LAS VEGAS Area Attractions
Las Vegas, Nevada
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(11/13/2023) The Sphere Reports a Loss For Their First Quarter (MORE...)
(11/7/2023) Rio To Turn Former Buffet Space Into New Food Court (MORE...)
(11/5/2023) A Look At The Current State Of the Strip Ahead of the F1 Race (MORE...)
(10/22/2023) What Ever Happened To Game of Thrones: Dragons? (MORE...)
(10/21/2023) U2 Extends Run at the Sphere With New Dates Through February 2024 (MORE...)
(10/18/2023) Universal Shares Name and Logo For New Haunted Attraction (MORE...)
Las Vegas News - (11/7/2023) According to Vital Vegas, the Rio has announced that the closed former site of t he once famous Carnival World Buffet will be transformed into the new “Canteen Food Hall” that will feature numerous new food offerings.
(11/5/2023) For those wondering what the Las Vegas strip looks like this week, a couple of weeks out from the big F1 race, the video below essentially covers what you need to know about the current state of the Strip area.
(10/14/2023) A good friend of ours in Las Vegas sent in a collection of images showing off just what the Las Vegas strip looks like right now, a little over a month away from the F1 race event taking place from November 16-18th, with the race itself happening on Saturday, Nov. 18th at 10pm at night.
As for that last part… I’m not a racing fan by any means, so I was kind of surprised to learn that the race would be taking place after dark. This is apparently not a new thing for F1 and to be honest, this is Las Vegas, and the city shines the brightest after dark with all the cool visible icons lit up as the race cars pass by, including a section of the course that will of course run right under a section of the LV Monorail and right up next to the new Sphere. Visually, this race should be beyond stunning.
For those who have to live and work in Las Vegas, unfortunately the experience has been more shocking than anything else. On my last visit to Vegas in January I recall that many large sections of the strip and nearby roads were already being repaved to meet the race-course standards. Now if you take a look at the pictures below, you’ll see the huge array of lighting truss set up to light the course for the drivers, the massive grand-stands now rising into place, and perhaps the most odd thing of all, a huge building structure is now sitting in front of the Bellagio lagoon offering premium viewing suites for fans. Rumor has it those deluxe viewing suites were going for well over $10k a piece when first announced. And for those wondering, the view of the Bellagio fountain show is a mess right now, and mostly blocked from view.
But with the race still a month away, the typical Las Vegas experience for those just coming to visit right now is somewhat tarnished, with all the construction and extra structures blocking the view of all Las Vegas has to offer down in the mid-strip between the Venetian and Aria.
Oh, and if you are in town during race week, don’t think you can find a place to take in the view of the action for free. Apparently F1 was attempting to charge a huge fee to any business located along the race course, which I assume would allow those businesses to set up and charge for their own viewing areas. But for small business who didn’t have the ability or space to recoup those fees, if they opted to not pay F1, then I’ve been told F1 has built giant temporary walls to block all viewing between their property and the track. Getting around the strip right now is also extremely difficult for tourists as well as the locals who work there. As for how employees are going to get to work during the race event itself… apparently that issue is still being worked out by F1. (I’d suggest that the casinos comp their staff rooms for the week, but you know that isn’t going to happen…)
Regardless of the impact, the F1 Las Vegas should go down in the history books as one of the visually stunning race experiences, essentially bringing to life the kind of racing course previously only seen in video games. From the sound of things, this won't be the last one either, I believe F1 may have a 19 year contract with the city to return for future races.
(9/11/2023) Fees to Self-Park at the Wynn and Encore Casino Resorts will return starting on Sept. 27th as part of the fallout from the opening of The Sphere’s series of U2 concerts that start on Sept. 29 and the opening of the Postcard from Earth attraction at the Sphere starting Oct. 6th. According to the Wynn/Encore, parking for the first 4-hours will be free, but after that there will be a $20 per day fee to park in the self-parking lots or $40 to Valet park.
(5/15/2023) For thrill ride fans visiting Las Vegas, often a trip to the top of the Stratosphere Tower is high on the priority list. The top of the tower has long been home to several crazy rides, and the Big Shot sitting at the tip-top is a Las Vegas icon. Over the years a small coaster was removed and replaced by a pair of new thrill rides… the X-Scream which is like a giant teeter-totter that slides guests over the edge, and Insanity, a strange spinning creation where guests are spun at high speed while dangling over the edge of the tower.
