Monthly Archives: January 2016

MGM Resorts Announces $90 Million Parking Overhaul, New Parking Fees

After months of speculation (and a good deal of whining) about parking capacity for the new Las Vegas Arena, MGM Resorts has announced it will invest $90 million to expand its capacity and parking infrastructure.

The company will build a new $54-million, 3,000-space parking structure near the northwest corner of the Excalibur Hotel that will “absorb further visitor growth and enhance the experience of attendees of events at nearby resorts and entertainment venues,” including the new arena, The Park promenade and the new Monte Carlo Theater.

MGM Resorts parking

MGM Resorts has given with one hand and taken away with the other. You know, Capitalism. Keep reading.

Construction will start in the second quarter of 2016, with completion scheduled in the second quarter of 2017.

The company’s overall effort will involve spending $36 million to improve existing parking facilities. The enhancements will improve accessibility and provide new ways to direct guests to available spaces (think Cosmopolitan’s red and green lights).

Mobile technology will allow guests to check space availability prior to arrival, in real-time.

That’s all good, right?

Well, along with the good news about more parking comes another little gem which may ultimately be a bigger story than the new parking. MGM Resorts’ new parking strategy includes “the implementation of a parking fee program that will introduce a modest fee for customers utilizing valet services or self-park facilities.”

Which pretty much marks the first time a major Las Vegas casino company has come out and said the age of free casino parking in Las Vegas is done. Other Las Vegas companies are sure to follow suit soon.

When asked if they’d follow suit with instituting paid parking, they responded: Cosmopolitan, no. Stations, no. Wynn Resorts is “monitoring the situation.” Caesars Entertainment and Sands, no comment. (So, that’s a “yes.”)

The company says, “Parking fees will be moderate when compared to similar fees in other markets. An overnight guest utilizing a self-park facility will pay $10 or less. Las Vegas locals will be given a grace period for free parking after the program starts and can maintain their free-parking status by enrolling and earning privileges through M life, the company’s customer loyalty program. Non-resident guests can also earn free-parking status through the M life program.”

MGM Resorts parking fee

Kidding aside, Nevada’s casino industry lost $662 million in 2015, and has been in the red for six years. Casino companies have to adjust accordingly. This is that.

MGM Resorts continues to try and make an awkward announcement sound justified, “fee parking is a standard practice for hotels, resorts and entertainment facilities across the country, especially those in comparable high-demand tourist and convention destinations, such as New York, Los Angeles and Orlando.”

Which may all be true, but still doesn’t make the news any less WTF.

Here’s the thing, though: Parking was never “free.” Believing parking is free in Las Vegas is the same as believing “comps” (short for “complimentary”) are free. Vegas comps and freebies have always been a perk of gambling, offset by gambling losses. We pay for free parking just as we pay for everything else, with our play. But here’s the other thing: Casinos aren’t making the bulk of their money from gambling anymore. So, casinos (which are businesses) are adjusting their business strategies to ensure they make money, and when they make money we get new and fun and exciting. The circle of commerce is complete.

The era of loss leaders in Las Vegas is over. We’ll adjust, and party on.

The parking fee program will begin in the second quarter of 2016, although the practice of Las Vegas casinos shooting themselves in the foot began some time ago.

What do you think?

Jason Bourne Lights Up Riviera One Last Time and More Moviemaking Skinny

Talk about movie magic. Preparations for filming a “Jason Bourne” movie stunt have resulted in something we never thought we’d see again, the closed Riviera all lit up and glimmery.

Our best information is that Riviera will be part of the film’s action-packed climax, the end of a chase that begins at Aria.

Riviera Las Vegas

Thanks to Jason Bourne for warming the cockles of our heart. Because in Vegas, that typically costs extra.

It was amazing seeing Riviera’s neon glowing in all its old-school glory again!  The classic Riviera closed in May 2015.

The hotel will be imploded this summer, but not before going out in style by starring in the upcoming installment of the Bourne series. Some have speculated the action sequence at Riviera could be the beginning of the resort’s demolition.

Production of the fifth Jason Bourne movie, titled “Jason Bourne,” starring Golden Globe-winning comedian Matt Damon, arrived in Las Vegas on Jan. 6, 2016.

