LAS VEGAS Area Attractions
Las Vegas, Nevada
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(5/17/22) Could Universal's Halloween Horror Nights Be Coming To Las Vegas? (MORE....)
(4/30/22) Las Vegas - Area 15 To Add a Boeing 747 To The Property (MORE...)
(4/14/22) "IT" Themed Escape Room Coming This Fall (MORE...)
(4/10/22) Flyover Las Vegas - New Iceland Ridefilm and Chance To Win A Trip To Iceland In Person (MORE...)
(4/9/22) The Tech Inside FlyOver Las Vegas (MORE...)
(3/17/22) Las Vegas - New Casino Rumored For The Strip, MSG Sphere Update and Area 15 Illuminarium To Open Soon (MORE...)
(3/6/22) Las Vegas - Terrible's Closed For Good and To Be Demolished (MORE...)
Las Vegas News - (5/17/22) I’ve no idea just how serious this is, but Screamscape is being told that Universal Studios may be in talks with a group in Las Vegas to create a Sin City version of Halloween Horror Nights. I don’t believe this is in connection with an existing attraction like the Circus Circus Adventuredome, but is expected to be more of a stand-alone Haunt experience the likes of which has never been seen before in Las Vegas. As the general demographic for visitors to the area skews to the 21+ range for most things, we could also be looking at an attempt to create a version of Halloween Horror Nights intended for an entirely mature audience.
Again… just talks and concept development so far, nothing concrete, but the mind does boggle at the possibilities.
(3/17/22) According to Vital Vegas a new casino may be planned for the strip on the former site of the Harley Davidson Cafe, currently the Tex Mex Tequila Bar & Grill. According to the rumor the new casino planned for the site may be owned by Tilman Fertitta, owner of Golden Nugget and the Landry’s restaurant chain. While the size of the plot isn’t huge, they point out that it isn’t much smaller than the site the Cosmo sits on, which simply just went taller to make up for the smaller footprint.
So what else is new in Las Vegas? Lots of progress is happening over at the MSG Sphere, both inside and outside of the structure. While all the technology is being installed inside the venue for the performance side of things, the outside of the sphere building is being covered in the framework that will hold approximately 580,000 sqft worth of LED lighting.
Meanwhile the new Illuminarium attraction inside Area 15 is set to officially open on April 15th.
(3/6/22) The last casino resort in Jean, NV is officially no more. The small stop that used to be home to two casino resorts back in the 90’s that sits about half-way between the NV/CA Stateline and the Las Vegas Strip was once home to Nevada Landing on the north side of I-15 (themed like two giant showboats) and the Gold Strike casino on the south side. Both casino properties were marketed together as the Gold Strike Resorts for a number of years which were then sold to the Circus Circus chain of casinos in 1995. In an unfortunately development, the Circus Circus chain of casinos, who had changed their name to Mandalay Resort Group by this time, has decided to sell their entire company to the growing MGM/Mirage chain of casinos in 2005.
It didn’t take long for MGM/Mirage to decide they didn’t want two casinos in Jean, they they shut down and demolished Nevada Landing first in 2007 with a plan to turn the 166-acre property into a new master planned community with some new housing development partners. I believe the plan was to keep the Gold Strike casino in place for the time being to service the new community, while deciding if they might instead build a new modern casino to eventually replace the Gold Strike. Of course the economic bust of 2008/2009 soon arrived and saw all plans to redevelop the former Nevada Landing site screech to a halt, allowing the desert to essentially retake the property.
2014 MGM opted to sell the old Gold Strike casino to a new owner (JETT Gaming) who eventually upgraded the site, opened an Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame and eventually renamed the casino as “Terrible’s” in 2018, as a tie-in to a group of convenience stores and gas stations they also owned under the same name. The run under the Terrible’s name was short lived, as the casino was shut down in March 2020 due to the COVID Pandemic and never was able to reopen.
According to the latest news reports the property has now been sold for $44.7 million to a developer from Reno who plans to demolish Terrible’s in order to build a huge “industrial park” complex on the 142-acre site. With no real population in the immediate area, other than the inmates of the nearby state prison, the idea is to turn the property into a series of warehouse/distribution center locations, allowing truckers to drive in and drop off their shipments from Southern California and get back to CA as a single-day’s drive. Construction isn’t expected to begin for another 12-18 months, and it will then take 3-5 years to build out the new industrial park complex. The former owners of Terrible’s still own a massive 96-pump “Terrible’s” branded truck stop on the north side of the freeway, and the terms of the land sale for the property on the south-side bar the future development of any businesses that would compete with anything offered at Terrible’s, including gas, grocery, convenience or liquor stores, coffee shops, car washes, etc.
(2/26/22) According to TechCrunch, Motionanal and Via plan to launch “free autonomous ride-hail” vehicle service in Las Vegas later this year. The partnership between the two was announced in 2020, with Motional being a joint venture from Hyundai and Aptiv. The plan is to launch a small fleet of electric Hyundai IONIQ self-driving cars (who will have a human safety operator behind the steering wheel at first, just in case) to operate around the downtown Las Vegas area. You are expected to be able to hail the free ride service through the Lyft app later this year, which will evolve into a commercial service for the driverless vehicles in Las Vegas by 2023.
Meanwhile you may be able to test it out now in select areas downtown using the Via app, which is using a small fleet of Motional’s self-driving BMW vehicles operating from 9am to 5pm on weekdays only, picking up and dropping off riders only at specific locations highlighted on the Via app map.
(2/11/22) The Las Vegas Loop, a future planned network of connected underground transportation tunnels, took a major step forward this week when the Boring Company tunneling machine finished the latest tunnel connecting the system at the convention center to the new Resorts World casino! After connecting to Resorts World the next stop will be to connect to the Wynn Casino.
