LAS VEGAS Area Attractions
Las Vegas, Nevada
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(6/8/16) Las Vegas - First Wave of MGM Casinos Now Charging For Parking (MORE...)
(6/6/16) Cowabunga Bay Surfin' USA Turbo Blast Update (MORE...)
(6/3/16) Cowabunga Bay Waterpark To Add Uphill Racer This Summer (MORE...)
(4/29/16) Is Las Vegas Ready For a Theme Park? (MORE...)
(4/9/16) Wynn’s New Resort Plans Include 38-Acre Man-Made Lagoon (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 - (6/8/16) According to the local news several of the MGM-Mirage Casinos launched their new paid parking program on Monday, charging all visitors up to $10 a day to park at the Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Aria and Vdara. Guests began to to pay at the Excalibur, Luxor and Circus Circus on Tuesday, with MGM-Grand to begin on Wednesday and Mandalay Bay, the Delano and The Mirage to start on June 13.
There is a way for locals to free parking through to Dec. 29th by scanning their Nevada driver's license, and the company says they will re-evaluate the program at the end of the year. So far no other casino chain has seemed interested in trying to copy them, so everyone is sort of waiting to see what kind of public backlash will come from the change. Those outraged by the change have been very vocal online and there are threats of organized boycotts on the MGM properties to persuade them to drop the concept entirely.
(6/6/16) Cowabunga Bay sent out an official press release about the new Surfin' USA Turbo Blast attraction opening soon at the park as well as other additions this summer. "The award winning water park, known for its world renown slides, strives to be the leader in family fun, delivering state of the art rides, and a variety of entertainment for all ages. This third summer season, Cowabunga Bay is also adding evening activities to its anticipated Slide Nights, including live DJ’s, fire dancers, an illuminated park, thrilling night slides and a dazzling firework display every Friday and Saturday night, June 10 - August 20."
Surfin' USA Turbo Blast riders will first go down, head-first, down the racings lanes as normal, but upon hitting the unique uphill section on the slide guests will encounter the new Turbo Blast portion, where a new water jet propulsion system will help shoot the rides up and over a 30 foot hill at 30 feet per section and down into the splashdown finale. The new Turbo Blast section was created with the help of Sky Turtle and Avalanche Waterslides, adding a new and unique element to the park.
According to readers who have visited the park, this new addition is actually a needed improvement to the slide, as it became common for smaller guests (those under 100 pounds) to not have enough momentum coming down the slide to make it over the final hump. They would slide back and be let out a dedicated exit pathway from the other side of the hump, but added to the wait time for the next batch of riders, so the new Turbo Blast improvement will help ensure all sliders make it up and over the final hump, add a new exciting element, and improve the overall throughput of the attraction, so it's win-win for everyone.
(6/3/16) I'm not sure exactly what is going on, but a post by Cowabunga Bay Las Vegas on their Facebook page confirmed that they will somehow modify their Surfin USA matt racer slide to become Surfin' USA Turbo Blast, featuring the "world's 1st up-hill water launch propulsion", blasting riders up at 30 feet per second.
I know the slide was a bit on the unique side anyway, as it actually features a small uphill section just before the end, allowing the racers to go up and over a pathway. But I'm really not sure how it would work to reverse the entire slide run, unless they are only adding a water blast area to this final hill area. Anyone know more?
(4/29/16) So is the current Las Vegas a viable place to build a theme park or two, or are they doomed to failure just because the last attempt to add such things in the 90's also failed. I was interviewed about this very topic for Las Vegas Weekly, which you can see here.
Big plans are in the works for the Wynn Resorts area going forward. Steve Wynn announced his latest plans that would see the 130-acre golf course behind his resorts transformed into a huge 38-acre man-made lagoon, with a new 1000-room hotel tower with a small casino, new restaurants, a white sand beach and more. The project name for the moment is the Wynn Paradise Park and the plan is for the lagoon to act as a new lure to bring people to the Wynn Resorts, as they will surround the lagoon with a boardwalk to stroll on, offer water skiing, paddle boards and parasailing during the day and feature a firework style show at night.
A lot of details are still up in the air for this $1.6 billion expansion project, but they say that the plan right now is to charge admission to get in, but I'm not sure if that is just at night for the evening fireworks spectacular or if they think they will charge admission all day long. Being able to offer new hotel rooms with a waterfront view of the lagoon will certainly be something new for Las Vegas guests however. Once the project is approved by the board and they move forward with it, they hope to have it finished by Fall of 2017.
