LAS VEGAS Area Attractions
Las Vegas, Nevada
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(9/24/21) Desperado Testing and A Massive Moon Themed Casino Concept
(9/13/21) Sahara Construction Update and Magic Mike Live Theater
(9/7/21) New MSG Sphere Construction Pictures (MORE...)
(9/6/21) FlyOver Las Vegas Is Now Open (MORE...)
(8/18/21) Area 15 To Add RISE - An Elevated Bar Experience (MORE...)
(8/16/21) Casino Property Merger Deals and High Speed Rail Update (MORE...)
(8/4/21) Planet Hollywood Parking Rates (MORE...)
Las Vegas News - (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.
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.
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...
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.)
(9/13/21) We’ve got a few new pictures from Las Vegas to share this week from our local area Screamscape rep. Included are a group of three pictures showing off the new front of the Sahara casino which has seen the front of the casino, formerly home to Speed: The Ride, rebuilt to accommodate a few new restaurants that will open soon. The casino is also home to the returning Magic Mike Live show and we’ve got a few pictures of the theater to share as well. Enjoy!
(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.
(8/4/21) A reader sent over a sign showing off the new parking rates for the Planet Hollywood casino. Apparently the system installed is having a few growing pains, so it is still in a test mode and they have not officially started charging as planned just yet.
(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.
(7/27/21 - UPDATE) Amazing footage was captured and shared on Instagram when the top of The Stratosphere Tower was struck by lightning the other night during a rare electrical storm. Keep in mind that the bright red tower on the top of the Strat is not just there for looks, but is actually The Big Shot, perhaps the most famous S&S Space Shot ride installation in the world, sitting perched at the very top of the Stratosphere Tower.
(7/27/21) A couple of new and interesting restaurants are opening in Las Vegas soon. VitalVegas reports that a new creation called Peyote will open at Ferguson’s Downtown Motel on Fremont Street in September.
Meanwhile for my Horror fans out there, construction for a new creation called The Nightmare Cafe has started on the way to the downtown area. The Nightmare Cafe will serve as an extension to the existing Nightmare Toys store, that will add a horror-themed restaurant and bar to the area at 1307 S. Commerce Street, which is sort of half-way between The Strat and Fremont Street in what’s known as The Arts District.
(7/21/21) I haven’t really been following which casinos were charging for parking, as most of them opted to stop along with the rise of the pandemic. That said, I’ve been told that the Planet Hollywood casino will begin to charge for parking in their structure starting on August 2nd. New automated gates and payment kiosks have already been installed, along with a system of red/green lights in the roof of each floor of the structure to help guests find the empty parking spaces.
As I understand things, Planet Hollywood was a longtime stalwart of “Free Parking” for everyone, even back pre-COVID when almost every other casino was charging for parking. So why they would choose to switch to paid-parking now is a bit of a head scratcher.
While I don't have a current list, as I understand it, many of the casinos that formerly charged for parking have quietly begun doing so once again.
(7/20/21) Something akin to a 1950 Supper Club has launched in Las Vegas under the name “Delilah” at the Wynn Las Vegas. The exclusive dining experience comes with a no-photo policy and a ban on children under age 5. Fortunately “Eater” scored a write up with a ton of photos showing off the decor of this new night time experience in Las Vegas. Check it out.
(5/5/21) According to the local news, Red Rocks Resorts, who also owns the Station casinos, has signed a deal to sell The Palms casino to new owners. The new owners will be the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians tribe from California, who purchased the casino for $650 million in cash. The deal is expected to officially close sometime later this year, after going through all the regulatory hoops with the state and gaming commissions.
(4/26/21) Cirque Du Soleil has issued a statement with the opening dates for several of their returning shows.
Blue Man Group will return first in Las Vegas at the Luxor casino on June 24, 2021.
Mystere will reopen next in Las Vegas at Treasure Island on June 28, 2021.
“O” will reopen next in Las Vegas at the Bellagio on July 1, 2021.
They also confirmed two international productions that will return, starting with the traveling show “Kooza” that will kick off in the Dominican Republic in November 2021 followed by “Luzia” which will open in London on January 12, 2022.
(4/14/21) Our friends at BlooLoop have posted a fascinating first look at Elon Musk’s tunnel system in Las Vegas, better known as the Las Vegas Convention Center Loop, which was tunneled underground by Musk’s “The Boring Company”. According to the piece the new underground transportation system will be ready for riders attending conventions starting in June 2021.
Riders will descend to loading platforms (or use a ground-level station) where they will board Tesla brand electric cars who will travel between stations inside one-way tunnels. Even better, the transportation system will be free of charge, able to move riders from one side of the convention center complex to the other in about two minutes. Plans are also underway to expand the Convention Center Loop out to nearby casinos, creating a ‘Vegas Loop” extension to the system.
