Category Archives: Las Vegas WTF

Fontainebleau Las Vegas Finally Gets a Wrap

The abandoned Fontainebleau Las Vegas is a pig that’s finally getting some lipstick.

After years of prodding by Las Vegas officials, the bajillionaire owner of Fontainebleau, Carl Icahn, has dispached crews to install a wrap intended to make the second tallest building in Las Vegas less of an eyesore.

Fontainebleau wrap

Our apologies to pigs.

Fontainebleau Las Vegas sits across Las Vegas Boulevard from Circus Circus. You sort of can’t miss it.

The site was formerly home to the El Rancho casino, and before that the Thunderbird and Silverbird. Ever since Fontainebleau’s plug was pulled in 2009 due to bankruptcy, you might say it’s been giving us all the bird.

The structure looms large on The Strip, and was to have 3,875 hotel rooms and condo units, as well as a whopping 24 restaurants and lounges.

The mind reels at what might have been.

Fontainebleau Las Vegas wrap

Fun fact: You can get a taste of what might have been at downtown’s Plaza hotel. Plaza acquired much of the furnishings in its rooms as Fontainebleau was selling off its assets.

Fontainebleau was about 70 percent complete when construction was halted, and it’s estimated $2 billion was sunk into the building.

Carl Icahn swooped in to buy the Fontainebleau in November 2010.

While there have been repeated rumors about potential buyers for Fontainebleau Las Vegas, nothing concrete has materialized. Rumors of a sale have intensified lately, mainly because we’ve been intensifying them. Word has it there’s renewed interest in Fontainebleau thanks to signs of progress at the nearby Resorts World.

Fontainebleau wrap

Fontainebleau was going to have 48 elevators, several of which may have even worked. It’s Las Vegas.

From what we hear, finding a buyer for Fontainebleau hasn’t been the crux of the problem. The real issue is the buyer must not only have the assets to acquire the project, but must also have the resources to finish it.

In June 2016, the asking price for Fontainebleau was $650 million.

It’s been estimated completing the Fontainebleau project (or whatever the new owners would call it) would run in the ballpark of $1.2 billion.

In the meantime, Las Vegas officials (Clark County officials, technically) have badgered Carl Icahn into spending about $500,000 to wrap some of the exposed sections on the west and south sides of Fontainebleau.

Installation of the wrap commenced on July 25, 2017. We’ll keep an eye on the place as the installation progresses.

This isn’t the first time a Las Vegas hotel has used a wrap to disguise unfinished construction. Most Las Vegas visitors breeze right by the stalled St. Regis Residences at the Venetian. Take a look.

St. Regis Residences at Venetian

This wrap at Venetian disguising unfinished construction illustrates things in Sin City aren’t always as they appear. Just ask Frank Marino.

It’s great to see Fontainebleau Las Vegas gussied up a bit, and not just because we’re a fan of gussying. Seriously, when was the last time you gussied something? We blame it on Millennials. Or possibly social media. Or possibly immigrants, who, we don’t have to tell you, are taking all our good gussying.

While wrapping the lower part of Fontainebleau is a welcome revulsion abatement strategy, we’re hoping rumors of an impending sale turn out to be based in fact.

Like the fact the Fontainebleau would’ve had 6,012 parking spaces, or about 2.5 times the number planned for the 65,000-seat Raiders stadium coming to Las Vegas.

Don’t get us started.

 

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No Resort Fees Rally Tops List of 10 Regrettable Las Vegas Mistakes

Las Vegas gets a lot right. When it screws up, it does it in a big way.

The anniversary of a “No Resort Fees” rally by Caesars Entertainment reminded us Las Vegas isn’t perfect, so here are some of our favorite all-time Las Vegas fails.

1. No Resort Fees Rally

On July 21, 2011, Caesars Entertainment hosted a massive rally on The Strip to promote the company’s “No Resort Fees” policy. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Not long after, though, economic pressure forced the company to reverse its policy. The awkwardness lingers to this day.

No resort fees rally

The “No Resort Fees” rally featured a bevy of “angry showgirls.” Showgirls always travel in bevies.

2. Harmon Tower

In Las Vegas, it’s go big or go home. Few Las Vegas gaffes were as big as the construction, and deconstruction, of the Harmon tower at CityCenter. The building went up in 2008, and was supposed to be 47 stories tall. Construction defects caused the building to be capped at 26, and eventually the whole building was taken down, floor by agonizing floor, at the cost of millions. See the whole demolition of Harmon Tower, beginning to humiliating end.

Harmon tower

What goes up, in the case of Harmon tower, came right back down.

3. Skyvue Observation Wheel

Las Vegas was built on big dreams, but not all those dreams come true. Construction on the 476-foot Skyvue observation wheel, which was to be located across from Mandalay Bay, began in 2012, but the project was soon abandoned due to a lack of financing. To this day, two concrete towers serve to memorialize this Sin City folly.

SkyVue Ferris wheel

A Las Vegas monument to sad.

