Monthly Archives: January 2015

Downtown Las Vegas is Home to the World’s Largest Working Fire Hydrant, Probably

Here’s something we didn’t know until Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh told us about it: Downtown Las Vegas is home to the world’s largest functioning fire hydrant.

Why? Vegas, that’s why.

world's largest fire hydrant

We’re gonna need a bigger dog.

Downtown’s 15-foot-tall hydrant is attached to the Hydrant Club, a private dog park that also features daycare, boarding and training services. The Hydrant Club is across from the former Western casino.

The Internet seems to think there are other, larger working fire hydrants, but we’re going to go with what Tony Hsieh and the Hydrant Club team says. Probably because we like to think Las Vegas has the biggest everything.

Yes, including that, thank you.

Read more about the alleged world’s largest working fire hydrant on the official Hydrant Club site.

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WTF Just Happened: Grand Bazaar Shops at Bally’s Go From Ugly Ducking to Swan Under Cover of Darkness

Seriously, what just happened?

We’ve spent the better part of a year lambasting the Grand Bazaar Shops at Bally’s Las Vegas for being an appalling eyesore, a pox on the otherwise glorious Las Vegas Strip, then all of a sudden, we visited the alleged eyesore at night and, seemingly out of nowhere, voila.

Grand Bazaar Shops

We just swooned at a mall, and we’re not typically a swooner. Unless chicken parm or Claire Sinclair are involved.

That’s right. The Grand Bazaar Shops, the former laughing stock of The Strip, is actually sexy as hell in the dark.

Grand Bazaar Shops

The Grand Bazaar Shops may have pulled off a Grand Fake-Out.

It might be helpful to put this phenomenon into context.

Say you’re in a Las Vegas nightclub. You hook up with a hottie and have the time of your life. Then the sun comes up. You see your conquest in broad daylight. In many cases, the daytime reality is a far cry from the vision in your head.

Nighttime, it turns out, is the Vegas equivalent of beer goggles for the Grand Bazaar Shops at Bally’s, and we’re going to say it straight up, we were wrong about you, you sexy thang.

What’s not to love about the undulating glow of the kiosk rooftops that during the day look like the scales of a fish exposed to dangerously high levels of radiation?

Grand Bazaar Shops

The fish scales have turned into butterfly wings. Or something.

And we’re even loving Grand Bazaar Shops’ Piet Mondrian-inspired (sorry, “Partridge Family” bus-inspired) pillars that live somewhere between modern design and the anachronistic, vintage feel of Bally’s Las Vegas (formerly the MGM Grand, long story).

Just think “Logan’s Run,” and you, too, will begin to appreciate the Vegas vibe of this much-maligned (we should know, we’ve been maligning it) new shopping center.

Grand Bazaar Shops

Whatever you call them, we approve.

Not a fan of the color scheme? Hang out for a minute. The colors change. Check out our video below.

How did this monstrosity suddenly become one of the most eye-pleasing free shows in Las Vegas? We’re going to chalk it up to Sin City magic. Or Captain Morgan spiced rum. One of those things.

It’s been announced the Grand Bazaar Shops at Bally’s will officially open on Feb. 26, 2015.

Now, having viewed the shopping complex in all its colorful nighttime glory, the thing we once dreaded now borders on, gasp, “We might actually go there once, if we’re really bored and have the sudden urge to barter for a dice clock.”

Grand Bazaar Shops at Bally’s will feature 120 shops, including upwards of three we might actually care about. Because gelato.

Grand Bazaar Shops

We’re not going to apologize for our ogling. This blog does not cave to peer pressure.

Along with its souvenir kiosks, the shopping center will have food and bar offerings, including Wahlburgers (brought to you by, yes, the brothers Wahlburger of Marky Mark and New Kids on the Block fame) and an outpost of one of our favorite downtown joints, Nacho Daddy. Yes, the one with the scorpion shots.

Grand Bazaar Shops

Told you the colors change. It’s like Mystique in the “X-Men” movies. Oh, like you don’t know exactly which boobs we’re talking about.

Granted, it’s a mall. But we like eye candy, so we’re going to give the Grand Bazaar Shops the benefit of a doubt for the moment.

Our advice? Plan on visiting the Grand Bazaar Shops after sunset to best enjoy its glimmering luminescence. Because we expect that will be the best thing about it given the over-hyped Swarovski Crystal Starburst is going to be even more disappointing than the SkyVue observation wheel or a date with your mom, whatever that might mean.