After that, things are a little more unclear, but the idea behind the concept is to eventually connect to all the casinos up and down the Las Vegas Strip and eventually, even connect to the airport someday. Currently only the Wynn and Resorts World have agreements in place with the Boring Company to expand the system started at the Convention Center, but as things progress I anticipate more casinos to jump on the waiting list before too long.
(1/29/22) Just a few days ago we learned that sometime this year we will be saying goodbye to the Bally’s casino name in Las Vegas. But would you believe that a brand new Bally’s casino could rise in Las Vegas in the not too distant future? According to this update the new owners of the Tropicana (which are the new Bally’s Corporation, who bought the Bally’s brand name from Caesars awhile back) reveal that they are considering a total demotion of the Tropicana Las Vegas property.
While they have not totally decided what to do with the Trop, they have said that “whatever happens, the new property will likely be reimagined and renamed, ‘Ballys’”.
This says nothing about having a new Bally’s casino on Tropicana Ave. may be a little confusing for awhile, but then those who remember Las Vegas history will remember that the current Bally’s wasn’t always named that either. That site started out as the original MGM Grand in 1973, which famously caught on fire in 1980 resulting in 97 deaths. The old Bally Manufacturing company (maker of slot machines, pinball and video games) bought it and renamed it Bally’s in 1986.
(1/27/22) Las Vegas guests… say your goodbyes to Bally’s. According to the latest news Caesar’s will soon rebrand the famous Bally’s casino as the “Horseshoe” casino as part of a multi-million renovation project that will begin this Spring. The “Horseshoe” brand is a classic casino brand, with the Horseshoe serving as the original home to the World Series of Poker just in time for the event’s move from the Rio to the new Horseshoe casino this May 31 through July 19, 2022. Currently there are other Horseshoe casinos in Maryland, Illinois, Louisiana, Iowa and Mississippi.
While the casino itself will go under the knife starting this Spring for the transformation, the hotel rooms will remain open at full capacity during the transition. As part of the project a new marquee, three new restaurants as well as three new “attractions and experiences” will be added to the casino. No further details were given regarding just what form these new “attractions and experiences” will take. They hope to have the transformation complete by the end of 2022.
For those wondering, the name change to drop the Bally’s name was something that needed to happen anyway, as Caesar’s had sold the Bally’s name and rights to the name to another group back in 2020 for their own future projects. So it was only a matter of time before the Las Vegas Bally’s would have to take on a new identity. The new Horseshoe brand will also likely tie-in nicely with the arrival of Blake Shelton’s Ole Red venue to be built just in front of the casino’s entrance.
(1/24/22) Our local source has sent in some new pictures of renovations taking place to the front entrance of the Sahara casino resort, as well as a new pool area.
(1/22/22) Our local Las Vegas rep dropped by the Bellagio the other day and sent back pictures of the new display the casino has set up ahead of the Lunar New Year celebration, which I believe takes place on Feb. 1st, 2022 welcoming in the Year of the Tiger. This replaces the awesome Christmas display they had up previously.
(1/2/22) Special thanks to our local Las Vegas reporter for sending in a video of the New Year’s Eve fireworks show shot off the top of the Stratosphere Tower. Give it a watch down below and enjoy!
(12/19/21) Gene Simmons of KISS fame is reported to be developing an official KISS museum to be built at the RIO Casino, just off the strip. According to the reports the new museum experience is expecting to be ready to open in March 2022 and feature a plethora of items never seen before from Gene Simmons’ own personal collection of memorabilia.
The RIO resort is also home to the KISS themed Monster Mini-Golf attraction that opened in the Masquerade Village in 2016, which will also be expanded into a larger attraction sometime in 2022. The new KISS Museum will actually be attached to the mini-golf attraction.
(11/18/21) The city has approved funding for the preliminary design of a new pedestrian bridge on the Las Vegas Strip this week. The new bridge will be placed at the intersection of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. The design is expected to be finalized sometime in 2022, but you can see some preliminary concept art in the tweet below.
In other news it was announced that Blake Shelton will be bringing one of his Ole Red Bar/Music/Restaurant locations to Las Vegas for the first time, which will be located in front of Bally’s in the casino’s “Grand Bazaar Shops” area near the corner of Las Vegas Blvd and Flamingo. This will be the first Ole Red location in the western US, but it also expected to be the largest one of them all, at 27,000 sqft. Look for it to open in 2023.
(11/15/21) A major new show production is coming soon to the Planet Hollywood Casino from Franco Dragone & Chriss Angel called AMYSTIKA. The poster for the new production promotes the new show as “The New Mindfreak Prequel”. Previews will begin Dec. 27, 2021 and tickets are already for sale online now.
(11/9/21) Vital Vegas reports that Spiegelworld has entered into a new $75 million deal with Caesar’s Entertainment to create three new shows for the casino empire. DiscoShow will open first in 2022 at the Linq, the next two shows will be at Caesar’s properties outside Las Vegas: Caesar’s Atlantic City in 2023 and Caesar’s New Orleans in 2024.
(11/4/21) I shake my head when I try to fathom what has happened to Las Vegas in many ways. The rise of the MGM casino empire always surprised me, as to how they were able to gobble up the majority of their primary competition years ago (the Mirage casinos and former Circus Circus group casinos) leaping ahead to today’s market where MGM has been forced to sell of entire properties (and thus creating new competition for themselves). To say nothing of those crazy lease-back deals that provided them with good money up front, but will probably make the company miserable as can be in the years to come.
So let’s add another log to the MGM bonfire, shall we? According to local news reports MGM is now said to be preparing to sell The Mirage to a new owner. The intent to sell was confirmed by MGM’s CEO in a carefully worded statement:
“Today we are announcing that, after careful consideration, we have made the decision to sell the operations of The Mirage to another operator, a move that we believe is best for the long-term success of both the property and MGM Resorts.
