Monthly Archives: May 2017

Cleo at SLS Las Vegas is the Best Las Vegas Restaurant You Haven’t Tried Yet

It’s an overlooked gem of a restaurant at an overlooked gem of a Las Vegas resort. Cleo at SLS Las Vegas is a must-try, and chances are you haven’t been there yet.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

Cleo’s entrance is a pyramid, believed to be good luck. Having tasted the signature cocktails at Cleo, it’s hard to argue that belief.

Cleo has been around since SLS Las Vegas opened at around midnight on August 22, 2014.

While offerings at SLS have come and go, Cleo has remained a reliably great dining option, and it’s about time you gave it a go.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

Cleo’s decor has a pitched roof, Moroccan tiles and chandeliers, and other things we sort of don’t notice because we tend to be face-down in the wonderful food.

Cleo is a holdover from a time when SLS Las Vegas was a partnership with SBE Entertainment Group. While SBE is no longer in the picture, Cleo has been successful enough to warrant its license fee, and we’re thankful for that whenever we dive headlong into the restaurant’s consistently delicious offerings.

Let’s try a few of Cleo’s sure-fire, Mediterranean-inspired dishes.

Start with “Dips With Laffa.” While this may sound like a Middle Eastern late night talk show, laffa is actually a soft, pita-like Sephardic bread, a description we definitely didn’t copy and paste from the Internet.

The dips are irresistible (start with the lebaneh with feta), and the chewy, heavenly bread just keeps on coming.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas laffa

You know how some people say, “Don’t fill up on bread”? All due respect, those people are idiots.

Next, make a go of the “Spicy Cigars,” the only cigar this blog does not find absolutely revolting.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

Oh, get your mind out of the gutter. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

If you hate Brussels sprouts, Cleo’s will change your life forever. If you like Brussels sprouts, what in the hell is wrong with you?

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

Eating the Brussels sprouts at Cleo was the first time we ever had them without feeling like we were being punished for something.

We have yet to try a kebab at Cleo we didn’t love. Moist, perfectly seasoned and expertly cooked, start with Chicken Kebab and you’re well on your way to one of the best meals in Las Vegas.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

It’s likely the kebabs at Cleo will inspire your gustatory cells to send a thank-you note.

It’s probably a good time to explore the signature cocktail menu, arguably as memorable as the food at Cleo.

We’ve tried just about every signature cocktail there is at Cleo, and there’s not a single disappointment in the bunch. Start with a Cucumber Smash, try the Lotus Flower or Raspberry Twist, then close with the Janapolitan or Mediterranean Margarita.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

The Cucumber Smash has Jameson whiskey, muddled cucumber, St. Germain Elderflower liqueur and lemon juice.

Back to the food!

As mentioned, Cleo is a perfect place to order things you’d never imagine yourself ordering.

We even tried the grilled octopus, and we are absolutely not a grilled octopus person.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

You say gelatinous and suction cuppy like it’s a bad thing.

The flatbreads are stellar. That’s pizza to us common folk. The fact we once tried the kale flatbread is testament to the hold Cleo has over us.

This one below is probably the Roman. We didn’t have time to take notes. We were too busy having our taste buds titillated. Which, we realize, is illegal in certain Southern states.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

If you have the drunchies, it’s pizza. If you’re trying to impress someone on a date, it’s flatbread.

The highlight of any Cleo meal, though, is the exquisite chicken tagine. There are so many layers of flavor, you’ll feel like an archaeologist. Look, you know what we mean.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

Do not make us choose between sex and Cleo’s chicken tagine. We don’t want to hurt sex’s feelings.

We recently saw the recipe for Cleo’s chicken tagine, and we’re not exaggerating when we say it has 40 ingredients, and that doesn’t even include the dozen or so used simply for the garnish and presentation.

Again, we can’t do it justice with mere photography. Just trust in the fact it’s one of the best dishes we’ve ever had in our entire life, and if you don’t like it, we pledge to finish yours for you.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

Chicken tagine is made in (wait for it) tagine pots. “Tagine” is believed to have come from the Persian, meaning “laid at the bottom of the pan,” which is possibly why this dish is so satisfying.

Everything at Cleo leaves you feeling both satisfied, but not stuffed.

Yes, that means there’s room for another cocktail. There’s always a method to our madness.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

We take the fact we don’t remember the name of this cocktail as a sign it was fantastic.