More photos may or may not be available for viewing below, and feel free to tell us we’re barking up the wrong starburst. We can take it.

Grand Bazaar Shops at Bally's at Night

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“Pawn Stars” Boss Rick Harrison’s Trivia Challenge App Wants to Eat Your Brain

“Pawn Stars,” the History channel’s massive reality hit about the Vegas-based Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, has to be one of the most remarkable success stories in Las Vegas history.

Now, the show’s top “spotter,” Rick Harrison, is betting on an app sure to become every trivia buff’s newest obsession. We stopped by the Gold & Silver Pawn shop to speak to the man whose encyclopedic brain has entertained and enlightened millions of viewers around the world.

Rick Harrison Trivia Challenge app

Your brain is about to do a Tough Mudder. Or something.

The free “Rick Harrison’s Trivia Challenge” app was developed with his longtime friend, Jim Scott.

Harrison says, “My buddy Jimmy, who was a professional poker player for years, he’s been one of my best friends forever, and he goes, ‘Dude, we should do an app.’ I said, ‘I really don’t know how to do an app,’ and he said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll figure it out.’ He’s always been a business guy, so he said, ‘Don’t worry, I can find the right people to do it.’ I said let’s go for it. He’s one of those guys where everything has to be perfect. I would hate to ever have to work for him.”

Rick Harrison

Rick Harrison trivia: The wheeler-dealer is a best-selling author. His biography, “License to Pawn,” hit the New York Times Best Seller list in 2011.

The app’s concept is simple: It’s a speed trivia game with thousands of questions in 15 categories, with many of the questions contributed by Harrison himself.

Harrison’s love of trivia is well-known, and even spawned a trivia contest format spin-off series on History, Pawnography.

Rick Harrison Trivia Challenge

This sign, about the only advertising the new app has had, greets visitors at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. The shop is in downtown Las Vegas, the happiest place on Earth (beside this blog’s pants).

Even though the app has just been released, it’s getting a great response.

“It came out a month ago and we’ve done zero advertising, because Jimmy wants to make sure every single bug’s worked out, ” says Harrison. “It’s sort of crazy, but we’ve had more than 20,000 downloads.”

Beyond the sheer number of people who have already downloaded it, the app’s also been able to succeed where many apps fail: It’s managed to keep players engaged.

Rick Harrison Trivia Challenge app

This screen tells you the trivia category, the time limit, how many questions you need to get right and the target score. No pressure.

“Our retention numbers are great. People are playing it four or five hours at a time. One guy a couple of weeks ago played for 19 hours straight. It’s a really fun game. There are a lot of other trivia games out there, but I didn’t like them because they were so easy. Then again, Jimmy had to remind me it’s a little different for me,” Harrison laughs.

Rick Harrison trivia app

Corey, Rick Harrison’s son, is happy to let you know if you’ve botched a given game level.

One of the secrets of the game’s success will most certainly be that it takes trivia seriously, and the questions are anything but no-brainers.

“It’s not a fluffy trivia game. I’d say it’s ‘Jeopardy’ level,” says Harrison, smirking, almost daring us to take on his app.

Which we did, of course. It was humbling to say the least.

Rick Harrison trivia app

The game levels are like a virtual stroll through the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop.

The app consists of successive rounds of play. Each time you answer the minimum number of questions within the time limit, you move on to another level. The first edition of the app has 99 levels. The release coming soon will top the game out at 300 levels. (We’re hoping for some Las Vegas trivia in the mix.)

“We wanted to make it so when you move to another level, it’s not the same thing,” says Harrison. “To get past some levels, you only have to get four questions right but we only give you 60 seconds. On some levels, you’ll get two minutes, but you have to get a lot right. We think it’s more fun that way.”

Rick Harrison Trivia Challenge app

If you screw up royally, you run out of “lives” and get to take a “time out.” Which only happened because we wanted to share this screen capture, and that’s the story we’re sticking to.

The questions in the “Rick Harrison’s Trivia Challenge” app are a combination of those concocted by Harrison and Jim Scott, along with those purchased for use in the app through what amount to trivia question brokerages. Which we didn’t exactly know existed until chatting with Rick Harrison.

“Jimmy and I came up with storyboards and how we wanted to do it. There are people who sell questions. We’d buy questions then realize they’re junk. We had to go through so many companies to find the level of quality and difficulty we wanted. Plus, we sit around all the time and just start jotting down questions,” Harrison comments.

