LAS VEGAS Area Attractions
Las Vegas, Nevada
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(1/17/20) The Boring Company Tunnel Now Half-Way Complete (MORE...)
(1/16/20) Take a peek inside Area15 (MORE...)
(1/16/20) Victory Hill Parent Company Buys Animax and Future Exhibit Expansion Rumors (MORE...)
(1/15/20) MGM Sells MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay Casinos (MORE...)
(1/14/20) Dead Projects and Delays (MORE...)
(1/10/20) Buffalo Bills Ride Operation Schedule (MORE...)
Vegas is known worldwide for its huge hotels and casinos, mixed with top attractions, rollercoasters and more. The hotels and casinos are a huge draw with many getting their buzz from gambling, but did you know you can also play online in the US. Top games include slots, craps and perhaps for the thrill seeker - poker. Poker is a popular live game, but is huge online as you can see at PokerSites.us. Whether for gambling or leisure, enjoy!
Las Vegas News - (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.
(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.
(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.
(11/12/19) 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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
October 2019 - “R.U.N” at Luxor - (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.
???? - Kind Heaven - (1/14/20) All current reports claim this project is now dead.
(11/1/19) Anyone know if they ever started construction on the Kind Heaven building at LINQ? Earlier this year I had read reports that the project was delayed until late 2020 due to construciton delays, and Caesar’s website still has it listed for 2020. The problem is that a report on VitalVegas in August claims that Caesar execs informed key staff that the problem was canceled... and yet, it is still listed on their website, so perhaps there is hope yet? So I guess the question is, did they ever begin work on the site, and if so, is there any sign of ongoing activity now?
(6/7/18) A couple of photos posted on twitter show off a new updated map of Linq Lane that now includes building locations for the soon to open Fly Linq attraction as well as the recently announced Kind Heaven.
(3/21/18) A new $100 million attraction called "Kind
Heaven" is set to open at The Linq in August 2019. You'll have to follow the link to watch the video from the local news to see the official report about this, but the idea is a little hard to follow. Let me explain as best as I can...
Kind Heaven itself is described as "a journey" or experience that you will go on, starting as you enter the building and purchase a train ticket for a journey to south-east Asia.
You'll board the train (simulation of course) and enter an entirely new world for an adventure that is supposed to be unlike anything you've seen before. The details of what's inside are still vague, on purpose, but you'll have places to eat and drink inside, as part of your experience, as well as entertainment to watch (holographic monkey wrestling?), music performers to listen to, and most importantly, a new amazing adventure you'll want to tell all your friends about when you return.
It also sounds like the experience you will get may differ, depending on the time of day you visit, with the attraction set to cater the experience to families and tour groups by day and Vegas style entertainment seekers at night. The attraction will also put state-of-the-art RF and wearable technology to use in order to create a personalized experience for each visitor, as well as offering a "cash free environment" to make it easy to pay for any food, beverages or retail items you want during your journey.
The more I think about it, the more I like the idea! In a strange way it almost reminds me of attempting to create the amazing immersive experience that Las Vegas lost when Star Trek: The Experience closed down, by transporting the Vegas guests to another living, breathing world, for an amazing adventure. So that said, I can't wait to see Kind Heaven open in 2019.
2020 - Area 15 / Meow Wolf: Las Vegas - (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.
2020 - Circa Resort & Casino - (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.
Summer 2021 - Resorts World Las Vegas - (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 - (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.