Monthly Archives: May 2021

Confirmed: Critics of Elon Musk’s Vegas Loop Are Clueless

When members of the media were invited to try Elon Musk’s underground tunnel system recently, the Vegas Loop took a major P.R. hit.

Critics tore Elon Musk (whose Boring Company built the system) and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (who paid for it) a new one.

Here’s the thing. The critics are wrong.

Vegas Loop

Suck it, Doc Brown. Elon’s “gull wings” rock.

The critics clearly don’t understand marketing or public relations. They don’t grasp creativity or boldness, and they really, really don’t get Las Vegas.

The bottom line: They’re measuring the Vegas Loop, and success, wrong.

We got a chance to put the Vegas Loop through its paces, and we can assure you it’s not a joke, it’s not a boondoggle and it’s going to be one of the most popular and talked-about attractions in the history of Las Vegas.

Let’s get inside Elon Musk’s holes!

We need a new word for this feeling. We vote for “Schwoooomsh.”

We know you don’t read, per se, so here’s a video of the Elon Musk Subterranean Thrill Ride Attraction Experience at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Which isn’t its real name, but it’s Las Vegas. Give it a minute.

Clearly, there’s a lot to unpack. We’ll get back to the clueless critics in a minute.

Here are some fun facts about Elon Musk’s Vegas Loop:

googie The tunnels are .8 miles long, each direction.

googie There are three stations, two above ground, one below.

googie It’s about a 90 second ride between each station.

googie The cars are Teslas.

googie There are 62 cars.

googie Most of the cars are Model 3, with some X and Y in the mix. The X is the one with the “gull wings,” above.

googie At the moment, the vehicles are completely controlled by the drivers, although they can be quasi-autonomous.

googie The cars can travel up to 40 m.p.h. in the straight sections of the tunnel, 30 m.p.h. in the turns.

googie About 1,500 drivers applied for the Vegas Loop, only 60 made the cut.

googie Most driver applicants failed the driving test, which culminates with having to drive the entire .8 mile tunnel backwards. There’s a five minute time limit. Drivers do this in case a vehicle ever stalls in one of the tunnels and they need to reverse their way out.

googie Drivers are paid $17 an hour, plus tips.

googie The capacity goal is about 4,400 people an hour, but from what we’ve seen (in addition to some math), it’s likely to be closer to 7,000 people an hour.

googie Larger vehicles are being developed by Tesla. They can accommodate 12 passengers.

googie The Vegas Loop is free. When it expands to hotels along The Strip, tickets will cost $5-10, according to Boring Company. Gird your loins, rideshare.

googie Construction of the Vegas Loop cost $52.5 million. Fun fact: New York City’s Second Avenue Subway cost $2.5 billion a mile. With a “b.”

This is the below ground station, and is the most photogenic.

Now, back to the boneheads. Sorry, “misguided journalists who can’t tell the difference between an Elon tunnel and a hole in the ground.”

First, most people judging the Vegas Loop harshly haven’t ridden it yet. Forming an opinion about the Vegas Loop without riding it is like deciding whether to have children based upon
watching an episode of “The Brady Bunch.” For the youths, that was a TV show back in the 1940s.

Also, critics point out the system may not blah blah to transport as many blah blah as originally promised.

Yes, the Vegas Loop was originally supposed to use the aforementioned vehicles that would carry more people. They aren’t ready yet.

Yes, the vehicles were supposed to be self-driving, but they aren’t yet.

What else you got?

The project is too ambitious! They haven’t thought about the caliche! Teslas don’t cure arthritis!

The whining goes on and on.

Listen.

The Vegas Loop isn’t mass transit. It’s not some magical technology fashioned from the eyelashes of unicorns.

The Vegas Loop is a public relations tool that will also move people around during their B2B multi-terrain loader convention.

It’s a conversation piece, and the P.R. value of the buzz has already surpassed what it cost to build the Vegas Loop. For example, we’re talking about it on our site, and that has an estimated value of infinity dollars.

The Vegas Loop, along with a shiny new convention center expansion, are a one-two punch of positive WOM for Las Vegas. That’s “word-of-mouth.” Keep up.

Yes, some of the specs have changed since the tunnel project was announced, but it’s not a “scam” as some proclaim.