When the system opens, the Tesla cars will be manned with drivers, but the long term plan is to eventually move to a drive-free system.
(3/24/21) More and more live entertainment shows are starting to open up again in Las Vegas. It was just last week that Spiegelworld’s “Absinthe” reopened at Caesar’s Palace on March 17, and now another hit Spiegelworld creation, “Atomic”, is set to reopen. According to Las Vegas Weekly “Atomic Saloon Show” will return to the Venetian on May 5, 2021.
No date has been set, but Spiegelworld’s third show, Opium at the Cosmopolitan, is also expected to open sometime in late Spring or early Summer, so keep your ears open for this upcoming news as well.
(3/6/21) It has been confirmed that the Las Vegas Sands group is selling the Sands Expo Center as well as the combined Venetian/Palazzo casino resort to Apollo Global Management and VICI Properties for a combined $6.25 billion! The breakdown of the deal sees Apollo paying $2.25 billion for the “Venetian’s operating company” and VICI “buying the land and real estate assets” for $4 billion.
(3/3/21) More live entertainment is preparing to return to the big Las Vegas resorts. According to this report Cirque du Soleil’s “O” at the Bellagio is planning to return to action on July 4, 2021. At least this is the plan… they have not gone so far as to set this date as absolute, but it is what they are shooting for as there is a lot of work to do to get the show back up the running, along with getting both the cast and crew ready for perform for live audiences once again. According to Eric Grilly, Cirque’s Senior VP, the opening of “O” would the be followed by the opening of Mystere at Treasure Island, and then they’ll determine the final order of reopening Love at The Mirage, Michael Jackson One at Mandalay Bay and KA at MGM Grand. If all goes as planned, the would like to re-open a Cirque show in Las Vegas for each month following “O” to finish up 2021.
They also state that there is a chance that the first show from their slate to open in Las Vegas may not even be “O”. There is a chance that the Blue Man Group show at Luxor stands a chance of opening before even “O”.
As a reminder, a few other Cirque shows that once ran in Vegas are now permanently closed such as the short lived R.U.N. show at Luxor that replaced the former Criss Angel show, and Zumanity is no longer running at the NY-NY Casino.
Elsewhere in Vegas, Absinthe is returning to action at Caesars Palace starting on March 17 and tickets are now on sale.
(2/24/21) Vital Vegas has posted one heck of a rumor this week. According to their sources it is rumored that a version of the musical Hamilton may be coming to the Paris casino/resort. They also claim that the Wynn casino is also apparently working on a major new show to replace the closed La Reve production. Anyone know more about either site?
According to one of our own sources, if the Hamilton story is true, it could be just the thing Las Vegas needs to lure entertainment hungry guests from California back out to Vegas once again.
(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 set to open this Summer, and right next door to the Convention Center expansion.
(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?
(12/4/20) It sounds like Southern Nevada may soon be home to some new warmer weather attractions at the Lee Canyon ski resort area. The site is about a hour long drive north-west from Las Vegas and in mid-November an expansion plan for the resort was approved that would not only add more winter skiing options with 2 new lifts and 23 new ski runs, but they were also approved to add some mountain bike trails, a zipline and even a mountain coaster as attractions to enjoy during the warmer months of the year.
The only kink in the plans is that soon after the U.S. Forest Service approved Lee Canyon’s expansion plans a lawsuit to block those plans was filed against the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service by The Center for Biological Diversity. According to the lawsuit, they claim a rare native species of butterfly will become threatened by these expansion plans.
(11/20/20) MGM Grand posted an interesting tweet this week to let everyone know that Parking is now FREE at MGM Grand and all MGM Resorts properties. According to the official page for MGM Resorts, Free Self-Parking is now in effect at all the resorts “as a way to welcome back guests.” Note that they won’t go so far as to say that this is a permanent change, and instead say that “We don’t have a timeline regarding future plans for changes” to the parking policy.
(10/24/20) We’ve got a small batch of news from Las Vegas to share this weekend. For starters it was reported that The Cromwell will reopen to guests on Oct. 29th as the first “adults only” property on the Las Vegas Strip. The Cromwell is located right across the street from Ballys and while only guests age 21+ will be welcome to stay in the hotel and visit the casino floor, guests of all ages are still welcome to dine at the GIADA restaurant.
Adults Only may be the new niche feature some guests are looking for as the brand new CIRCA hotel in downtown Las Vegas is also set to open on Oct. 28th to offer an adults only experience as well.
In other news, guests staying at the nearby PARIS resort were forced to evacuate on Thursday night when the resort experienced a building-wide power outage and plunged into darkness sometime between 8-9pm. Power was restored just before 10pm and guests were allowed to return to their rooms.
