Monthly Archives: June 2016

Checking In On the Park Theater At, Y’Know, The Park

Leave it to the T-Mobile Arena to steal all the thunder at The Park, a new restaurant and entertainment district in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip.

Right next door, though, is another Las Vegas entertainment venue in the making. Specifically, the 5,000-seat Park Theater. Here’s a look at how she’s coming along. (No, our photo isn’t pixelated. The roof just looks like that.)

Park Theater Las Vegas

MGM Resorts has said it’s spending $100 million on the Park Theater. For that price, those 5,000 seats had better give shiatsu massages.

We were the first to drop the news that the Park Theater was happening, so we’ve formed an emotional attachment to this addition to Monte Carlo, the Las Vegas hotel which will soon become Park MGM.

Here’s another look, from the patio at Sake Rok, just across the way in The Park.

Park Theater Las Vegas

The hope is the Park Theater will give some competition to venues like the Colosseum at Caesars Palace and Axis Theater at Planet Hollywood.

The Park Theater is still under construction, even as the T-Mobile Arena and restaurants in The Park have opened, because it was a little late to the party. Initially, the north side of the Park promenade was going to feature retail outlets. A theater is so much more interesting!

More construction porn on the way.

Park Theater at Monte Carlo

It’s like catching a celebrity without makeup.

A fascinating aspect of the Park Theater is it was originally supposed to face the opposite direction, or into the Monte Carlo hotel.

Joyen Vakil, Senior Vice President of Design & Development for MGM Resorts International, told us that during the design phase of the theater (an expansion to the existing Blue Man Group theater, they’re now at Luxor), he realized the theater needed to be flipped around to be integrated into The Park.

Vakil says, “One of the initial plans was to bring in people from the Monte Carlo side and the stage of the theater was facing The Park. We would have had a wall facing The Park. When I was looking at the drawing one day, I said, ‘What if we rotate the theater?’ We turned the whole theater around so we could bring in people from The Park side, to make The Park ‘talk’ to the theater, and the theater could look out at this beautiful arena and park we have created.”

Vakil makes it sound easy, but it was quite the design and engineering undertaking. From what we can tell, the creativity and hefty investment are paying off.

Park Theater construction

There are so many changes happening mid-Strip, the mind throbs. Usually it would reel, but it’s Las Vegas.

It’s expected the Park Theater will be completed in late 2016. We hope to see you there! Preferably at the bar. Your treat.

We blog, you treat, that’s just how it works.

Mermaids, La Bayou and Glitter Gulch Close to Make Way for New Downtown Resort

Three mainstays of Fremont Street have shuttered at once, for good: Mermaids, La Bayou and Glitter Gulch.

Mermaids closes

You either get Vegas or you don’t. So, do.

Each of the now-closed establishments has a long and glorious history, which we are
obviously far too lazy to actually look up.

Instead, let’s take a superficial look at these longtime fixtures of downtown Las Vegas.

Glitter Gulch was a strip club, the only one on Fremont Street. Glitter Gulch didn’t have
the best reputation, which is perhaps why it closed unceremoniously and under cover of
darkness at 4:00 a.m. on June 27, 2016.

Glitter Gulch strip club

Probably best not to attract too much media attention, if you get our drift. We figure the strip club signage will be around for another 48 hours.

Rumor has it that even when the music stopped and the lights came up, Glitter Gulch patrons
didn’t want to leave. Behold, the power of beer goggles.

Glitter Gulch bar

This never-before-seen rendering shows a proposed facade upgrade and outdoor bar at Girls of Glitter Gulch, which we’re lovingly filing under “lipstick on a pig.” The plan never happened, and now, never will.

Mermaids and La Bayou, on the other hand, closed at 11:00 p.m. on June 27, 2016.


With the closing of Mermaids, our long national apostrophe nightmare is over.

Much of the hoopla at these slot parlors had already taken place, on June 25. That’s the
night Mermaids and La Bayou had to give its progressive jackpots away. Read more.

Still, fans of Mermaids and La Bayou came out in force to say farewell.

The best way we can describe the affection for Mermaids and La Bayou is to compare it to
the first time you had sex. Most people remember it as being much better than it was, and
whatever comes next is bound to be an improvement.


One last moonwalk at Mermaids.

Most people who came out for the closing of Mermaids had deep fried food on their mind. The
casino was known for its inexpensive deep fried Oreos and Twinkies.

