Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 86: So Much Vegas You’ll Need Expandable Waist Pants

It’s time to gorge on a virtual buffet of Las Vegas news, insider scoop and reckless excogitation, whatever that might actually be.

In this episode, we share the latest about confirmation of our story about Chick-fil-A coming to Planet Hollywood, who bought Mandarin Oriental, a shake-up at Windows Theater inside Bally’s and what Planet Hollywood has in store when Criss Angel moves in.

Criss Angel casino chip

Criss Angel is on the move again!

We also talk Block 16 Food Hall at Cosmopolitan, Lucky Dragon’s upcoming closure, that time Blue Man Group sued “Opium” for using a black light and some significant WTF as Dick’s Last Resort at Excalibur institutes a charge for tap water.

Fill your plate with the latest about Life is Beautiful, Ballsfest, Bellagio’s fall display, Hussong’s Mexican Cantina and Golden Gate’s new high limit room.

Ballsfest

It’s all about branding. Learn more.

But wait, there’s more.

We’ll get you up to speed on all the Vegas action, including Mac King’s contract extension, the new Electra lounge at Palazzo, Linq’s new sports book, downtown’s new cannabis museum, Golden Steer’s 60th birthday, the Westin’s sale for an ungodly amount of money, Las Vegas Review-Journal’s paywall and a new world record for twerking.

This podcast is a free way to keep birth and death from slapping together, so take a listen.

Hussong’s Mexican Cantina Knows How to Throw a Party

Hussong’s Mexican Cantina in Mandalay Place doesn’t tend to get a lot of ink, but it’s a go-to for many Vegas visitors looking for memorable food and drinks in a festive atmosphere.

Hussong's Mexican Cantina Las Vegas

A great night out you’ll partially remember begins here.

While we’d heard of Hussong’s, we weren’t entirely sure what to make of the name, but we we fairly sure “Hussong” isn’t Mexican.

In fact, the founder of the original Hussong’s was John Hussong, a German. Hussong’s original cantina, in Ensenada dates back to 1892.

The Las Vegas Hussong’s opened in 2010 and has been putting livers to the test ever since.

Hussong's Cantina Mandalay Place

You’ll need to know this word in Spanish, “resaca.” You’re welcome.

Hussong’s Mexican Cantina’s claim to fame is it was allegedly where the margarita was invented, in 1941.

Nobody’s actually sure who made the first margarita, but we were damned well going to have one no matter who invented it.

Here’s the original margarita at Hussong’s.

Hussong's Cantina Las Vegas

It’s believed the margarita was based upon a popular Prohibition drink called the Daisy. Margarita is Spanish for “daisy.”

Naturally, there are quite a few variations of the margarita available. We’d like to say we remember the names, but margaritas.

There’s a small chance this is the Raspberita.

Hussong's

Ever see happiness in a glass? You have now.

An undeniable hit is the Bulldog. There’s not only a margarita of some sort involved, but also an inverted bottle of beer.

Even if you weren’t in the mood for a fiesta before you arrived at Hussong’s, the Bulldog is guaranteed to manhandle your maracas. Or something.

Hussong's Mexican Cantina Las Vegas

Consider your Vegas vacation underway.

The frosty libations are certainly a big draw at Hussong’s Mexican Cantina, but the restaurant’s “sing-along rock ‘n’ roll Mariachi band” tends to steal the show.

While we are famously not a loud, live music person, the energy of the performers is infectious so we’ll give Hussong’s a pass.

Hussong's Las Vegas

This bigass guitar is called a “guitarron.” Please remember that as it will increase your appreciation of a joke coming up.

The mariachi band roams from table to table, lingering at tables with bachelorettes, of course. The band plays an eclectic mix of tunes, many of which are funny takes on pop hits. Lots of places in Vegas tout their “interactive” entertainment, but the mariachi band at Hussong’s actually delivers.

Hussong's

Trumpets began as signaling devices in battle or hunting and only later were used as musical instruments. Because you can never have too much information you’ll never, ever need.

The food at Hussong’s Mexican Cantina, described as “authentic Baja cuisine” is consistently satisfying.

We started out with a taco threesome. Hey, it’s Vegas.