On a more positive note, Caesars Entertainment has announced that a variety of live entertainment options will return to their Caesars Palace, Harrah’s and Flamingo casino properties. This includes the return of the “Absinthe” cirque style show at Caesars, “X Country” and “Tape Face” from America’s Got Talent at Harrahs, Miff the Magic Dragon at the Flamingo, in addition to a number of smaller musical acts that will perform in the various bars and lounges. With Live Entertainment taking such a major hit from COVID restrictions, it is really good to see some live entertainment options return at last, especially for the cast and crew who have been desperate to return to work for months.
(10/14/20) According to news reports Caesars Entertainment has now sold the rights to the Bally’s name to hedge-fund investor Soo Kim to use for his Twin River Worldwide Holdings casino company who had also purchased the Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel & Casino not long ago for $25 million. The rights deal gives Twin River the rights to use the Bally’s brand for any of their current or future properties. That said, the deal does not require Caesars to rename their Bally’s casino in Las Vegas, so for now Bally’s Las Vegas will remain as is and still part of the Caesars gaming empire, where the merger with Eldorado was reported to be completed back in late July.
Twin River spent some extra cash with Eldorado too it seems when they bought the Atlantic City Bally’s from them, they also bought the Eldorado casino in Louisiana and the Montbleu casino in Lake Tahoe. Along with other casinos the group has been buying elsewhere, it sounds like they plan on rebranding most of these into new “Bally’s” locations.
(7/1/20) I would nothing more than to say that the follow rumor being posted is entirely false, but time and time-again we have seen Las Vegas casino giants toss aside all elements of theming of the various casinos in their empires in favor of making something plain and generic. So while I hope this proves to be false, Vital Vegas has reported rumors that MGM Resorts could possibly be planning the future demise of the LUXOR Casino.
I can’t even begin to fathom why on Earth they would even think that demolishing one of the most iconic buildings in the entire world is a good idea. The giant pyramid shaped Luxor casino is easily one of the most well known man-made structures on the planet, in both the daytime for it’s themed exterior as well as at night where one of the brightest lights on the planet shoots from the top of the pyramid into space.
Making this rumor worse is the fact that the report also says that MGM has their eye set on doing the same thing to the castle-themed Excalibur casino right next door.
This kind of thing makes me shake my head and almost want to cry, but it falls in line with the blatant attempts by MGM Resorts over the years to attempt to make all their properties generic and as plain as possible. I just can’t understand the appeal of this, as when I was a SoCal local and would frequently visit Las Vegas, I was always more drawn to try out the different and fun themed casinos… with Luxor and Excalibur being the two I probably stayed at the most back in the 90s. Meanwhile I wouldn’t be caught dead staying at the plain and boring looking MGM Grand when I could stay in a castle, maybe in one of the skyscrapers of New York-New York, or the mardi-gras atmosphere of Rio, the magical Mirage, or even in the Roman empire of Caesar’s Palace. Apparently MGM learned nothing from turning the Monte Carlo into the generic “Park MGM”, which is said to have been hurting for business ever since.
So if you have time and want to stay in the Luxor pyramid (and yes, the elevators actually do go up at an angle and provide a bit of a unique experience), then you might want to get yourself to Vegas sometime soon. And do let them know how much you appreciate the experience of staying at a themed resort over just a plain old casino.
(6/11/20) We’ve mentioned before about how Elon Musk’s ‘The Boring Company’ was creating two massive tunnels to run between the new and old Convention Center sites, where guests will be moved along at high speed on variants electric Tesla vehicles built for the tunnels. According to this article, not only have they finished both tunnels, but now two new sites in Las Vegas are filing paperwork to have their own tunnels built to connect to the Convention Center prospect, one to run under Wynn’s Encore resort building and another to follow that would run to the new Resorts World Las Vegas resort.
(5/4/20) Curious to see what the Las Vegas Strip looks like during the Coronavirus pandemic? A friend of ours sent in a five minute video shot as they drove South down the Las Vegas Strip, starting at the Saraha and it goes all the way down the strip to stop at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign just past the Mandalay Bay resort. Enjoy!
(4/19/20) 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.
(1/16/20) Cityneon Holdings, the company behind Victory Hill Exhibitions, announced this week that they have purchased Animax Designs, an animatronic and figure design company based in Nashville, TN. According to this article Victory Hill has been a long-time customer of Animax, who builds the dinosaur figures for their Jurassic World exhibits and much more.
Speaking of Victory Hill Exhibitions, the group has attractions world-wide featuring top level IPs like Avengers, Transformers, Hunger Games and Jurassic World. While these are located at major cities throughout the world, perhaps the one location that features the most might be Las Vegas which isn’t surprising as I believe that is also their North American HQ.