The Mirage is a world-class, iconic property with unique attractions that is ripe for continued investment and development. It will be the crown jewel in another operator's portfolio, which is why we believe a sale makes strategic sense at this time.
We are committed to continuing to maintain and develop our existing Las Vegas portfolio with no plans for other changes on the Strip at this time.”
So.. .the Mirage is good enough to be the crown jewel for another developer, but for some reason it isn’t working out for MGM. But you know… it does make sense. The Mirage was something special back in the back… the casino started by Steve Wynn that launched his own casino empire back in the day, and as someone who visited Vegas frequently in the 90’s, The Mirage was a class-A place to stay with a great central Strip location.
So who will buy The Mirage? While I haven’t heard any rumors just yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if Phil Ruffin has been in some talks with MGM. Phil has already bought two casinos from MGM over the past few years (T.I. and Circus Circus) and given the close semi-linked nature of The Mirage to the T.I., it would be surprising to ignore a possible deal. At the same time, in an interview with Forbes done in mid-2020 during the shut-down, when asked if he wanted The Mirage, Ruffin said no. According to his comments a year ago, he wouldn’t want Mirage “because MGM doesn’t own the land or the building”. Things could have changed between then and now, but assuming it hasn’t, then the reason for MGM looking to off-load Mirage from their books is starting to make more sense.
So who exactly does own the property under The Mirage? According to our previous report from August, the building and land for The Mirage is owned by MGM Growth Properties, a separate real-estate company that is currently in the midst of being purchased by Vici Properties as part of a $17.2 billion deal expected to be finalized sometime in 2022. According to that report, Vici Properties was created as a spin-off from MGM competitor, Caesars Entertainment.
At the time, it was mentioned that Vici had just previously worked a deal with Apollo Global Management to purchase the Venetian, Palazzo and Sands Expo Center back in March, in a deal that would put ownership of the properties under Vici, but give Apollo the operations side to run those properties. With the Venetian seated directly across the street from The Mirage, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apollo ended up buying the business side of The Mirage as an extension of their current relationship with Vici who will end up as the property owner.
(10/27/21) Screamscape had the chance to get a sought over reservations for the new Spiegelworld restaurant Superfrico, the “Italian-American-Psychedelic” experience. Tons of eclectic art and their signature penguins adorn every space possible in the dining area. But the experience starts as you enter. Just expect nothing to be an ordinary….
Food is mostly Italian, with pasta, round pizzas, their square specialty pizzas and large plate items such as steak and chicken parm. We shared an appetizer and had the mushroom mogul pizza and the lamb ragú babbaluci which was more than enough food for two. The prices were pretty reasonable, especially compared to some of the other supper clubs in the area.
Which brings me to the entertainment. After 8pm, some of the stars of Opium make appearances in Superfrico and amaze guests with their unique acts. If you haven’t seen Opium yet, it is a lot of fun. This is why we were so excited to get to the restaurant to enjoy a few more acts with them. Again, these acts start after 8pm I believe, so make your reservations accordingly. Earlier reservations most likely won’t see any of the entertainment.
They do also have a speakeasy bar that the performers visit as well. No reservations needed in there. They remodeled the Rose. Rabbit. Lie. bar into a ski lodge lounge. Worth checking out.
Spiegelworld has definitely added a great presence to the Las Vegas Strip with their three show and now their restaurant. I am always so happy with everything they put out and am always eager to see what they’ll do next.
(10/7/21) Would you believe that what may be America’s (if not the World) most expensive Olive Gardens has now opened on the Las Vegas Strip? It’s hidden away inside the Showcase Mall on the Strip on the third floor, above a Target store, and it cost the company a reported $3.75 million to build it. Who would that thought it, huh? Some of the legendary mob bosses who ran Vegas in the early days may be turning over in their graves at the thought of Olive Garden on the Strip.
According to the report at Vital Vegas though, the interior of this Olive Garden is like no other, with the backsides of the giant video screens that decorate the outside also visible from the inside creating a trippy Blade Runner-esqe feeling, by washing the interior in constantly shifting colors inside the 12,500 sqft restaurant. They also report that despite the touristy location, the prices here seem to be the same as most other Olive Garden locations you’ll find throughout the country.
In other Vegas news, it seems Martha Stewart is preparing to open her very own restaurant, the first of which will open on the Las Vegas Strip inside the Paris casino according to demolition permits filed. No word on what style of restaurant it will be at this time.
And finally, Station Casinos has been given approval from county officials to move ahead with plans to build a new casino resort called Durango in the “southwest valley”. The new resort in Clark County will feature a 211 room hotel and 83,178 sqft casino and be located on South Durango Drive, south of the 215. Look for the casino to break ground sometime in the first half of 2022 and hopefully open before the end of 2023.
(9/25/21) In my coverage of the new “MOON” themed casino, I looked back upon many other proposed (and some built) “Space” themed attractions for Las Vegas, but I omitted one major one. Bob Stupak’s Vegas World, part of which was later incorporated into the larger Stratophere Tower casino project, also started by Bob Stupak.
While the early version of Vegas World was themed more as a gambling museum, the later version of Vegas World had a heavy Space and Sci-Fi theme to it. It got a bit rundown in the later years (early 90s) as Stupak was focused on the creation of the Stratosphere Tower. But rather than explain the long and somewhat odd history of Vegas World, it may be easier to just watch an excellent historical video about the location by clicking here. Personally, I only ever got to see the outside of Vegas World over the years, and by the time I was 21 the lengthy construction of the Straosphere had begun and I just opted to wait for that. Looking back I probably should have ventured into Vegas World at least once to see it with my own eyes.