Because the app’s trivia questions are multiple choice, it created a surprising challenge for Harrison and his partner.

Harrison says, “You know what we found out the hard part of the questions was? Making up the wrong answers. Because when you come up with wrong answers, you don’t want them to be ridiculous. But you also don’t want to try and trick people. Coming up with the questions isn’t the hard part, it’s definitely writing the wrong answers. Finding the right wrong answers.”

Rick Harrison Trivia Challenge app

Thanks for the encouragement, Chum.

Beyond the quality of its questions, one of the things that makes “Rick Harrison’s Trivia Challenge” app unique is players can earn “gold coins” for completing various levels of the game, and those virtual coins can be exchanged for merchandise such as T-shirts and hats at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. One of the prizes players can earn is a meet-and-greet with Rick Harrison himself (a mere 100,000 coins).

Rick Harrison Trivia Challenge app

Settle in. This is going to take awhile.

Rick Harrison exhibits an impish joy when he talks about his app, and knowing what we know of his TV persona, we had to wonder if his impishness had anything to do with an app’s ability to generate money (even though it’s free to download). We thought about dancing around this topic, then realized it’s us, and Rick Harrison is Rick Harrison, so we just flat-out asked about it.

His reply was pure, well, Rick Harrison: “You’ve seen my show. Making money’s like my third or fourth favorite thing in the world,” he joked.

Seriously, though. Apps can be a goldmine, right?

“No, we plan on making money on it,” he says, “but I didn’t want people playing for five minutes, then having an icon pop up saying, ‘If you want to play more, spend money.’ So, we made it so you can play for awhile, you can put it down and hopefully we’ll make some money off it, but I wanted to make sure it was fun, and if you don’t want to spend money on it, you don’t have to.”

The money-making elements are subtle within the app, and include the option to buy more “lives,” as well as the option to “Ask an Expert” (sort of a virtual phone-a-friend) and “Buy More Time.”

Rick Harrison Trivia Challenge app

Casinos have found a lot of success with social gaming. Most people do the free parts, but a few enthusiasts pay to play, and that’s where online gaming companies hit pay dirt.

“I dig the business model, though, I really do,” says Harrison. “Apple and Google are making a fortune. They’re the ones making money off apps. A developer spends a lot developing a game, then hopefully it makes money, then Apple and Google take 30%. Lots of game-makers lose money, but Apple and Google and Facebook make money on every game.”

So, while there’s some potential profit involved for Harrison, the fact the now-famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop gets 3,000 to 5,000 visitors every day of the week, we figure it wasn’t his main reason for doing the app. It feels more like he just wanted to have some fun and try his hand at something new.

He says, “I wanted to get the Old Man involved and Corey (Harrison, Rick’s son) and Chum (Austin Russell, Corey’s lifelong friend). It’s been a fun experience. I’ve learned a lot about online games. It’s been an experience.”

Gold & Silver Pawn

The shop takes in more than 1,000 items a week in pawnage. Which is probably not a real word.

Talking about the gang at his pawn shop gave us the perfect opening to try and get a feel for how Harrison views the incredible turns his life has taken since “Pawn Stars” first aired.

Asked about his wild ride to fame, Harrison kids, “You mean the part where I’m a bald guy working in a pawn shop then suddenly I’m an international superstar?”

“For lack of a better term, I was always a media whore,” he says. “You get some international press and it was good for business. It was 10 years ago now, and I thought, ‘I should get one of these reality shows. If I could get a season or two out of them, it would be good for business.’ I never, ever, ever thought it would turn into this.”

Pawn Stars

You can’t call it the Gold & Silver Pawn shop unless there’s some precious metal changing hands. This 100-ounce bar nearly gave this Las Vegas blog a ruptured spleen.

Even after more than a few years of being a reality TV star, Harrison still seems genuinely shell-shocked by the fame. He whips out his phone to share video he took during a visit to the Filipines. A radio station announced he and Corey would be making an appearance at a shopping mall, and several thousand of people showed up. It’s like that everywhere in the world.

Pawn Stars

The crowd at Gold & Silver Pawn loses its nut when one of the stars of the show is on the shop floor. Ironically, the stars of the show can’t really work the counter at the shop anymore due to their fame.