Speaking of which a report from Vital Vegas also mentions some good gossip about their Vegas offerings as well. According to this report the Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. attraction at T.I. is expected to close this month for a “major overhaul” that will see it reopen in time for Summer 2020. Meanwhile a new Transformers attraction is also expected to open at T.I. in March 2020. They also claim that one of the new Jurassic World attractions is also rumored to be in development for somewhere in Las Vegas as well, possibly at The Venetian. (And while we listing their Vegas attractions, they also have a Hungers Games attraction at MGM Grand)
2021 - New Coaster Trains for Big Apple Coaster at NYNY - (2/2/21) I posted this on Instagram yesterday, but a reader sent in a great video clip showing off one of the new Premier Rides built coaster trains on the Big Apple Coaster returning to the station, showing off some bright and shiny new headlights on the lead car.
Meanwhile every piece of feedback I’ve been sent about the new ride experience has been very positive. As one rider claimed, after 24 years the coaster is finally enjoyable to ride. Another rider also mentioned that the forces felt are very different than before, which may have a lot to do with the rider’s center of gravity possibly being higher up on these new trains than it ever was before. We’ve also got a couple of new pictures of the trains in the station to share.
(1/31/21) A good set to close-up pictures of the new trains on the Big Apple Coaster at the NYNY Casino were posted to Twitter and can be seen below. The comments from this post and some others I’ve received thus far is that the new trains do greatly improve the experience from anything we’ve had before on the previous trains.
Oh, and for those wondering, you can clearly see in the photos that they went for the flexible OTS restraint add-ons for the new trains here as well. But in a video clip sent my way (can’t seem to share it yet) the trains actually do have functional headlights too! Also the casino is pre-selling tickets online to ride the coaster, and as crazy as it sounds, they actually sold out online well in advance and had a line stretching through the casino. This is partially as the trains are only loading every other row and were just running two trains on Saturday. (I’m honestly not sure how many trains they have.) So if you want to ride, be sure to buy your ticket online in advance. A quick warning though, I haven’t checked on the prices in quite awhile, but they are now charging $19 a ticket to ride which is pretty steep for a single roller coaster, but when in Vegas...
(1/28/21) According to a Screamscape source, the Manhattan Express (or Big Apple Coaster or Roller Coaster, or whatever they are calling the coaster at the NY NY Casino in Las Vegas this time) is planning to reopen to guests to try out the brand new trains from Premier Rides starting this Saturday. If you are in the area, drop by and give it a try and let us know what you think!
Even better, we’ve been sent a picture of the trains with the full decor and paint added, something we didn’t see during the testing. The trains have a checker pattern on the sides and still feature a yellow taxi cab looking front piece.
(1/13/21) A reader sent us a short video showing off the new train testing on the coaster at the NYNY casino in Las Vegas. As rumored it looks to be a Skyrocket style Premier Rides train. Check it out below.
(12/24/20) The damage inflicted at The Big Apple Coaster at the New York, New York Casino was even more severe than I had first thought. A great set of images showing off the serious nature of the damage was posted to Facebook by Coaster Hub and you can see the images below showing off the damage not only to the wheel sections of the train, but somehow an entire section of the lift hills itself has been warped and damaged. If I had to guess, the coaster is probably going to be down for awhile because of this, depending on if there was damage to the track or if the damage was contained to the staircase and railings only on the lift.
(12/23/20) Apparently the Manhattan Express at the New York, New York Casino (ok, I still call it that, the current name is now Big Apple Coaster… ugh) is testing out a new train. This would actually be a third train system for the ride, as when it opened as the Manhattan Express in 1997 it featured Togo trains, which were later replaced by some new custom trains from Premier Rides. From what I’m hearing the new train testing may also be from Premier Rides.
While I haven’t found a good picture of the new train design, a couple of pictures posted to the TPR Instagram show the train stopped near the top of the lift hill, and if you look at the second picture in the series, it looks like they are having some difficulties with the wheels. Look closely and it looks like a set of wheels may have broken off one of the cars. Anyone know more about what the overall plan is for the coaster or have a better picture of the new train currently being tested.
2021 - Escape Blair Witch - (6/12/21) Lionsgate has partnered with Egan Escape Productions to create a new escape room experience in Las Vegas themed to the Blair Witch films. The new attraction called Escape Blair Witch is expected to open sometime this Summer and possibly near Egan’s existing Official Saw Escape Experience.
2021 - Area 15 Additions & Omega Mart from Meow Wolf - (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.
(1/25/21) At long last we seem to have a date for the opening of Meow Wolf’s OMEGA MART attraction inside Las Vegas’ Area 15. Meow Wolf has begun preselling tickets to OMEGA MART on their website, with the first available date to visit set for February 18, 2021.