(9/24/21) According to a new post by TheCoasterKings, during a drive from Las Vegas to California something interesting was spotted in the desert. Would you believe that they spotted Desperado make test runs while passing Buffalo Bills at Stateline? They pulled off the freeway and into the parking lot for a quick look and managed to get a few pictures of the blue train in action. Take a look for yourself, and you’ll see that from the look of things, the train looked to be clean and in great shape.
Spotting a maintenance employee watching the test run from behind the casino, they were told that while the coaster isn’t open currently, Desperado is fully tested each month to keep it in working shape. So while Desperado isn’t open to guests currently, it is good to know that the casino is keeping up on the coaster’s maintenance and testing at least, which is a great sign that they do hope to reopen it someday.
Let's hope that day comes sooner than later.
In other news...
Stop me if you’ve heard this rumor before… would you believe someone wants to build a massive MOON themed resort and casino on the Las Vegas strip? It’s true… according to reports a Canadian developer is now looking to build it as a massive SPHERE shaped structure themed to look like the Moon that could cost up to $5 billion and stand 735 feet tall, as the second tallest structure in Las Vegas, beat out only by the Stratosphere Tower.
Having a bit of Deja Vu? Long time readers may remember hearing something like this pitched before, but at a smaller scale. Back in 2002 the same developer began his quest to build a Moon themed casino resort, and brought it up again in 2014. The earlier version would have features a large moon shaped sphere sitting on a lunar looking landscape of craters, surrounded by a horse-shoe shaped casino tower structure on three sides.
Somehow I think the building of the MSG Sphere concert venque has struck a creative nerve and pushed them to redesign the concept to feature an even bigger Moon that would contain virtually every aspect of the resort experience inside the giant sphere. The top half of the sphere is said to be a giant lunar scapeland built inside the dome. Guests can ride a shuttle vehicle that looks a bit like a roller coaster car from the bottom up into the lunar dome to walk across the surface of the moon and experience various attractions.
Based on some of the artwork shown, it appears that the lunar sphere would include a massive central tower structure to support the dome that would contain the moon themed hotel rooms, without windows to the outside world of course. I’m not sure if they would use screen technology to simulate a fake window view, or if they would have real windows looking out into some kind of void at a projection surface on the inside of the sphere. Add in the spiral like coaster track that the “shuttles” will use to take guests to the top and back down again, and I was starting to get almost PolarCoaster style vibes, as if the idea was to build a PolarCoaster style tower, and then surround in with a giant sphere.
The developers simply have what they’ve had for the past two decades… which is a neat looking idea that may simply be too big and grandiose a concept to actually build with a real-world budget. They don’t even have property to build it, though they would love to partner up with the Wynn casinos to build it on Wynn’s property across the street from their namesake casino.
Las Vegas has had a fun history of space / sci-fi themed casino concepts over the years. In addition to the ongoing updated MOON concept, there was also a concept around 2016 to build a casino themed to the planet MARS, that also promised the experience of an environmental dome to walk on the surface of the red planet. Until now, perhaps the biggest and most grand concept never to be built was for a Star Trek themed casino that would have seen a scale size version of the starship Enterprise parked on the Strip that guests could board, gamble, eat and stay inside themed rooms. (Don’t get this confused with the awesome Star Trek: The Experience attraction that did open at the Las Vegas Hilton for a number of years before it was taken away from us.)
(8/16/21) A couple of fun developments have been taking place in the Las Vegas region this month. For starting, would you believe that a real estate company (Vici Properties) created as a spin-off of Caesars Entertainment, has now struck a deal to acquire MGM Resorts similar spin-off real estate company, MGM Growth Properties in a deal said to be worth $17.2 billion?
On the business side for the casinos, nothing will change, each casino/resorts company will keep on running their own properties, but in the end Vici will end up owning all the various the properties, as part of the various pre-existing lease-back deals in place. The combined real-estate portfolio between the two would include Caesars Palace, Harrah’s Las Vegas, Harrah’s Laughlin, MGM Grand, Mirage, Mandalay Bay, Park MGM, Luxor, Excalibur and the New York-New York Hotel/Casino. In a previous deal, Vici also worked with Apollo Global Management to purchase The Venetian, Palazzo and Sands Expo/Convention Center for $6.25 billion back in March, with Vici keeping the real estate and Apollo purchasing the operations side of those casino properties. Look for both deals to be finalized sometime in 2022.
In other news, the Brightline West high-speed rail project that seeks to run passengers from the California desert east of Los Angeles to Las Vegas is still looking to secure their funding for the project. The project which has been in development for over a decade had hoped to begin construction in 2021 and start operations in 2024. For now it may be until at least 2022 before they can finalize the needed investors to move forward.
(8/1/21) In an interesting move, Vital Vegas reports that many of the Caesars Entertainment casinos have been replacing large sections of the casino “table games” with new automated electronic games and slot machines. I’m not sure if this is being driven by a lack of staff, as table games require operators, or if this is a move to bring in more automated gaming areas simply because they do not require staffing at all to operate other than periodic maintenance. This move is also something likely pushed by the Caesar’s new owners, Eldorado Resorts.
Other cost cutting moves in effect including the closing of most of the buffets at the resorts, a reduction in the amount of live entertainment, and apparently even a cut back in the amount of liquor being poured into the drinks. In another update we also mentioned the return of paid-parking to most casinos earlier this summer, this includes adding it to the Caesar’s owned Planet Hollywood casino for the first time this month.
For those interested, I believe you can still find free parking at the Tropicana, Venetian, Circus Circus, the Wynn and Stratosphere casinos. Someone please correct me if this has changed lately for any of those sites.
2022/2023 - Area 15 Expansions - (4/30/22) A fascinating new addition is planned for Area 15 in Las Vegas. A large section of what used to be a functional Boeing 747 is currently sitting at the Las Vegas Speedway and will soon make it’s way to Area 15 after being purchased by the Fisher Brothers. Previously this gigantic 747 was set-up as an art installation at the Burning Man Festival.