While I don’t know if a final decision has been made, it seems that the Insanity ride may have been retired earlier this year, and the website edited to remove any mention of it from the current list of attractions.
2023 - The Sphere / MSG Sphere - (11/13/2023) While The Sphere has been a bright and entertaining superstar in Las Vegas so far this year, the performance numbers for the venue being reported as less than stellar. According to a local news report The Sphere reported an operating loss of $98.4 million during the venue’s first fiscal quarter that ended on Sept. 30th, 2023.
Of course, The Sphere did not actually open until Sept. 29th when the first performance of U2’s residency took place, so only two shows were on the books for that reported quarter. We should have a clearer idea of how things are going at The Sphere when next quarter’s performance data is released.
(10/21/2023) It seems the band, U2, have taken a shine to performing inside the now world-famous Las Vegas Sphere venue. At first it was expected that U2’s initial deal to perform 25 concerts inside the Sphere would come to an end with the final performance on Dec. 16, 2023 but it seems U2 and the Sphere have now extended that run. A total of 11 more concert dates have now been added to their schedule, adding performances on Jan. 26, 27, 31, and Feb. 2, 3, 7, 9, 10, 15, 17 and 18th, 2024.
Previously there was some speculation that a new act was in the process of being signed on to perform inside the Sphere when U2’s run was over (with The Eagle’s expected to add a series of farewell concert dates). According to an interview, U2 apparently has the option in their deal with the Sphere to add on extra dates for up to 2 years, but sources also indicate that the Sphere does already have one, if not two other acts signed to possibly perform dates during 2024 as well.
Given just how viral the initial concert for U2 inside the Sphere took the world, I would not be surprised if various performers are now lining up to take their own performance art to the next level inside the Sphere.
(9/30/2023) The first performance of U2 within the MSG Sphere in Las Vegas is now in the record books, if you want to see just what it looks like in side the Sphere, check out the videos below for some amazing footage of the band while everyone is surrounded by the massive 18K wraparound screen technology. Seriously, this is an insane looking experience and sure to be a game-changer in the performance venue industry for years to come as it adds such another level to the live performance experience that is enjoyable from every seat in the house.
(9/17/2023) Darren Aronofskyt has shared a ‘first look” at the inside of the Las Vegas Sphere as they work to put the final touches on his immersive film attraction, Postcard from Earth, that will be featured inside the Sphere in the times where U2 or whatever other acts are not performing on the stage. While the massive video display covering the outside of the Sphere has been getting most of the attention since it went live earlier this year, we now get a look at what they are calling “the largest screen on the planet” set inside the Sphere itself.
Currently crews are said to be working to set up for the first of U2’s performances inside the Sphere, set to launch on September 29th, while Aronofsky is finishing up Postcard from Earth, which is set to premier on October 6th. A video clip posted by the direct shows off the massive 160,000 sqft display in action, as a massive elephant approaches the camera. The video also serves to show off the view from the seats inside the sphere, giving us a look at the stage itself and a quick look around the massive domed theater.
(8/8/2023) According to various rumor reports, The Sphere may be in talks with another major band to take to their Las Vegas stage once U2’s dates are complete. If the rumors are true, they could be close to signing The Eagles to set up shop in Vegas in 2024 once they finish their current “The Long Goodbye” final tour which is set to come to a close on November 17th in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Currently U2 is only scheduled to perform at the Sphere from September to December 2023.
Late 2023 to 2024 - Atomic Golf - (12/29/2022) A new attraction is coming to The Strat in Las Vegas in 2023. Construction is already said to have begun to build “Atomic Golf”. Yes… Atomic Golf and on the surface is kind of seems like they are building their own version of a Top Golf interactive driving range attraction that will stand four stories tall and feature 103 hitting bays. In addition they promise it will feature a whopping four bar areas (one for each floor I guess?), meeting space, a 12,000 sqft “Astrocade” play area and more. From what I’m told this is going into the cleared out lot on the North side of the Strat complex. I’ve also seen the complex referred to as “Atomic Range” and there is another website under that name that features some better aerial artwork of the site showing off the location better. I haven’t heard anything, but they could just be covering bases with both names in case there is some kind of objection to one name over the other from someone like Top Golf.