Harrison says, with a mixture of pride and disbelief, “We’re on in 150 countries, in 38 languages. We were the number one television show in South America for three years. It was so bad in Buenos Aires, we were told 400 people were going to show up, but 12,000 people showed up, in a venue designed for 2,000 people. They were rocking our van like we’re rock stars. It was exciting and cool and scary all at the same time.”

As a testament to the show’s international appeal, Harrison says, “Our second biggest market for the app so far is Brazil.”

Wrapping up our chat with Rick Harrison, we took the opportunity to tour the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. It’s a mix of flea market and circus, with guests virtually swooning at the sight of their “Pawn Stars” favorites, like the unassuming Chumlee.

Chumlee

Chumlee isn’t really a goofball, he just plays one on TV. He also happens to be a fan favorite.

It’s a blast seeing merchandise on display that was purchased by the shop in past episodes of the show. (Those items are clearly marked, and presumably are more valuable because of their TV notoriety.)

One of the most expensive items currently in the shop is a Patriots Super Bowl ring, priced at $100,000.

Pawn Stars

The $100,000 ring is the one on the upper tier, at left. It used to belong to Brock Williams, whomever that might be.

The more you know about “Pawn Stars,” the more you’ll get out of a visit to the shop, and the more you’ll enjoy the “Rick Harrison’s Trivia Challenge” app.

There’s nothing quite like getting a chiding from the Old Man when you fail a level. Or, in our case, fail a level 12 times (yes, it was sports).

Rick Harrison trivia app

The Old Man isn’t known for mincing words, and he’s true to form in the app.

To learn more about the addictive “Rick Harrison’s Trivia Challenge” app, visit the official Web site.

Thanks to Rick Harrison for letting us peek into his brain, and to the crew at Gold & Silver Pawn shop for indulging in our dopey questions. Enjoy more photos from the app and the world’s most famous pawn shop.

Rick Harrison's Trivia Challenge

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Caesars Entertainment Files Bankruptcy, Has Exactly Zero Impact on You

Caesars Entertainment, the company that runs 10 casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, did everything imaginable to avoid it, but ultimately the gaming megalith had no choice but to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Jan. 15, 2015.

Technically, due to some lawyering wizardry, it was actually a subsidiary of Caesars Entertainment Corp., Caesars Entertainment Operating Co., that filed bankruptcy. It’s complicated.

How will this affect you? It probably won’t. But if you’re into this kind of thing, it’s a circus of clustery goodness.

Augustus Caesars Palace

Through the teeth and over the gums, here’s a stock you might want to shy away from.

The bankruptcy is part of a plan to cut $10 billion in debt from Caesars Entertainment’s roughly $28.2 billion in debt. Our expert analysis: That’s a metric ass-ton of debt.

If you have any interest in how all this has unfolded, there are tons of articles about it from the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Yahoo and Las Vegas Review-Journal. There may be three or four thousand other articles out there about this, so dive right in.

Or, if you have a short attention span, please enjoy our Caesars Entertainment bankruptcy haiku:

Caesars went private.
Chapter 11! We’re SO
Not cleaning this up.
 

If you’d like to hear Caesars Entertainment’s side of the story, they’ve built a Web site devoted to the bankruptcy. Drinking game: Watch the video of the company’s CEO Gary Loveman, and take a shot every time he says “restructuring” instead of “bankruptcy” because “restructuring” sounds more romantic.

The company insists all its casinos will remain open and will operate normally. They also say the company’s loyalty club, Total Rewards (trivia: we used to personally do the Total Rewards e-newsletter that goes out to five million people), will remain intact and players will keep their Reward Credits and still accrue them when they play.

Stupid sign

Trust us, this bankruptcy wasn’t just about the debt from going private. Then again, every Las Vegas casino company has its fair share of boneheads. It’s the law.

Caesars’ Web site says they’ll continue to pay their suppliers and vendors in full. Oh, wait, there might be a hitch in that one. The site says, “We intend to pay our suppliers in full under our normal terms for all goods and services they provide on or after the filing date of January 15, 2015.” So, when we said the bankruptcy wouldn’t affect you, we meant that to mean as long as Caesars Entertainment doesn’t owe you money. Because in that case, you could very well be screwed.

Because lots of people end up being affected by bankruptcies.

Among the people who might be stiffed, or who might have to take pennies on the dollars they’re owed, are Robert De Niro and Gordon Ramsay. They’re each involved with restaurants at Caesars Entertainment resorts, and are among the many creditors involved in what’s already a messy bankruptcy.

