Monthly Archives: February 2019

“Atomic Saloon Show” to Open in Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes

The twisted geniuses at Spiegelworld, the team responsible for “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace, are bringing another show to the Las Vegas Strip.

“Atomic Saloon Show” will open at Grand Canal Shoppes in the Venetian on Sep. 8, 2019.

Atomic Saloon Show

They had us at “saloon.”

“Absinthe,” of course, is one of the all-time greatest Las Vegas shows, ever, so everyone’s ears perk up when Spiegelworld says it’s creating a new Las Vegas show.

Spiegelworld’s “Opium” at Cosmopolitan hasn’t quite gained the momentum of “Absinthe,” but the quirky, sci-fi variety show is still alive and kicking.

“Atomic Saloon Show” is being described as “Blazing Saddles” meets “America’s Got Talent” meets “Westworld.”

Hey, two out of three ain’t bad.

Please enjoy this baffling promotional video for “Atomic Saloon Show,” and we apologize in advance. Props for the nod to Ennio Morricone, though.

As with all Spiegelworld news releases, the one announcing “Atomic Saloon Show” is brimming with WTF.

“Her first hotel was acquired by the government as an atomic bomb test site, but, decades later, Boozy Skunkton has returned to take over the Kraken Music Hall, a hidden saloon bar in the heart of Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian Resort,” the release shares.

Exciting, especially because until just now we didn’t know there was a Kraken Music Hall at the Grand Canal Shoppes.

It continues, “Boozy has collected the most abnormally sexy but sensationally amoral troupe of entertainers on Earth and is determined to create the greatest saloon show the world has ever known.”

Translation: It’s a variety show.

The show will feature comic actors, variety acts and acrobats.

Atomic Saloon Show

Spiegelworld thinks differently.

The show will be directed by “Britain’s leading comedy director Cal McCrystal.” Sometimes, you just have to take their word for it.

According to the Spiegelworld, McCrystal is best-known as the director of a well-received stage play, “One Man, Two Guvnors,” starring James Corden.

The release also states McCrystal is known for his “direction and role” in the “deeply moving and hilarious” movies “Paddington” and “Paddington 2.” While he didn’t direct either film, McCrystal apparently served as “Physical Comedy Consultant” for both “Paddington” films. Here’s his Web site.

McCrystal seems to have a solid pedigree in live theater direction, so we have high hopes for “Atomic Saloon Show.” We also expect there to be nubile performers, as there are in “Absinthe” and “Opium,” so there’s that.

Fun fact: McCrystal directed comedy routines featured in “Zumanity.”

While the success of “Absinthe” is hard to replicate, there’s no denying the team at Spiegelworld offers a refreshing alternative to the Cirque and magic and topless revues so common in Las Vegas.

All due respect to topless revues.

“Atomic Saloon Show” will run six nights a week, dark Wednesdays. The show will be restricted to those 18 or older. Tickets start at $69. Note: They actually start at $68, but what’s the fun in that?

Spiegelworld gets bonus points for the names of its ticket packages: Fallout Shelters, Bikini Atoll Booths, Rodeo-Active Reserve and Reactor VIP Reserve.

Learn more (not really, though) at the official Web site.

Also on the horizon from Spiegelworld, a disco-themed show, “We Are Here.”

We Are Here

We don’t know where “We Are Here” will be, actually.

“We Are Here,” according to the official Web site, “mines the music bedrock of disco’s iconic tracks to explore the rise of a popular movement, and the stunning backlash against it. Forget white suits and mirror balls, this is a celebration of the beat that set the world on fire and continues to unify generations and cultures at a time when we need it more than ever.”

Long live disco, we say.

There’s no word yet on where that production will land, but expect to hear more details soon.

Circa Las Vegas Resort Begins Construction

Just a month after the announcement of a name for Circa Resort & Casino, construction is officially underway.

The start of construction follows a lengthy demolition of the former Las Vegas Club, Mermaid’s casino and the Glitter Gulch strip club. Demolition of the one-block site at 18 Fremont started in February 2017. Note: Circa’s street address will be 8 Fremont Street.

Preparation of the site on Fremont Street took several months, much of which was spent chipping through a material which has caused headaches for innumerable builders in Las Vegas, caliche.

Circa construction

This Dec. 2018 photo shows a machine breaking up caliche. “Caliche” is a Dothraki word meaning “queen.”

Now, the Circa site is a hive of activity as crews drill holes for “caissons.”

Circa construction

We are proud to bring you all the Las Vegas dirt.