On a related note an article at Amusement Today lists nine new additions at Area 15 that have either opened recently or are set open soon. The list of future additions includes:
The Beast by Todd English - Opening February 2021 - “A fresh take on a food hall in the belly of a dragon.”
Emporium Arcade Bar - Opening Feb 4
Five Iron Golf - indoor urban golf, opening Jan 2021
There are six others that are already open, some of which we may have mentioned previously. The list includes: Brainstorm, Dueling Axes, Museum Fiasco, Oz Experience, Particle Quest and Wink World: Portals into the Infinite.
(1/10/21) Area 15 in Las Vegas has warned us to “Forget everything you know about VR” as the location will soon be home to OZ Experience by Backlight, a new kind of immersive VR experience. According to OZ Experience the location will feature an amazing custom free-roaming SciFi experience called ECLIPSE, described as a sort of team VR Escape Room experience featuring vibrating floors and full body avatars.
Eclipse will be just one of several different VR experience options to choose from inside Oz Experience, and you can get a peek at some of the other worlds in store for you in the preview videos below.
(9/4/20) If you are visiting Las Vegas soon, then prepare yourself, because AREA 15 is now set to open on Sept. 17, 2020. While the Omega Mart attraction from Meow Wolf wont be ready until next year, AREA 15 is much more than that. The unique attraction will feature a variety of larger than life art installations, special events and more. The list of things to be open inside include a variety of art exhibits, Birdly Virtual Reality Experience, Haley’s Comet (an indoor electric dual-track suspension ride), along with plenty of wild food and beverage options.
In short, a visit to AREA 15 will be hard to describe in words, until you get a chance to see it in person. As they so wisely put on a piece of promotion art… “Enter Curious, Leave Changed”.
(8/12/20) Meow Wolf has released some early details about what they have planned for their new Las Vegas location inside Area 15. According to a press release, much like how the original Santa Fe location is known as the ‘House of Eternal Return’, the Las Vegas location in Area 15 will be known as Omega Mart. Omega Mart will be a 52,000 sqft attraction themed as a shopping experience where all the products “have an uncanny ability to fulfil desired beyond expectation”.
Omega Mart will be ready to open in early 2021 and serve as the anchor attraction of the entire Area 15 complex. Be sure to check out the new and official Omega Mart website and social media accounts.
2021 - Virgin Hotels Las Vegas - (3/28/21) One of my good friends from Las Vegas sent in a whole collection of new pictures showing off the new Virgin Hotels: Las Vegas location that is now open. The site and hotel was formerly known as the Hard Rock Las Vegas but has since undergone a major transformation to take on the new Virgin branding.
(2/13/21) According to a statement from Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, the new casino-resort that is replacing the former Hard Rock Casino is now slated to open to guests on March 25, 2021. One of our local pals drive by the other day and snapped a quick photo as the finishing touches are being put on.
(2/5/20) The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is officially no more, shutting down forever. Virgin had purchased the property and will work over the next several months to renovate and reopen the property as the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas in Nov. 2020. Follow the link to visit the official website to see a little more concept art and read about their plans.
Summer 2021 - Resorts World Las Vegas - (7/25/21) The new Resorts World Las Vegas casino has been open a few weeks and we’ve got a small collection of pictures to share taken shortly after the opening by one of our local sources. As you can see in the first few images, there are still parts of the resort still under construction, such as the area just outside what looks like the main entrance. The resort is also unique in the fact that the tower that most prominently faces the Strip has been covered with a giant video screen matrix, which does make me curious how the view looks from the rooms located behind it, compared to other rooms.
Inside the resort is the casino, like you would normally expect, along with a collection of bars, restaurants and lounges with various themes. Resorts World has also included a collection of interesting artistic pieces installed here and there. I’m not sure if there is any deeper meaning to some of these, as on the surface they may seem a little odd. For example in one image you’ll see what looks like a couple (one with a dog face and the other a rabbit) sitting on the back of a Hippo, and placed next to it is the same couple sitting on the back of a Rhino.
This piece in particular actually does have a meaning, and is called Hippo Wild Ride and Rhino Wild Ride from “Gillie & Marc”. Their website describes this installation as being a monument to endangered species across the world that need our help. The installation actually encourages guests to climb aboard and pose with the couple and post to social media with the hashtag #LoveTheLast to share the message of conservation.
New things are still being added to Resorts World as well, as VitalVegas just posted that a new replica of the old Stardust casino sign was installed not long ago. The sign is a great homage to the past of Las Vegas and especially appropriate inside Resorts World, as it sits on the former site of the Stardust which was imploded back in early 2007.