A line snaked around the casino’s snack bar area for hours before Mermaids closed, and we
honestly felt like those who were turned away toward the end were going to riot. You know,
like in “Soylent Green.” Although, Soylent Green had more nutritional value.


Earlier in the day, there were false reports Mermaids had run out of Twinkies. We should know, we reported them.

Funny story.

This blog’s place in Mermaids history was secured in true Las Vegas fashion as the snack
bar line came to an end. It was announced the snack bar had run out of product. There was a
collective groan from the remaining guests.

As people drifted away, we seized the moment and approached the counter. “Sir, we’re sorry,
but the snack bar is closed and we have no more product.” At which point we removed a $20
bill from our wallet.

Wait for it.

“Sir, enjoy the last deep fried Oreo ever served at Mermaids.”

These, dear friend, are those very deep fried Oreos. Which, upon reflection, we should have
had bronzed or something.

Mermaids fried Oreo

Twenty bucks for 99-cent fried Oreos and Las Vegas immortality? You bet.

Our decision to eat the last deep fried Oreos ever served at Mermaids was, of course, a
horrible one. The nausea continues even a day later as we write this. Memories to last a

As closing time approached at Mermaids, there were hugs and tears among the employees. Buskers and strippers (many of whom had worked at Glitter Gulch) came by to pay their last respects. There were lots of Las Vegas visitors and locals, too. All left with free beads, a calling card of Mermaids and La Bayou.

Mermaids beads

It’s important you keep your beads organized. You might say we’re anal about beads.

While we may not have too many fond memories of Mermaids, we have two related to La Bayou.

La Bayou was the first place we remember having a strawberry daiquiri in Las Vegas. La Bayou became a favorite jumping off point for many a Las Vegas adventure, at least until the quality of the liquor went downhill dramatically. Then, it was the jumping off point for blackouts, projectile vomiting and lifelong liver damage. We haven’t had one in ages. Still, memories!

We also have a La Bayou memory that was captured on film. Or pixels. Let’s not get bogged down in details.

Pictured below is this blog’s actual grandmother playing her favorite Triple 7s machine at La Bayou in 2009, along with a pina colada and a dream. And an oxygen tube. It’s hard to get any more Vegas than that.

La Bayou grandmother

Miss you, Gram.

We’ll always love this La Bayou moment. It was one of the few times we remember our grandmother truly happy before she passed away some time later. It’s a reminder of how much we had in common, too.

So, what now?

Mermaids, La Bayou and Glitter Gulch were purchased by Derek and Greg Stevens, the folks who own The D and Golden Gate.

Derek Stevens

New owner Derek Stevens chats with Mermaids staffers. Some will stay on at The D and Golden Gate.

They also own the former Las Vegas Club, so the plan is to create a new resort that will expand the Las Vegas Club footprint and gobble up Glitter Gulch and Mermaids. La Bayou is part of a planned expansion of Golden Gate.

Mermaids Las Vegas closed

Mermaids casino is no more.

It’s never a happy occasion seeing a casino close. Because casinos. Ditto strip clubs, come to think of it.

Given the track record of the Stevens brothers, however, these closures are in service of a larger vision, one that is likely to result in new, shiny (and probably pulchritudinous) things we’re pretty much guaranteed to love.

A new resort will add some much-needed energy and excitement to the west end of Fremont Street and the Fremont Street Experience (where this blog works as its day job, by the way).

Not everyone is a fan of “new,” of course.

Some love their downtown gritty and raw and communicable. We do, too. Just not that raw and gritty and communicable.

La Bayou closed

La bye, you.

We suspect the new resort, with the working name of 18 Fremont, is going to strike a balance. There will be nods to classic Vegas. Vegas Vickie, for example, isn’t going anywhere. She’ll be featured in the new resort.


The change of ownership means Vegas Vickie is likely to get the maintenance she so richly deserves.

While Vegas past will get its due, there will also be fun new diversions. How can we be sure? Because Las Vegas’ main export is diversions.

Mermaids Las Vegas

Don’t freak out. The lights will stay on until demolition begins for the new resort, probably in early 2017.

So, good night Glitter Gulch, Mermaids and La Bayou. And, hello, whatever’s next. It wouldn’t be Las Vegas without a metric ass-ton of next.

Mermaids, La Bayou and Glitter Gulch Close

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Episode 19: Plaza Pool, Bugsy Siegel Gets Whacked and Some Vegas Edge

We’re back with the final episode of our first season of the Vital Vegas Podcast, now translated into two languages, assuming you consider “unlistenable” a language.