Late 2023 - Fontainebleau - Opening Soon - (10/1/2023) The final countdown is on for the opening of the Fontainebleau casino resort in Las Vegas. The evolution of the resort, which started construction back in 2007, is a long story filled with financial woes, construction holds, sales to other owners, new names and eventually a sale back to the original developer who is finally seeing this project through.
The Fountainebleau is now set to open on December 13th, 2023, and according to the Hollywood Reporter, it will feature a number of super-sized features the resort’s original Miami location is known for. This includes the LIV nighthclub (which will offer a special LIV Beach dayclub as well in 2024), as well as giant sized versions of the Komodo and Papi Steak restaurants.
(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.
2024 - Swingers - (7/29/2023) You got to love the crazy attractions that open in Las Vegas, and an appealing new one is now on the way that will set up shop inside the Mandalay Bay casino. According to Eater, an “Adults ONLY” mini-golf attraction called Swingers is on the way. And when I say massive, they say it will take up 40,000 sqft, span across three floors, and have five different courses with theming ranging from a crazy carnival to an English Countryside theme.
The “Adults Only” bit isn’t due to any risque content, but rather to create a child-free environment where Caddys will roam the course to bring you cocktails and “street food-style bite”, DJ’s will be placed to play music and engage the crowd with mini-games and more.
This won't be the first Swingers location however, as the concept first launched in London and has since expanded to the US with locations in New York City and Washington DC. They hope to open this Las Vegas “flagship” location before the end of the year.
The concept of adult mini-golf has been one that has also been taking the first baby-steps in the US over the past year as well as a growing trend from various groups. Drive Shack, known primarily as a top competitor to Top Golf in the modern evolution of the Driving Range concept has created “Puttery” with the help of PGA’s own Rory Mcllroy as a major investor and has already built up an impressive collection of 9 locations across the US for their own indoor adult only (age 21+) mini-golf concept. Then there is also Puttshack, which described themselves as an upscale indoor Mini-Golf concept that currently has 9 US locations, posted plans for 13 more to come to the US. Like Swingers, Puttshack started in the UK however, but the big difference is that Puttshack will allow children in during the daytime hours and switches to a 21+ model after 8pm. It is worth noting that in the case of all three companies, a round of golf at these locations is actually only 9-holes and not the traditional 18-holes you would get to play on a traditional mini-golf course.
Blooloop also reports that this expansion is part of a $52 million investment round received by the company that will also see the Swingers brand expand into the Dubai attractions market in 2024 with plans to grow into at least 15 world-wide locations by 2026.
2024 - Play Playground at LUXOR - (9/11/2023) A new attraction is coming to the Luxor’s “atrium” level in 2024 called Play Playground. Located near the backend of the upper level where all of Luxor’s main attractions and food court reside, Play Playground will serve two purposes as a non-gaming area of the casino that will cater to “family” guests during the daytime hours, it will transform into a adult-only version at night.
According to an update at the Review Journal, guests will enter Play Playground via a playground slide. Once inside, prepare yourself for what sounds to be a unique area free of the stimuli of most modern electronics. No Casino Games. No Video Games. No Virtual Reality. Play Playground is 14,000 sqft of “tactile games for everyone, physical, memory, puzzle and word games”. The co-founder describes the experience as “being dropped into your own game show.” All together, there will be 17 different attractions to experience during your visit, which is expected to take at least 90 minutes to try everything, though you can stay inside as long as you like.
While Play Playground may not offer video games, the colorful world and experiences are designed to delight those who are fond of posting anything and everything to their social media feeds. While this will be the world’s first Play Playground, the group is planning on opening two more locations later in 2024, one of which will likely be somewhere in New York City.
2024 - PopStroke - (8/14/2023) Another new golf themed attraction is set to break ground in Las Vegas later this month from co-owner Tiger Woods called “PopStroke”. PopStoke seeks to join the growing trend of adult mini-golf concepts like PuttShack, Swingers and Puttery, except PopStroke courses all appear to be outdoor, and instead of crazy themed obstacles, the course is design more to look like a mini version of a proper outdoor golf course, but with more wonky terrain as you put across the green. Look for PopStroke Las Vegas to feature two 18-hole courses built along with south end of the Las Vegas Strip in the Town Square retail development.