While we don’t pretend to know anything about construction, we have to care because this construction involves a Las Vegas casino.

A “caisson” in this context is a colloquial term referring to concrete poured into a hollow cylindrical form. Yes, we stole that from Wikipedia. We are a blog, not a Structural Engineer.

We were on-site to see the very first rebar “cage” at Circa lifted by a crane and inserted into a 120-foot hole, later filled with concrete. Which, trust us, sounds a lot sexier than it really is.

Circa construction

We were there to see Circa’s first concrete poured. And it is exceptionally rude for you to wonder if we have a life.

Anyway, crews are drilling and filling six caissons a day at Circa. They will be part of the foundation of the new resort, and there will be 308 caissons when all is said and done.

Thankfully, if we get any of this information wrong, there are a lot of experts on the Internet who will gleefully correct us.

Circa construction

We asked about those blue tanks. Apparently, they’re used to collect the “slug water” so it doesn’t go into the storm drains. Just pretend to know what slug water is, like we did.

Circa is expected to open in 2020, so crews are working 24/7, seven days a week, through rain and snow (yes, this was actually a thing recently).

While the caissons are rolling along (like we weren’t going to use that line at some point), crews are also busy over-excavating nine elevator shafts, whatever that might mean.

Circa construction

Quite the drill bit collection you’ve got there.

Here’s another shot of the drill guys doing their thing.

Circa construction

Shout-out to the Underminer.

Next, construction crews will drill cap footings for the building’s vertical components.

Again, we’re flying blind here, but we need words to keep the photos from slapping together.

Circa construction

We are determined to have the most “before” photos of Circa than any Las Vegas blog.

As a reference point, here’s what Circa is going to look like “after.”

Circa Las Vegas

Schwing.

While we may not entirely grasp what’s happening at the Circa site, we’re happy to see all the progress.

More than a few projects in Las Vegas have been taking longer than expected, or have completely stalled, so witnessing a project moving forward so quickly helps restore our faith in the rebar gods.

Circa construction

“Rebar Cages” would’ve been a great name for a Sting album.

Thanks to our friends at Tre Builders (Circa’s project management company) for some patient hand-holding with all this construction talk, and we’re sorry we don’t take better notes.

Circa Las Vegas

Useless fact of the day: Circa is an anagram of “ricca,” the feminine form of the Italian “ricco,” meaning “rich.”

We expect to visit the Circa site often (yes, the restraining orders are already being drawn up), so check back for all the updates you can stomach.

Hey, we like new and shiny, and Circa will qualify on both counts. Read more about Circa and check out some glorious renderings while you’re at it.

Confirmed at Last: The Strat to Build Dizzying New Observation Deck

It’s been more than two years since we first shared rumors The Strat (formerly Stratosphere) would get a thrilling new attraction, and now it’s come to pass.

Stratosphere Gaming LLC has filed for permits to build “a new observation deck for the Stratosphere,” one we believe will boast some of the same qualities as the wildly popular Grand Canyon Skywalk.

Here’s an exclusive first look at plans for this new attraction at The Strat.

Stratosphere skywalk

The observation deck will be clear. “Aiee,” as the kids say.

Back in 2016, we slapped together an amateurish rendering of what we felt the new observation deck would look like.

Come to find out, we weren’t that far off!

Strat glass walkway

We are a blog, not a renderer. Clearly.

The new observation deck will protrude over the edge of The Strat, much as its existing thrill rides do, Insanity and X-Scream.

A third ride, the Big Shot goes straight up. Skyjump (with a controlled free fall) goes straight down.

Skyjump sign

We feel woozy just sharing this photo.

The permit mentions “glass platforms and connection to supports,” “glass exterior walls and barrier walls” and “cable ties and actual connections to plates/supports.”

That leads us to conclude something will definitely be dangling at The Strat.

This image from the plans shows the platform will be supported by cables.

Strat skywalk attraction

Is it weird our palms are sweating just looking at a blueprint?

The observation deck permit has already had an Architectural Review (approved) and Case & Public Planning (whatever that might be, also approved).

The permit mentions installation of the new Strat observation deck will require the use of a crane.

The Strat casino

We just realized “Start” is an anagram for “Strat.” Most useless photo caption, ever.

A comment in the permit states, “Planning does not require a formal administrative review as the proposed observation deck does not change the overall intensity of the Stratosphere or its primary use.”

They’re kidding, right? That must have some legal meaning we don’t quite understand, because if they think an observation deck that extends over the edge of The Strat doesn’t “change the overall intensity of the Stratosphere,” they done lost they minds. As the kids say.