4. Lion Entrance at MGM Grand

Las Vegas mistakes are anything but a recent phenomenon. MGM Grand originally welcomed guests through the mouth of a massive lion. Only after the resort had been operating awhile did the owners realize Asian gamblers considered the entrance bad luck. The original lion’s head was removed and replaced with a lion statue.

MGM Grand lion

MGM Grand’s lion stands 45 feet tall and is the biggest bronze statue in the country. It’s also a reminder of one of the biggest Las Vegas facepalms, ever.

5. Imperial Palace Becomes The Quad

Speaking of ticking off Asian gamblers, the law of unintended consequences was in full view with Imperial Palace was renamed The Quad. The name was meant to evoke the fun, youthful spirit of a college social space. “Quad,” though, also represents “four,” considered an unlucky number by Asian gamblers. In 2013, we were the first to share The Quad would be renamed, at substantial cost, to The Linq.

The Quad

The paint barely had time to dry before The Quad was renamed The Linq.

6. Bill’s Nearly Named Gansevoort

When Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon closed for a major renovation, it was supposed to re-open as Gansevoort. The casino owner, Caesars Entertainment, had to make a serious course correction when it was discovered by gaming regulators that a Gansevoort investor was connected to Russian organized crime. The renovated boutique hotel opened as The Cromwell in 2014.

Gansevoort

Gansevoort always sounded like the noise resulting from an intestinal disorder, so it all worked out for the best.

7. Sam Nazarian Abandons Ship

SBE Entertainment CEO Sam Nazarian had dreams of running a Las Vegas casino and seemed ready to do just that when the Sahara transformed into SLS Las Vegas. Nazarian ran into trouble when he applied for a gaming license, though. The Nevada Gaming Control Board dug into Nazarian’s past and what they found wasn’t pretty. Nazarian ended up selling his 10% stake in SLS and bailed on his fleeting plans to become a Las Vegas casino mogul. Side note: Nazarian recently announced SBE would merge with Hakkasan. We’ve heard that deal has fallen apart, so Sam Nazarian’s run of bad luck in Las Vegas appears to be ongoing.

Sam Nazarian

Fail: Gaming license. Win: Supermodel wife.

8. Stardust Imploded for Echelon Place

It’s a chapter in Las Vegas history many would like to forget, but one of our favorite Strip resorts, Stardust, closed on Nov. 1, 2006 and was imploded on Mar. 13, 2007, to make way for a $4 billion resort, Echelon Place. The economic downturn caused that ambitious project to be abandoned. On the bright side, the bones of the Echelon project will serve as the foundation for a new Las Vegas resort, Resorts World. Fingers crossed, anyway.

Resorts World crane

There’s a lone crane at the former Echelon site, so hope reigns.

9. Fontainebleau Resort Las Vegas

The unfinished Fontainebleau Resort is easily the most visible sign of an epic mistake in all of Las Vegas. That’s because while Fontainebleau never opened, it’s still the second tallest structure in Las Vegas. In an all-too-familiar scenario, construction of Fontainebleau was halted in 2009 when the project went into bankruptcy. Rumors persist a new owner has taken interest in Fontainebleau, but we’ll believe it when we see it.

Fontainebleau Las Vegas

Las Vegas is always throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks. Sometimes, it’s really, really expensive spaghetti.

10. Skill-Based Slot Machines and eSports

The final entry on our list of Las Vegas mistakes remains a work-in-progress. Casinos, in a desperate attempt to remain relevant to younger gamblers (especially those pesky Millennials), are betting on skill-based slot machines and eSports to save the day. This miscalculation has resulted in skill-based slots nobody’s playing and a disaster-in-the-making; Luxor recently announced its closed LAX nightclub will be turned into an eSports arena. Let’s just say we’re going to need more faces and more palms.

eSports Arena Las Vegas

Downtown’s Neonopolis already has an eSports arena, pictured above, and Downtown Grand has an eSports lounge in its former Commissary restaurant space. Unjustified optimism is utterly adorable.

If you love Las Vegas, you also have to embrace it glorious blunders past, present and future.

Have a favorite Las Vegas mistake that didn’t make our list? Please share!

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PBR Rock Bar Creates Inspired, Awkward Photo Op With Bedazzled Bull Testicles

We’ll say it right up front: We never imagined we’d type those words in that order, ever.

Nevertheless, PBR Rock Bar at Planet Hollywood has created a must-see photo op by decorating a bull statue in an audaciously eye-catching way.

PBR Rock Bar bull balls

PBR Rock Bar at Planet Hollywood has managed to turn one of the worst views in Las Vegas into one of the most brilliant.

We’ve written about offbeat Las Vegas photo ops in the past, and shared stories about the city’s phallic objects, but this bold decorative touch stands out for its sheer originality and undeniable flair.

Simply put, nothing says Las Vegas like a bull with disco bull.

PBR Rock Bar

In case you’ve ever wondered what makes this blog special. And your impertinence is duly noted.

Hello, Pulitzer Prize.

PBR Rock Bar, of course, is home to a variety of bulls, including a mechanical one.