2024 - Paris Casino Expansion - (5/3/2023) Caesar’s has announced a kind of odd new expansion to the Paris Las Vegas casino. According to the story the plan is to convert one of the hotel towers attached to the Horseshoe Las Vegas casino next door (formerly Ballys) for use by Paris. The current “Juibilee Tower” which is the one towards the front of the casino, and closest to the Paris resort, will become the Paris resort’s “Versailles Tower” at a cost of $100 million. The project will see the tower and rooms renovated, inside and out, adding 756 redesigned rooms for the Paris guests, as well as a new pedestrian bridge to connect the tower directly to the Paris resort. Look for the room renovations to be complete by the end of 2023 and the bridge and other updated to be finished in early 2024.
Say what you will about this idea, but it certainly does indicate either the growing popularity of the Paris casino, or the “Meh…” feeling that Las Vegas guests may have towards the rebranding of the Ballys into the Horseshoe.
2024 - Dreambox360º - (9/22/2023) A new attraction called Dreambox360º is coming to The LINQ on the Las Vegas Strip in early 2024. According to the article at Amusement Today, the immersive 5D projection experience is coming from the team behind the Minus5º Icebar and will offer a number of different themed adventures.
Unlike other projection based environment attractions, Dreambox360º stands out as being designed for a smaller, more intimate experience, with the intended audience for each performance expected to only be around 35 people at a time. Look for Dreambox360º to rise next door to the Minus5º Icebar at The LINQ.
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?
???? - Game of Thrones Dragons: Las Vegas - (10/22/2023) You may recall back in December 2022 a pretty exciting sounding new attraction was announced to be coming to Las Vegas, Game of Thrones: Dragons! At the time, it was just the first public announcement that the project was coming along with the launch of the teaser website for it, with a promise that more details were to come.
Unfortunately, 10 months later, we still haven’t seen any kind of update on this project. The closest thing was a follow-up article from CDCGaming claiming that the attraction was to be built within a “prefabricated venue just east of the Horseshoe on Flamingo Road.” where fencing with the “SPiE” logo was spotted. SPiE being “SP Immersive Entertainment”, a design partner in the project with WB and HBO and Caesars Entertainment. In fact you can see this fencing up around the site still on Google Maps StreetView in images captured in February 2023 on a parking lot attached to Caesar’s Horseshoe property (formerly Ballys)
Reaching out on social media to question the current status of the site, VitalVegas was kind enough to respond, saying that they had not heard a thing since the announcement and that it was still just an empty parking lot. So what has happened?
Well, the subject of the attraction came up in a conversation with another good source of mine who had run into some other industry folks who had been involved with doing some work for GoT:Dragons. Of course everyone is operating under NDAs, so very little solid info can be shared, and I get that, but based on the conversation it did sound like the project is still active. If you’ve followed along with the build out of any kind of major attraction project in Las Vegas over the years you will know they all have a tendency to suffer long construction delays. Just look at the MSG Sphere, when it was originally announced, the Sphere was supposed to be ready to open in 2021, not late 2023. Keep in mind the fact that many big projects are announced very early these days, while they are still in the design phase rather than waiting until construction is about to start. In the case of GoT:Dragons, they were also likely trying to make the announcement while the spin-off series, House of the Dragon, was still in heavy viewing on HBO as well, having aired the first season between August and October 2022.
So, keeping all this in mind, it was already expected that it might be a couple of years before GoT:Dragons would be ready to open. With season 2 of the series said to have been shot and planing to be released in Summer 2024, that could also mimic the timeline as to when we might get more solid information about the Las Vegas attraction. Assuming things are still moving forward, we still don’t know officially what kind of attraction this will be. According to Screamscape sources, the word from the Master of Whispers is that the highlight of the Game of Thrones: Dragons attraction may be some kind of new form or evolution of the Flying Theater concept. In much the same way that Disney evolved their own Flying Theater concept from Soarin’ over California to Avatar: Flight of Passage (which ironically is another Flying Theater concept where you ride on a flying creature), GoT:Dragons may be attempting to create a similar concept, on a smaller scale. Obviously being able to fly on the back of a dragon over the lands of the Seven Kingdoms could be a great attraction concept. Think of it as Soarin’ Over Westeros if you want, but I’m hoping they add some battle sequences and maybe a trip over and beyond the Wall where you feel the cold gaze of the Night King, or smell the fumes of Dragonfire.
