The debut of the new Japanese-themed display at the Bellagio Conservatory may have been delayed by world events, but the horticultural wizards at the Strip resort have managed to pull off another impressive jaw-dropper.
The Bellagio Conservatory is one of the best free things to do in Las Vegas, and Las Vegas needs its eye-popping attractions more than ever.
Here’s a look inside the new display, starting with a replica of Osaka Castle.
The new display, “Japan Journey: Magical Kansai” was supposed to debut March 21, but the unveiling was pushed back due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The Japanese-themed exhibit runs through Sep. 12, 2020.
On the day we visited, it was eerily quiet at the Conservatory. The venue has subtly adjusted how guests move through the attraction, helping avoid crowding.
While the lack of patrons isn’t great for the hotel, it makes the experience a lot more enjoyable for guests and the photo ops are better than ever.
One of the highlights of the new display is a giant Hello Kitty.
The news release says Hello Kitty is 14 feet tall. A placard at the Conservatory says it’s 16 feet tall. We love a good conspiracy!
Fun fact: Hello Kitty’s last name is White.
The exhibit also has Sika deer, butterflies, a bamboo forest and a three-story pagoda.
Why a Japanese theme? Well, MGM Resorts publicly says it “reflects MGM Resorts International’s commitment to celebrating Japanese culture.”
The reality is MGM Resorts has invested what’s estimated to be $100 million in getting a license to operate a casino resort in Osaka, Japan.
Officials were hoping to get a resort open by 2025, but those hopes were dashed by the pandemic.
Still, MGM Resorts has made it clear there’s woo being pitched, and a Japanese-themed display at the Conservatory shows Japanese officials and travelers the company is in it for the long haul.
An intriguing element of this year’s display is the main entrance that sends guests through the mouth of a lion. The Conservatory says the “wide-opened mouth of the lion is believed to swallow evil spirits and bring about success and good fortune.”
A long-standing myth in Las Vegas holds that the original entrance to MGM Grand had to be changed because it forced guests to walk into the mouth of a lion, presumably considered bad luck by Asian tourists. They didn’t actually walk into the lion’s mouth, as they do at Bellagio, they walked under the lion’s chin, but we should never let facts get in the way of a good story.
Several elements of the display made their debut last year, including the butterflies and Osaka Castle replica.
As we were the first to report, Bellagio previously made the decision to cut back on the number of its displays, from five seasonal displays to four each year.
It’s not the number of displays that counts, it’s the quality of the stamen. Or something.
Everything in Vegas is a little off right now, which might explain why Bellagio hasn’t updated the official Conservatory Web page with the current display. We’re just happy it happened at all.
Enjoy more poorly composed and out-of-focus photos of the Bellagio Conservatory’s “Japan Journey” display.