Filming locations have included McCarran International Airport, a downtown bus terminal at Plaza Las Vegas (see below) and Aria resort on The Strip. See more exclusive scoop.

Bourne 5

Bourne 5 crew members cover up Greyhound signs with generic Blue Line Transit signs.

On Jan. 12, the film’s second unit (responsible for staging stunts and action sequences) did a test stunt at Bally’s Las Vegas.

In the Bally’s stunt, a car drove off the ramp on the Flamingo Blvd. side of the hotel. Here’s some news coverage from KTNV and CBS/KXNT based upon our tip about the stunt.

The latest word on the Bally’s stunt is it may not make it into the film at all. Bourne 5 director Paul Greengrass, a stickler for realism, is rumored to have nixed the stunt after consulting with the film’s S.W.A.T. consultants.

Production will continue on Jan. 15 at Aria Resort & Casino, specifically in its Ironwood Ballroom.

Sequences in the hotel involve a fictional tech conference, Exocon. Read more.

Bourne 5 Tommy Lee Jones

Tommy Lee Jones plays CIA Director Robert Dewey in Bourne 5. And, yes, any day we can scoop the Hollywood Reporter, it’s a good day.

According to our mole, extras have been told, “Please dress as if you’re attending a cutting-edge tech convention. Easy, casual, comfortable clothes. Jeans, khakis or shorts and sneakers are fine. T-shirts, sweatshirts, untucked button shirts will all work.” So, you know, nerdwear.

The Bourne 5 production is still seeking extras for Jan. 21. Here are the details.

Guests of Aria have been informed production of a film will be happening (although the film wasn’t officially identified, other than to say the production company name is B5 Pictures LLC), and that guests might hear “simulated gunfire.” The sequence being filmed on Jan. 15 is believed to instigate the chase down The Strip in the film’s “third act.”

Filming of the chase on The Strip is expected to begin in earnest next week, with what’s been described as “thousands of extras” involved.

Matt Damon has kept to himself while in Las Vegas. On Jan. 14, though, Bellagio sent out a celebrity sighting for Alicia Vikander. The Swedish actress attended “O” on Jan. 13. Vikander is the female lead in Bourne 5. Here are Damon and Vikander on the Bourne set in Washington, D.C.

Alicia Vikander

Alicia Vikander starred in “The Danish Girl” and played the hot robot in “Ex Machina.” Thanks to Cashman Photography for the pic.

The “Jason Bourne” movie starring Matt Damon will be released on July 29, 2016. We’re a little excited. Can you tell?

Bourne 5 Update: Matt Damon and Friends Infiltrate Aria

As if we needed further proof our readers are epic, alert reader Matt W. has given us some major Bourne 5 scoop.

Production of the fifth in the Jason Bourne film series is under way in Las Vegas, and now we’ve got more details and spoilers from Aria Las Vegas.

First up, here’s an exclusive look at the letter Aria guests were provided about the Bourne 5 filming. The letter spells out the locations of the shoot over five days, through Jan. 15, 2016. See it full-sized.

Bourne 5 letter

This is for illustrative purposes only. Don’t sic your lawyer on us if your vision fails.

The shoot on Jan. 11 happened at Aria’s porte cochere and inside the casino, including the main lobby and front desk area.

Here’s the legal disclaimer posted to let casino guests know their presence amounted to approval to appear in the film.

Note that the production is under the name B5 Pictures LLC. It doesn’t take a code-breaker to decipher that “B5” is shorthand for “Bourne 5.” The movie hasn’t been given an official name yet, but insiders think it will be called “The Bourne Betrayal,” and while the plot of the book deviates quite a bit from the details we’ve heard about in Las Vegas, it seems to follow the general thrust.

Aria Bourne filming

Props to the casinos serving as locations for Bourne 5. They’ve done a great job of keeping details under wraps. Until now, of course.

Other photos from the location provide some world exclusives about Bourne 5 itself.

It appears the story takes Bourne to a technology conference called Exocon. Here’s a photo of signage creating the conference vibe.

Bourne 5 filming

An exocon is the part of a conjugated metabolite derived from the parent compound. Which we totally knew off the top of our head.