What exactly Area 15 has planned for how they will restore, theme, or use the 747 remains to be seen. According to Winston Fisher, “We are incredibly excited about the immeasurable creative opportunities that come with repurposing this 747 jet.” “The possibilities of what we can accomplish with this purchase are endless, and we look forward to sharing more as our vision takes shape.”
(1/31/22) The new Liftoff experience at Area 15 in Las Vegas is now set to officially “launch” on Feb. 3, 2022. “A proper toast with specialty libations and refreshments awaits you at the LIFTOFF Lounge before ascending up to the desert airspace. Then, you’ll step into the helix for an open-air balloon ride taking you up 130-feet high. At its apex, you’ll behold an extraordinary, 360-degree view of the Las Vegas Strip and vistas far and wide.”
You can experience the new Liftoff experience both day and night and you can pre-pay for the experience on the website now. Various package offers are available for just the ride experience only, ride and drink options, as well as discounted 2 and 4-pack rider packages. (Note: Liftoff was previously announced the the “RISE - An Elevated Bar Experience” back in August. You can see a picture it be below...)
(8/18/21) According to a local news report Area 15 has announced that they bring a unique new bar experience to the unique Las Vegas attraction. “RISE - An Elevated Bar Experience” will hoist up to 16 guests 131 feet into the air for a open-air bar experience for views of the Strip with a beverage of your choice. The ride up and down the tower will take approximately 7 minutes. Tickets for adults will start at $18 and a ticket with an included beverage will start at $26.
Look for RISE to open later this year.
(3/6/21) Area 15 has broken ground on a new expansion that will allow them to host large events, concerts and festivals in the future. They are calling it The Grounds, a 4-acre site that used to be home to a Scandia Family Fun Center, and it could be ready to host events as early as Summer 2021.
Fall 2021 - FlyOver Las Vegas - (4/10/22) FlyOver Las Vegas has launched a new flight experience and is now offering guests to the Las Vegas location a chance to try the Legendary Iceland ride-film. To celebrate the launch of the new ride experience, guests who visit during April a chance to win a trip for two to visit Iceland in person.
(4/9/22) A great new article about the the FlyOver Las Vegas attraction that opened last year has been posted to Blooloop this week. While Screamscape’s previous review of the attraction covered it from the guest point of view, this new article really goes in deep to reveal all the hidden technology used to bring the entire FlyOver Las Vegas experience to life. They’ve got the details about the unique pre-show experience, the ride system used, the projection systems and much more that take this latest FlyOver experience to the next level.
(10/24/21) Last Friday, Screamscape had the opportunity to ride the new FlyOver Las Vegas attraction in the Showcase building on the Las Vegas Strip. Thanks to the General Manager Jack, Heidi and the staff of FlyOver for a wonderful visit! This is an absolutely fantastic addition to the Las Vegas Strip and really adds a dynamic attraction to a mini mall building that’s been needing a big attraction for a long time.
FlyOver takes over two former business spaces within the Showcase Mall, DSW Shoes and the old movie theater. The entrance to the building is next to Hard Rock and below the sky bridge to Park MGM. Upon entering the building, a ticket area greets you with friendly staff followed by a long hallway with bright lighting and video effects of organic visuals that they call the decompression zone. This hallway transports you from the loud strip to the serene experience beyond.
Guests then enter the lobby area, themed to the bottom of a canyon. There are comfortable places to sit while you await your journey and a lobby bar called the Lost Cactus with snacks and drinks that are nicely priced in comparison to the normal “strip prices.”
We rode the “Real Wild West” attraction which, with the pre-show, was about a 25 minute experience. Here is the official description of the attraction: “Experience the West at its wildest. Glide over vast prairies and towering peaks. Dip into valleys where untamed rivers rush, and buzz through electric urban spaces pulsing with energy. Wild locations include: Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Monument Valley, Lake Tahoe, Mojave Desert, Las Vegas Strip and many more.“
This is a fun flying theater attraction! First of all, it’s a pretty long experience. The actual ride length is a little over 8 minutes. It gives you the opportunity to see 21 locations in the western US. Transitions between scenes are well edited and smooth. The motion base allows for 6 degrees of motion in front of the 52 foot screen (vs the 2-3 degrees on an attraction like Soarin’). The movement is well programmed and timed to the film. The film itself is extremely crisp and clear with a beautiful soundtrack complimenting it. Before the ride itself there is also a pre-show film that offers a look at the western US from the earliest days and is projected in a unique way.
All films in the FlyOver attractions world-wide are shot and edited in house. Creative Director for the project is Rick Rothschild (former Disney Imagineer for Soarin’) and director is Cannes Lion award-winning director Dave Mossop. Each attraction has a unique film created for the location it’s in and will bring in other experiences for the location (Las Vegas is also showing the Iceland attraction). Seasonal films already showing in other cities will probably be included into this location next year. Las Vegas is the only location so far with two theaters. It also has the ability to add another theater, but that’s not in the works at this time. There are 20 seats on the top and the bottom of the attraction. With 2 theaters and a 12-hour day FlyOver can reach a capacity of 3800/day. Currently only 1 theater is being utilized.
Tickets are $34/adult, $24/child with locals and double ride discounts. There is also a 40” Height requirement to ride.
FlyOver Las Vegas was a wonderful ride and quite the relaxing escape from the Las Vegas Strip. It exceeded my expectations of the attraction and will definitely be a must-do for any out of town guests!
(9/6/21) The new FlyOver Las Vegas attraction is now officially open on the Las Vegas Strip, taking guests on a “on a multi-sensory journey over 22 of the United States’ most stunning destinations in an original flight ride film, ‘The Real Wild West.’”