(4/20/21) Good news from Las Vegas just came through, as the long under construction Resorts World Las Vegas casino has now announced that it will open to the public on June 24, 2021. The 3,500 room resort, said to cost an estimated $4.3 billion, started out as the Echelon resort on the site of the former Stardust casino after it was imploded back in 2007. The group behind Echelon soon paused their resort plans after construction had already started and sold the project to Genting Group for $350 million in 2013. Resorts World Las Vegas is now accepting reservations.
(2/13/21) The night sky of Las Vegas could begin to look a little like something from the movie Blade Runner when the new Resorts World resort opens this summer. Pictures sent in over the past few weeks show off the massive video screens that are being set into place, covering the resort’s towers.
(6/27/20) Want to see something cool? Vital Vegas has posted a tweet showing off the massive video wall on the side of the Resorts World Vegas tower testing this week. This is sure going to change the look of The Strip once again.
And now I’m having Blade Runner flashbacks…
(4/13/20) Our local man in Vegas sent in a few great pictures of the Resorts World casino under construction. Previously we read that one of the towers was to feature one of the world’s largest video screens (about 100,000 sqft) and I think that may be what we are looking at on the tower on the left side of the images.
(12/6/19) According to the local news work is progressing on the Resorts World Las Vegas, but an update from the casino’s owner, Genting Group, claims that they have expanded their plans a bit for increased capacity and entertainment offerings, and Resorts World Las Vegas now wont be ready to open until Summer 2021. By the time it is finished, the casino resort is expected to have cost $4.3 billion!
They have also updated their plan for the resort’s themeing a bit, dropping the idea of an all Asian or Chinese themed resort, and instead will open it as a top level luxury experience with “Asian-inspired touches”. So any previous rumors of it having a Panda exhibit or a Great Wall of China exhibit were dropped from the plans a long time ago. The resort will also built a 5,000 seat performance theater, with plans to offer top level residency act deals to make Resorts World a top entertainment draw.
(2/4/19) Resorts World Las Vegas and Wynn Resorts have settled their differences from when Wynn accused the Resorts World buildings of looking too much like the Wynn and Encore buildings. Resorts World has agreed to make a few changes to more clearly make the buildings look different from the Wynn properties, and Wynn has agreed to this.
Resorts World Las Vegas is currently looking to open in late 2020.
(12/27/18) In a strange bit of news, the Wynn Resorts company is filing a lawsuit against Resorts World because they think the new tower going up across the street looks a bit too much like their own Wynn and Encore towers now that the glass is starting to be put on the Resorts World tower. At this point however, I think Wynn’s fuss is all about trying to delay the construction on their new competition across the street, because while the look of the structure at the moment does look slightly similar, once you see the concept artwork showing off the finished product, I don’t think there will be any confusion at all between the two casino resorts.
(7/28/18) According to this article the new Resorts World Las Vegas casino that has slowly been poking along since the site was purchased in 2013, is now shooting to complete their new resort by late 2020. If you follow the link you'll find a new rendering released showing off the shiny red and gold look of the new Resorts World casino complex. I'm kind of digging the Iron Man color scheme, but I think that's just the geek in me speaking.
(5/22/17) The dates keep getting pushed back for Resorts World Las Vegas, with the latest reports announcing the arrival of a new boss to oversee the project, a new 2020 opening date, and the promise that full scale construction work would begin again soon.
(5/7/15) The local news reports that Resorts World Las Vegas officially broke ground this week for the huge new Vegas strip casino resort. They didn't go into too many details about what we can expect once it opens, only that project is estimated to cost $4 billion and carry a Chinese theme to it along with four resort towers, a 4,000 seat theater, aquarium, a giant panda exhibit, indoor waterpark and some kind of replica of the Great Wall of China. For now they are looking to open in 2018.
(5/13/14) The latest news on Genting’s planned Resorts World Las Vegas casino resort is that they have been given the initial go-ahead to proceed through the process of obtaining a Nevada Gaming License and that the initial phase of construction on the 87-acre site will cost around $4 Billion, take about 3 years to open, and feature 3,000 hotel rooms, a huge casino, 30 food and beverage options, a 4,000 seat theater, a huge garden that will serve as the front entrance from the Strip, a “rooftop sky park” and observation deck from the top of the 674 foot tower (already FAA approved), a 50,000 sqft 58 ft tall aquarium, and possibly some kind of “studio tour” style attraction.
The project will take over the partially built Echelon project site, which was built on the site of the former Stardust Casino, and repurpose 80-85% of the existing Echelon structures already built. Overall the resort will have an Asian theme, with primarily bright red buildings and a Chinese Village themed shopping area. As for that rumored ‘studio tour’ attraction concept, it is being considered for a future phase of the resort and may be based on attractions and themes under construction at the 20th Centry Fox World theme park going into into Resorts World Malaysia.