They’ll probably be OK, though.

Gordon Ramsay

Deep breaths, chef Ramsay, deep breaths.

What about all those small and mid-sized businesses who work with Caesars all across the country? The long list of unsecured creditors? Who knows. At least the private-equity companies that bought Caesars Entertainment in 2008, Apollo Global Management and TPG Capital, aren’t likely to have to give up their $1.8 billion stake in the company. Phew.

Here’s a fun little factoid in all this: Gary Loveman, the aforementioned CEO of Caesars Entertainment, snagged $94 million in stock options and other compensation when the company went private. He presumably invested it back into the buyout, but still. If he leaves Caesars, he’ll get $18.9 million in severance pay.

Here’s another fun fact: We personally know Gary Loveman, and our impression is he’s a very nice guy. Funny, charming, all that. We’d hang out with him. Although, we’d insist he treat for the cocktails. Because $94 million. And a not-too-shabby salary.

Gary Loveman

Caesars CEO Gary Loveman gets perks like nearly $400,000 a year for security for him and his family, and $330,000 a year for a use of company jet. Don’t hate. Like you’d turn that down.

Ultimately, while there’s a little schadenfreude to be had in all this drama, nobody’s rooting for Caesars Entertainment to go belly up. Companies aren’t robots. They’re people. And Caesars employs more than 80,000 people. We should know, we were one of them. (We parted ways in July 2013, mainly due to the fact one of the parties involved may or may not have been able to distinguish its ass from its elbow.)

Clearly, Caesars Entertainment has done a lot wrong, and continues to. Hey, they just announced Mariah Carey will have a residency at Caesars Palace.

But they do a lot right, too. They even do many things better than anyone else. They erected the world’s tallest Ferris wheel and even managed to help Guy Fieri open a restaurant in Las Vegas that’s actually good. ‘Nuff said.

High Roller Las Vegas

Why, there’s the High Roller Ferris wheel now. If you share it on Pinterest, we’ll come over to your house and give you a foot rub while explaining the finer points of bankruptcy cramdowns. Which are a thing.

We hope that when the Caesars Entertainment bankruptcy is sorted out, and all the rich white guy wrangling is done, the little guys don’t end up with too small a piece of the pie.

Trust us, this whole episode is far from over. Bankruptcies are all fun and games until you violate the federal Trust Indenture Act of 1939, whatever that might actually be.

For now, join this Las Vegas blog as we grab some cotton candy and peanuts, put our feet up and watch to see how many clowns pile out of the little car at this three-ring circus of WTF. Or some other, better, analogy. We’re drunk.

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Insider Vegas Secrets You Really, Really Don’t Want to Know About Las Vegas Hotels

This blog post is not for the faint of heart, because it talks about Las Vegas secrets most people would prefer not to know. This post is for everyone else. Fair warning.

So, every once in awhile you hear about something weird or morbid happening in Las Vegas. But what you might not know is strange, disturbing, morbid things actually happen all the time, you just never hear about those. That’s because a city built on tourism has to sometimes keep things on the down-low.

In the case of Las Vegas, 99% of what happens in hotel-casinos stays in hotel-casinos. Journalists are complicit. Law enforcement is complicit. Hotel employees and management are complicit. Just about everybody’s in on it, because if you freak people out, the thinking goes, they might not visit.

That’s boneheaded thinking, of course. It’s Las Vegas, and in Las Vegas, morbid things are fun and any weirdness just adds to the allure of Sin City. So, here we go. It’s time for some awkward Vegas secrets.

Las Vegas sign

Last chance to just skip this blog post altogether. We have others (781 to be exact).

Las Vegas had more than 40 million visitors in 2014, and guess what: Any number of them died in their hotel rooms, most of natural causes. According to the Clark County coroner’s office, about 1,100 visitors die while in Las Vegas each year. The coroner’s office says 67 percent of those deaths are the result of accidents, 15 percent committed suicide and 11 percent were the victims of homicide. No cause of death could be determined in six percent of the deaths.

That’s not the weird part. What makes it weird is what hotels do when they find someone’s died in their room: They relocate the body. The reason? If a body is discovered by authorities in a hotel room, there’s a mandatory two-week quarantine of that room. That’s two weeks of potential revenue lost by the hotel. So, a few intrepid souls on the hotel staff move the body to a place on the resort grounds where a quarantine isn’t required.

Just try and find a single media story about anyone dying of natural causes in a Las Vegas hotel room, ever. We’ll wait.

