Monthly Archives: November 2019

Elon Musk’s Tunnel Project is Underway at Las Vegas Convention Center

When we broke the news Elon Musk would drill a transportation tunnel in Las Vegas, there seemed to be more skeptics than believers.

Now, many of the skeptics have gone quiet because tunneling has started on the $52.5 million underground tram system.

Elon Musk tunnel Las Vegas

Of course, we’ve got pics. You know the drill.

This is the first commercial project for Elon Musk’s Boring Company.

The people-mover will span a distance of about one mile (.8 miles to be precise), and will be 40 feet underground. We got to go down and check it out, because that’s how we roll. Props to the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority for the invitation despite our having spoiled their Elon Musk surprise.

Elon Musk tunnel Las Vegas

Here’s a close-up peek at the teeth of the beast.

The Boring Company engineers say they expect to tunnel 100 feet a day.

The tunnel will have a 12 foot inner diameter and host autonomous shuttle that could travel up to 155 miles per hour, which is sort of overkill for a one-mile stretch, so they’ll typically go 35-40 m.p.h.

Each vehicle will hold between three and 16 people, depending upon whether they’ve visited a buffet recently.

Las Vegas Convention Center Loop

Here’s the tunnel route. They landed on “Design Option 2” from what we hear.

As a comparison, it takes about 30 minutes to walk from one end of the Las Vegas Convention Center to the other. That’s about an hour for us, as we tend to dawdle.

Now, the trip from one end of the Las Vegas Convention Center to the other will take less than two minutes.

If all goes as planned, Elon Musk’s tunnel will transport 4,400 people an hour, the vast majority of whom will be wearing lanyards.

Elon Musk tunnel LVCVA

These pieces are used as tunnel lining. We know this because we take meticulous notes and also it says so on the sign.

The underground tunnel system is expected to open in January 2021, in time for a big-ass convention, CES (Consumer Electronics Show).

The Las Vegas Convention Center is in the throes of a $935 million expansion, and it looks pretty awesome.

Las Vegas Convention Center expansion

Curves in all the right places.

While conventions are pretty much the most boring (like you didn’t see that coming) aspect of Las Vegas, the Elon Musk tunnel system and convention center expansion are pretty sexy developments.

We’ll keep an eye on Elon Musk’s people-mover, and can’t wait to take a ride on what we suspect will be a popular new Las Vegas attraction.

“Blanc de Blanc” Closes at Sahara Las Vegas

“Blanc de Blanc” has closed abruptly at Sahara Las Vegas (formerly SLS) after a three month run.

The cabaret-style “Blanc de Blanc” opened August 16, 2019, and was never able to generate much buzz or ticket sales.

Back in October 2019, we shared rumors the show was selling just 20-30 tickets per show. The theater has a capacity of about 600.

The party’s over for “Blanc de Blanc.”

The show had some built-in challenges, one being a baffling name. “Blanc de Blanc” means means “white from white,” or “white wine from white grapes.”

“Blanc de Blanc” fell victim to the same fate as another show with a confusing name, “Fuerza Bruta” at Excalibur, which lasted a month before it shuttered.

Another significant challenge for “Blanc de Blanc” was being at Sahara.

While the Sahara looks great following a major overhaul, there’s still no critical mass and the room was reportedly often “papered” (where tickets are given away to hotel guests so the theater isn’t empty).

“Blanc de Blanc” was relatively well-reviewed, but marketing and P.R. never managed to get into gear, and rumors of backstage drama was rampant.

If only someone had seen this coming.

Apparently, cast members were only informed of the show’s closure on Nov. 26, 2019.

“Blanc de Blanc” was the only Las Vegas production in recent memory that allowed guests to view the show from one of three hot tubs.

Given the short run of the show, it’s a safe bet both the hotel and show producers ended up taking a bath.

Front Yard at Ellis Island Is Worth the Wait

It’s taken a minute, but Front Yard at Ellis Island is ready for its debut. The new restaurant and bar opens Dec. 6, 2019.

Here’s a first look inside. Although, if you follow us on Twitter, it’s a second look inside, but let’s not get bogged down by details.

Ellis Island Front Yard

You know we like a place if we like it even when sports are on.

The Front Yard was announced all the way back in July 2017 and broke ground in April 2018.

We’re pleased to report it was worth the wait, as Ellis Island’s new venue offers top-notch food, ample booze and great values. So, it’s pretty much Ellis Island, expanded.

You sort of can’t miss the Front Yard. First, it’s in front of Ellis Island. Second, the exterior of the
Front Yard constantly changes colors, a clever marketing tool sure to catch the eye of drivers-by.

Ellis Island Front Yard

Ellis Island just got 400% more fleek or whatever the kids are calling it now.