According to the Las Vegas Sun the designer and founder of the Space Tourism Society, John Spencer (who was also a designer of Japan's Space World theme park and worked on the Star Trek Experience as well) has a plan to build a new attraction in Las Vegas called Mars World. Mars World will be a $2 billion themed experience designed to make you believe you traveled to the red planet and back. Fundrasing for the project is now ongoing, with a dream of opening the attraction by 2021.
They've already launched the official website for it, full of crazy concept art showing off what the attraction would look like when built along the Las Vegas Strip. One interesting factoid however is that admission into Mars World will apparently be free, allowing guests to pay for the experiences they want along the way, such as a "Marswalk" attraction where you can somehow experience simulated low-gravity.
(2/11/16) Apparently the Las Vegas High Roller wheel has a bit of a reputation... or at least a following of those who want to take a spin for other reasons... like joining High Roller Club. It's kind of like the "Mile High Club", but on the High Roller instead of an airplane, if you get my drift.
I think the Linq / High Roller people have been trying to keep this kind of thing quiet for awhile now, but it had to hit the news sooner or later... and it did this week, complete with the photos of the not so happy couple caught doing their thang‘ on the High Roller last week.
Apparently they were caught on surveillance video in the act, as well as on video by riders in a nearby cabin, and when security asked them to stop on the intercom system, they paused briefly before going back at it and refusing the stop until they got back down to the bottom where they were arrested and charged with the felony of doing the naughty in public.
According to the article the couple said they didn't think anyone would notice, and according to Linq officials, this kind of thing is starting to happen more and more frequently. Kinda makes me wonder how long it will be before one of the cabins is retrofitted to be enclosed in one-way glass and sold as a "private VIP experience".
(2/3/16) I'm not sure of the details yet, but I'm told that the Treasure Island casino is building two long-term museum style attractions that would be themed to The Transformers and The Avengers films. Looks like the local news quietly mentioned it back in November as well, and said that it would take over the second (Transfomers) and third floors (Avengers) of the new retail area built along the Strip.
Interesting to be sure... but it seems ironic that Treasure Island spent so much time and money removing all of the original pirate themeing, including the iconic pirate battle show out front, just to try and lure the family demographic back into the resort now. A lot of that has to do with the fact that Treasure Island was sold off from the MGM company in 2009 (as MGM were the one's mostly to blame for removing much of the pirate themeing) to a new private owner. Look for the new attractions to open as early as this March if they are still on track.
Meanwhile if anyone is going by Treasure Island, feel free to check in on this and report back.
(1/16/16) Just a few days ago I reported on how the current management in Las Vegas has become so out of touch with their product that they have now ignored the long standing successful business model Vegas casinos were founded on and are still shocked that their gambling profits were down almost $700 million in 2015. As I pointed out below (give it a read... it's educational) today's casinos are emptying guests pockets are every other opportunity with high prices on food, room rates, shopping and shows. Several readers were also quick to point out that gambling isn't quite "so special" in Vegas anymore, simply because of the growing casino industry around the nation, giving some guests who used to go to Vegas to get a gambling fix a much closer to home (and cheaper) alternative.
Instead of maybe trying to correct their mistakes (again, see the 1/12/16 post below) the MGM Casinos have just doubled down and announced perhaps the most insane change of them all that goes against the very grain that every other casino was founded upon. Sometime this Spring you will see the MGM Casinos to start to charge for parking... both to casual visitors as well as their very own hotel guests.
In pretty much a literal sense, I view this as them biting the hand that feeds them. MGM Resorts owns pretty much the entire Western side of The Southern Strip, as well as the MGM Grand on the East side of the Strip. This means from the Mirage all the way down to Mandalay Bay on the West side, with the exception of Caesars Palace. Meanwhile Caesars sits perched on top of their empire, running from the Rio across the freeway west of Caesars and to the East where they own everything from Harrah's down to Planet Hollywood, which as of one, will be your way to still find free parking, plus three stops on the Monorail route as well. On the South end, the Tropicana will sit as a lone oasis of free parking. As for the Northen end of things... MGM did mention that they would leave the free parking in place at the Circus Circus casino property.
So what does this mean for Vegas? Unless the Caesar's properties decide to jump on the bandwagon, I can see this move by MGM to quickly begin to benefit the Caesar's properties by increasing guest traffic flow through their properties. You can see an older (2011) but handy map of Vegas casino ownership here to give you a better visual.