While we’re not a heights person, the new “skywalk” at The Strat has the potential to make a huge splash, benefiting the resort (in the middle of a huge rebrand to The Strat Hotel, Casino and Skypod), downtown (where we work in digital marketing as our day job, by the way, opinions are our own) and Las Vegas overall (the new attraction is likely to make headlines worldwide).

The existing thrill rides at The Strat are a huge moneymaker, and this new “Skypod Walk” (spitballing here, no name has been announced) will absolutely raise the bar. By about 870 feet, actually.

Like we weren’t going to update this to include the resort’s new name. See more casino chips we’d like to see.

Adrenaline junkies are sure to consider a transparent walkway hundreds of feet in the air a Las Vegas must-do, like the coasters at New York-New York and Circus Circus, Vegas Indoor Skydiving, the Richard Petty Driving Experience and downtown’s SlotZilla zipline.

While we won’t necessarily walk the new glass platform slated for The Strat, because we are a giant baby, we will certainly have to check it out as we feverishly cling to a wall as far away from the ledge as possible.

From what we can tell from the architectural drawings, the new see-through observation platform will extend from the Strat’s “skypod” on the side closest to Las Vegas Boulevard, above the hotel’s porte-cochere area.

The design of the new observation deck was done by a company that operates out of Las Vegas and California, Sparo Design.

It’s unknown when the new “skywalk” observation deck (or whatever it’s eventually called) at The Strat will begin construction, or when it will open.

When it does, expect a line. People be kray.

Binion’s Announces Whiskey Licker Up Venue and Boutique Hotel Apache

Binion’s Gambling Hall has announced two expansion projects: Whiskey Licker Up and Hotel Apache.

Whiskey Licker Up will be a full-service saloon with a rotating bar as its centerpiece.

The new bar and restaurant will be 6,500-square-feet and will be located on the southwest corner of Binion’s, just above the existing Whiskey Licker Bar.

The new venue will feature drinks, food, dancing, live entertainment and a mechanical bull.

Binion's Whiskey Licker Up Bar

A new place to get bucked in Las Vegas.

While the venue will play up the casino’s western theme, a variety of music will be available, based upon feedback from guests.

There’s already evidence of work being done for Whiskey Licker Up.

Binion's facade

Be gentle with that gorgeous neon, please.

The second floor of Binion’s, formerly The Mint, has been gutted to make way for the new venue.

Binion's Whiskey Licker Up

That entire back wall is going away so guests get a bird’s eye view of the circus that is Fremont Street.

Here’s another shot of the space, just because nobody else has them and that makes us look cool.

Binion's

A number of the venue’s design elements are built around structural features of the original casino. Yeah, we should’ve taken notes.

And speaking of The Mint, easily one of the best features of Whiskey Licker Up will be the integration of an original wall from The Mint, complete with petrified wood.

Binion's Mint

These stairs will give guests easy access to the venue via a new entrance off Fremont.

Here’s a look at the location of what will be the entrance to the upstairs bar and restaurant and mechanical bullery.

Binion's

A new entrance will help guests avoid having to navigate their way to Whiskey Licker Up via the casino.

Whiskey Licker Up will overlook Fremont Street Experience’s 1st Street stage.

Here’s the view from the balcony, likely to become a go-to spot for people-watching. This will all be seating, with arena-style levels so everyone can enjoy the views.

Binion's new bar

See more photos from behind the facade in our photo gallery thingy.

In anticipation of your question, yes, the new venue will mean a loss of some drop-dead gorgeous neon, but there’s a matching facade on the east side of Binion’s, so don’t have a freak-out.

Binion's facade

No pain, no gain. You’ll survive.

Construction of Whiskey Licker Up will be completed by the summer 2019.

The second expansion project is the opening of a boutique hotel, Hotel Apache.

The concept was inspired by the colorful history of the casino. The original Hotel Apache opened on the site in 1932.

Benny Binion purchased the Apache Hotel (and Eldorado Club) in 1951, and re-opened them as Binion’s Horseshoe. The rest is history. History we don’t have time to research because we are busy playing Wheel of Fortune, so cut us a break.

During our eight seconds of research, we did determine the hotel at Binion’s closed in 2009. You’re welcome.

Hotel Apache will have a modest 81 rooms, decked out with old-timey decor.

Hotel Apache Binion's

Hotel Apache, where every day is Throwback Thursday.

