Monthly Archives: May 2014

Las Vegas Zip Line Takes Visitors to New Heights: VooDoo Zip Line Opens at Rio

Las Vegas visitors have a brand new way to get their adrenaline flowing. The long-awaited VooDoo Zip Line has opened at Rio Las Vegas.

Las Vegas zip line

What in the hell is wrong with people?

The VooDoo Zip Line may not be the kind of zip line you’d expect. For example, there’s no harness, as with a typical zip line. It’s more akin to a a ski lift chair that travels down, and back up, a line. Passengers sit side-by-side, two at a time.

Riders buzz down the line from the 41st floor of the hotel’s Masquerade Tower to another hotel tower, the 20-story Ipanema Tower. (Worth noting: The Rio’s publicity material says its Masquerade Tower is 51 stories tall, but that’s untrue. The hotel skips floor numbers in the 40s to avoid spooking superstitious Asian gamblers. So, 51 is really 41. Even bigtime newspapers get this wrong, all the time.)

VooDoo Las Vegas zip line

This is why they invented the word “eek.”

Trust us, 41 floors is harrowing enough!

Here’s a look at this stomach-churning new Las Vegas attraction.

As promised, the VooDoo Zip Line is an exhilarating experience. We know this because we asked people who rode it, and they seemed exhilarated.

For the record, no, we didn’t ride. We are a Las Vegas blog, not a Knievel.

Las Vegas zip line

Yes, we stayed for some night photos. The sacrifices we make for you.

The folks at VooDoo Zip Line have clearly thought through the ticket-buying, check-in and ride process, making it seamless and apparently kink-free, even though it’s been open just a few days.

Tickets are $27.49 during the day (before 5:30 p.m.) and $42.50 at night.

Here’s how it all works: Riders can get tickets online (at Ticketmaster) or in person at the new VooDoo Zip Line ticket office on the second floor of the Rio.

VooDoo zip line

The ticket office entrance, right next to the door that takes you to the elevator that takes you to the excellent VooDoo Steak restaurant. There will be a quiz.

While in line, you sign a release with lots of words you probably won’t take the time to read.

Release

You know you’re just going to skim this. Embrace your short attention span!

Do, however, read the signs on the walls in the ticket office. There, you’ll learn you can’t be pregnant on the ride. There’s no age limit, but you must be at least four feet tall to ride. You have to be 21 or older to ride after 8:30 p.m.

You also can’t be intoxicated or hopped up on drugs.

VooDoo zip line

Relax, medical marijuana opponents. They mean “tall.”

The combined weight of the two riders can’t be more than 450, and an individual rider can’t weigh more than 300 pounds.

Oh, and you have to have both your feet and arms. Seriously. It’s a rule.

One you have your tickets, you visit a check-in kiosk, just outside the ticket office.

VooDoo zip line

The check-in kiosk thingy. We should probably ask before taking pictures of people.

If there’s a line, you can opt to provide your phone number, and you’ll get a text when it’s your turn to ride. We love this convenience, as it frees one up to roam, dine, gamble, whatever.

Once you’re ready to go, getting up to the ride is part of the fun at Rio Las Vegas, thanks to glass elevators. The top of the Rio has one of the most stunning views in Las Vegas, so enjoy.

VooDoo Las Vegas zip line

What, you thought we were kidding about the stunning thing?

The ride lasts a minute and 10 seconds. So, roughly the same amount of time it takes to have sex with this blog.

Riders are held in their chair by what appears to be a simple seat belt. No shoulder straps. No restraint bar. Let the “Aieee!” begin!

Las Vegas zip line

The ride hits speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, so bring some lip balm.

The ride, we’re told, is silky smooth, all the way down and back up again. There’s a pause for a few seconds before you head back up, just so you can catch your breath.

Once you’ve finished your ride, you have to option of purchasing photos, of course. They’re taken either by a person or a camera affixed to the launch platform. The price of a 5×7 is nearly as heart-stopping as the ride: $30. But, hey, you can’t put a price on YOLO. Additional copies cost less, by the way.