If you don’t trust our judgment about what to order, Cleo also has tasting menus. There’s a “Cleo Favorites” tasting menu for $50 per person (two person minimum) and Chef’s Signature tasting menu for $65 (two person minimum). Learn more.

With exceptional service and moderate prices, Cleo hits all the right notes for an incomparable night out in Las Vegas.

While you’re there, make sure to check out the wood-fired oven where a lot of the culinary magic happens.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

You may experience pangs of guilt when you realize everything on the menu at Cleo is $20 or less. Compensate by ordering more. You’re in Vegas.

Find the full Cleo menu at the official site of SLS Las Vegas.

Here’s a photo gallery of more food and drink at Cleo, as if you weren’t already salivating all over your keyboard.

Cleo at SLS Las Vegas

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11 Panty-Dropper Cocktails to Lubricate Your Las Vegas Visit

There’s a difference between merely doing Las Vegas and doing it right. That difference? Cocktails.

More specifically, we’re talking about cocktails we lovingly refer to as “Panty-Dropper Cocktails.” They’re the kind of cocktails that facilitate social collisions and instigate unforgettable Sin City memories.

Here, we’ve gathered some of our favorite panty-dropper cocktails from across Las Vegas. Cheers!

1. Bathtub Gin Daisy at Freedom Beat Inside Downtown Grand

From what we remember, the Bathtub Gin Daisy has Old Grove gin, orange liqueur and lemon.

Bathtub Gin Daisy

You may as well just skip these photo captions, we’re drunk.

2. Carolyn Cosmo at The Nerd Nightclub at Neonopolis

The Carolyn Cosmo has Grey Goose Le Citron vodka, Pama pomegranate liqueur, Cointreau orange-flavored liqueur, fresh lime and cranberry.

Nerd Carolyn Cosmo

The Nerd Nightclub only has one specialty cocktail, but they chose wisely.

3. Alto Margarita at Alto Bar Inside Caesars Palace

This cocktail features Caesars Select Patrón Reposado tequila, Cointreau liqueur, agave nectar, lime juice and a floater of Grand Marnie.

Alto Margarita

The Alto Margarita is made all the more delicious by the fact it’s free when you’re playing video poker at Alto Bar.

4. Blazin’ Vegas at Pizza Rock

Hold onto your bloomers, this cocktail has Fireball cinnamon whiskey, Apple Pucker, Crown Royal and Red Bull.

Blazin Vegas cocktail

This cocktail will inspire you to not only remove your current panties, but all future panties.

5. Cleopatra’s Smile at Lobby Bar Inside Caesars Palace

Cleopatra’s Smile has Ketel One Citroen vodka, Aperol Apertivo, Pavan liqueur, fresh-squeezed ruby red grapefruit and lemon juices and clover honey syrup.

Cleopatra's Smile cocktail

There’s a reason Cleopatra smiled so much.

6. Hot Little Mess at Commonwealth

The Hot Little Mess has Bacardi Dragon Berry rum, fresh lime, simple syrup and strawberry puree.

Hot Little Mess at Commonwealth

You say “hot little mess” like it’s a bad thing.

7. Last Dame Standing at Edge Steakhouse Inside Westgate

The Last Dame Standing keeps it simple with muddled strawberries, Gray Goose vodka and fresh lemon juice.

Last Dame Standing cocktail

We do not condone the word “dame,” but we fully endorse this panty-dropper cocktail.

8. The Smash at Therapy

The perfect combination of Four Roses bourbon, blackberries, fresh limes and mint.

The Smash cocktail

The Smash isn’t just at Therapy, it is therapy.

9. Tomm’s Cup at Tom’s Urban at New York-New York

Just your basic masterpiece fashioned from Beefeater gin, Pimm’s (a gin-based liqueur), strawberry puree, ginger beer, simple syrup and lemon juice.

Tomm's Cup

Yes, it’s “Tomm’s.” We’re not that drunk.

10. White Peach Margarita at Stratosphere

It’s entirely possible this cocktail contains Sauza Hornitos tequila, peach puree, sour mix, fresh lime juice, simple syrup and triple sec, an orange-flavoured liqueur. We are not a mixologist. We are a sloppy drunkologist.

White Peach Margarita

Peaches have calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and copper, thereby making this cocktail a health drink.

