MGM Grand’s Leo the Lion Statue Gets a Buffing

If you need a visual metaphor for Las Vegas as we spring back from a tough year, look no further than the MGM Grand’s lion.

The iconic statue is currently being buffed to a high sheen.

MGM Grand lion

Dope goatee, bro.

The lion, whose name is Leo, is 45 feet tall and weighs about 50 tons.

The statue’s 25-foot-tall pedestal alone weighs 23,000 pounds.

MGM Grand’s lion is the largest bronze sculpture in the U.S. The Northern Hemisphere, actually, but since we don’t exactly know what that means, we’ll just go with “in the U.S.”

Cherry picker for scale.

This isn’t the first massive lion to sit outside MGM Grand, of course.

This Leo replaced another statue, made of fiberglass, that caused a bit of drama at the Strip casino.

Yes, Leo is male. ‘Nuff said.

The story goes that the original lion was replaced because “walking through the mouth of a lion” was considered bad luck by Asian gamblers.

The fact is guests didn’t walk through the lion’s mouth, but under its chin, despite myriad reputable sources perpetuating this urban myth. Check this out.

Either way, out with the old, in with a must-see Vegas photo op.

Leo clearly needed a spa day.

The artist who sculpted Leo was a former con man, Snellen Maurice “Snell” Johnson. He died in March 2001.

Because the gold bronze statue is exposed to the elements, it tarnishes, so crews have to polish it from time to time, and that time is now.

Zoomed-in shots of the statue reveal how dull it’s become, but weeks of work have resulted in Leo being restored to his original glory. It’s still a work-in-progress, but it appears he’ll be fully polished by the end of April 2021.

Big cat dermabrasion sitch.

As the pandemic recedes, a flood of visitors is expected to return to Las Vegas (it’s already happening, actually), so MGM Grand clearly wants to ensure Leo is ready for his close-up!

Let’s hope other casinos take MGM Grand’s lead, as casino resort maintenance has suffered  considerably over the last year, and Las Vegas needs to ensure its luster never fades again.

Which is a much more romantic metaphor than talking about the pent-up demand for vigorous buffing in Las Vegas. Um, hello, it’s called maturity.

Podcast: Raiders Tavern at M Resort, Pinball On The Strip, The 35 Cinema and More

There’s simply too much Vegas for one humble blog, so we’ve got a podcast as well!

In this installment, we’re jamming your orifices full of all the Vegas scoop you can accommodate without causing a hernia. Probably.

First up, we chat with the General Manager of M Resort, Hussain Mahrous, about the new Raiders Tavern & Grill.

This new sports-themed bar and restaurant is the first of its kind in the world, with lots of TVs, memorabilia as well as great food and drinks, especially that last thing. Two words: Boozy shakes.

Raiders helmet

Pretty sure this will be the subject of a future Las Vegas heist movie.

We also ask Mahrous about the resort’s popular buffet, and when it might return.

Next up, we hear from Tim Arnold, owner of the Pinball Hall of Fame.

The Pinball Hall of Fame’s new location has quietly opened on the Las Vegas Strip, with hundreds more games than the attraction’s previous location. Here’s an exclusive peek inside.

There’s also an interview with John Lohmann, owner of The 35 Cinema inside the Nerd Lounge at Neonopolis.

This quirky little theater shows films on, gasp, film, and is the only movie theater in the world where the, gasp, projector sits in the theater.

Cinema 35 Neonopolis

The youths are so freaked out right now.

Here’s more about this quirky retro gem in downtown Las Vegas.

We round out the episode with exclusive skinny, perfunctory news and a “Listicle of the Week” that tells critics of Elon Musk’s Las Vegas Loop where to stow it.

When was the last time you listened to a podcast that third world countries sometimes use to torture dissidents? Here’s your chance!

Listen up and tide yourself over until your next Las Vegas visit.

Resorts World Confirms Opening Date of June 24, 2021

Resorts World Las Vegas was first announced in March 2013, and we finally have an official opening date: June 24, 2021.

We will at last get to experience this $4 billion megaresort built on the former Stardust site.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Let’s megacasino again.

Regular readers of our site have gotten a cavalcade of Resorts World scoop in recent months, including confirmed headlining DJs Tiesto and Zedd.