In this installment, we dive into the Plaza’s new pool deck, complete with outdoor gambling, a food truck and pickleball. Don’t laugh, it could be the new eSports!

Plaza Las Vegas pool

The Plaza’s upping its pool game with daybeds, cabanas, a hot tub, food truck, bar, stage and table games. Oh, and 16 pickleball courts just to keep things interesting.

We have a special guest in this shoddily slapped-together episode, too. It’s Marc Meltzer, founder of and expert in the areas of sports books, Las Vegas casinos and taking playful jabs at a certain award-winning blogs. Rude.

Meltzer gives his insights into the Life is Beautiful music festival, the NHL expansion team coming to Las Vegas and more.

Also in this episode, we delve into the murder of “Bugsy” Siegel, perhaps the best-known of Sin City’s mobsters. His murder has never been solved, but there are some fascinating theories, including a scenario put forth by the wife of Bugsy’s associate, Moe Sedway.

Bee Sedway claims her lover, “Moose” Pandza, was the one who whacked Bugsy. Why? Because Siegel threatened Moe Sedway’s life. Juicy stuff. Read more.

There’s also a slew of news about recent changes at SLS Las Vegas. It appears things are looking up at this underrated Las Vegas hotel-casino.

All this and much, much less on the newest episode of the Vital Vegas Podcast. Like you have anything better to do!

Riviera’s Casino Just Got a New Sunroof

Our obsession with the dismantling of the Riviera casino continues as the Las Vegas relic counts down its final days.

Riviera demolition

And they say Las Vegas casinos don’t have natural light.

Demolition crews have recently begun work on the Riviera’s casino, following the implosion of a hotel tower (another will be imploded in August) and the flattening of a number of low-rise structures at the site.

Riviera Las Vegas

Las Vegas needs more convention space like it needs a hole in the, well, ground.

Here’s a fly-over of the Riv’s casino, providing a rare look at the disintegration of a Las Vegas icon.

The Riviera is being demolished to make way for an expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center, or a stadium, depending upon the whims of some powerful players in Sin City.


A good portion of Riviera’s Monte Carlo tower is wrapped in plastic as asbestos is removed from the building’s exterior prior to its implosion.

The moment of truth is near, as crews approach the most recognizable part of the Riviera’s facade.

The neon-filled facade is hollow inside, but its demolition is expected to take some time as all the mirrors on its exterior must be removed before the section comes down.

Riviera mirrors

We’re confident the mirrors are being removed intact, as that would be a metric hell-ton of bad luck.

The Riviera has a long and colorful history, and is greatly beloved by legions of Las Vegas visitors who rarely, if ever, went to the place.

Still, the Riv is a symbol of a time in Vegas when the mob ran the joint and some of the biggest entertainers in the world rubbed elbows with ordinary schmoes.


And now the end is near and so we face the final hydraulic excavator. We’re paraphrasing.

If you’ve always wanted a selfie with the Riviera, time’s running out. Not only that, you should probably re-examine your priorities in life. It’s a casino, not a Beyonce.

Riviera Demolition Update: June 24, 2016

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Las Vegas Loses Its Mind Over NHL Expansion Team

Las Vegas has been so desperate for so long to get a professional sports team, when it was announced the city will have an NHL expansion team, people went nuts, clearly overlooking the fact the “h” in NHL stands for “hockey.”

This blog is not a sports person, so we’re not entirely objective about this news, but we’re passing it along because people who are into sports seem to think it’s a huge deal.

So, on June 22, 2016, the worst-kept secret in Las Vegas history was announced officially. Las Vegas will get an as-yet-unnamed pro hockey team.

Las Vegas Hookers

Sorry, the best name possible is already taken by an amateur team here in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas franchise will mean the National Hockey League will now have 31 teams, which is truly irksome to those of us with OCD.

The team will begin play during the 2017-2018 season and will be in the league’s Pacific Division, whatever that might actually be.

Las Vegas bajillionaire Bill Foley will pay $500 million for the privilege of bringing an NHL team to Las Vegas.

The new Las Vegas team will play in the new T-Mobile Arena. The arena has a capacity of 17,368 for hockey teams. Yes, exactly 17,368.

Las Vegas Arena

Our shiny new Las Vegas arena opened on April 6, 2016.