We trust mirrors were added to the bull’s “boys” as a reflection of the restaurant’s irreverent and fun-loving atmosphere.

You never know what surprises await in Las Vegas!

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Zombie Apocalypse Store Closes, Converts to Bitcoin Store

It came in with an “Aaargh!” and went out with barely a whimper.

The Zombie Apocalypse Store, a quirky Las Vegas retail store and attraction, has closed.

Zombie Apocalypse Store

Ah, the memories. The Zombie Apocalypse Store is currently pushing up daisies.

The store called it quits with zero fanfare or news coverage in May 2017 after a liquidation process where fans could purchase zombie and doomsday-inspired tchotchkes at garage sale prices.

Here’s a look back at the Zombie Apocalypse Store.

We’re saddened to learn of the passing of the Zombie Apocalypse Store, an undeniably memorable destination for “biter” fans and hardcore survivalists.

Zombie Apocalypse Store

Here’s a photo from 2013, long before the Zombie Apocalypse Store apocalypse.

The store housed a wide variety of zombie-related merchandise like emergency water filtration systems and food supplies, ammo, stun guns and roamer-killing weaponry.

Zombie Apocalypse Store

Not gonna lie, it got a little awkward.

The Zombie Apocalypse most recently hosted a 3-D zombie photo studio and zombie shooting gallery. See more.

After a little more than five years of operation (the store opened in November 2011), the once-brisk zombie business began to decay, so the store’s owners decided to pivot to the booming Bitcoin business.

That’s right, the Zombie Apocalypse Store has risen from the dead, becoming Bitcoin Central Las Vegas.

Bitcoin, of course, is what’s known as an alternative currency, or digital currency. Bitcoin got its start in 2009 as the first decentralized cryptocurrency. There’s been a lot of buzz about Bitcoin recently as the digital currency’s value has skyrocketed.

As with so many things in Las Vegas, we didn’t realize how attached we’d become to the Zombie Apocalypse Store until we learned it was gone.

Zombie Apocalypse Store

Part tongue-in-cheek, part deadly serious, the Zombie Apocalypse Store was a singular Las Vegas attraction.

Zombies in Las Vegas aren’t going down without a fight, however.

There’s the Zombie Apocalypse Experience at Adventure Combat Ops, a Zombie Hunt package at Range 702, an upcoming zombie attraction called Fear the Walking Dead: Survival at Fremont Street Experience (where we work in digital marketing) and the well-reviewed Zombie Burlesque show at V Theater inside the Miracle Mile Shops.

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Downtown Grand Snafu Reaps Big Wins for Players

It’s a Las Vegas story almost too good to be true, but it happened, and it’s sure to become the stuff of casino legend.

Recently, an error in Downtown Grand’s loyalty club system resulted in thousands of dollars in unearned free play for customers and tens of thousands in losses for the downtown casino.

Here’s how it went down.

On Mother’s Day, May 14, 2017, guests using their player’s cards noticed something strange when they accessed their Downtown Grand Rewards loyalty club accounts.

Rather than the typical free play offered by the casino, customers realized they were being given hundreds of additional dollars in free play for no apparent reason.

Ultimately, a system glitch resulted in each slot player receiving nearly a thousand dollars in free play ($970, to be exact), irrespective of their previous level of play. Or, to put it into the parlance of casino management, “Aieeee.”

Downtown Grand $1,000 rebate

They weren’t kidding.

Word of the snafu spread quickly, with customers alerting friends and relatives by phone and text so they, too, could take advantage of the administrative fluke.

While casino free play has no cash value, players are allowed to keep winnings resulting from the use of free slot play.

Downtown Grand’s incident (most likely caused by human error, according to casino insiders) resulted in players cashing out for substantial sums as a result of the gaff.

There’s no way to know how many players took advantage of Downtown Grand’s mistake or how long the glitch was in effect before casino management rectified it, but it’s safe to say the casino took a hit for tens of thousands of dollars.

One customer inquired about the abnormally generous free play and a Downtown Grand employee claimed a similar aberration had transpired a week prior, but players had mistakenly received free play in the $100 range.

Downtown Grand

We totally got a photo release from this guy and his suspenders, so no worries.

While magical for gamblers, errors like the one at Downtown Grand can do serious damage to a casino’s bottom line. Casino computer systems are sophisticated, but remain vulnerable to human fallibility.

The good news is Downtown Grand seems to have found its footing in recent months. We’ve heard the resort’s room bookings are strong and there are plans to add more room inventory soon.

The resort has also announced it will transform a nearby parking structure into The Quad (don’t get us started about the name), an entertainment district featuring a tavern, concert venue and fitness center. Read more.

Downtown Grand The Quad

Yay, new.

Here’s a better look at the plans for The Quad at Downtown Grand.

So, here’s the question: If you realized you were getting a thousand dollars in free play you hadn’t earned, what would you do? Would you keep playing or report the error to casino officials?

Let us know. We’re a Las Vegas blog, so we won’t judge. Probably.

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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.

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