A unique element of the Hotel Apache project is it will play up rumors of the hotel tower being haunted. Ghost hunters and true believers will have the opportunity to explore a hotel owners claim has a “long history of eerie occurrences.”

Trust us, there are a lot of people who are really, really into this.

As with the new saloon, it’s expected Hotel Apache will be open this summer.

We know how you are: No word yet about whether Hotel Apache will have a resort fee, but its sister hotel, Four Queens, doesn’t have them, so fingers crossed.

The new offerings at Binion’s follow on the heels of a number of projects slated for downtown, including the new Circa Las Vegas resort (on the site of the former Las Vegas Club), as well as new hotel towers at Fremont casino and Downtown Grand.

Binion’s has always been one of our favorite Las Vegas casinos, with some of the best dining (try the BBQ) and drinking (generous pours) values in town, and we can’t wait to check out the new saloon and hotel.

But especially the saloon. Do you know this blog at all?

Whiskey Licker Up Vegas

This rendering is a lot like the other one, but we will never let a rendering fail to fulfill its destiny of being on this blog.

Begrudging props to VegasChanges.com for ferreting out some of the Binion’s news prior to the official announcement.

Full disclosure: Binion’s is a partner casino of Fremont Street Experience for whom we do digital marketing. Our opinions are our own.

If you’re into historic Vegas architecture, check out the Nevada Preservation Foundation. They have an event coming up that includes a “backstage tour” of Binion’s, The Mint and Hotel Apache.

Whiskey Licker Up and Hotel Apache at Binion's

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 93: Yeah, It’s This Thing Again

It’s that time again, and we’re so very sorry.

This week’s podcast covers all the Vegas news you need and a whole lot you don’t.

Let’s catch up on The Strat’s rebrand, the latest from SLS (Katsuya’s closing) and so much more.

We also give a saliva-drenched review of The Steakhouse at Circus Circus. Hint: It’s as good as you’ve heard, even if you’ve heard it’s one of the best steakhouses in the world.

Steakhouse Circus Circus

It’s like butter, including the butter.

Naturally, we round up the latest Vegas scoop, including Virgin joining Curio Collection by Hilton, where the triple zero roulette infection has spread (looking at you, Cosmo), restaurant changes at Venetian (adios, AquaKnox and Public House) and who’ll be guest hosting Chippendales at Rio.

Our listicle of the week is chock full of things to get excited about in Las Vegas, and surprisingly none of them involve a pole.

Don’t miss out on the podcast we’d pay good money to miss out on, but we’re sort of stuck because our name’s on it.

Enjoy!

Stratosphere Confirms Rebrand to The Strat Hotel, Casino and Skypod

Confirming a story we first shared nearly a year ago, Stratosphere has officially announced it will be rebranded to The Strat Hotel, Casino and Skypod.

We’ll give you a minute on the whole “Skypod” thing.

Strat Las Vegas

Out with the old, in with the thing we’ve been calling it for some time now.

While people have been calling Stratosphere “The Strat” for some time, the whole “Skypod” thing could take some getting used to.

While a news release from Golden Entertainment, owners of The Strat, says the resort will “begin its transition to The Strat” on Feb. 3, 2019, the rebrand has actually been underway for some time.

Although, the changes have been subtle.

Like the massive “Strat” in the hotel’s revamped porte cochere.

Strat casino

The Strat telegraphed its rebrand a little.

Golden Entertainment bought Stratosphere in late 2017. Renovations of the hotel-casino began in mid-2018.

One of the more visible changes was the replacement of the casino’s high limit slot room with a Starbucks.

That’s a strong statement, either about the state of The Strat’s casino or the direction of Las Vegas casinos. Let’s just go with it being a statement about coffee.

Strat Starbucks

We don’t get it, but we’ve literally never had coffee. It’s funky.

In Nov. 2018, Strat closed its Roxy’s Diner, replacing it with the Strat Cafe and Wok.

Roxy’s went from annoying (servers sang ’50s songs) to bland, but at least an effort was made to change up the dining offerings.

Strat Cafe

Everything in Las Vegas should pretty much have “Wok” slapped on the end of it.

Here’s a peek inside the Strat Cafe.

Strat Cafe

De-theming is a thing.

A nice addition to the Strat’s restaurant line-up is the addition of 108 Eats on the hotel’s Observation Deck.

108 Eats Strat

Nothing fancy, but guaranteed to hit the spot.

We stopped by right away because the grab-and-go restaurant is from the same chef behind downtown’s Esther’s Kitchen. 108 Eats doesn’t disappoint. The sandwiches and paninis are top-notch.