What took so long for a professional sports team to come to Las Vegas? Paranoia, basically. Sports leagues have feared that if you have a sports team associated with Las Vegas, people might start betting on sports. Or worse, there might be game-fixing.

The good news is that the chances of malfeasance related to betting on hockey is mitigated by the fact so few people care about hockey, very few people place wagers on it.

Nobody really knows why the paranoia has subsided now, although did we mention the expansion fee to get an NHL team here is $500 million? The $500 million will be distributed among the 30 existing NHL teams. Yes, the vote by the NHL’s Board of Governors was unanimous. Shocker!

Here are more official answers to all your NHL expansion team questions from, you know, the actual NHL.

Vital Vegas Tweet

With this 2014 Tweet, we were so very first, but so only partially right.

So, what does it all mean for Las Vegas? Who knows. Hockey is certainly a sport, but whether it’s the kind of sport that will succeed, nobody knows. Lots of sports teams have tried to make a go of Las Vegas and failed, including an array of minor league hockey teams like the Gamblers, the Outlaws, the Aces, the Thunder and the Ice Dice. We are not making this up.

Our prediction? No, you didn’t ask, but you also haven’t stopped reading, have you? Well, our prediction is it won’t take long for everyone to realize putting a deposit down on hockey season tickets isn’t the same thing as purchasing season tickets. A successful professional team takes sustained support, and again, it’s hockey. In a town where there are lots of competing forms of entertainment involving people beating each other to a pulp.

We’re not naysaying in a vacuum, by the way. People actually into sports think our new Vegas team may have some challenges, to say the least.

Las Vegas world leader

Someday, if we get an NFL team, we can also be a world leader in concussions! Fingers crossed.

In the NHL, teams play 82 games a season, 41 of those at home. The average ticket price for an NHL game is $62.18. Not only do we not personally care for hockey, we also don’t care for math, but that seems like an expensive hobby. The 14,000 people who put down deposits for season tickets paid a mere $150, by the way.

It goes without saying that, of course, we want this enterprise to succeed! A pro hockey team could mean a whole new crop of people visiting Las Vegas who have never been here before.

Another benefit of having professional athletes  in Sin City on a regular basis is our Las Vegas strip clubs will be more popular than ever.

Perhaps the biggest perk of the NHL deciding to bestow a team upon Las Vegas is it opens the door for other sports we don’t particularly care about, too. The gloves are off, as it were.

More professional sports in Las Vegas means more visitors. More visitors means more revenue for Las Vegas businesses, including hotel-casinos. More revenue means new amenities we can all enjoy. Now, that’s a hat trick we can get behind.

Differing opinions welcome! That’s why the sports gods invented comments sections on blogs. Probably.

Here’s the Latest on All the Changes at SLS Las Vegas

There’s a metric ass-ton of things going on at SLS Las Vegas, so we thought it a fine time to drop by and poke around. In Vegas, that usually costs extra!

It’s difficult to keep track of all the changes, big and small, happening at SLS. Mainly because we hate taking notes.

One of the most significant changes is a new partnership with Starwood Resorts Worldwide. Starwood will take over the Lux tower at SLS, rebranding it as W Las Vegas.

One of the more visible signs of the arrival of W Las Vegas is a slick new video segment playing on the screen over the hotel’s Center Bar.

SLS Las Vegas bar 3-D video

To get the most of the 3-D effect, stand in the casino between Center Bar and the casino’s main entrance. Or wear some of those dopey 3-D glasses. Your choice.

The animation wizards at SLS Las Vegas have the whole 3-D thing down following successes including an eerie floating face that’s provided this blog with its most popular YouTube video, ever.

Here’s a look at the floating W above Center Bar. We love it even more because it’s designed to look like neon!

What else are they up to at SLS? The high limit room situation at SLS Las Vegas is in a state of flux at the moment. Sorry, rooms.

It seems the casino realized its existing high limit room wasn’t drawing high-end players, and perhaps not for the reason you’d suspect. (SLS has struggled with a challenging location on the north end of The Strip since it opened.)

See, the high limit room was decked out in a predominantly white color scheme.

While a gorgeous space (it was created by highly-regarded artist and designer Philippe Starck, as much of SLS Las Vegas was), those familiar with Asian superstitions know white is associated with death, mourning and bad luck in Chinese culture.

In the words of gaming expert Homer Simpson, “D’oh!”