“FlyOver uses state-of-the-art technology to give visitors the feeling of flight. Shown in stunning 8k resolution on a massive 52.5ft screen, location specific mists, scents and wind fully immerse guests in the action taking place all around them on a spherical screen. Fliers glide over landmarks in Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Montana, California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico.
The 25-minute experience begins with a six-minute pre-show by Montreal-based Moment Factory. Setting the stage for the flight to come, guests learn the history of the booms and busts of the American West, where scenes such as the Cambrian explosion to the ghost towns of Gold Rush are shown on a dynamic 360-degree video wall. After the pre-show, visitors then board the flight ride, where they soar to tremendous heights. Land, sea and sky are all shown throughout the film, punctuated with a captivating musical score by GRAMMY-nominated composer Tom Holkenborg.” Destinations featured include:
Crashing 65-foot waves at Lost Coast just south of Jackass Creek
A dual flood gate release that happens once every 11 years at Roosevelt Dam in Arizona
Potash pools in Moab
Bellagio Fountains and The Strip in Las Vegas
A solar eclipse over a volcanic peak in Oregon’s Cascade Volcanic Arc
Winter beauty in Yellowstone National Park with a team of stallions
Water skiing in winter snow at Cascade Lake
A Hualapai traditional “Bird Dance” in the Grand Canyon
A speed demon Streamliner soaring over Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah
Two Navajo horseback riders traversing Monument Valley, Arizona
Western movie set action in Goldfield Ghost Town, Arizona
Fly fishing in the woods outside of Telluride, Colorado
The vantage point of a wingsuiter as they descend Washington’s Stehekin Mountain
Tickets to experience FlyOver Las Vegas are said to be $24 for children and $34 for adults, with the attraction being open daily from noon to 8pm currently. The attraction is also offering tickets to experience a second ride film at the location from their FlyOver Iceland attraction, with a combo special ticket available to experience both.
(6/30/21) It has been forever since we’ve heard anything about the long delayed FlyOver Las Vegas attraction, but now we finally have some good news. According to an email sent out by the company, they are now looking to hire for over 100 positions to run the attraction when it opens in Fall 2021.
The flying theater attraction was also confirmed to feature two different experiences: the new “The Real Wild West” experience made just for FlyOver Las Vegas as well as the Legends of Iceland attraction film produced for sister attraction: Flyover Iceland. Even better, we now have a location for the new attraction, which is said to be located next to the Hard Rock Cafe on the Las Vegas Strip. Based on that location, I’m thinking that FlyOver Las Vegas may have taken over the former United Artists movie theater location which I believe closed down in early 2018.
Check out the official website for the latest information and updates!
(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.
Late 2021 - Arcadia Earth - (12/23/21) Screamscape was sent a couple of pictures showing off the entrance to the new Arcadia Earth attraction.
(12/18/21) A new art-based attraction is coming to Las Vegas called Arcadia Earth. Much like Omega Mart at Area 15, this too will be an immersive art exhibit, but with a focus on the beauty of our planet and the danger facing it due to human actions. Arcadia Earth will cover 15,000 sqft of space with 15 exhibits, and located at 3785 S. Las Vegas Blvd, which I believe puts it in the same building as the Coca-Cola Store and Outback Steakhouse, across the street from the Hard Rock Cafe. This will actually be the second Arcadia Earth exhibit when it opens on Dec. 30th, with the original having opened in New York City in Late Summer 2019.
2022 - Mad Apple / New Cirque Du Soleil Show at New York-New York Casino - (2/26/22) As rumored, Cirque du Soleil has confirmed plans to add a new show to the NY-NY Casino called Mad Apple. “Let loose and experience New York City nightlife. Mad Apple is a delicious Cirque du Soleil cocktail of acrobatic feats towering over the stage, stand-up comedy that'll make you laugh out loud, as well as music, dance, and magic acts celebrating the city that never sleeps.” Look for the new show to open in May 2022.
(2/16/22) According to a report at Vital Vegas, Cirque du Soleil is preparing a news conference to take place on Feb. 22 where they will announce a new show coming to the New York-New York Casino in Las Vegas to be called, Mad Apple. The casino has been without a Cirque show since they closed the Zumanity show in March 2020, just days ahead of the full COVID shut-down of Las Vegas.
Fall 2022 - ESCAPE IT - (4/14/22) Egan Productions will bring another famous Hollywood horror IP to life as an Escape Room concept in Las Vegas very soon. After creating the Escape Blair Witch and SAW Escape Rooms, they are now hard at work creating ESCAPE IT. Yes… IT… as in Pennywise the clown from the two popular IT feature films. According to the official website, the new ESCAPE IT experience is planned to open this fall and according to reports the experience will span more than 30,000 sqft and feature more than 20 different interactive rooms that players will have to search for clues to fight off Pennywise. Expect to be taken into locations from the films such as the Losers’ Clubhouse, the Neibolt House and into the dank sewers under the city.
Details are slight at the moment, but it sounds like there may be two entirely different experiences to try out, likely one themed to the adventures of the kids in the first IT film, and the second themed to the adventures they had as adults when they return to try and finish off Pennywise for good.
The location of the new ESCAPE IT has yet to be revealed, but previously the Blair Witch and SAW rooms were located within the same complex of buildings, but I’m not sure they have room to add this massive new experience here.
2022 - MSG Sphere - (11/6/21) According to a local news report the MSG Sphere has moved on to a new phase of construction that is setting up the steel structure that will suppose the massive interior LED displays and audio systems for the venue. As you can see in the photos at the link, the concrete and steel domed roof structure was completed last month and gives us a look at the overall shape of the massive sphere shaped building structure. The photo gallery even includes a couple of images showing off the current look inside the sphere.