As for those previous Panda Exhibit rumors... it is something that they may pursue bringing to Las Vegas, but there is a long and complicated process involved for anyone who wants to petition to the Chinese government to have a Panda exhibit.
(3/7/13) The latest word on what Genting has planned for their Resorts World Las Vegas project includes plans for a live Panda exhibit, a replica of the Great Wall of China, a 7.5 acre indoor water park, theaters and ‘other family-friendly attractions”. They hope to restart construction on the stalled Echelon site sometime in 2014 in order to get the first phase open to guests in 2016.
Fall 2021 - FlyOver Las Vegas - (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.
2022 - MSG 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.
???? - 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 - Rumor - (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 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 - “The First LIVE Action Thriller by Cirque Du Soleil” that starts in the desert at dawn… at a quiet chapel where a “gangland wedding” is interrupted and a guy begins running for his life. From there the action is said to be non-stop for the next 75 minutes as we learn just what he has done as the two gangs and a bride lead the chase through a fictional dark underground Las Vegas world.
New 2018 Attractions Now Open in the Las Vegas Area -
Fly Linq - Ten side-by-side ziplines (so you can fly with your friends) starting 114 feet in the air that make the 1,121 foot run across the promenade to the landing tower located near the base of the High Roller observation wheel.
The Official SAW Escape - New escape room experience themed to the famous horror movie series.
Esports Arena Las Vegas - The first dedicated Esports Arena in Las Vegas opened at the Luxor. The space features a competition stage area, LED video wall, seating as well as daily gaming stations and production studios.
The Void - The VOID VR experience opened inside the Grand Canal Shoppes inside The Venetian. Experiences offered the first year include Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, Ghostbusters: Dimensions, Nicodemus: Demon of Envanishment and Ralph Breaks VR.
New 2017 Attractions Now Open in the Las Vegas Area -
Fear The Walking Dead Survival – (CLOSED Mid-2019) A “dead”icated new and mostly walk-through adventure attraction themed around AMC’s popular Fear The Walking Dead show opened in the Fremont Street Experience over the Summer as part of a deal between AMC and TRIOTECH.
The Twilight Zone – Monster Mini Golf – A new themed indoor blacklight mini-golf attraction has opened inside the Bally’s casino themed around the famous Twilight Zone TV series. The site also features mini bowling, an arcade, gift shop and even a SciFi themed Wedding Chapel.
New 2016 Attractions Now Open in the Las Vegas Area -
Kiss – Monster Mini Golf – A new blacklight mini golf attraction themed around the famous rock band, KISS, is now open at The Rio casino. A previous version opened in a local mini-mall back in 2012, but they closed up shop and moved into The Rio instead as an all new attraction in 2016. The site also includes space for Birthday Parties as well as a Rock ‘n Roll wedding chapel.
New 2014/2013 Attractions Now Open in the Las Vegas Area -
High Roller Giant Wheel (2014)
Slotzilla Zip Lines (2014)
VooDoo Zip Ride (2014)
Cowabunga Bay (2014)
Wet ‘n’ Wild Las Vegas (2013)
Are The Las Vegas Casino Resorts in Decline? -
Various other report over the last few years seem to think so, including my own rant from 2016.
(8/10/18) Much like I've been saying for some time now, I think the world is proving that they are sick of Las Vegas casino resorts “nickel and dimeing” their guests with excessive fees, and laughing with glee all the while. Daily resort fees, parking fees and now even some new fees being placed on already high Salon and Spa service fees by MGM Resorts. Yes, it has gotten to the point where you would almost think MGM stands for "Money Grabbing Management" these days.
The times are changing and guests are now finally voting with their wallets, opting to skip trips to Las Vegas for other options. One after the next, the big Vegas casino companies have been reporting declining numbers for their properties this year, including MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment, where the RevPAR numbers (aka: Revenue Per Room) has already dropped by an average of 4% for the first half of the year, room occupancy rates are down 1% and Convention attendance is down 3%. The declining numbers, while not huge, have resulted in casino stock prices dropping double-digits as investors flee.
Oh... and gambling is also down, particularly because the payout rates for winning have been altered in many cases to now pay out less than they have traditionally paid for decades. It seems many of the big fish have opted to gamble closer to home, both domestic players as well as international, especially those prized Chinese gamblers who can now play Baccarat to their hearts content at the casinos in Macau. The news that the first casinos have finally been approved to come to Japan is certainly not good news for Las Vegas either.
I've said it here on Screamscape for a few years now... the perceived "value" of taking a vacation to Las Vegas has been lost due to corporate greed. We've already seen the Wynn resorts try to fight back against parking fees by offering to validate parking for guests who spend at least $50 on site. It also looks like Caesars and MGM may be ready to take a step in the right direction by lowering their room rates for the later half of the year. Most importantly, I think they need to take a long look at the parking fee issue as well, which was put into effect due to the opening of the T-Mobile arena.