Ok, with that bit of dreaming out of the way, lets just hope that the attraction is still in active development. It would certainly add a nice new attraction to the Horseshoe Las Vegas, who is still struggling to find its new identify after dropping the Bally’s name and is actually in the process of an interesting redesign that will change the front of the casino, while linking and handing over control one of their hotel towers to the Paris casino next door.
(1/20/2023) Game of Thrones fans… take note. It seems that a new attraction of some kind is coming to Las Vegas. The official title of the attraction on the website is “Game of Thrones Dragons Las Vegas” according to the website, but very little information has been released thus far. There is a cool looking animation of dragons flying over the burning remains of the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign and ext claiming that “Game of Thrones Dragons is one of the latest attractions to elevate the entertainment world” and that it will “provide fans with an experience unlike any other.”
What I can tell you is that this is not another creation by Neon / Victory Hill such as the Avengers Station or Hunger Games that are currently running in Las Vegas, and according to the FAQ on the website Game of Thrones Dragons “is not a themed theatrical or special effects show, nor will it be located inside a hotel or casino.” They also confirm that this will be a “permanent attraction open year-round’ to be located somewhere “within the heart of the Las Vegas strip”.
Consider me officially intrigued.
???? - Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights Las Vegas / AREA 15 Expansion -
(10/18/2023) Universal has officially dropped the name and logo for their new year-round haunted attraction coming to Las Vegas. “Universal Horror Unleashed”
(7/23/2023) iFLY has announced that they will add a new indoor skydiving attraction to the Area 15 entertainment complex in Las Vegas. According to a statement from the CEO of iFLY, the design of the Las Vegas location will make it one of the company’s flagship locations. While the timeline to open the new iFLY was not mentioned, they did confirm that it will be part of the new 20-acre expansion to the Area 15 complex, which should also include Universal Studios year-round Halloween Horror Nights attraction.
(6/5/2023) A series of photos and video clips showing off the land clearing next to Area 15 that is expected to be for the future Universal Halloween Horror Nights attraction in Las Vegas can be seen below.
The amount of space being cleared is quite large, so hopefully this bodes well for the size and scope of the future attraction.
(4/30/2023) Area 15 is wasting no time it seems, as demolition work to remove the industrial buildings located just north of Area 15 is now under way. For those wondering, this expansion is also supposed to be the home to the new year-round Halloween Horror Nights attraction from Universal Studios, so I’m happy to see that this project is moving full steam ahead without delays!
(1/12/2023) Halloween Horror Nights Las Vegas… where have you heard this before? Oh yeah… right here on Screamscape back in May 2022. Universal Studios famous Halloween haunted house loving seasonal event will soon have a year-round home in Las Vegas, built as part of an expansion of the Area 15 complex. According to various sources the plan is to create this 110,000 sqft year-round horror-plex as a way to bring many of Universal’s famous horror characters to life. Rumor has it that this won't just include film characters, but the Sin City site could become a year-round home to some very popular characters created for the Halloween Horror Nights events over the year. And yes… I’m talking about the HHN Icons… starting with Jack the clown, who can actually be seen standing in front of the creepy looking building in the new concept art released for the project. Behind Jack in the shadows, I see what looks like Chance standing next to another more hunched over looking silhouette.
What’s interesting about this project is that the location will feature a horror themed bar and restaurant location and apparently it will feature an experience that will be constantly evolving and beijing updated. One rumored concept so far is the idea that the most popular maze concepts and themed props used at the Orlando and Hollywood parks could be shipped to the Las Vegas site for further use.
Oh… and before I forget, Las Vegas may not be the only future site for one of these new year-round HHN attractions. If the plans to build a second Area 15 in Orlando continue to move forward, we’ve heard a rumor that it too may be considered as a potential home for more year-round Halloween Horror Nights fun.
(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.
2025 - HARD ROCK LAS VEGAS HOTEL & CASINO - (2/15/2023) The dolphins at The Mirage now have a new home. According to the local news three dolphins who have made a home at the former Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat (Karli, Sofi and Osborne) have now been moved to SeaWorld San Diego. According to the article, the dolphins were originally actually from SeaWorld and have been at The Mirage under a long-term loan agreement, so now they are returning home again.
(12/10/2022) Hard Rock International shared their latest plans to renovate The Mirage casino during a presentation of the Nevada Gaming Control Board this past week. The updated plans to transform the Mirage into the new “Hard Rock Las Vegas” branded resort still include a massive guitar-shaped hotel tower.