Another photo reveals some Bourne 5 gold. Speaking at Exocon 2016 are CIA Director Robert Dewey and Deep Dream Founder and CEO Aaron Kalloor.

To our knowledge, this is the very first time the name of Tommy Lee Jones’ character in Bourne 5 has been divulged.

Bourne 5 Tommy Lee Jones

This is such a world exclusive, we may need to borrow a Kleenex.

Aaron Kalloor appears to be played by Riz Ahmed, who has appeared in “Four Lions,” “Nightcrawler” and “The Road to Guantanamo.”

According to the Aria letter, filming will next take place at Aria’s north valet and the escalators to the promenade. On Jan. 13, the shoot moves to the Aria Convention Center.

Aria also mentions “loud noises or simulated gunfire” may accompany the shoot. Good times!

Previously, Bourne 5 has shot at McCarran Airport and the Greyhound station at Plaza Las Vegas. See more, including our exclusive photos from the Bourne 5 set.

Bigger, stunt-heavy sequences are expected to take place on the Las Vegas Strip soon, some involving thousands of extras. Keep your eyes peeled and let us know what you see and hear.

Thanks, again, to Matt W. for the great pics! Get more Bourne 5 news and exclusive Bourne 5 production photos.

Knowing Las Vegas is going to be in the next Bourne movie is just about the most exciting thing, ever. The anticipated release date is July 29, 2016. We hope to see you in line, right behind us.

Checking in On the Unflappable Lucky Dragon Resort

It’s high time we checked in on the little casino that could. Or at least might. Lucky Dragon.

Lucky Dragon

Just a couple more floors and the Lucky Dragon’s hotel tower will look done. Emphasis on “look.”

Construction at the Lucky Dragon resort continues despite a very public and embarrassing rejection of its request for a hand-out from the city of Las Vegas.

The resort is supposed to open in mid-2016, and that’s they story they’re sticking to.

Lucky Dragon casino

Even with its financial challenges, Lucky Dragon is far ahead of some other pending projects on The Strip, so, there’s that.

Activity at the Lucky Dragon site makes it clear the boutique hotel is undaunted by what is likely to be a tricky financial road ahead.

Lucky Dragon developers raised about $60 million in foreign investment (presumably the project’s limit from the EB-5 program where wealthy “entrepreneurs” can get U.S. visas through a hefty investment), and were looking for $25 million from the City of Las Vegas to shake loose another $30 million in bank financing.

While it appears Lucky Dragon has enough funds for the exterior to be completed, what happens next is anyone’s guess.

Lucky Dragon Las Vegas

Lucky Dragon’s window color isn’t random. Red is considered the luckiest color in China.

Despite the drama, it’s been fun watching Lucky Dragon’s red windows climb the outside of the hotel tower.

Lucky Dragon Las Vegas

This structure is the Lucky Dragon’s casino, where this Las Vegas blog is expected to donate more than the $500,000 required to get a U.S. visa through the EB-5 program. Assuming the casino has Top Dollar machines, of course.

If all goes well, Lucky Dragon will open with 206 hotel rooms, an Asian-themed casino and a collection of intriguing new restaurants.

Here’s the closest thing Lucky Dragon has to an official Web site.

Lucky Dragon casino

We’re rooting for you, Lucky Dragon. Why the hell else would we be wearing this cheerleader outfit?

Lucky Dragon is located near the intersection of Sahara and Las Vegas Boulevard, near SLS Las Vegas, Stratosphere and the Bonanza Gift Shop.

Rock’N’oodles is the Best Downtown Las Vegas Restaurant You’ve Never Heard Of

Discovering Rock’N’oodles in downtown Las Vegas is a little like stumbling upon a song by your favorite band you never knew existed. It’s new but familiar, you love it right off the bat and you can’t wait to share it with friends.

Rock'N'oodles Las Vegas

Don’t judge an album by its cover.

Rock’N’oodles is a bit off the beaten path, in downtown’s Las Vegas Arts District, but well worth the search.

Among the surprises at this intimate restaurant: It seats 14 people. No kidding.

As the name implies, just about everything on the Rock’N’oodles is noodle-based, and the dishes are creative, reasonably-priced and, honestly, rock.