As the project expands, we get to ask more questions, but at the moment, the Vegas Loop is a couple of tunnels filled with Teslas and it’s cool.

It’s cool because they’re Teslas.

It’s cool because the project is the brainchild of visionary Elon Musk.

It’s cool because it’s in Las Vegas.

It’s cool because one of the stations is lit up like a nightclub.

It’s cool because conventions are incredibly boring, and the Vegas Loop isn’t.

People from around the world will come to take the Vegas Loop, even if they aren’t attending a convention.

The Las Vegas Convention Center cunningly turned one of the Boring drill bits into art. We love it so much.

Boring Company has built something simple and effective, and Elon Musk’s pet project isn’t resting on its laurels.

As if the existing drilling equipment wasn’t slick enough, there’s a new twist: Prufrock.

We have no idea how to pronounce it, but it’s described as “Designed to construct mega-infrastructure projects in a matter of weeks instead of years.”

Oh, yes, this baby can drill a mile in a week without breaking a sweat. Read more.

Here’s where Elon Musk’s tunnel system is heading if all goes according to plan.

Elon Musk Las Vegas map

It’s all the things the monorail might have been, but: 1) People will use it, 2) If parts drop off in a tunnel, nobody gets hurt.

The critics need to lighten up!

Las Vegas is about creating a splash, and the Vegas Loop already has. The history of Las Vegas is punctuated by eccentric people doing bold things. Even the disasters are fascinating and contribute to the mystique of Sin City.

The cynics need to stop trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

Who would you rather talk with at a cocktail party? Elon Musk or an cynic constantly saying, “But it’s cars in a tunnel”?

In June, when World of Concrete comes to town, you may not be able to schmooze with Elon Musk, but you’ll be able to see his vision turned into reality, 40 feet underground.

Rather than walking a half hour across the Las Vegas Convention Center campus, your Tesla ride will take two minutes.

We can pretty much guarantee your ride will be exhilarating, and you’ll be thinking about it as you sit through your soul-killing workshop about innovations in hardwood flooring durability.

We can’t wait to take the Vegas Loop again, and we are not even a convention person.

Critics are free to schlep across the Las Vegas Convention Center while the rest of us float effortlessly to our destination as if riding on the wings of gulls. Or something.

Reports of Death of Circus Circus Buffet Were Dead Wrong

Long-standing reports the buffet at Circus Circus would close permanently were wrong.

We know, because we were one of the people reporting it.

In an unexpected twist, Circus Circus is reopening its buffet on May 29, 2021.

Circus Circus Lucky clown

Fun fact: The Circus Circus sign includes subliminal images of food to promote the buffet, including orange slices (lollipop), a cherry (nose), ribbon candy (collar), curly fries (hair), an ice cream cone (hat) and cheese (the whole thing).

Circus Circus says its buffet “will reopen to serve guests delectable American comfort food daily for breakfast, brunch and dinner.”

Oddly, we scoured dozens of Yelp reviews of the Circus Buffet, but could not find a single reference to the food being “delectable.”

On the bright side, Circus Circus has a new owner (TI’s Phil Ruffin), so we trust the buffet will catapult from a two-star “meh” to a five-star “OMFG.”

Your results may vary.

It was previously reported the buffet wouldn’t return as it was being replaced by a food court, but the casino says the buffet will be next to the new food outlets.

Circus Circus food court

Who knew Pick Up Stix was still a thing?

Circus Circus isn’t saying why it changed course, but we assume they heard from value-seeking guests who were disappointed the buffet went away.

Something the Circus Buffet certainly has going for it is the price.

We recently shared Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace costs $65.

The most you’ll pay for your meal at Circus Buffet is $25.99, and that’s holiday pricing.

Here are the prices as we are too lazy to type them.

Circus Circus buffet prices

You can pay $20 for one cocktail at a lounge on The Strip, so dive in.

Circus Buffet serves breakfast and brunch from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., dinner from 4:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

We wish you all the best in trying to tell the difference between breakfast and brunch.

We haven’t ever been to the Circus Buffet, but it’s probably time.

For one thing, we want to support Circus Circus as it emerges from the challenges of the pandemic.