Las Vegas zip line

Yeah, you’re definitely up there.

Make sure to hang out on the VooDoo Lounge level of the Rio after your ride and drink in the view of The Strip. We’re saying that because the ride itself doesn’t necessarily afford an ideal view of The Strip.

As you can see from the diagram below, the ride sends you in pretty much the opposite direction of The Strip (and when you’re heading in the direction of The Strip, you’re going backwards), so you’d have to turn almost completely around to get a glimpse of even the north tip of The Strip. Doesn’t matter too much, though. Thrillseekers are going to love the rush, regardless.

Las Vegas zip line

If your ride takes you toward 12:00, The Strip is at about 5:00.

So, if you’re one of the aforementioned thrillseekers, you now have two Las Vegas zip lines to conquer. The VooDoo Zip line, just off The Strip, and the Slotzilla zip line, at Fremont Street Experience, downtown. (This blog’s day job, by the way. Our opinions are our own, of course.) Each zip line provides a different experience, so try both and let us know what you think.

Find out more at the VooDoo Zip Line official site.

In the meantime, luxuriate in our exclusive VooDoo Zip Line photo gallery.

VooDoo Zip Line at Rio Las Vegas

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Las Vegas Quickies: The New, The Shiny, A Metric Ass-Ton of Sin City Skinny

There’s so much going on in Las Vegas, it’s hard to keep up. Thankfully, your fifth favorite Las Vegas blog has all the news you need to impress friends, annoy coworkers, influence parole officers and maybe even win a bar bet or two. Here’s the latest from Sin City.

googie Claim Jumper restaurant has opened at Golden Nugget. The new restaurant, long-delayed as a union contract was being hammered out, sits in the former location of the Carson Street Cafe. Right next door is another new offering, the Cadillac Mexican Cantina & Tequila Bar.

Claim Jumper

Claim Jumper was inspired by the Gold Rush of 1949. It’s now at the Golden Nugget. Ah, the circularity of the comfort food universe.

googie The Grand Bazaar Shops, an eye-traumatizing new shopping development at Bally’s Las Vegas, has launched a revamped Web site with new renderings and additional tenants. Learn more at Vegas Chatter.

Bazaar Shops at Bally's

This blog is not responsible for any eye damage resulting from looking at this rendering.

googie The Cromwell, formerly Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall, has officially opened. Also open is the hotel’s new rooftop nightclub, Drai’s. Creating ample buzz are a video of the new nightclub (see below), as well as a list of what the club offers big spenders, including a variety of packages that include fireworks (with prices up to $100,000).

Drai's

Start saving those pennies.

Here’s the video that makes us want to go there, despite our not being a nightclub person.

googie The underrated Le Provencal restaurant closed at Paris Las Vegas on May 16. The restaurant will be replaced by a new Martorano’s, from Steve Martorano, who also operates a restaurant at Rio Las Vegas. Visit Eater Vegas for all the details. We hope the restaurant’s singing servers find a new home.

Le Provencal

“Le Provencal” is Italian for “The place is closed, so we’re not going to waste time looking up what Le Provencal means in English, sorry.”

googie After nearly a decade, Pure nightclub will close May 26, 2014 for a renovation and expansion. The club will open with a new name in 2-15. See more at the Las Vegas Review Journal.

Pure Las Vegas

Pure was the first panties-optional nightclub in Las Vegas.

googie The popular but unprofitable Cosmopolitan hotel has been sold to the Blackstone Group, a private equity investment firm, for $1.73 billion. The Cosmo cost $3.9 billion to build. Ouch, is right.

The Cosmopolitan

We hope the new owners won’t mess with the OMFG.

googie On May 31, 2014, Quad headliner Frank Marino celebrates his 25,000th performance on the Las Vegas Strip. No, that’s not a typo. The popular female impersonator is believed to have made more than 415,000 costume changes during his unprecedented run.

