement park in Vegas and unfortunately the article is quick to point out the failure of the MGM Grand Adventures park. Of course they also fail to point out that MGM Grand Adventures failed due to poor management choices, lack of investment, and a general ineptitude of the powers that be who were in control of the property to even have a clue as what to do with the park once they had it. MGM Grand Adventures could have been a big success I think with some different people behind the wheel of the bus. Meanwhile Circus Circus has had the successful Adventuredome up and running for years.
No real details were given about this proposed park however, and with only 8 rides, it’s hard to tell what given market they would even attempt to target. Kiddie Rides, coasters loving thrill seekers, indoor themed attractions or an outdoor carnival style atmosphere? Some may work in Vegas… some wont. More on this as I find out.
2014 - SLS Las Vegas - (2/19/13) The local news reports that construction will soon begin over at the former Sahara casino site on a new $400 million casino project. The reborn casino will be named “SLS Las Vegas” and you can view the official website here where they say the 1,600 room resort will open in 2014.
2016 - Resorts World Las Vegas - (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.
(3/5/13) Boyd Gaming’s grand Echelon site (formerly home to the Stardust) has been sitting idle since they halted construction back in 2008, but now a deal has been struck to sell the site to the Genting Group (known for the huge Resorts World Sentosa project in Singapore, home to Universal Studios Singapore) for $350 million. Genting will build Resorts World Las Vegas, their own $2 billion casino complex on the site that will start off with 3,500 rooms and a 175,000 sqft. casino. The plan is to open Resorts World Las Vegas in 2016 along with a 250,000 sqft retail mall and a 500,000 sqft convention center, a show theater and more. Genting will try to incorporate as much of the existing infrastructure leftover from the start of the Echelon project into Resorts World.
???? - Treasure Island Shopping Complex - Planning - (11/26/13) Bad news for Treasure Island fans… according to a Screamscape source the Sirens of TI show has now been shut down for good. The show had gone down for it’s annual “dry dock” refurbishment, but it seems they made the choice to simply not reopen it at all and fired the cast late last week.
(8/6/13) VegasINC reports that Treasure Island wants to build a three level shopping complex on their property along the Strip, which would require the elimination of a third of the Sirens of TI lagoon. The plans would allow for an extension of the wooden boardwalk as well as an entrance into the new retail area from the strip itself. The local commission will vote on the proposal this Wednesday.
???? - MGM-AEG Arena - Planning - (3/4/13) MGM Resorts has announced new plans to build a 20,000 seat privately funded indoor arena just behind the New York-New York and Monte Carlo casinos, along with their partner AEG. Look for the arena to host Boxing, MMA, other sports events as well as concerts. The new MGM-AEG arena will not affect the current plans for the UNLV Now arena, which is designed to host even larger events between 25,000 – 60,000 people. For comparisons sake MGM’s current Grand Garden Arena at the MGM Grand holds 16,800 seats, the Mandalay Bay Events Center has 12,000 seats and the Thomas & Mack Center has 18,776 seats.
???? - PolerCoaster - Proposed - (6/19/13) The local news reports that US Thrill Rides LLC has submitted plans to the FAA to build a 650 foot tall tower in Las Vegas. If all goes as planned, this could be their very first “Polercoaster” attraction, mixing a combination of an obversation tower experience with elevators that run up the center, with a roller coaster system (S&S El Loco) that would run in and around the tower’s legs. The coaster uses a spiral lift up the center around the elevators and tops out just below the belly of the observation deck and begins a fast and wild rapid descent back down and around the outer section of the tower. According to the location sent in to the FAA, the Polercoaster’s location would be somewhere at the Tropicanna casino, or very close by. While the 650 foot tower would still be smaller than the Stratosphere Tower, the coaster itself would end up being the tallest roller coaster in the world.
???? - London Themed Thrill Park - Planning - (3/22/13) Lets say you want to build a new attraction in Las Vegas. Lets say that you have a site picked out and money burning a hole in your pocket and you are ready to go ASAP. What is the one thing above all else you absolutely should not build in Vegas right now? If you said another “Observation Wheel”, you are correct!