The Front Yard is a two-story affair described as an “outdoor dining, drinking and entertainment venue.” It’s a temperature controlled structure with a fabric roof and capacity of about 300 people.

Front Yard boasts two bars (one with 15 video poker machines) and approximately 4,700 televisions.

One of the TVs is roughly the size of Lancaster, Michigan and nearly blinded us when hockey was on the screen.

A cocktail or three helped us recover. The Welcome to Jamrock cocktail features Bacardi Silver rum, Malibu rum, melon liqueur, pineapple and cranberry.

Front Yard Ellis Island

These are better by the half dozen.

The signature cocktails at Front Yard will run $8-12, with big-ass shared drinks (for 2-3 people) a bit more. For context, a Captain and diet in the casino is around $5, a freakish anomaly for a casino on or near The Strip.

The food at Front Yard continues the Ellis Island tradition of hearty, approachable, old-school offerings including bar food, sandwiches and burgers.

Nothing fancy, everything satisfying. Yes, Ellis Island, feel free to put that in your advertising.

We dove headlong into the chicken wings appetizer.

Ellis Island Front Yard

Fun fact: The average American eats 90 chicken wings a year. Not so “fun” for chickens, probably, but don’t be a buzzkill.

The Front Yard burger was awesome, too, and bacon fanatics will not be disappointed.

Front Yard burger

Ellis Island’s burger game is strong.

As for the food prices, still being finalized, we’re talking $6-10 for appetizers, $16-20 for main courses, with flatbreads (that’s pizza to us regular folk) in the $12-15 range.

Ellis Island is known for its beer, much of which is brewed on the premises.

While we are not a beer person, we know a value when we see it. During our visit, prices weren’t available, but if the cost of beer inside the casino is any indication (in the $2 range for a massive glass), beer lovers are in for a treat.

And speaking of the casino, Ellis Island continues to offer some of the best gambling near The Strip, and there’s easy access to and from the Front Yard.

Oh, and there’s free parking.

Ellis Island Front Yard

Hit the second floor so you can say you did a stair workout in Vegas.

You know we got a panorama of the second floor, so check it out.

Our love of Ellis Island is fairly obvious, due in no small part to the above-mentioned values, but also the absolutely charming family behind Ellis Island. The Ellis family, in case that wasn’t clear.

A family-owned casino is a rare breed and Ellis Island’s unpretentious vibe, and commitment to great fun at a great price, make it a Las Vegas must-visit in our book.

For the record, Ellis Island is a block east of The Strip, just off Flamingo on Koval Lane.

Front Yard Ellis Island

Front Yard at Ellis Island is our new favorite hang.

We’re excited about the long-awaited opening of the Front Yard and Ellis Island has a winner on its hands. Be strong, liver, be strong.

Updated (11/29/19): We went back to Front Yard and the restaurant is officially open. We got a look at the menu, and you can click here for the Front Yard food menu and drink and dessert menu. Prices may change, so don’t get emotionally attached.

Front Yard Ellis Island menu

Please don’t try and read this, it’s for illustrative purposes only. Click on the links.

We also discovered another surprise at Front Yard. The restaurant’s sound system is connected to the Rockbot app. That means you get to be the DJ at Front Yard.

Front Yard Ellis Island

Oh, yes, there was a hell-ton of Duran Duran.

Guests get to add their favorite songs to the queue, and give the whole venue an interactive vibe. Give it a try, it’s free.

Here are more photos from Front Yard at Ellis Island.

Resorts World Drops Asian Theme, Pushes Back Opening Date to 2021

The long-awaited (understatement of the year) Resorts World rolled out some new renderings and moved back its opening date to summer of 2021.

In other words, Resorts World is set to open four years after its groundbreaking in May 2015.

Here’s a look at the latest iteration of Resorts World Las Vegas.

Resorts World Las Vegas

It’s about time Vegas got some new sparkly.

Please refer to that photo if anyone ever asks, “Hey, what does a $4.3 billion resort look like?”

It’s worth noting Cosmopolitan cost $4.18 billion.

Fluid budget and sliding open date aside, Resorts World is looking pretty slick and has released more information about its amenities.

Here’s a look at Resorts World’s pool complex.

Resorts World pool complex

There will be no shortage of breast strokes at Resorts World.

The pool complex will be a Vegas-sized 220,000-square-feet, including an 1,800-square-foot infinity pool. In the parlance of pool construction, that’s one big-ass pool complex.

Here are some other numbers of interest about Resorts World:

googie 110,000-square-foot casino
googie 5,000-seat theater
googie 70,000-square-feet of retail space
googie 350,000-square-feet of meeting and banquet space
googie 200,000-square-feet of restaurants and bars
googie 27,000-square-foot world-class spa
googie 14,000-square-foot race and sports book and live entertainment venue
googie 10,000-square-foot marquee
googie 50-foot diameter video globe

Because this blog is of the male persuasion, we perked up when we heard the side of the hotel’s west tower will have a 100,000-square-foot LED screen, making it one of the largest LED screens in the country.