(5/4/18) An interesting article was posted to the LA Times regarding the possible beginning of visitor decline to Las Vegas over the past 10 months, and goes into more detail with a local Vegas publication who claims guest irritation with outlandish daily “resort fees” combined now with the crazy parking fees that may be to blame.
Me? I have to agree… considering that resort fees alone, something that used to never exist, are now as high as $45 per night (with Venetian and Palazzo being the highest in the city right now, followed by $39 per night fees at the Caesars and Wynn properties). Add in daily parking fees and you are looking at a combined cost that is about even with what the average room rate alone used to be in Vegas… but then you get to add in the new higher room rates… and tax… don’t forget that… and it’s no wonder people are starting to realize Vegas isn’t the bargin vacation destination it used to be.
No wonder gambling profits to the casinos has also been reported to be in decline for years now… because they’ve been taking the money out of your pocket long before you even had a chance to get to the casino floor. Sometimes I think all it would take is one bright casino chain to see the light here, reverse the trends that have transformed the industry for the worse over the past 10-15 years, to see if a return to the old ways would brighten not only the guest experience, but also their own coffers as well. Win over your guest’s hearts and you’ll win their loyalty. Just a thought...
(2/22/18) Is the bottom getting ready to fall out in Las Vegas? Are tourism and convention business both ready to turn elsewhere due to rising costs and the overall impression that Vegas is no longer a value destination? A great bit of commentary was posted to the Las Vegas Review-Journal this week that nails the potential problem on the head with the first hard-data that could show that 2017 was the tipping point.
Screamscape Rants - The Recession Is Not Vegas’ Biggest Problem
(1/12/16) CNN wrote an interesting article about how the overall business at the Las Vegas casinos was down and has been down for the past six years. They report that Vegas casino lost $662 million in 2015 alone, and lost a dumbfounding $6.8 billion back in 2009 when the economy got really bad. They go on to point out that there are plenty of tourists in Las Vegas, and they are all spending lots of money on hotels, restaurants, merchandise and entertainment… it’s the gambling side of things that is way down by comparison and as they point out, “if people aren't gambling as much, that means they're not losing as much.”
CNN blames the recession on this, but this is where I have to disagree and point out what they are blind to as someone who used to visit Vegas on a regular basis in the 90’s when it was a growing boomtown of opportunity. The Vegas of today and the Vegas of the past are two entirely different animals, and it seems that today’s Vegas has forgotten the lessons of the past and how the business model worked.
Today’s Vegas has forgotten that the best lure to increase gambling revenue was to make everything else as cheap as possible. Frequent free drinks, insanely low cost food and buffets everywhere, and to give the hotel rooms away as cheap as possible. For a good period of time, back when Circus Circus has just opened the Luxor they would run ads in in the San Diego paper every week advertising rooms as cheap as $13 a night at Circus Circus, $23 a night at Excalibur and $33 a night at the Luxor. Want something better? You could get a suite at the Mirage for $50-60 a night on the right night. Mix that in with $2-5 buffet meals, drink specials and tons of free or low-cost entertainment and you could go on one hell of a fun vacation without breaking the bank… which still left over a good bit of income in your wallet to spend some time to gamble and try to make your dreams come true. At the very least you could gamble with a rewards program and maybe earn yourself a couple of tickets to one of the big shows for fifty bucks.
Compare this to the price of a Vegas vacation today and you’re dropping top dollar just for the room itself quite often, paying anywhere from $10 to $25 a person (sometimes more!) for a buffet meal, and not to mention paying $100 to $150 on average for a ticket to see one of the big shows in Vegas these days that has almost become a mandatory part of the Vegas experience. Now do you wonder why the good old gambling revenue numbers are down?
Of course they are down… because people are spending everything they have on the rest of the Vegas vacation, much like you would on regular vacation, and have less cash to spend than before on gambling. I could spend four nights in Vegas in the 90’s for what I’d spend for just one night at today’s prices. I know that after I’ve dropped about $250 for the wife and I to see the latest Cirque show, in addition to another $50 to $100 on a nice dinner out before the show, the last thing on my mind is putting another $100 at risk at the Blackjack table.
Somehow the Vegas of today has forgotten that tourists wowed by the spectacle of the casinos, stuffed by cheap food and drink prices, who find themselves walking through the casinos feeling good (and maybe a little buzzed) with a fat wallet in their pocket are the one who are most willing to try their luck at the gambling tables before heading home. And don’t get me started on how many machines no longer drop coins as your payout… the sound of coins endlessly dropping throughout the casinos of old was like siren’s song to many a potential gambler, luring them in to try their luck.
So is the recession really the problem? I like to think that the problem goes much deeper than that.