That said... that is exactly what a new group is proposing to do. According to the Las Vegas Sun a group approached the zoning commission with plans this week to build something called The London Thrill, which could be the third such Observation Wheel in Las Vegas (if the stalled SkyVue project comes back to life across from Mandalay Bay). There is good news with this project however... as the London Thrill is just “one component of an entire park” to be constructed on the east side of the Strip, south of Harmon Ave, on a site currently being used by a few retail stores, a parking lot, a McDonalds and Tasti D-Lite (see it here). The entire mini-park project, estimated to cost $50 million, would be given a London theme. As for their zoning request... it was approved. Lets wish them luck and I hope to find out more about this “London themed thrill park” soon.
???? - Excalibur/Luxor Zip Lines - Proposed - (4/10/12) The latest word on the proposed ZipLine attracion to link Excalibur and Luxor claims that it will feature three lines, with the highest launching from the tip top of the Luxor pyramid itself and landing on the roof of Excalibur’s South Tower, 238 feet in the air. The second line would zip from here back towards a platform on Luxor’s east tower. Finally guests would strap onto the longest of the three lines for a 1440 ft run to a landing platform on the roof of Excalibur’s tram station. The FAA still has to weight in on the project due to the proximity to the airport, but there isn’t expected to be any opposition.
(4/5/12) MGM / Mirage Resorts is looking into possibly adding a large zip-line complex that would include several zip lines running between the Excalibur and Luxor casinos, ranging from 340 ft to 1400 ft in length. The article goes on to say that the casino’s may start to look into adding upcharge attractions like this again to their lineups as a way to make up for lower gambling revenues.
???? - Speed: The Ride Returns (or not...) - Planned - (8/19/13) One of our readers was out in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago and had a perfect view from his room of the pieces of the former Speed: The Ride coaster that used to run at the Sahara. Unfortunately the giant pile of supports and track pieces is still just sitting there under the hot desert sun, with no sign of activity.
(3/20/13) For anyone wondering… the pieces of Speed: The Ride are still sitting in that lot across from Mandalay Bay. You can see a few new pictures taken this past week over at TPR.
(5/2/12) Theme Park Review has posted a new set of pictures of Speed – The Ride pieces being moved to their new home across from Mandalay Bay.
(4/24/12) More pictures of Speed coming down and being moved to a new home down the Strip have been posted to Theme Park Review.
(4/23/12) Pictures showing off Speed: The Ride being taken down have been posted to Theme Park Review this week.
(4/19/12) Concept art and some new details about the new home for Speed has been found on the Blog for the construction company doing the work. They claim that they are working with Premier Rides to reinstall Speed and will reuse as much of the old coaster’s layout as possible. The starting section (Launch, turn & loop) and the spike finale will remain, but the middle section of the ride will be redesigned to navigate the new site, navigating around existing structures, and will allow for “new and exciting curves and bends to be added to the ride”. So when Speed reopens… it will essentially be a new ride all over once again. The builders also reveal that a new nightclub and concert venue will be built into the area as part of the overall project that will include an on-site radio station and a new two-story restaurant space.
(4/18/12) This article claims that Speed: The Ride at the Sahara will be moved to a new site at the south end of the strip where it will be reinstalled at the Akita Plaza (northeast corner of Las Vegas Blvd & Four Seasons Drive across from Mandalay Bay). If I’m not mistaken, this will put Speed down almost next door to the new SkyVue Las Vegas Super Wheel project, which would be quite fitting.
(4/16/12) Word from our local Las Vegas readers is that Speed: The Ride has started to come down at the Sahara Casino. Cranes are on site and working on removing the spike tower at the moment, but I have not seen a clear enough close-up of the work to know if they are taking it down carefully (to sell to a new owner) or if they are simply ripping it apart for the scrap pile.