Frank Marino

Marino appeared at The Riv for 20 years “An Evening at La Cage.”

googie The Venetian has announced a series of all-female stand-up comedy shows, “Lipschtick.” Performers include Joy Behar, Iliza Shlesinger, Lisa Lampanelli, Caroline Rhea, Wendy Williams, Wendy Liebman and Rita Rudner. See more at the official site.

Lipschtick

“Shtick” is Yiddish for “a comic theme or gimmick.” “Lipschtick” is Yiddish for “We made up a word for marketing purposes.”

googie Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood has announced it will convert a 60,000 square-foot area on the center’s south end into a dining and entertainment destination. Several new stores are set to open soon throughout the center. Construction will begin in 2015. More here.

Miracle Mile

Because if there’s one thing Las Vegas needs more of, it’s shopping.

googie Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay says he’ll be opening a new fish and chips restuarant at The Linq shopping mall. Few specifics are known, but Ramsay says the shop will open by the end of 2014. This will be Ramsay’s fourth restaurant in Las Vegas. The others are Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris, Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesars and BurGR at Planet Hollywood.

Gordon Ramsay

No, Ramsay doesn’t actually cook at any of his restaurants. People who think so are adorable, though.

googie Rock in Rio, the self-proclaimed “world’s biggest music festival,” is partnering with MGM Resorts and Cirque du Soleil to bring the festival’s U.S. debut to the north end of the Las Vegas Strip in May 2015. The festival will happen in a permanent, open-air concert venue across from the new SLS Las Vegas. The new venue will accommodate 80,000, at least 14 of which will not be under the influence of Ecstacy. The new venue will have five stages, thrill rides, a zip line and other diversions. PR hyperbole here, official site right here.

Rio in Rio

Between Rock in Rio, SLS Las Vegas and the upcoming Resorts World (next to Circus Circus), the north end of The Strip will soon be unrecognizable.

googie Tilted Kilt restaurant has opened at The Linq shopping mall, between The Quad and Flamingo Las Vegas. The popular pub-themed chain is known for its “Kilt Girls,” and possibly other things, but honestly, the “Kilt Girls.

Tilted Kilt

We’re pretty sure Tilted Kilt and Yardhouse are going to get into a fist fight at some point. Mark our words.

We hope we’ve wet your whistle for your next Vegas visit. Or possibly whet your appetite. We’ll also accept piqued your interest. Whatever, just get here, already.

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Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar Hits a Home Run at The Quad Las Vegas

We’re glad we didn’t bet against the success of Guy Fieri’s new Las Vegas restaurant at The Quad, because it’s a certified winner.

We’ll admit we were among those who feared the worst (Fieri’s over-the-top public persona does him no favors beyond his fan base), but we’re relieved to report the Food Network star’s new restaurant is what many new Las Vegas eateries aspire to be, an unforgettable experience.

Guy Fieri's Vegas Kitchen

Brace yourself. You’re in for some happy.

Right off the bat, Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar benefits from an incredible location.

The restaurant sits in a spot where millions of Vegas visitors stroll by each year, on the north side of the newly-renovated Quad, next to the popular Carnaval Court at Harrah’s Las Vegas.

Guy Fieri hostesses

Guests are greeted by a phalanx of cheerful young hostesses. Never a bad thing.

Guy Fieri’s restaurant is already a success (rumored to be doing 1,200 “covers” a day, although it’s not uncommon for Strip restaurants to do 1,800 or more), so there might be a wait.

Feel free to roam as you wait, though, because the restaurant has a handy texting service to let you know when your table is ready. We are not making the following message up, unfortunately.

Guy Fieri text message

Yes, there’s some cringing involved, but it’s mercifully brief.

Guy Fieri’s restaurant doesn’t merely rely on its stellar location. It nails all the other aspects of what make a Las Vegas restaurant worth a visit: The atmosphere is electric, the service is extraordinary, the cocktails are delicious (and strong) and the food is a pleasing mix of both satisfying succulence and, well, spectacle.

Guy Fieri's

Caesars Entertainment continues its tradition of covering up its signs with foliage.

This isn’t fine dining, by any means, but the food is consistently appealing.