(9/7/21) A local area friend sent in some fantastic pictures of the new MSG Sphere arena venue under construction. It’s really cool looking now as the giant sphere shape is clearly defined. In a fun way, it’s almost giving off the appearance of what the Death Star would look like if it landed on the ground.
(4/13/20) For those wondering, here is the current state of the MSG Sphere structure, as seen from the street level.
(4/5/20) While construction work on the Madison Square Garden Sphere is still taking place, the company did announce that within the next week all construction will stop. This is due to a disruption in the supply chain of materials needed to keep going. Construction of the various aspects of the arena will come to a stop as they reach the point where they can’t do anything more until new materials arrive. Unfortunately, the company also stated that this will make it very difficult to open the Sphere in 2021 as they had hoped, so I’d expect to see the opening pushed back to 2022.
(1/14/20) Delayed until 2021.
(3/6/18) Just when you figured that Las Vegas must have enough big arenas for all the various special events, shows, sports and concert events, along comes one more. A deal between Sands Corp and Madison Square Garden will create a new and unique looking venue called "MSG Sphere Las Vegas", which will look like a giant sphere themed to look like the planet Earth had landed on the ground.
The venue is focused more on concert events rather than sporting events, but construction is set to begin sometime this year with the goal of opening the MSG Sphere by 2020. Look for it to rise on a site located somewhere near the Venetian and Wynn casinos.
Late 2023 - Fontainebleau - Under Construction - (1/24/22) While work is now taking place to finish the Fontainebleau casino, we’ve been sent a couple of images showing off the different look of the tower as seen from the North and South sides. You’ll also notice the kind of small and minimalist logo they’ve now added to the tower.
(1/14/22) It has been a long LONG time, but the Fontainebleau is being finished at last. And now they’ve launched an all new website to celebrate the planned opening in Late 2023.
Check it out.
(11/11/21) In a crazy twist of fate, it is now official and Fontainebleau is back. The huge blue unfinished building that you can miss in the Las Vegas skyline has now returned to being owned by the original developer, Jeffrey Soffer. Soffer and others were on hand to mark the official start of construction work once again on the stalled project, claiming that it will be finished and ready to open by the fourth quarter of 2023.
(10/16/21) According to the local news Marriott has officially confirmed that they are no longer part of the project to open The Drew resort (formerly Fontainebleu). Before this the plan was to get the property ready to open in Oct. 2023 as the first JW Marriott on the Las Vegas Strip. According to the statement from Marriott, they have reached a settlement with the current owner of the property (Koch Industries bought it in Feb. 2021) to exit the project.
No further comments have been added to say if this will delay the plans to open the property in 2023, or if the owner is finalizing any new plans to open the resort with a different operator. Either way, let’s hope they can come up with a new and final name for this project at least.
(2/17/21) According to this news report “The Drew” casino/resort in Las Vegas that stalled out once again has now been sold to another new owner. The price of the sale isn’t known at this time, but the new owners are said to be the “real estate arm of Koch Industries”. For those keeping track, this would be the forth owner of the unfinished property over the years. The last owner made the most progress on the resort and seemed ready to finish the project before COVID-19 hit and saw all the remaining financing dry up.
One interesting fact about the new ownership is that they say Koch’s partner in the project is the original 2007 developer of the resort from back when it was known as Fontainebleau. The original development of the Fontainebleau project went under during the 2008/2009 financial depression and lost it as part of their bankruptcy. It should be an interesting thing to watch, as the resort very far along at this point, 14 years later, and sits across the Strip, just down the road from the new Resorts World casino opening this Summer, and right next door to the Convention Center expansion.
(4/19/20) While it hasn’t been officially confirmed yet, the latest rumors about the fate of The Drew in Las Vegas indicate that the project may be dead in the water again. The Drew started out life as the Fontainebleau in 2005 when it was first announced with a planned 2008 opening date. The start of construction was pushed back until early 2007 and stopped in 2009 when the project filed bankruptcy. From there it sat idle for almost a decade before getting purchased and construction began again in 2018 with a new name and hopes to open in 2020, then pushed back to late 2022. Hopefully they will find a way to get it back on track again and finish the project eventually, as I believe the owners were trying to finalize a final construction loan earlier this year to finish it, just before the arrival of the latest coronavirus threw everything into a tizzy.
2024 - Majestic Las Vegas - (10/17/21) A few new details about the planned Majestic Las Vegas resort were released this week, including a rendering. As you recall, the plan is for this to not only be a non-smoking resort, but also a non-gaming resort as well. Instead the Majestic will feature a 70,000 sqft “wellness center” to be called the Spa Majestic that would include a spa, fitness center and a medical area that would have the ability to conduct ‘whole-body scans, thermography technology, and some advanced diagnostic and screening exams”.
It sounds like it is placing itself as the ultimate getaway for someone looking to focus inward on themselves and their health. Of course, this is somewhat ironic, as it will be located in the middle of Las Vegas, home to virtually every vice known to man, where virtually anything you might want has been made legal in the region, for a price.
Construction on the $850 million, 620 foot tall resort is expected to begin in early 2022 and planning for an opening in 2024. The resort will offer 720 suites, and 270,000 sqft of “Corporate Sky Suites”, with sales on the later to begin any time now. It is located right in the heart of all the Convention Center action, right across the street from the new wing of the Las Vegas Convention Center that opened earlier this year, sort of in the middle between Wynn’s Encor tower and the old original wing of the Convention Center, with the new Resorts World on the fourth side, making this a key location for those seeking to conduct business without distraction.
(2/12/21) According to Travel & Leisure a unique new resort is planning to open in Las Vegas in 2024 called the Majestic Las Vegas. This will be an off-strip resort (about 2 blocks) located not far from the Convention Center, and what will set it apart is that not only will be not allow Smoking of any kind on the property, but it will also not feature any kind of gambling at all. That’s right… no casino… no slot machines… not even Keno.