The shape of the tower has changed slightly from the previous Gibson shape into one more balanced left to right. It has been described as more of a “Gretsch” shaped guitar and while it probably offers the ability to include a few more rooms, it will also make the Vegas location stand out as being visually different from Hard Rock’s first guitar shaped hotel tower (a Gibson) that has already opened in Florida. It was also noted that the new guitar tower will be used as part of an all new nighttime light show viewable from all along the strip as sort of a replacement for the Mirage’s old Volcano eruption show.
Hard Rock also proposed building another guitar shaped hotel tower resort in Japan back in 2019 as part of a bid to build an integrated casino resort. There has been a lot of change in the Japanese political landscape since then due to the rise of the pandemic, but last I heard Hard Rock was still keen to bring their vision to Japan when the time is right.
Hard Rock says that while internally things will begin to change later this month as they take over operations from MGM Resorts, the resort was planning on keeping the existing Mirage name in place until the renovations are complete in 2025. Meanwhile the plan is that anything you may remember from the old Mirage will be gutted and removed, and then completely rebuilt and renovated into something entirely new for the Hard Rock brand. This includes the entire casino space, all restaurants and every one of the existing guest rooms.
As previously announced the Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat area will also be closed for good and demolished to make way for a new massive resort pool area. New homes are being found for all of the existing dolphins, lions and tigers in the exhibit. The process of relocating all the animals is expected to take between 6 to 12 months and should be complete by this time next year.
The end result for the Hard Rock Las Vegas will be a nearly 600 room increase, more casino games, more restaurants, an expansion to the convention center space, and plans to build a new “Hard Rock Live” performance space. The contract for the existing Beatles themed Cirque du Soleil show “LOVE”, has been extended to run at least into 2024. If ticket sales remain solid, I wouldn’t be surprised if Hard Rock opted to keep this one leftover from the old Mirage days as it does fit well into their brand.
During a Q&A session at the Gaming Board meeting, they were asked about the possibility of closing the Mirage to complete these massive renovation plans. Nothing has been set yet and they say that if a closure is needed, it won't be for at least another 18 months (mid to late 2024?) if it is determined to be a necessity.
(11/25/22) The local news has confirmed that the Mirage’s “Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat” will be closing down for good. According to a statement issued by MGM Resorts, the new owners at Hard Rock have been considering their options and in open discussions with MGM about the future of the facility.
“As Hard Rock has thought about its vision for The Mirage post-close, the team has determined that the best course of action is to wind down and, eventually, permanently close the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat prior to the commencement of construction of the Guitar Hotel and other planned transformational redevelopments of The Mirage.”
“Given this decision, we’ve agreed to work proactively together in the months ahead to develop a plan to permanently relocate the animals to new homes where they will continue to be loved and cared for by welltrained, highly respected animal care professionals and veterinary experts. Rest assured that the health, safety, and well-being of the animals is our top priority. For three decades, nothing has been more important, and that will not change moving forward. Both MGM and Hard Rock are committed to finding new homes for the animals that meet our required high standards of care and give each animal an opportunity to thrive.”
They also noted that the Dolphin Habitat has been closed since September so that a team of outside experts and the animal care team could conduct a review of the animals and the facility itself. This was done following the death of three of the facilities dolphins that took place earlier this year, with the first in April and then two more suddenly passed in September. “We are nearing the completion of that review but have not yet determined when the facility will reopen or in what capacity.”
(7/23/22) We know The Mirage was sold to Hard Rock International to become the all new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The famous Mirage volcano in front of the casino is destinated to be demolished to way way for a new guitar-shaped hotel tower. While the deal has yet to be 100% finalized at this time, TheStreet is reporting that it is very likely that at some point between now and the planned 2025 launching of the new Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas that The Mirage may shut down completely rather than try to stay open during the renovations.
As part of the deal Hard Rock has the rights to keep using The Mirage name for up to three years royalty free if they wish, but anonymous sources from “one of the main theater productions” told the reporter than they were only offered one-year contract extensions at this time, which backs up the feeling that the Mirage will likely close for a time.
(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.
???? - The Vegas Loop - (8/8/2023) The Vegas Loop underground tunnel network, created by The Boring Company, has now been granted approval to expand to become a whopping 68 mile long tunnel network. The first proof of concept was the three-station loop at the Las Vegas Convention Center. This is now being expanded with a connector tunnel to the Resorts World casino/resort.