11. Cinnamon Caramel Apple Martini at Press Bar, Four Seasons

We close out our list of cocktails with this beauty at Press Bar inside the Four Seasons at Mandalay Bay. It has vodka, apple liqueur, sweet vermouth and a house-made sweet-and-sour mix. Garnish features a dehydrated caramelized apple.

Press bar cocktail

The dehydrated caramelized apple gives it an extra bit of fancy.

Thirsty? Us, too.

Grab the nearest mixologist and drink in all the amazing cocktails Las Vegas has to offer. Livers are fairly inexpensive on the black market, so it’s time to live a little.

14 Sips of New, Cool and WTF in Downtown Las Vegas

Things move fast in Las Vegas, so we’ve carelessly slapped together a list of 14 new things happening in downtown Las Vegas to keep you in the loop.

Why 14 things? Well, it was originally 20, but in Sin City, the house always takes its vig. Or something.

1. Golden Gate Expansion

The expansion of the Golden Gate into the former La Bayou space is moving at a brisk pace. Note: Every great list of Las Vegas things begins with a security breach.

Golden Gate expansion

Golden Gate is doing a lot with a little. La Bayou was a mere 25 feet wide and 130 feet deep.

It’s expected the new structure will be completed in August 2017 and will feature 100 new slot machines. Here’s an inside look at the expansion construction.

2. Pop-Up BBQ

Across Fremont Street from the Golden Gate, a new BBQ truck has taken up residence in a spot where two shops used to be. Find it between the closed Mermaids and Glitter Gulch strip club.

The shops were purchased by Derek and Greg Stevens for $13.5 million and the space will eventually be part of a new resort, currently referred to as 18 Fremont.

BBQ truck

There are only about four things on the menu. That means less time waffling, more time carnivoring.

It seems the BBQ truck idea is catching on, and the pop-up restaurant will be in place as demolition of the closed Las Vegas Club begins in Q3. Derek Stevens talks about his new resort on our podcast, so have a listen.

downtown Las Vegas

Fun fact: If some of the accessories look familiar, it’s because they’re from the closed Mermaids casino, right next door.

3. Pizza Rock Menus

Just when we thought Pizza Rock couldn’t get any better, it busts out some awesome new menus. Real album covers with real albums inside double as menus. Glorious.

Pizza Rock

Millennial translation: “Albums” were made of vinyl and people used them to listen to music back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

4. Fear the Walking Dead: Survival Attraction

Demolition and construction have begun on a new attraction at Fremont Street Experience. The new walk-through attraction, inspired by “Fear the Walking Dead,” will be a mixture of escape room, maze and interactive motion ride. Here’s a look at the space.

Fear the Walking Dead Survival

Given the zombie theme, think how much money they’d save by just leaving it like this and adding zombies.

The “Fear the Walking Dead: Survival” attraction will be near the base of the SlotZilla zip line tower and is expected to open in July 2017.

downtown Las Vegas

We actually work at Fremont Street Experience as our day job. If you can’t security breach at your own place of employment, where can you security breach?

5. SlotZilla Video Screens

The SlotZilla zip line tower got an upgrade to its video screens. The largest screen is 23 feet wide. Three others simulate the reels of a (wait for it) slot machine.

SlotZilla

Yes, we rode it, and we are not a heights person. Thank you, comedy-hypnotist Marc Savard.

Here’s a look at all the dudes it took to install the largest screen.

SlotZilla zip line

You should probably consider something a little smaller for your man cave.

6. Hennessey’s Pint Glass

The seemingly endless process of rebranding the “World’s Largest Pint Glass” at Hennessey’s Tavern continues. The glass will eventually transform into a mug touting Not Your Grandfather’s Root Beer, including the addition of a massive handle.

Hennessey's pint glass

This is the back of the pint glass. The front side is 85 feet tall. That’s a lot of head.

7. Inspire Bar Windows

A small tweak to the exterior of the street-level bar at Inspire Theater has opened up the space and lets guests experience the sights and sounds and occasional fragrances of Fremont Street.

Inspire lounge

It’s actually “Inspire Bar, Lounge and Theatre.” Yes, with the fancy spelling of “theatre.”

The bar is quite welcoming, and yes, they have Captain Morgan spiced rum, the best thing since the advent of sex on giant Ferris wheels. Allegedly.

Inspire bar

Inspire is at the corner of Fremont Street, Las Vegas Blvd. and Hipster Avenue.

8. Progress at The Vault

At long last, there’s activity at a new bar on Fremont East, The Vault. Previously, the space was home to a clothing store called Coterie. Not sure where things are on Fremont East? We did walking tour.