According to the article the $850 million 5-star resort will feature 720 suites, six restaurants and a courtyard featuring dancing fountains and other live entertainment.
So what do you think? When you visit Vegas do you want the convenience of a casino inside your hotel or does all the noise, hustle and bustle just get overwhelming and you are ready for a more relaxed experience?
???? - 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’.
???? - NEW HARD ROCK HOTEL & CASINO - (1/23/22) Las Vegas has long been home to big cats, especially the tigers that were famously used in the days of the Siegfried and Roy magic show that performed from 1990 to 2003 at The Mirage. With the death of both Siegfried (Jan. 13, 2021) and Roy (May 8, 2020), the majority of the tigers and lions from the show have remained at The Mirage as part of the “Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat” attraction. But with the announced sale of The Mirage to Hard Rock and the intent to rebrand the casino resort as a new Hard Rock Casino, what will happen to the animals?
According to the local report the management of Hard Rock International has not yet made the call about what will happen to the Secret Garden attraction and the animals within. The terms of the sale of the resort from MGM to Hard Rock are unknown, and it is entirely possible that Hard Rock may require MGM to remove the animals before the sale is complete if Hard Rock is uncomfortable with taking ownership of them, or has other unannounced plans for the attractions space. Note that this isn’t an uncommon requirement when attractions change hands, especially if the new owner has no experience dealing with them, or in some cases, may have an existing corporate policy to not keep animals in captivity at their attractions.
On a related note about Tigers in Las Vegas, a proposal was made awhile back Jay Owenhouse to include tigers and other animals in a magic show held in a temporary structure along the Strip near the Mandalay Bay. In light of criticism from animal rights activists and safety concerns about keeping Tigers inside what would appear to be a modern-day circus tent style structure in such a public space the magician has now altered his proposal to exclude animals from the show.
The location of the show has also changed to a new location close to the Sahara on the northern end of the Strip after the land at the previous site (intended for 2020) fell into foreclosure. The new application for the animal-free show near the Sahara is expected to go before the Zoning Comission on Feb. 2, with plans to have it up and running sometime in Spring 2022.
(12/20/21) A piece of sad news from Las Vegas this week, as the CEO of Hard Rock International has confirmed that as part of the transformation of The Mirage into a new Hard Rock branded casino, the world famous ‘volcano’ structure outside the front of the Mirage that used to put on nightly shows will be torn down as part of the remodel of the casino.
Their plans for the Mirage property will involve building a massive new guitar-shaped hotel tower in front of the existing towers (why the volcano is leaving), adding a new live music venue and more. Currently however they have not announced if they plan to keep the Beatles themed show from Cirque du Soleil, though with a brand like Hard Rock, it would be hard to see them passing on opportunity to keep the show, unless it just was not selling out the venue on a regular basis prior to COVID.
A long-distance rendering of the property, as seen looking down the Strip, was also released by Hard Rock that shows off the new guitar-shaped hotel tower that will sit prominently in front of the entire resort.
(12/16/21) The Hard Rock brand is coming back to the Las Vegas Strip, but not where you would have expected. According to CNN Hard Rock International has signed a deal with MGM Resorts to hand the operations of The Mirage over to Hard Rock. The deal worth $1.075 billion will close sometime in the second half of 2022 and comes with the rights to continue to use The Murage name and brand for three more years, allowing Hard Rock the time to determine just how they intend to re-brand The Mirage after that.
(1/11/21) Previous rumors had suggested that when Hard Rock sold their off-strip Las Vegas casino resort the chain actually had long-term plans to make a huge return to Sin City by purchasing an existing and bigger on-strip property. One the biggest early rumors suggested that Hard Rock may have actually entered into talks with Caesar’s to buy their Planet Hollywood casino property. There was also a whisper that Hard Rock may have also inquired about buying The Mirage from MGM Resorts at one point.
According to Casino.org, Hard Rock may have set their sights on an even bigger fish and could be in talks to buy The Venetian and Palazzo casinos from the Las Vegas Sands group. The rumored asking price is said to be in the $6 billion price range to take-over the side-by-side casino properties on the strip. The price here is steep and would be a big pill for Hard Rock to swallow, but perhaps they are just testing out the pricing for the dual-resorts while the market is still a bit soft due to COVID, as I would think that the price will only go up from here as the world recovers.
(5/13/20) In an interesting press release, Hard Rock International has struck a deal with Juniper Capital to gain the “full intellectual property rights” to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino brand in Las Vegas. The deals with HRI the full rights to the brand, memorabilia, signage and merchandise along with any other IP rights for affiliated restaurants and entertainment trademarks, website domains and more.
In other words, Hard Rock International now has regained the full rights to develop and operate their own Hard Rock branded casino & resort in Las Vegas. This falls in line with earlier reports that upon the sale of the original Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas to Virgin, that Hard Rock International was looking to revive the brand under their own leadership, either as a new location or as the possible buyout of an existing property that would be transformed into a new Hard Rock Casino.
New 2021 Attractions Now Open in the Las Vegas Area -
NEW COASTER TRAINS on Big Apple Coaster @ NYNY
FLYOVER LAS VEGAS - Flying Theater Attraction Open On Las Vegas Strip
MEOW WORLD: OMEGA MART - Unique Experiential Attraction Experience
ESCAPE BLAIR WITCH - Themed Escape Room Experience
NEW RESORTS - Resorts World Las Vegas and Virgin Hotels Las Vegas (Opened 2021)
New 2020 Attractions Now Open in the Las Vegas Area -
AREA 15 - New attraction opened in late 2020
Circa Resort & Casino - New Fremont Street Casino Opened Late 2020
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 - (CLOSED A Few Months After Opening) “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 (Closed In Mid 2020) - 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.