When your meal arrives, you can’t help but be drawn in by the sheer charisma of it. That’s right, it’s food with charisma. It’s big and bold and doesn’t give a damn about your diet. Las Vegas isn’t about diets. It’s about going big or going home, and Guy Fieri’s new restaurant delivers the “big” in a big way.

Guy Fieri sign

Told you so.

Let’s talk food.

We should probably give credit where it’s due on that one. In partnering with Caesars Entertainment, Fieri developed his menu in collaboration with some of the sharpest food and beverage pros in Las Vegas. These are the same folks who run Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants at Caesars, Planet Hollywood and Paris, Nobu Restaurant at Caesars Palace, KGB: Kerry’s Gourmet Burgers at Harrah’s and who will soon run Giada’s at The Cromwell.

Celebrity names may be on these places, but since celebrity chefs don’t actually cook in their restaurants, they lean heavily on the expertise of their hotel partners to come up with design, food and drink concepts, and to make those ideas into a reality.

Guy Fieri’s menu is all about drama. It’s comfort food, but of the best quality, presented in a way that demands your attention. The casual offerings include burgers, wings, tacos and small bites. First up, chicken wings!

Guy Fieri's Vegas Kitchen

The Fireball Whiskey Wings are trimmed lollipop-style, then brined and roasted. Yes, we occasionally take notes!

One eye-popping appetizer boasts bread sticks wrapped in pepperoni. Yeah, we had the same conflicted feelings, but quickly got past our concerns and felt a deep, abiding love for these indulgent treats.

Guy Fieri

The “Guy-talian Fondue Dippers” have a meh name, but more than a little wow.

The OMFG just keeps on coming with the Caesar salad served in a bowl that’s one giant crouton.

Guy Fieri Caesar salad

We never, ever get enough croutons with our Caesar salad. Until this glorious godsend.

See the full menu here and additionally here.

Prices are about what you’d expect of a restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip, and maybe a tad less. Many appetizers and shared items are $12-15, while burgers, tacos and sandwiches get up into the $16-20 range. (Use your Total Rewards players club card and get a buck off most items on the menu.)

If you can’t splurge and spend $20 for a burger if it comes with a memory-making night out in Vegas, you might be on the wrong vacation!

Guy Fieri mac-n-cheese burger

The Mac-N-Cheese Bacon Burger. The mac-n-cheese was a little overwhelmed by the other flavors, but still a burger to rival any on The Strip.

The cocktails, too, are just plain great. No fancy mixology here, just reasonably-priced ($12, reasonable for The Strip, anyway) signature cocktails with names like the Monkey Wrench, Smoke & Mirrors (below), Rattlesnake and the Crazy Hagar.

Guy Fieri cocktail

The Smoke & Mirrors cocktail has Fireball cinnamon whiskey, fresh lemon juice, apple and cherry juice and a dash of lagavulin single malt, whatever that might actually be.

See the signature cocktail menu.

The restaurant serves up 16 craft beers, wine and sports a frozen tap system shot bar. (Ice dilutes the liquor, a frozen tap does not.) Here’s the beer and shot menu.

Guy Fieri Cocktail

Understated they ain’t. The Monkey Wrench has Wild Turkey bourbon, coconut milk, lime juice, pineapple juice, rock candy syrup and BBQ bitters, which aren’t nearly as gross as they sound.

Our only complaint about the liquor (and the whole enterprise, really)? No Captain Morgan spiced rum, a cardinal sin in our book. The solution? Before you visit, stop by the Quad Wine & Spirits store, a few steps from the entrance of Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar.

Captain Morgan

Sailor Jerry can suck it.

Oh, one more stand-out cocktail, the Java Guava.

Guy Fieri cocktail

The Java Guava has with Cruzan guava, guava puree, orgeat syrup, lemon juice, topped with Thai chili beer. Just go with it.

Fieri’s restaurant has just the right vibe (a “We’re having the time of our lives in Vegas!” vibe), and its music is, surprisingly, set at just the right level–loud enough to keep the energy up, but not too loud as to prevent conversation. A delicate and deal-breaking balance when it’s not done right.