While the long distance plan for the “Vegas Loop” project is to build a network of tunnels below all of the main tourist corridor attractions. Heading both towards the main Vegas tourist corridor and now towards the Downtown region, the overall Vegas Loop is expected to eventually include around 69 different stations. The southern expansion stops will be more obviously but towards the north end they plan on stopping at locations like Main Street, the Fremont Street Experience, Area 15, UNLV Medical District, The Strat, Circa, City Hall and more.
Meanwhile The Boring Company’s expansion of the network has already begun with new tunnel entrances at the Westgate Resort and a connector to the Encore resort happening over the past few weeks.
2027/2028 - Brightline West / High Speed Rail - Planned - (8/5/2023) According to the local news the plans for the Brightline West high speed train just cleared another major hurdle, clearing the path to hopefully start breaking ground before the end of the year. In the latest development the Federal Railroad Administration rules that the 49-mile stretch of the proposed line between the southern end-station in Rancho Cucamonga, CA and Victor Valley would have no significant impact on the environment and may proceed without a new environmental impact study. Previously a study for the Las Vegas to Apple Valley portion of the route was approved in 2011 and reviewed and reconfirmed in 2020. With the needed permits and right-of-way rights now secured, Brightline West should be able to proceed ahead and begin construction.
(4/23/2023) Brightline West shared some concept art of the stations planned for the planned high speed rail line from SoCal to Las Vegas. The Las Vegas station end station would be build on a large empty plot nestled between I-15 and the south end of Las Vegas Blvd (aka: The Strip) between Blue Diamond Rd and Warm Springs Rd. Only a small portion of this large empty site will be used by the rail line with other developments looking to take advantage of the rest of the space in the future for other uses like future resorts and possible new sports arenas.
Another piece of artwork sent out appears to show the California station, attached to a large multi-story parking structure, it would also serve as a link between Brightline West and the Metrolink Los Angeles area rail system.
If all moves forward as planned, work could start sometime over the next year with the system opening as early as 2027.
(3/11/2023) The long stalled plan to build a high speed rail connection between Southern California and Las Vegas became another step closer this week. It has been a while since I’ve reported anything on this project, so catching up with what has happened since then, it now seems that Brightline is the rail company involved. That name should sound familiar to anyone who’s read our Florida / Orlando area news, as Brightline has been successfully building a rail system that will soon travel from South Florida all the way to the Orlando Airport, and then expand to run a line through the Orlando tourist district, with plans to try and expand beyond that all the way to Tampa connecting the states three major tourist destinations by rail.
Now on the other side of the country, “Brightline West” has now signed an agreement deal with the labor unions to build the 260-mile Brightline West line that will initially run from Las Vegas most of the way to Los Angeles, stopping short in San Bernardino where riders will connect via the existing Los Angeles Metrolink. Unlike Brightline’s Florida service that uses standard Diesel locomotives, the west-coast version will use electric high-speed trains capable of flying through the desert route at 180mph. From the sound of things, the plan will also likely build the rails to run through the middle of the existing I-15 freeway from California to Las Vegas. The run will start with a large main station right on the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip and include an extra stop in the Victorville area that will eventually connect to another high-speed California rail system in Palmdale planned to run between the LA and San Francisco areas.
Currently the plan is to actually start initial construction on Brightline West later this year, though don’t look for service to begin until 2028 or later. In the meantime, look for hear more about Brightline sometime in Q2 2023 when service to Orlando’s MCO airport begins.
New 2023 Attractions Now Open in the Las Vegas Area -
MGS Sphere - U2 Residency Concerts through Early 2024 w/ “Postcard From Earth” daytime attraction
PARADOX MUSEUM -
MUSEUM OF ILLUSIONS -
New 2022 Attractions Now Open in the Las Vegas Area -
WYNN’S “Awakening” - New Show
ESCAPE IT - Themed Escape Room Experience
MAD APPLE - New from Cirque du Soleil at New York, New York Hotel & Casino
ARCADIA EARTH - Immersive Art Exhibit
FLYOVER LAS VEGAS: Legendary Iceland - New Flight Film Added
FLYOVER LAS VEGAS: Winborne: The Call of the Canadian Rockies - New Flight Film Added
LIFTOFF LOUNGE @ Area 15 - Part Ride, Part Bar, All Fun
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.