The Vault Fremont East

The Vault is located between the Griffin and Beauty Bar, which you have also never heard of.

Outside, not a security breach. Inside, security breach.

The Vault Fremont Street

The Vault could be the hottest new spot for gymnasts in Las Vegas, unless we’ve completely misread the meaning of “vault.”

9. Changes at Emergency Arts and Eureka

A mural-covered construction wall has come down at the Emergency Arts Building across the street from El Cortez. There’s a lot of activity inside the building’s bottom floor where a new restaurant, Eureka, is expected to open soon. The space used to be the Beat Coffeehouse. There will be a quiz.

Eureka Las Vegas

Eureka sure is taking its sweet time.

10. Stoned N Baked Closes

A tasty pizza shop inside the Downtown Container Park has closed. The owner says he sold the business, including the equipment and recipes, to the Downtown Project, with promises the shop would open again in some form.

Stoned N Baked

Recreational marijuana will be available for sale in Las Vegas on July 1, 2017. Missed it by that much.

11. ChillSpot Closes, Puffles On the Way

Also at the Container Park, a frozen pop store called ChillSpot (owned by the same folks as Stoned N Baked) has also closed. A new “gelato and waffles” shop, Puffles, will take over the space.

Puffles

Puffles cones use egg waffles which originated in Hong Kong, a city whose king once climbed the Empire State Building.

12. The Dome

In other Downtown Container Park news, The Dome has opened. The dome-shaped theater seats 25 people and offers five different shows (mostly music-driven and family fare) and one interactive shooting game.

The Dome Las Vegas

In “Logan’s Run,” people rose into the air and blew up as part of a ritual called Carrousel. Location: Dome.

13. Petting Zoo

You knew we’d get to the WTF, eventually. This one’s flown under the radar, but it seems there’s a petting zoo coming the the Downtown Project’s Learning Center space.

Friends of the Wild

We spend way too much time poking our nose into places we shouldn’t.

Friends of the Wild will be a “a non-profit educational animal facility,” and appears to be in the fundraising phase. We’ll keep an eye on this one.

Friends of the Wild

Las Vegas Zoo closed. Roos-N-More closed. Let’s get it right this time, please.

14. Bonanza Gift Shop Signs

Bonanza Gift Shop is sort of downtown. Well, the “World’s Largest Gift Shop” has finally gotten around to repairing its signs damaged by high winds in March 2017. And we’re using the word “repairing” very liberally here.

Bonanza Gift Shop

Being the world’s largest gift shop means there’s plenty of space to store all the WTF.

There are always new things going on in downtown Las Vegas. If you spot something new or notable, drop us a line.

Full disclosure: This blog’s day job is in the marketing department at Fremont Street Experience. Our opinions, especially the most idiotic, are entirely our own.

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 50: Interview With a Las Vegas Escort and More

For our 50th episode, we go deep into the world of Las Vegas escorts. Our guest is Nikki, who tells all about the business, culture and lingo of being a sex worker in Sin City.

Nikki breaks down how hooking up with a Las Vegas escort works, from first contact to happy ending and everything in between.

Wax your back and break out your W-2, we’re in for a wild ride.

Las Vegas sex harness

Sin City has “sin” right there in the name, so stop blushing, already.

We’ve also got a metric ass-ton of news, history and pointless rambling that definitely suffers by comparison to learning about “strap-on action.” We soldier on, anyway.

This week’s listicle is “12 of the Best Things at 12 Las Vegas Resorts.”

Cleo at SLS Las Vegas

Topping our list is Cleo restaurant, our favorite thing at SLS Las Vegas. Besides the go-go dancers. Because we’re evolved like that.

We’ll also share some epic iTunes reviews, because as far as we’re concerned, there can never be too much us.

This week’s episode is the final episode of our first season (subject to change without notice), so don’t miss it.

Luxor’s Sphinx Once Sported a Nose Ring

We are not making this up.

A friend of ours took a photo of the Great Sphinx of Giza replica at Luxor when it was being built.

It was the summer of 1993, which isn’t as catchy a title as the song’s, but let’s keep our eye on the prize here.

As the Sphinx was being constructed, it had a curious bit of “jewelry” that, in retrospect, makes it seems ahead of its time, fashionwise.

That’s right, Luxor’s Sphinx had a nose ring.