Guy Fieri bar

Should have called it Guy Fieri’s Vegas Bar & Kitchen, but that probably speaks more to our drinking problem than our marketing prowess.

The restaurant isn’t massive by Vegas standards, it’s 6,500-square-feet and seats 200, but it has indoor and patio seating. The patio is already one of the prime people-watching locations on the Las Vegas Strip.

Guy Fieri restaurant

The Guy Fieri patio experience.

As we mentioned, the service is truly top-notch. Our waiter, Adrian, was outstanding, and his knowledge of ingredients and food preparation was impressive. His food and drink recommendations were all spot-on, and he and his busser were attentive without being intrusive.

Guy Fieri waiter

We trust Adrian’s 200% tip was unaffected by the fact we completely fabricated the whole “200% tip” thing. We are a Las Vegas blog, not an Adelson.

Overall, Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar is just about the perfect Las Vegas restaurant. Not too casual and not too pretentious. It’s real food for real people, where every dish feels like a discovery and an only-in-Vegas good time is pretty much guaranteed.

Guy Fieri dessert

Yes, it’s a cheesecake with pretzels and potato chips stuck into it. Which part of “just go with it” didn’t you get?

Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar is open each day from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

For now, however, you’re at a computer or fiddling around on some smart phone or tablet, so photos of Guy Fieri’s junk will have to suffice.  Have at them.

Guy Fieri's Vegas Kitchen & Bar

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Cause Determined in High Number of Las Vegas Pedestrian Accidents

The ever-growing problem of pedestrian accidents in Las Vegas has stymied legislators and law enforcement officials for some time.

Sadly, Las Vegas roadways are even more dangerous for pedestrians than those in Manhattan, one of the most densely populated regions in America.

Now, a probable cause of the proliferation of pedestrian accidents has been uncovered by this very Las Vegas blog. Following upwards of 10 minutes of in-depth investigation, the following video was captured on a Las Vegas roadway.

When Las Vegas Department of Transportation officials were asked about the astonishing video, the response from an official who wished to remain anonymous was, “We thought it was funny. Isn’t it funny? Yeesh, some people have no sense of humor.”

Las Vegas traffic signal

Paging the Pulitzer Prize committee.

Be careful out there.

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A First Look at the Long-Awaited Street Dice at Downtown Grand Las Vegas

Downtown Grand, formerly Lady Luck, opened on October 27, 2013. Even before the hotel’s grand re-opening, there was buzz about a new game to be offered at Downtown Grand: Street Dice.

The much-talked-about game will finally debut to the public on Friday, May 16 at 6:00 p.m., and we’ve got a first look at the game Downtown Grand touted as “unprecedented,” “crazy fun” and “unlike anything Vegas has ever seen,” which is technically the same thing as “unprecedented,” but let’s not get bogged down in details. Behold, Street Dice!

Street Dice Downtown Grand

Yes, there are dice, but don’t get your hopes up about the “street” part.

We should get something out of the way right up front: The name “Street Dice” is a misnomer. The game is played on the sidewalk outside Downtown Grand, not on the street.

Street Dice

“Sidewalk Dice Under an Awning” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Street Dice is, as advertised, unprecedented. And it can only be found at Downtown Grand at the moment.

It’s played on a special table, with a unique layout, and the dice are thrown against a large, enclosed, simulated wall.

Yeah, rumors of the dice being thrown against an actual wall appear to have been thwarted by the Nevada Gaming Commission. At one time, the game was going to face the wall of Downtown Grand, but regulators nixed that, so the game was turned parallel to the wall.

Street Dice

We’ll be withholding our “meh” until we get a chance to play. We’re fair like that.

The dice used in the game are not, as was predicted by many (including this Las Vegas blog), larger-than-life dice. No fuzzy dice. No inflatable dice. No epic dice. Just, you know dice, although they’re about twice the size of regular craps dice. They’re the largest legal casino dice, apparently.

Street Dice

It gets even better.