Las Vegas hotels aren’t entirely cold-hearted, of course. For example, when a hotel guest dies, it’s standard practice to comp the room. Magnanimous, right?

They don’t tend to be as generous in the case of suicide, however.

When someone offs themself in a Las Vegas hotel, if the suicide results in damage to the hotel’s physical property, they will bill the family and survivors for that damage.

For example, if you shoot yourself to death, and the bullet goes through hotel furniture or the room’s window or TV, the estate of the suicide victim will be billed for the cost of repair or replacement. Imagine the shock of getting that bill!

hearse

We knew this hearse photo would come in handy someday.

And, yes, suicides are frequent in Las Vegas hotels, no matter how seldom you hear about them.

Aside from the usual drama in people’s lives, there’s also an element of desperation in a Las Vegas visit for some people. A common scenario is that people come to Las Vegas as a last-ditch effort to turn their remaining assets into a life-changing windfall. When Lady Luck doesn’t smile on them, they often see suicide as their only way out of the hole they’ve dug. Tragic, but anything but uncommon.

Just a tiny fraction of suicides in Las Vegas hotels are reported by the media. That’s how Vegas secrets stay Vegas secrets.

Hotels try to handle suicides discreetly, of course, with hotel team members handling deaths with military precision. Local ambulance companies and funeral parlors are sworn to secrecy. Journalists don’t talk about the deaths because if you cross a Las Vegas hotel company, you’re blacklisted, making your job nearly impossible in a town where hotel-casino public relations departments are the gatekeepers of information and access.

Some of the most gruesome suicides happen off of hotel balconies and parking garages, but the absolute winner in the area of ghastly suicides has to be the Luxor. Why’s that? Well, because if you jump from a balcony or parking garage, you land outside. At Luxor, because of its pyramid design, jumpers jump inside the building, into the casino and reception area. Yeah, horrifying.

We could regale you with endless morbid stories, but often there’s no way to tell if they’re real or urban myths, unless you witness it first hand or know someone who has.

It’s no secret, though, that bodies have been known to surface at the Linq hotel (formerly The Quad) during heavy rains.

That’s because something called the Flamingo Wash crosses the Las Vegas Strip at The Linq, and when it rains, victims (often homeless people who live in the storm drainage tunnels running under the city) end up floating into the casino’s parking garage.

Police car lights

Oh, the stories these police car lights could tell if they weren’t under strict orders to keep things on the QT.

There’s also the story of a Rehab partier dying of natural causes in the Hard Rock’s pool surrounded by hundreds of sun-seekers. In time, guests realized the guy wasn’t just playing a practical joke and lifeguards removed him from the pool. Hotel staff quietly whisked the guy away, greased some palms at the ambulance company and the story was never publicly told.

Not everything we don’t want to know about Las Vegas has to do with death, of course. Sometimes, it’s just plain gross or awkward. Naturally, we’re sharing it!

First, there’s a casino practice that happens at every casino, but which only a few insiders know about. Brace yourself.

Each night, members of the casino’s maintenance staff go from slot machine chair to slot machine chair with a combination of a sponges and paper towels, pressing them down on each seat. They do this to determine which seats have been urinated on by patrons too tired, drunk or lazy to get themselves to the restroom. (This problem happens with table game chairs, too, but much less frequently.) High-powered, industrial-strength devices, called “extractors,” are used to clean and dry the chairs.

Worth noting: When customers inquire with casino staff about their chair being wet, they’ll most often claim someone spilled a drink and offer a replacement chair.

Hey, when we said these are things you don’t want to know, we meant it.

IP Las Vegas

Trust us, this photo would have been hilarious if it were still called the Imperial Palace.

Here’s another Las Vegas hotel truth: Every hotel-casino has security blind spots management would rather nobody know about. We’ve all heard a lot about the incredible surveillance hotels and casinos have, but here’s a true story that’ll make you think twice when staying at your favorite Las Vegas hotel.

A few years ago, a hotel guest at a hotel we won’t name checked in, paying for his room in cash. The next day, housekeeping entered the room to discover everything in the room had been stolen. And we mean everything. Every piece of furniture, fixtures, lamps, TVs, the whole nine yards, including a king-sized bed. Security scrutinized video footage from the hotel hallways, elevators and casino, but even after days of investigation they found not a second of video showing the removal of any of the stolen furniture.