In my mind however, I had to wonder just what changed. Why would MGM suddenly try to change the long standing tradition of free casino parking? If I had to guess, in addition to greed, I'd say the new T-Mobile Arena is to blame. Yep... that giant 20,000 seat arena venue MGM Resorts is building behind the New York, New York Casino is set to feature an opening night concert on April 6th... and every other major events arena charges for parking, don't they? But there would be no way for the T-Mobile arena to successfully charge for parking with all the free casino parking all around it (mostly by MGM Casinos) unless... yep... that has to be the answer to the "Why?" question in a nutshell.
(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.
(12/4/15) Interesting news from Las Vegas this week as the High Roller giant wheel has now rolled out lower pricing for locals as well as an Annual Pass option and upgrading pricing for a Happy Half Hour ticket that includes an in-cabin open bar for your ride.
(10/27/15) According to a Screamscape source, Wet 'n' Wild Las Vegas has been asking some guests about a new attraction concept that sounds like one of those new enclosed slides with extremely high G turns, that would be enhanced with music and lighting effects. The park also asked questions about having a Halloween event next season as well as questions about a Dinosaur themed attraction of some kind.
(10/20/15) Back to the Future fans will get a kick out of this, because on Wednesday, October 21st, 2015... Las Vegas' Plaza Hotel will be putting on a "Back to Biff's" party at The Plaza, in celebration of the casino resorts staring roll in Back To The Future 2 as Biff Tannen's Pleasure Paradise casino. The casino will have Doc Brown and Marty McFly lookalikes, Doc Brown's truck, a DeLorean Time Machine, 80's music, a costume contest and more. Click here to see more details.
(8/7/15) When people who visit Las Vegas think of the Las Vegas Monorail they usually think of one thing... "Why the heck doesn't this go to the airport!?" Plans have been drawn up and scrapped at least twice now to do just that, but financial troubles for either the monorail, or the world in general, have squashed those plans time and again.
The good news is that plans to expand the monorail are likely to rise up once again, this time as a reaction to the purchase of the Riviera by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which have long term plans to expand from the current site over to the strip on the former Riviera casino site, and they are sure to include a want for more monorail stops at the new facility. Of course an expansion from the MGM Grand to finally run down to the airport is also likely to be in play as the most requested feature of the Monorail line, as well as a once proposed expansion that could see it extended to run down to Mandalay Bay as well. Cross your fingers they finally get this thing done.
(7/26/15) A huge fire broke out on the rooftop pool of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas. In dramatic fashion the black smoke drew attention from all over the strip as the poolside fire was fueled by fake palm trees and poolside cabana structures, and caught on video by many tourists from nearby hotel room windows that offered a perfect view of the blaze such as the video below shot by a guest staying at the nearby Vdara and posted to Twitter. Firefighters had the blaze out about 30 minutes later and all is well, with no one burned and only one guest treated smoke inhalation. The exact cause of the fire has yet to be determined.
(7/17/15) MGM Resorts has announced plans to build a new 5,000 seat performance theater at the Monte Carlo casino. This is in addition to the large 20,000 seat arena that is already under construction between the Monte Carlo and New York, New York casino properties. Along with this move, the current Blue Man Group show at Monte Carlo will move back to the Luxor casino and re-launch with a new updated version of their show.
(6/27/15) Plans for a new casino resort on the Las Vegas Strip called "Alon Las Vegas" were filed with the county. According to this article, the Alon casino would take over the site of the former Frontier casino and feature a two-tower 1,100 room casino resort just north of the Fashion Show Mall. The plans also show a large performance theater space, a nightclub, ballroom and pool so far.
(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.
2018 - Resorts World Las Vegas - (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.
(3/25/15) According to VegasINC construction on the new Resorts World Las Vegas will finally kick into high gear on May 5th, on the site of the scrapped Echelon resort project. They hope to open the first phase in late 2017 if all goes well.
(8/1/14) Update - While the site in the photo is of the future Resorts World Las Vegas casino project, the construction seen on the site so far is not from Resorts World, but rather the leftover unfinished work started by Boyd for the failed Echelon Place casino. Resorts World will use some of this infrastructure to finish their project, while scrapping the rest where it doesn’t fit their plans for the site.
(7/31/14) One of our readers is in Vegas this week and had a great view of the new Resorts World Las Vegas construction site from their room. Check it out the picture they sent in.
(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.
(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.
???? - 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.