The dice are retrieved by a “stick” of sorts, but it’s really one of those grabber thingys you use to get objects off the high-up shelves in your kitchen.

Street Dice stick

Yes, “grabber thingy” is the technical name.

Now, for the layout and game play.

Street Dice

The brick motif is awesome, but would be even more so if the game involved actual bricks.

Players make their basic bet, then throw the dice. Go ahead and set them if you like. The “wall” you’re shooting against is 10 feet away, so controlling the dice would be beyond impossible.

If you roll a 2, 3 or 12 on the first roll, you lose your bet. A seven is a “push.” Only an 11 wins on the first roll (it pays even money).

If you roll something other than those numbers, the dealer marks the point, and you have three rolls to hit the number again. There’s a digital counter on the wall that counts down from three.

Street Dice

Counting backward from three is, you know, a lot harder than counting to three.

Payouts on the numbers, if hit, vary based upon which roll it is, first, second or third. For the numbers 4 and 10, hitting the number on the first roll pays 5-to-1, second roll pays 4-to-1 and third roll pays 3-to-1. For 5 and 9, hitting the number on the first roll pays 4-to-1, second roll pays 3-to-1 and third roll pays 2-to-1. For 6 and 8 (the most commonly-rolled numbers, after seven), hitting the number on the first roll pays 3-to-1, second roll pays 2-to-1 and third roll pays even money.

If you roll a seven (the most commonly-rolled number) after the point has been established, you lose your bet.

So, hit your point (win), “seven out” (lose) or fail to hit the point in three rolls (lose), and you start all over again.

The casino has wisely put the rules and payouts right on the layout, so even the drunkest of us can keep track of our wins and losses. Especially that last thing.

Street Dice payouts

Thanks for the convenient payout table, layout designer persons.

That’s pretty much it. Easy game, easy payout table. To illustrate the simplicity of the game, we grabbed these photos as dealers (presumably dice dealers in the main casino) were being trained to run Street Dice, and their entire training took less than five minutes.

The straightforward nature of Street Dice at Downtown Grand should make it accessible to people intimidated by traditional craps, as well as those with far too much disposable income.

There’s one side bet in the game, just to keep things interesting.

The side bet in Street Craps is called a “Brick Bet” (again, no actual bricks, and this bet must be made before the start of a roll). It pays if an established point of 4, 6 , 8 or 10 hits as a pair, or “hard way,” within three rolls. On the “come out,” or set-the-point roll, 2, 3, 5, 9 and 12 lose, as those aren’t among the four numbers (4, 6, 8, 10) that can be made the hard way. A roll of 7 loses, too. An 11 on the set-point roll is a push. A winning “Brick Bet” pays 25-to-1.

Street Dice

Traditional craps has more than 100 bets and bet combinations. Street dice? Two.

So, will we play Street Dice when it makes its grand entrance at Downtown Grand? Yes! Do we expect to win? Hell, no!

Street Dice isn’t about winning. It’s about having fun, and it’s about playing a casino game outside. It’s a novelty, and it will definitely garner some interest as a one-of-a-kind table game.

Unfortunately, Street Dice’s hype doesn’t appear to match the final product (imagine that in Las Vegas), so we’re going out on a limb to say there won’t be much of a wait to play.

Downtown Grand can’t seem to overcome its challenging location, despite a number of excellent offerings nearby (including Pizza Rock and Triple George, both outstanding restaurants), and it’s unlikely Street Dice will have much impact there. Downtown Grand’s restaurants, like Stewart + Ogden, have improved a lot since the hotel opened, but even vastly improved food can’t seem to help the hotel’s struggling casino.

When it comes to Downtown Grand, we tend to follow the philosophy below.

Downtown Grand

We remain optimistic, but not inexhaustibly so.

Still, we love us some Vegas newness, and we’re looking forward to trying Street Dice during the last few moderate days of spring before Las Vegas slips into its predictable 100-degrees-plus summer. (When an outdoor table gets hot in Vegas, it really gets hot!)

Will you try your hand at Street Dice? If you do, we’d love to hear about your experience.

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