Thefts and robberies in Las Vegas hotel rooms aren’t uncommon, unfortunately, so we recommend using common sense: Don’t leave valuables out in the open, take advantage of the in-room safe and keep your cash on you during your visit.

Another thing you probably don’t want to know about your Las Vegas hotel room? People you don’t know have had sex on absolutely everything in your room. Every piece of furniture. Every counter or table or other flat surface. Every sink and bathtub. Everything. The visual is great, but it’s best not to think of your room as you would your home. Housekeepers are very, very busy in Las Vegas.

Here’s a final Las Vegas secret you may or may not want to know. It involves sex again, so please don’t send a link to this blog post to your grandma.

In every major hotel in Las Vegas, there’s a special bin. It’s large, on wheels. And often, it’s filled to the brim with sex toys left behind by hotel guests. Every week or so, or sometimes more frequently, depending upon the size of the hotel, staffers dispose of the scores of sex toys into hotel trash dumpsters.

Bondage kit

People get their freak on in Vegas. And they often leave some of their freak behind.

From what we know of this practice, the sheer number of sex toys found in rooms and disposed of via these bins is staggering. Visitors come to Vegas looking for a wild time, make their toy purchases at one of the many adult shops in town (many of the hotels have their own sex shops as well), but don’t necessarily want folks back home knowing what they’ve been up so, so they leave the toys in their room.

We’ve even heard people on staff at the hotel take their pick of the toys, presumably sanitizing them before use.

One notable find was a whopping three-foot-long device called something along the lines of the “Moby 3.” We are not making this up. Three feet. Because Vegas, baby.

It’s been so therapeutic purging all these weird Las Vegas facts and stories, so thank you for reading this far. If you have stories of your own, we’d love to hear them in the comments section! Now back to our regularly-scheduled blog posts about Las Vegas restaurants, shows and cocktails. Especially that last thing.

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Excalibur Buffet Opens After $6.2 Million Renovation

The Buffet at Excalibur might not have the most creative name in the world, but it does have a new sheen, part of a $6.2 million renovation. Besides, naming things is hard.

Excalibur Buffet

Children age four and younger eat free. Five-year-olds pretty much get the shaft.

We popped in to check out the 35,000-square-foot buffet (it seats 610) for some photos, but were promptly kicked out before we could get any shots of the food. Because, apparently, the cheese blintzes at Excalibur’s buffet are the super top secret  kind.

Candidly, an aversion to allowing food photos doesn’t instill a lot of confidence in the fare at The Buffet.

Excalibur Buffet Las Vegas

You can pay for your buffet via these handy kiosks, an idea Excalibur completely didn’t rip off from the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace.

The newly-renovated buffet touts an “interactive dessert station,” which entails “going up to a counter and choosing a dessert.” It’s that kind of culinary innovation that’s given the Excalibur buffet a rock-solid “meh” rating on Yelp and TripAdvisor for the last several years. From what we could see, the food selection hasn’t been changed up much. But those things hanging from the ceiling!

Excalibur Buffet

We figure at least half of the $6.2 million went for those ceiling croissants.

In any event, the revamped space is clean and open. The restaurant can accommodate around 1,400 diners.

There are seven food stations, and a bar (bright spot!). Two of the food stations are the aforementioned desserts and another featuring salads.

The Buffet at Excalibur also serves up Italian, American, Asian and Latin stations. There’s also a “Carvery.”

Excalibur Buffet

We’re not exactly wandering into “feeding frenzy” territory here.

The buffet’s hours are 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., with prices ranging from $17.99 for breakfast to $18.99 for lunch, and $23.99 for dinner (Sunday through Thursday) or $26.99 (Friday and Saturday).

There’s a seafood buffet on Friday only, 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., for $26.99. There’s also a weekend brunch for $21.99, 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Which definitely qualify as being the weekend.

Excalibur Buffet

More than 80% of Las Vegas visitors indulge in a buffet during their stay.

An all-day pass to The Buffet at Excalibur runs $35.99 (Monday through Thursday) and $39.99 (Friday and Sunday). Let us know how that goes.

Excalibur Las Vegas

Insert a gratuitous photo of Excalibur here, possibly so you can share it on Pinterest. (We’ll wait.)

Get more details at the Excalibur’s official buffet Web site, and before any trip to a Las Vegas buffet, make sure to read our wildly informative story about how to get the most from your buffet visit.

Excalibur Buffet Renovation

 

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