Befitting the restaurant’s understated rock’n’roll theme, each of the entrees is named after an iconic song. Here’s a look at the complete menu.

Our favorite dish on the menu to-date is Red Red Wine, with braised beef short ribs, carrots, onion and mushrooms. This take on beef bourguignon is tossed with egg noodles and served piping hot. We know this because we just plagiarized it directly from the menu.

Rocknoodles Vegas

Beef bourguignon is an example of a peasant dish being refined into haute cuisine. Thank you, Internet, for making us sound much smarter than we are.

We’re just getting started!

Our second favorite dish was the Sweet Home Alabama, creamy smoked gouda macaroni and cheese tossed with purple onion and bacon.

The dish features buttermilk marinated popcorn chicken and and barbeque sauce. We had the same reaction you’re having right now, but trust us when we say once you try this cheese and mac, you may never go back.™


Fun fact: Popcorn chicken was invented by food technologist Gene Gagliardi. Which is the fun fact equivalent of your mom walking in on you while you’re having sex.

Also ridiculously good was the Crazy Train, akin to chicken piccata, with penne pasta, sliced chicken, spinach, capers and onion in a white wine lemon sauce.

Rock'N'oodles Las Vegas

How did those healthy things sneak in there? Loved it, anyway.

Just about all the dishes are accompanied by some of the best garlic bread in Las Vegas.


According to research journal “Appetite,” consuming garlic makes men more attractive to women. According to women, “Appetite” needs to keep its findings to itself.

The salad offerings are light and fresh, including the One Night in Bangkok, with rice noodles, marinated chicken strips, baby bok choy, bean sprouts, julienned carrot and scallions, all tossed in sweet chili sauce. The dish is topped off with cilantro and peanuts.

Rock'N'oodles downtown Vegas

Charles Schulz drew 17,897 “Peanuts” comic strips during his career. What, every photo caption has to be relevant or interesting? Grow up.

All the dishes on the menu are in the $10 range, and just about all can be ordered as a full or half portion.

Kudos to Rock’N’oodles’ chef David Peddle for creating a menu of stellar offerings even those of us who aren’t the most adventurous can enjoy.

While small, Rock’N’oodles has a relaxed, welcoming vibe, and the staff is friendly and helpful, service is quick.


A hundred vintage album covers line the walls. While the restaurant boasts a state-of-the-art sound system, the volume was just right so as not to overwhelm our sparkling conversation.

Rock’N’oodles has already hinted its well-deserved success could mean an expansion, although it’s unlikely to be at the current location.

Find Rock’N’oodles online at their Facebook page, on Twitter or the restaurant’s official site.

If you like what you taste, give the Rock’N’oodles app a try. Unlike many restaurant apps, this one actually provides value. Imagine that.

Rock'N'oodles app

When has Angry Birds ever facilitated pasta entering your face? Case closed.

We can’t wait until our next Rock’N’oodles visit, as it felt like we only scratched the surface of the culinary delights in store.

Enjoy more pics from our newest downtown crush, Rock’N’oodles, and as always, please avoid licking your screen if at all possible.

Rock'N'oodles Restaurant


Bourne 5 Filming is Under Way in Las Vegas, We’ve Got Spoilers and Exclusive Pics

Another bigtime Hollywood production has made its way to Las Vegas, and this time its personal. Or something.

The as-yet-unnamed fifth Jason Bourne movie began filming in Las Vegas at McCarran International Airport on Jan. 6, 2015, according to sources involved with the film.

Production of Bourne 5 will continue here through mid-February 2016, with lots of Las Vegas locations and local extras in the mix.

Bourne 5

Bourne film titles have been drawn from the books by Robert Ludlum. Bourne fans suggest this installment will be “The Bourne Betrayal.”

On Jan. 8, 2015, filming moved to the Greyhound bus station at Plaza Las Vegas, and we grabbed some exclusive photos of the production in progress.

Jason Bourne, consider yourself breached.

Bourne 5

Actual Bourne key grips, gaffers and best boys, whatever those might actually be.

While many details of the Bourne 5 filming have been kept under wraps, a production of this size is virtually impossible to miss.