We also just like saying the word “panini.”

108 Eats Strat

So much better than it has to be.

There’s also a Froot Loops ice cream. That tastes exactly like Froot Loops. Well worth a visit when you’re checking out the view from the hotel’s 108th floor.

Don’t forget: There’s a fee to visit the Observation Deck, but just tell them you’re going to the lounge. You’ll want to take advantage of the happy hour, anyway, but your elevator ride will be free.

There’s more on tap at Stratosphere.

The Strat Stratosphere

At the moment, The Strat is straddling its current and future name.

The resort will introduce Blvd. & Main Taphouse in 2019. Here’s a rendering.

Blvd. and Main Tavern Strat

We trust “Blvd.” refers to Las Vegas Blvd. “Main” refers to Main Street. Strat is at the intersection of these streets. Hey, this isn’t rocket science.

Here’s another Blvd. & Main Tavern rendering, because you can never have too many renderings.

Blvd. & Main Tavern

We’re going to put that whole “you can never have too many renderings” thing to the test.

All right, just one more.

Blvd. & Main Tavern Strat

We love new.

Also in the mix will be a new View Lounge overlooking the casino floor and a fully remodeled race and sports book, which construction walls are already teasing.

Strat casino

Are we the only one who thinks this “Rising Soon” tagline is a little awkward given The Strat is the most prominent phallic object in Las Vegas?

Here’s a look at what’s the come at the race and sports book at The Strat.

Race and Sports Book Strat

Nice photo bomb, golf dude.

Here’s a rendering for the View Lounge.

View Lounge Strat

The rendering person at The Strat has been really busy.

Blvd. & Main Taphouse and View Lounge will be located on the northwest corner of the casino, basically at the bottom of the escalators as you enter from the self-parking garage.

Oh, and parking is still free at The Strat.

Another new addition will be 108 Drinks, a sister venue to 108 Eats. Rendering alert!

108 Drinks Strat

We were voting for 108 Dranks, but this will do.

Also in the works is a Links Lounge, a partnership with Aristocrat Technologies.

The lounge will offer Aristocrat’s popular “Link” slot machine series, including Lighting Link, Dragon Link and Liberty Link.

Strat Easter egg

Here’s a fun Easter egg. All the custom videos featuring The Strat contain something gold in honor of the resort owner, Golden Entertainment. We thought it was a faulty pixel. Hey, we can’t be right about everything.

Also new in 2019 will be a new loyalty program, True Rewards. The Strat will be the first Golden Entertainment venue to roll out the new program.

True Rewards will also be available at 130 venues operated by Golden, including about 60 PT’s pubs and several casinos in Las Vegas (Arizona Charlie’s), Laughlin (Aquarius, Colorado Belle, Edgewater), Pahrump and Maryland. Learn more.

True Rewards Strat

These adorable tier names, though!

So, about the “Skypod” in The Strat Hotel, Casino and Skypod.

It’s a little unclear why Strat would need to carve off the top of its tower with a different brand, but given the financial success of its thrill rides, it makes sense to try and make the most of those offerings.

Translation: The thrill rides at Strat print money.

In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if the thrill rides at Strat make more than its casino, just as the restaurants at SLS make more than its gambling operation.

The “Skypod” refers to anything at the top of the Strat’s tower, including the revolving Top of the World restaurant (a must-do in Vegas), 107 SkyLounge and the thrill rides: Sky Jump, Big Shot, Insanity and X-Scream.

107 SkyLounge

There are happy hours, then there’s this happy hour.

We’ve heard rumblings of other thrill rides in the works for the Strat, but there have been no official confirmations to-date.

Buzz about The Strat’s name change has ranged from “We already call it that” to “When I hear ‘pod’ I think of ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers'” to “The guitar people aren’t going to be happy abou this.”

“Strat” is a common way to refer to Fender Stratocaster guitars, of course.

We added you to Wikipedia’s disambiguation page, Strat. You’re welcome.

Strat resort Las Vegas

The Strat uses all caps in its new name. Please don’t. It will just encourage them.

Props to The Strat for its refresh. We’re always up for new things to see and do, and look forward to seeing what’s next.

We’ll be by to get a Strat-branded chip for our collection, too.

Here’s the latest from The Strat, including even more renderings!

Update (2/3/19): Tipster Jim C. shares Fellini’s Ristorante Italiano will close at The Strat in April 2019. No word about what might replace it.

Fellini's Stratosphere

Arrivederci, Fellini’s.