Resorts World

We are confident enough in our masculinity to swoon at a video screen bigger than a football field. A football field is 57,600-square-feet.

There are some concerns about Resorts World, including that the resort says it will have a “75,000-square-foot nightclub and dayclub concept.”

That trajectory seems a holdover from a pre-Kaos era in Las Vegas. The nightlife business model has been described as broken, and not just by us. Listen to us talk about the state of Las Vegas nightclubs on KNPR.

The bigger concern, of course, is Resorts World is set to come online with a ton of supply (3,500 rooms) at a time of uncertainty about demand, as Las Vegas visitation is essentially flat and drive traffic from California has dropped significantly due to increased competition.

Lots of hopes are being pinned on the expanded Las Vegas Convention Center and Raider Stadium. It remains to be seen if those projects move the needle, and by how much.

Still, Resorts World is sparkly and we love new Las Vegas things.

Resorts World

So pretty, but if you’re headed to the hotel or casino, you’re in for a schlep.

The new Resorts World renderings serve to confirm why Wynn Resorts dropped its lawsuit asserting Resorts World was copying its “trade dress.”

Modesty precludes us from mentioning we were mentioned in that lawsuit, as well as the fact Resorts World has officially confirmed our story about smartly dropping the resort’s Asian theme.

You know we’ll be keeping an eye on Resorts World, and we can’t wait to take her for a test drive when she’s unveiled in 2021 or whenever.

Restored Golden Goose Returns to Fremont Street

The classic Golden Goose statue, which once ruled the roost over the seedy Glitter Gulch strip club, has been returned to its former glory and can again be viewed on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.

Golden Goose downtown Las Vegas

We’re excited you’re back! Sorry, “eggsighted.” Like you didn’t know what was coming.

The sign was donated to the Downtown Project by Derek and Greg Stevens, owners of The D and Golden Gate. The Stevens acquired the Golden Goose, along with Glitter Gulch, in 2016.

Downtown Project inherited both the Golden Goose and another iconic casino sign, the baseball player from Las Vegas Club. Here’s a photo of the signs near the Las Vegas Club demolition site.

Down, but not out.

Now, the Golden Goose resides farther east than its original location, at the corner of Fremont Street and 10th Street, near the entrance the Bunkhouse Saloon.

The Golden Goose looks awesome, and not only sports a new paint job, but also revolves, as nature intended.

Downtown Project hasn’t made a big deal out of the Golden Goose restoration, so we’re going to!

Props, Downtown Project.

All right, so maybe we used “big deal” a little loosely, but we genuinely think it’s awesome Downtown Project was willing to make an investment in Las Vegas history despite the fact there’s virtually no return on investment with a giant, spinning Golden Goose.

Golden Goose

Vegas does kitsch right.

The Golden Goose casino opened in 1974 and closed in 1980. Before that, the space held State Cafe, Buckley’s and Mecca Casino.

Golden Goose

Here’s to another bunch of decades.

We haven’t heard about any plans for the Las Vegas Club’s baseball player, but another iconic statue, Vegas Vickie, is being refurbished and will return to Fremont Street when Circa Las Vegas opens in Dec. 2020.

Here are a few more photos of the Golden Goose before and after its Fremont Street comeback.

Red Square Restaurant and Vodka Bar Closes at Mandalay Bay

A longtime Las Vegas fixture, Red Square Restaurant and Vodka Bar at Mandalay Bay, has closed.

The Russian-themed restaurant closed Nov. 17, 2019. It opened back in 1999.

Red Square lounge

When we heard Red Square was closing, we were just sickle about it.

We honestly have no idea what made Red Square last 20 years, but we’re betting there was vodka involved.

At one time, Red Square boasted what was billed as the largest collection of vodka in the world.

Perhaps Red Square’s most recognizable feature was its headless Vladimir Lenin.

Lenin statue Las Vegas

Lenin had a head when Red Square opened. It was lopped off after the hotel was criticized for glorifying the Communist leader.

Red Square was taken over by Disruptive Restaurant Group, a division of SBE (the folks involved with SLS at one point), in Feb. 2019.

It’s likely MGM Resorts, owner of Mandalay Bay, realized what the new owners of SLS—now Sahara—did: Paying licensing fees to a third party can take a hefty bite out of profits and leave a restaurant (wait for it) in the red.

While plans for the Red Square space haven’t been announced, we’d wager the new restaurant will be managed in-house.

Dasvidaniya, Red Square.