Secondly, we like buffets and appreciate them more given the fact many said the era of cheap buffets was over and done.

Lastly, we’d love to dispel the Circus Buffet’s reputation as a “you get what you pay for” buffet. Even a modestly-priced buffet can serve up a great value if there’s competent management, experienced kitchen and waitstaff and attention to the freshness of the food and overall cleanliness (especially now).

Truth be told, our only hesitation about a visit to the Circus Circus buffet would be easily overcome if Pfizer or Moderna would invent a vaccine against kids.

Las Vegas to Get Pro Lacrosse Team, Both Fans Thrilled

The National Lacrosse League (NLL) has confirmed Las Vegas will get a professional lacrosse team.

Both lacrosse fans in Las Vegas were ecstatic at the news.

We are excited about this news, too, since we learned lacrosse sticks have two parts, a head and a shaft. Just saying.

Lacrosse is the Rodney Dangerfield of professional sports.

According to the NLL, the team will be owned by Joe Tsai, whomever that might be.

The Las Vegas lacrosse team will be the NLL’s fifteenth franchise.

It’s estimated Tsai paid about $10 million for the expansion team.

There’s been no announcement of where the team might play, but we predict it will be a venue featuring lots of empty seats.

We get the feeling this is sort of a downtown thing, possibly wherever the Las Vegas Lights soccer team plays. Cashman Field. Maybe Orleans Arena?

Alternatively, this venue at Circa could probably accommodate the crowds.

Circa phone booth

We’ll be here all week.

No name has been given to the new Las Vegas lacrosse team, but if they’re not called the Las Vegas Stickmen, it will be a travesty.

See, a craps dealer who uses a stick, or “mop,” to retrieve the dice is called a “stickman.”

Yes, there are female stickpersons. Moving on.

Here’s the announcement of the new Las Vegas lacrosse team, with all the hoopla you’d expect from a sport that’s even less popular than badminton.

This Tweet is a visual metaphor of why people don’t care about lacrosse.

Las Vegas is on a roll with its NHL team, the Vegas Golden Knights, and concussionball team, the Las Vegas Raiders.

There have also been rumors (we know, because we started them) that Las Vegas will soon get NBA (hey, Timberwolves) and MLB (sup, Athletics) teams.

While we are not a sports person, we don’t begrudge people their passions, as long as our tax dollars don’t pay for the places teams play. Looking at you, Allegiant Stadium.

The new team will make its debut in the 2022-23 season.

Paid Parking Returns to Cosmopolitan on June 1

It was fun while it lasted, but paid parking is back in Las Vegas, and Cosmopolitan begins charging again for self-parking (for non-hotel guests) on June 1, 2021, according to an internal memo.

Parking has been free at Cosmopolitan since it reopened in June 2020.

Cosmopolitan paid parking

On the bright side, cookies are back in high limit, so there’s that.

A number of Las Vegas resorts, including Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts casinos, kept self-parking free for guests during the pandemic as a way to lure customers back.

Well, they came back and in surprisingly large numbers.

Caesars Entertainment was the first to break the paid parking hymen in Oct. 2020, with proceeds from parking fees going to charity.

The move was less about generating revenue than mitigating the asshattery happening in its garages.

Las Vegas Monopoly

It’s back.

MGM Resorts followed, announcing it would restore paid parking on June 1, 2021. Valet parking returned to Aria, Vdara, Bellagio and MGM Grand on May 25, and will reopen at all other MGM Resorts casinos on June 1.

Cosmopolitan’s return to paid self-parking hasn’t been announced officially yet, but that’s how we roll.

Here’s a look at the parking fees prior to the pandemic.

Cosmopolitan paid parking

“So, basically free.” ~Everyone from Chicago and New York City

There are still casinos on The Strip with free parking, but the number is dwindling.

Casinos on the Las Vegas Strip with free parking are Tropicana, TI, Venetian and Palazzo, Casino Royale, Circus Circus, Wynn and Encore and The Strat.

While parking fees aren’t welcome, given what we’ve been through in the past year, paid parking seems a a small price to pay for a return to normalcy.

In the case of Cosmopolitan, easily one of the best casino resorts in the world, paying for parking is arguably a fair price of admission and also serves as an effective lowlife deterrent.