(11/3/11) The Las Vegas Sun reports that the owners of the Sahara have filed permits to completely renovate the casino and reopen it, rather than implode it and start from scratch. One catch however… the plans confirm that the coaster, Speed: The Ride, will not be part of the new casino when it reopens. So now we get to wait and see if they take it apart carefully to sell it or if they demolish it for scrap metal.
???? - Las Vegas Monorail Airport Expansion - (6/20/11) While the Las Vegas Monorail began it’s filing for Bankruptcy over a year ago, they will return to court this week to seek permission to have it’s reorganization plan voted on by the creditors. The situation is a bit complicated of course, but the bottom line is that the Las Vegas Monorail knows that if they are ever to become financially stable they must either get the funds to expand or shut down completely within the next eight years.
Unfortunately, the expansion they are seeking does not seem to include the one thing the line really needed to succeed, which would link the Monorail to the airport. Instead they apparently only want to be able to borrow $12 million to add two more stations along the existing line. As much as I enjoyed riding on the line when in town, the extremely high cost of that ride is what is really keeping the existing Monorail from making any money I think. As a form of mass transit, it needs to be cheaper to ride the Monorail from one end of the strip than it is to take a Taxi, and in many cases, it is not at the current prices. ($5 one-way, per riders. If you have a group, a Taxi ride is far cheaper and faster in most cases.) And if the Monorail is ever to be successful long term… linking to the airport is an absolute must… really it should have been done first before running down to the now closed Sahara, but that’s a moot point anymore.
(8/25/10) The Las Vegas Monorail has filed their reorganization plan as part of exiting bankruptcy, where it’s been proposed to remove $630 million debt from them, leaving the LVMonorail with just $18.5 million upon exiting. The monorail has never been able to meet the projections placed on it, and the failing economy just made a bad situation even worse. The LVMonorail does however make enough to pay for their operational costs. If the plan is not approved, the Monorail claims their only alternative would be to eventually cease operation altogether sometime between now and 2019.
(1/15/10) It seems like only a matter of time, but the Las Vegas Monorail has officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to restructure their debt. While the monorail makes enough money to operate, it only has enough extra cash to pay off some debts, claiming that they’ve been hurt by the 30% drop in convention visitors.
(6/25/09) Check out this interesting article about the Las Vegas Monorail, where they mention that while the system makes enough money to cover it’s operational costs, they are not making enough to pay back the large debt from the system’s creation. Could a government bailout for the Las Vegas Monorail be on the horizon?
(11/7/08) According to a posting from over the summer at the Monorail Society, the expansion plans for the Las Vegas Monorail are being shorted by one mile and taking a much more direct route straight to the airport from the MGM Grand down Tropicana. The revised plan would also remove three of the previously proposed stations that would service the Hard Rock, UNLV and the Thomas & Mack Center, but by cutting a mile of rail from the the budget, the savings should be enormous.
(1/5/07) Clark County has approved the first leg of the 3.5 mile extension of the Las Vegas Monorail to McCarran Airport that will be funded entirely by private investors. The new line will include stops at Terminal 1 and 3 as well as a detour over to stop at the Hard Rock and Thomas & Mack arena. Construction will begin in 2008 and completed by 2011, granting many guests to Las Vegas with a direct door to door route from the airport to their casino destination without the hassle of taxis or rental cars.
(2/9/06) The city has now put it’s support behind a huge expansion of the Las Vegas Monorail line that will favor building the expansion to McCarran International Airport first along with a new western route around the strip that will run close to I-15 from the Excalibur / Luxor area all the way past the Fashion Show Mall and then over to link up with the existing line near the convention center. All said and done the expansion may triple the overall length of the system and cost $1.3 billion ($500 million for airport run, $800 million for the western line expansion). If everything is approved and goes well, construction could start as early as 2007 and could open by 2010, just in time to serve the new Project: City Center and Echelon Place developments. You can see what the first draft of the proposed route looks like at Vegas Today & Tomororw.