We’ve also passed along rumors about Resorts World’s high profile performers like Katy Perry (confirmed, although not by Resorts World, yet), Luke Bryan (unconfirmed) and Carrie Underwood (unconfirmed).

Our biggest scoop, though, is Celine Dion will have a residency at Resorts World, which we first reported more than a year ago, in Feb. 2020. Back when things were normalish.

While Resorts World hasn’t confirmed our story, Celine Dion teased via Instagram she’ll make a “fabulous reveal” on April 21.

Celine’s either confirming her Resorts World residency or announcing she’ll attend the grand opening at the new Strip location of the Pinball Hall of Fame on July 1.

Celine pinball

Who knew Celine is a pinhead? And we mean that as a compliment.

Anyhoo, Resorts World is a true Vegas throwback.

The resort plans a truly impressive collection of restaurants and lounges, just for starters.

Resorts World lucky cat

We are more of a lucky dog person, but whatever works.

Resorts World is also sparing no expense for nightlife, and has partnered with Hilton to have three Hilton hotel brands under one umbrella: Las Vegas Hilton, Crockfords and Conrad.

Zouk nightclub

Now would be a good time to practice your “woah.” Whatever that might be.

The resort’s pool complex is a thing of beauty, and Resorts World will also have a 70,000-square-foot, two-story retail promenade called The Spine.

Last but definitely not least, Resorts World will have a 117,000-square-foot casino, including a poker room and sportsbook.

Oh, look, you can see our hand pays from here!

Resorts World’s loyalty club program will be Genting Rewards, with which we are entirely unfamiliar, but we look forward to using our players points to explore the resort’s approximately 1,406 restaurants.

Especially the Italian place.

Resorts World is the spectacle Las Vegas needs as we emerge from a year of WTF.

We’re sure other Las Vegas resorts are thrilled to have 3,500 rooms flood into the market, but this isn’t about them. It’s about new and big and fancy and pretty much anything you’d ever want in a Las Vegas casino resort.

Let us in!

Resorts World Confirms Tiesto Residency at Zouk Nightclub

Few things give us greater joy than scooping the world and ruining (sorry, amplifying) surprises.

This time, Resorts World has confirmed what loyal readers knew months ago: Bigtime DJ Tiesto will be a headliner at the casino’s Zouk Nightclub and Ayu Dayclub.

Tiesto Paradise

Make an album called “A Town Called Paradise” and you’re cool with us. Most of The Strip is in the town of Paradise.

Tiesto (sometimes with an umlaut over the “e)” is a certified icon of “oontz.”

He’s a Grammy winner, has sold 36 million albums and was named “The Greatest DJ of All Time” by Mixmag, whatever that might be.

Mostly, we know of Tiesto because of his light show at Fremont Street Experience. He also got his own fountain show at Bellagio.

Tiesto’s light show at Fremont Street Experience features three of his hits, “Secrets,” “Red Lights” and “Wasted.”

Tiesto is quite a “get” for Resorts World, as the superstar DJ has been a fixture at Hakkasan for some time.

Resorts World is going all out for talent, recently confirming another one of our scoops, that Zedd would also be a headliner at the resort expected to open by July 4, 2021.

Zedd Tiesto Resorts World

Waiting for official announcements is lame.

Zouk Nightclub is 36,000-square-feet and will boast a “state-of-the-art articulating ceiling with a center focal point called the Mothership.”

Inside Zouk, there will be multiple experiences, including Capital Bar and Empire, which can operate as distinct venues depending upon the night or season. Capital will have a “projection mapping canopy,” which we’re excited to see and we’re not even really a nightclub person.

The jury’s still out as to whether the pricey DJ business model still works for Las Vegas nightclubs, mainly because Kaos at Palms was a very expensive debacle the entire nightlife industry in Las Vegas is still face-palming about.

How “pricey”? Tiesto is likely to make between $250,000 and $290,000 a show.

Resorts World nightclub

Articulated AF.

One of the executives who ran Kaos, Ronn Nicolli, is in charge of nightlife at Resorts World.

Nightlife in Vegas has been through the ringer during the pandemic, and there are lots of changes on the horizon (including rumors of major mergers and acquisitions).

The Zedd and Tiesto residency announcements have already made a big splash for Resorts World, and they’re betting these seasoned and beloved veterans could provide a solid foundation for what’s to come.

Roughly Half of Las Vegas Strip Escalators Are Out of Service

In an informal audit of escalators on the Las Vegas Strip, about half are currently out of service.