Luxor Sphinx nose ring

Thanks to our pal Tom Jones IV for the epic photo.

Who knows what the ring was for. It’s awesome, and we are not personally a facial ornamentation person.

Luxor opened on Oct. 15, 1993, after just 18 months of construction, at a cost of $375 million.

The Sphinx has endured despite efforts to de-theme the Strip resort. In 2007, MGM Resorts spent about $300 million to remove Egypt-inspired elements inside the resort and to renovate all the rooms.

Luxor Las Vegas

Luxor’s design is distinctive, to say the least. In fact, the hotel doesn’t use elevators, it uses “inclinators.”

Unlike many of the replicas in Las Vegas, like the half-scale Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas or one-third-scale Statue of Liberty at New York-New York, the Sphinx is actually bigger than the original.

Luxor’s Sphinx is 110 feet tall.

Some believe the Sphinx at Luxor was built facing the wrong direction. The Luxor Sphinx faces east. The original faces west. This, among other things (like mysterious deaths and the fact Egyptians used pyramids as tombs), has led the superstitious to think Luxor may be cursed.

People be crazy.

The Sphinx is just one of the distinctive features of Luxor Las Vegas. There’s the beam of light, of course, that can be seen from 250 miles away on a clear night.

There’s also an obelisk, one of the most distinctive phallic objects in Las Vegas.

Luxor

And you thought stepping on a Lego was painful.

Luxor also boasts the world’s largest atrium, at 29 million cubic feet. No, we do not know what a cubic foot is, just play along.

While 80% of the Luxor’s original theme has been removed, we’re still a fan of these iconic themed resorts, curse be damned.

“Wow Splash” Show to Open at Rio Las Vegas

The Las Vegas resort we don’t quite know what to make of is getting a show that we also don’t know what to make of. “Wow Splash” is coming to Rio Las Vegas in July 2017.

“Wow Splash,” which sounds like it was poorly translated from another language (we’re pretty sure it was), is a straight-up knock-off of a Cirque du Soleil show. Then again, that’s not always a bad thing. Just ask everyone who loves “Le Reve.”

Wow Splash

Attractive, limber performers, check. Wet clothes, check. Yep, all the hallmarks of a successful Las Vegas show.

The description of the “Wow Splash” show must be seen to be believed.

Please keep in mind this is completely real and in no way intended to be ironic.

“Downtown, steaming heat, nighttime, who are the people one would meet at this time and place? Street gangs, a strange panhandler, three sailors who stopped for the night, teenage cheerleaders, officers Jason and Suzy, and the one [and] only, Jason, the street sweeper who sees all and knows all, but right now he’s busy staring at a beautiful woman’s picture on an advertising board.”

Gangs, panhandlers, sailors, cheerleaders, police officers and an omniscient street sweeper. Got it.

Wow Splash

We’re think there’s more splash than wow, but you never know what’s going to click with audiences in Las Vegas.

But wait, there’s more.

“A good enough reason for him to try to climb up and step into the beauty’s world, trying to get a closer look. In the meantime, some thugs fight when suddenly a fire extinguisher erupts, washing the stage in water. The water seems to have magic powers, everyone on stage calms down and the street becomes a playground. A massive and transparent water pool is the heart of the show. International virtuoso artists jump into the water from different heights, dancing, flying and even splashing water on the audience in the front rows.”

First, we are not cleaning this up.

Second, please ignore the existence of “O,” thanks.

Wow Splash Las Vegas

It’s all fun and games until somebody puts an eye out.

To finish things off, the show says, “As in past ‘Wow’ shows, ‘Wow Splash’ includes 3-D animation, extravagant costumes, changing settings, big screens and beautiful dance and music. Prepare to be wowed.”

Here’s a look at this moist, game-changing and immersive stage extravaganza coming to Rio Las Vegas, and to which we are definitely not being invited to media night.

Despite all the P.R. flotsam, the show’s previous incarnation has gotten rave reviews on TripAdvisor, so despite all the evidence to the contrary, we’ll reserve judgment until we see it. Sorry, further judgment. You know what we mean.

Everyone loves a good Cirque-style show, right? Variety acts. Skimpy costumes. No dialogue to slow things down. Nonsensical storyline. What’s not to love?

The show will take up residence in the Rio’s Crown Theater, former home of “Rock of Ages” and gang-related gun violence.

Thanks to Johnny Kats at the Las Vegas Review-Journal for the heads up about “Wow Splash.”