Beyond the unfortunate color scheme, SLS realized high limit table games players don’t care for the sound of slot machines too much. The existing high limit room had both tables and machines.

As pictured below, SLS has removed all its slots from the original high limit room. We hear there are plans to redecorate the room in another color, probably red (good luck in Asian cultures).

SLS high limit room

White. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

SLS Las Vegas now has a dedicated high limit slot room in the space that once held a Fred Segal He store, near the main casino entrance. All the resort’s Fred Segal shops were closed after SBE Entertainment Group sold its 10 percent stake in the hotel-casino. There will be a quiz.

Here’s a look at the new high limit slot room, which we definitely can’t share a photo of because it’s against the rules to take photos in a casino.

SLS high limit slots

Having hit puberty, the high limit slots at SLS now get a room of their own.

So much ground to cover and so little attention span!

Speaking of ill-advised color schemes. Remember Ku Noodle? The noodle restaurant. This isn’t rocket science.

Any ideas why it never caught on and closed recently? Asian noodle restaurant. Designed by Philippe Starck. Completely white decor. Starting to see a pattern here?

All traces of Ku Noodle have been erased. SLS isn’t messing around. Things that are working get to stay (Cleo and Bazaar Meat), things are aren’t have to go.


The wall formerly known as Ku Noodle.

Elsewhere in the casino, it’s worth noting the casino’s loyalty club desk has moved.


The players club desk appears to have gone fishin’. It hasn’t gone far.

Players club business can now be done at the casino cage.

Rolling right along!

Roam a bit more and you may come across the resort’s retooled sex shop. Gone are the sex toys, and now the space serves as a lounge for guests of the hotel’s Story tower.

SLS Story tower lounge

Blink and you’ll miss it. Thankfully, award-winning Las Vegas blogs never blink.

The new Captain’s Quarters lounge hasn’t been publicized, which makes it one of those “discoverable” areas the Millennials presumably love so much. We aren’t a Millennial, but we discovered it and quite enjoyed the quirky vibe, including the glowing couch action.

SLS Story lounge

Recline on stylish, fixed back sofas from the Fukushima line of furnishings.

The Captain’s Quarters lounge, including a photo booth, is one of the perks of staying in the Story tower (there’s even a friendly staffer who can serve as a personal concierge).

Getting some good ink is a new Story tower promotion where guests who stay two nights or more can raid the room’s minibar for no extra charge.

Here’s what you get with your #MyVegasStory package. Learn more.

SLS Story tower minibar

The holy grail of minibars: No. Additional. Charge.

There’s a large selection of snacks, water and soda, as well as beer, a bottle of vodka and even a bottle of fireball. And several apple-flavored shots. The minibar contents are valued at $200, so not a bad deal.

The minibar is re-stocked every two days, so if you stay four nights, you get to raid the minibar again.

This promotion runs through September 5, 2016, and also includes VIP access to the hotel’s Foxtail Pool and nightclub, as well as free soft drinks at the hotel’s restaurants like Umami Burger and 800 Degrees, the pizza place.

SLS Story room

Story rooms have mirrors over the bed so you can see where all those minibar munchies went.

Rounding out our round-up of things worth noting at SLS Las Vegas is a fairly large construction project that hasn’t gotten much mention but warrants it. Especially if you’re into Las Vegas resort construction porn. Which we hear is a thing. For other people.

Here’s a sweet pic of the construction of a new structure that will become a three-story addition primarily used for meetings and conventions. There will be a pool on top, Wet.

SLS Las Vegas construction

Look at all the erection jokes we’re not making!

The large erection (what, you believe photo captions?) is on the north side of the resort, fairly invisible to passersby on Sahara Boulevard and Las Vegas Boulevard, although it’s easily spotted from the bridge connecting SLS Las Vegas to the Las Vegas Monorail.

That about covers it!

Rumors persist about more changes to come at SLS, including a shake-up in the resort’s entertainment programming (adjustments have been made due to some recent incidents involving guest asshattery, long story), more changes to the casino floor (baccarat players like it quiet, thank you) and new dining offerings in the works.

While SLS Las Vegas isn’t entirely out of the financial woods, things appear to be looking up. A serious effort is being made to adjust the resort’s offerings to the needs of hotel guests and players, and the hotel’s new concert venue, The Foundry, is reportedly a success.

All that, and W Las Vegas is sure to bring much-needed new marketing resources and visitors to the underappreciated resort. You go, SLS.

Lots of Changes at SLS Las Vegas

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