The Sad State of Themeing In Las Vegas - (8/6/12) Looking back through some old news, it kind of hit me once again how sad and generic Las Vegas is becoming. While I’ve never been the kind of person to think Vegas should have been full of theme parks and kids in strollers, I always felt Las Vegas itself was like a giant theme park for adults. Instead of themed lands, there were themed casinos featuring themed rides and attractions spread out here and there, in between the shows and ringing sound of the slot machines.
There was Egyptian World (Luxor), Medieval World (Excalibur), Adventore World (Tropicanna) Roman World (Caesar’s), Pirate World (Treasure Island) Circus World (Circus Circus), and so on. Even if the theme of the resort wasn’t clear, there were many themed elements all around to enjoy, such as the lush oasis of the Mirage, the top notch Star Trek: The Experience hidden within the Hilton, along with their cool Sci-Fi themed casino room. The rides and sounds of Nascar over at the Sahara, the vertical thrills of the Stratosphere Tower, the huge themed indoor mall of the Aladdin, the incredible aerial Mardi Gras parade at the Rio, water fountains of the Bellagio, the city scapes of New York, New York, Paris and the Venetian, not to forget the old MGM Grand Adventures park. Even the Las Vegas Monorail joined into the theme park style fun, featuring one train that was themed as if it was taken over by The Borg (Star Trek villain), with themed dialog recordings on board along with the occasional ride-along characters taking a spin from Star Trek: The Experience. Once upon a time I’d say that the themed casino elements outweighed the old style serious gambling only casinos, but over the years more and more themeing has simply been dropped in favor of more generic casino space and resorts. While Luxor may look the same on the outside as it did so many years ago, a quick trip inside will tell you things have completely changed and the heart of the once themed resort has been ripped out.
Over the past few years the big movements in Vegas has been all about new shows and the building of generic time-share and condo towers far too close to The Strip as well as the rise of new unthemed resort clusters like City Center. Many such projects have stalled out in famous ways due to the economic depression, but there is life still pumping into Vegas in the form of some new attractions at last. In perhaps a reversal of everything that was wrong with Vegas, we now see the city giving birth of two epic Giant Wheel projects on opposite ends of the strip. The Stratosphere has not stopped adding new thrilling ride experiences to the massive tower with last year’s addition of Sky Jump, the most frightening thrill ride in Vegas letting guests plunge 108 stories to the ground and even the name Wet ‘n’ Wild seems poised to leap back into Sin City next year.
Before that however we will see Eli Roth’s Goretorium open on Sept. 27th on the Strip. According to the press release, The Goretorium will be open year round and promises to create the most intense live terror experience a person can have. “The multi-level maze of frights submerges visitors into the tale of Sin City’s most deadly mythical hotel and casino, The Delmont. The self-guided horror experience begins in the lobby of the Delmont and unveils gruesome and ghastly sights of past hotel guest victims and the serial-killing family behind the deeds at every turn. Employing high-tech Vegas showmanship with old-fashioned scares, the terrifying labyrinth of live actors, animatronic frights and stunning special effects is contained in a vintage hotel setting that rivals Hollywood’s best movie sets.” Look for it across the strip from City Center off Harmon. Goretorium will also feature a themed bar called Baby Dolls, which will feature caged zombie go-go dancers with periodic live feedings! There will also be a unique horror themed retail shop and an event space with it’s own private bar called Bloody Mary’s.
I’m hoping this is just the beginning. The start of another beautiful wave of themed entertainment to hit Sin City. What I’d really love to see is the rebirth of the massive Star Trek attraction that was ALMOST built in Las Vegas years ago. Designed by The Goddard Group, we would have seen the construction of a scale recreation of the Starship Enterprise itself, dry-docked on the Las Vegas Strip down at Fremont Street. You could board the Enterprise which would have served as a themed hotel, casino and attraction all in one. In the end the idea was nixed by a shortsighted exec at Paramount, but you can still check out the artwork and ready the story how this attraction almost made the leap off the drawing board here. I’d still love to see it brought back… I know I’d make the trip to Vegas to see it. Otherwise the Vegas of today has gotten just a little too generic.