The shoot at the bus station, for example, involved dozens of crew members and a fleet of trucks and trailers.

Bourne 5 production

On a movie production, the “honeywagon” is the truck with restrooms used by the performers and crew. Honeywagon just sounds adorable, doesn’t it?

While many of the production trucks were hidden behind the Plaza, a sure clue the filming was happening involved disguising the bus depot’s Greyhound signs with generic “Blue Line Transit” signs, called “Greeking” in the movie business.

“Greeking” is a common practice to cover up recognizable trademarks when they haven’t been cleared for use onscreen in a TV show or movie.

Bourne 5

Granted, not every spoiler is going to make international headlines.

More sightings of the Bourne 5 production in Las Vegas can be expected in the weeks to come, and there’s even been a public call for local extras.

Apply to be a Bourne 5 extra here. Extras need to be age 18 or older, and can expect “free food, free parking and lots of fun.” Usually, extras are paid, but that doesn’t appear to be the case in these larger sequences for whatever reason.

While the sequences filmed to-date have required relatively few extras, that’s expected to change soon. Upcoming scenes are rumored to require 2,000-3,000 extras.

Major action sequences will be filmed on The Strip, so we’re sure to see a flood of iPhone pics in the weeks to come.

You get bonus points if you snap a selfie with Matt Damon. He’ll most likely be found in a Sin City poker room, as Damon is one of the best-known celebrity poker players around. Damon also starred in a popular movie about high-stakes poker, “Rounders.”

In interviews, Matt Damon has said the third act of Bourne 5 will feature a “big car chase on The Strip.” Which, coincidentally, is the best possible answer to the question, “How could this Las Vegas blog be any more excited about the next Bourne movie?”

Bourne 5

Kilts and Vegas winters are a match made in heaven.

The Bourne 5 chase sequence on The Strip is apparently proceeding despite what must’ve been concerns about pedestrians diving out of the way of speeding cars following the recent asshattery of a 24-year-old woman who intentionally drove onto the sidewalk in front of Planet Hollywood and Paris Las Vegas, killing one and injuring 35. (She told witnesses, “I am in pain, I want others to feel my pain also.” Certifiable asshat.)

If we put the brakes on our Bourne car chases, the asshats have already won.

Expect the Bourne 5 production to crop up at mid-Strip casinos, and there are rumblings the car chase will climax at the closed Riviera. Which sort of has epic written all over it, especially if the action helps accelerate the hotel’s demolition.

Update (1/11/16): Alert reader Matt says he’s staying at Aria and guests are getting a letter stating Universal is filming at the hotel Jan. 11-15 with simulated gunfire. Here’s the letter to Aria guests, including what’s being shot, when and where. Filming will take place in Aria’s north valet and at Vdara, “off of Harmon Ave. and Las Vegas Blvd. in front of the Aria campus.” Interior scenes will be filmed Jan. 11-13, including in the hotel’s main lobby, casino and convention center, according to the letter.

Bourne 5

Making some movie magic. Or, more likely, just standing around during the long stretches between the magic.

Bourne 5 stars not only Matt Damon as badass Jason Bourne (hopefully, he can help erase our memory of Jeremy Renner’s part in the series), but also Julia Stiles (Nicky) and Tommy Lee Jones.

The film is being directed by Paul Greengrass, and will hopefully include that awesome theme song by Moby.

You know the one.

Vincent Cassel is rumored to be the film’s central antagonist. Fans of the Vegas-spawned Ocean’s Trilogy will recognize Cassel as the nimble nemesis of George Clooney and Julia Roberts in “Ocean’s 12.”

It’s incredibly exciting to know Las Vegas will be a part of the Bourne saga. (We were going to say “legacy.” Thanks a lot, Renner.)

The Bourne 5 production has hopped around the world, including locations like Tenerife in the Canary Islands (doubling as Athens), England, Washington, D.C. and Berlin. It’s fitting the production culminates in Las Vegas, a city that specializes in excitement and spectacle.

If you spot the Bourne 5 production around Las Vegas, or end up cast as an extra, drop us a line!

Here’s more Bourne 5 production scoop, and exclusive Bourne 5 Las Vegas news.