The reaction of most Las Vegas visitors to this shocking news is, “You’re using ‘shocking’ wrong.”

In other words, it’s par for the course. But worse. So, under par. Significantly subpar.

Strip broken escalator

At one intersection, Tropicana and Las Vegas Blvd., we found virtually all the escalators down.

A friend of our blog, @JamesinLasVegas, wanders The Strip a lot and gives us tons of updates on the state of, well, everything.

On a recent evening, he visited 60 elevators attached to 13 pedestrian bridges on The Strip.

Of the 60 elevators monitored, 27 were broken or not functioning.

That’s a 45 percent disappointment rate, exceeding even sexual intercourse with this blog, and that’s saying something.

Private escalators (those maintained by casinos) weren’t included in these unscientific, but reliable, results.

Vegas escalators out of service

Please keep the “We all need more exercise!” nonsense to a minimum, thanks.

Responsibility for maintaining these escalators falls to Clark County, wherein Las Vegas resides.

While the large number of broken elevators on The Strip has been a running gag for some time, the current escalator situation seems even worse.

There are lots of reasons escalators can be out of order, including vandalism and routine maintenance. We couldn’t find any evidence of those during a recent excursion.

Another reason officials give for escalator downtime is “exposure to the elements.” We trust “elements” refers to rain, which Las Vegas gets one afternoon a year or whatever.

Broken escalators are a downer.

It’s unclear why so many escalators are down right now, but we trust the pandemic provides a convenient excuse.

If anything, you’d think the dip in tourism over the past year would’ve resulted in escalators  getting much less wear and tear, so they’d be in better working order. That’s a nope.

While the Mitch Hedberg observation, “An escalator can never break, it can only become stairs,” is amusing, it’s less funny to visitors who get to schlep up the stairs of shame between the broken escalators.

Vegas broken escalators

You know the Schlep of Shame of which we speak.

The situation is even worse for those with physical challenges who encounter both a broken escalator and its accompanying elevator.

We get it. There are never enough resources, but broken escalators degrade the Las Vegas experience.

Army of the Dead Vegas

Fun fact: Las Vegas Strip escalators are currently in the same state of disrepair as depicted in a new Netflix movie, “Army of the Dead.” During a zombie apocalypse.

We’re hopeful Clark County can up its escalator repair game as visitors flood back to Las Vegas.

Our town has a long way to go in recovering from the effects of the pandemic. Getting our Strip escalators up and running would be a step in the right direction.

Las Vegas Fully Reopens June 1, Social Distancing Mandate Ends May 1

A last minute news conference by Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak featured rainbows, frolicking unicorns and uncharacteristically upbeat news!

The Governor says Las Vegas will reopen fully on June 1, 2021, and social distancing restrictions will be lifted May 1, 2021.

This is welcome news for a tourism-centric town hard hit by the economic fallout of the pandemic.

Vegas reopens June 1

One year later. Las Vegas casinos reopened after the shutdown on June 4, 2020.

Here’s the Governor’s thread on the Twitters. Wait, you’re not on Twitter? What do you with all that spare time and mental wellness?

Anyway, Governor Sisolak said a lot of other words in his new conference on April 13, 2021, but we sort of stopped listening after “fully opening June 1.”

We did hear the part where there’s no end date in sight for the mask mandate. At this point, we’ll take what we can get.

In other good news, May 1 will mark additional lifting of restrictions, including the potential  return of self-service buffets.

Yes, in Las Vegas, that’s a big deal.

There are only two buffets open at the moment, at Cosmo and South Point. Expect that to change.

Nightclubs and dayclubs will be able to open. They’re sort of open now, but more like lounges.

As of May 1, dance floors will return. It seems backing it up will be back, if you get our drift.

Hot tubs and spas will be reopened at gyms, body art and piercing will return and Costco can do food samples again.


Tats need to come back, stat.

As of May 1, restaurants will be able to book bigger groups (from a limit of six to a max of 10).

Most importantly, it looks like lap dances are back!

Here’s more from Clark County, wherein Las Vegas sits.

Overall, things are progressing slowly but surely, and we’re about to see some big changes in the next couple of months.

Vegas won’t really be Vegas again until the mask mandate goes away, but given the past year, any return to normalcy is more than welcome.

Translation: It’s about damned time.