Did we mention the cookies are back in high limit?

Artisan Hotel Invents Annoying “Utility Surcharge”

Artisan Hotel isn’t a casino resort, so we tend to not care about it too much, but if you hate nuisance fees, gird your loins.

Vegas Unfiltered was the first to share Artisan Hotel has started charging guests a “utility fee.”

Yep, it’s a $3.95 charge, presumably for things like, oh, electricity. In other words, it’s a “charge charge.”

Others think it, we say it.

On the bright side, the Artisan isn’t exactly known as a trendsetter in Las Vegas, so we don’t think this charge will catch on, but you never know.

Fun fact: At Artisan, you can buy out the entire hotel for $8,500. Although, that price may go up given all the publicity resulting from this inane utility fee.

The rates at the off-Strip Artisan are relatively low, but pretty much double once you add the resort fee ($19.95) and taxes.

In Las Vegas, you get what you pay for.

As far as we can see, there’s no mention of the “utility surcharge” on the Artisan Web site.

Third party sites (called OTA, or online travel agencies) are more forthright about the fee.

Here’s the information Expedia provides.

Sites like Expedia rejecting hotels with hidden fees would get their attention right quick.

What is the “utility surcharge” actually for? Good luck with that. They might as well call it a “unicorn boarding fee.”

One possible origin of the fee has been floated by those who say the Artisan is often used for porn shoots: Professional video lighting uses a lot of power. Just saying.

As with most nuisance fees, it’s not so much the actual cost, it’s more that it’s a shady practice, charges guests for nothing and contributes to the perception that Las Vegas is more about nickel-and-diming than value.

Bullshit fees have become increasingly common, including the most recent, a made-up RFF charge at Cafe Americano at Paris.

As mentioned, while we don’t anticipate other Las Vegas hotels following Artisan’s lead, it’s an example of a shady business practice based upon the belief guests are too stupid to noticeĀ  an irksome fee tacked onto their bill. They actually hope travelers never even realize the fees exist at all.

That’s why you have us. In case you wondered.

Classic Keno Lounge to Close at Four Queens Casino

The keno lounge at Four Queens isn’t fancy, but it’s a fixture of downtown, and it’s going away.

The last day for the Four Queens keno lounge is May 31, 2021.

The closure was confirmed by lounge staff.

It’s weird how you can miss something you never did there.

The lounge’s manager says they’re working on getting the keno team into other positions at Four Queens or its sister casino, Binion’s.

Keno lounges are increasingly rare in Las Vegas, as they don’t make a lot of money and take up valuable floor space better used by offerings that generate more revenue, typically slot machines.

Labor costs in keno rooms aren’t insignificant, either.

The keno lounge manager says Four Queens has something in the works for the space, just off the main casino floor near the security desk, but wouldn’t share the plans just yet.

In Vegas, even the things that never change change.

For many, memories of keno rooms are some of the fondest. Back in the day, keno “runners” would collect wagers in restaurants, but now we’re not aware of any Las Vegas casino
that has them.

Keno rooms face some of the same challenges as poker rooms, many of which have also gone away. The pandemic made the situation even worse. About a third of all Las Vegas poker rooms have closed permanently in the last year.

Poker even went away at Binion’s, the original home of the World Series of Poker, although it’s expected to return.

While keno doesn’t make a lot of money for casinos, they’re an old-school amenity and players will have to seek out other options.

Downtown, there are keno rooms at The D, Fremont and Plaza.

If you thought we were going to skip this opportunity, you don’t know this blog at all.

It’s worth mentioning the decline in keno rooms isn’t all sad. Live keno has the worst odds in a casino, with a house edge approaching a whopping 30 percent. By comparison, the house edge in roulette is about five percent.

In a way, the closure of a keno room is saving novice gamblers from themselves.

Still, keno has always sort of suited the Four Queens brand, a place for value-seeking visitors to kill some time while taking advantage of comped drinks.

Thanks to Patrick Q. for passing along this tip about the closure of the keno room at Four Queens.

When we hear what’s in store for the keno lounge space at Four Queens, we’ll let you know. In the meantime, dibs on that epic stained glass sign or at least some vintage balls. Which, we should add, would make a great band name.