Hussong's Mexican Cantina

Taco can mean wedge, plug ramrod, short or even billiard cue. It can also mean “those things we stuff into our face when we have the drunchies.”

Also tasty was the carne asada, Spanish for “At this point, we were so drunk, we’d have enjoyed a bite of a guitarron.

Told you you’d need to know what.

Hussong's Mexican Cantina Las Vegas

The carne asada is a skirt steak with chimichurri sauce, mainly because you can’t not have fun if you say “chimichurri.”

See the full Hussong’s Mexican Cantina menu online.

Topping off the meal was the delicious fried ice cream.

There are nearly as many origin stories of fried ice cream as their are for margaritas, so let’s just say friend ice cream was invented by Saint Charles Borromeo, patron saint of big thighs.

Hussong's Mexican Cantina Las Vegas

There are few things in life that cannot be improved by frying.

If you’re looking for a tranquil, low-key evening out in Las Vegas, Hussong’s Mexican Cantina isn’t it.

But if you’re looking for strong drinks, filling fare at a decent price and a raucous good time, include Hussong’s at Mandalay Bay part in your Las Vegas escapades.

Bellagio Conservatory’s Fall Display Raises the Bar, Again

It’s not officially fall unless the Bellagio has unveiled its fall display, and that it has.

The fall 2018 display is called “Falling Asleep,” although, we can’t imagine why.

Bellagio Conservatory

Always stunning, rarely cheesy, the Bellagio Conservatory is one of our favorite places to get our fill of whimsy.

Bellagio has pulled out all the stops for its latest free feast for the eyes.

The exhibit was inspired by “the mythology of the goddess of harvest.”

The slumbering goddess is 38 feet tall and 28 feet long. She is fashioned from natural materials like hydrangeas and oak leaves.

In Greek mythology, the goddess of the harvest is Demeter. It’s also an answer to the question, “What’s a fundamental unit of length in the metric system?”

Oh, like you’re even reading this blog post at this point. You’re just here for the photos.

Bellagio Conservatory

Harvest goddess’ eye make-up is on fleek.

The fall, sorry “harvest,” display at Bellagio runs through Nov. 24, 2018, then it’s on to the Conservatory’s popular holiday extravaganza, Dec. 1 to Jan. 6, 2018.

Bellagio maintains an impressive 120 people on its horticulture staff and they were all kept busy with the fall display.

Bellagio Conservatory

Grammable AF.

The fall exhibit boasts foxes frolicking with acorns. It’s a fun game trying to decide which is a genetic mutation, the foxes or the acorns.

Bellagio Conservatory

Frolic while you can, foxes, for soon you will be replaced with polar bears wearing Coca-Cola branded winter wear.

Here’s one of their mutant fox friends.

Bellagio Conservatory

Somebody clearly got the memo about keeping to the “Falling Asleep” theme.

The exhibit also features two 10-foot-tall tigers, each covered with more than 290 pounds of seeds.

Bellagio always has its eye on Asian guests (who are often very enthusiastic gamblers), so it’s likely the inclusion of foxes and tigers in the fall display isn’t a coincidence.

There’s a famous Chinese idiom, “a fox exploits a tiger’s might,” which tells the tale of a fox about to be devoured by a tiger. The fox convinces the tiger to follow him around to show what a bigshot he is, and everyone runs away. The tiger is duly impressed and lets the fox live, never realizing people were fleeing from him, not the fox. The fox had just assumed the tiger’s majesty.

We’re fairly sure the horticulturalists at Bellagio would say, “Bro, you’re reading way too much into this.”

Bellagio Conservatory

Least favorite Conservatory exhibit of Siegfried and Roy, ever.

Bellagio’s latest effort brings back a crowd favorite, the enchanted talking tree.

Yes, it’s actually fairly creepy, but we’re going with “crowd favorite” just in case Bellagio sees our story and wants to share it.

Bellagio Conservatory

The Bellagio Conservatory literally has every wavelength of light in the visible spectrum.

The eyes of the enchanted tree move, and you’d swear they have somebody behind the scenes making the eyes follow you.

Bellagio Conservatory

The enchanted tree has the ability to peer into your soul. Actual results may vary.

There are photo ops everywhere at the Bellagio Conservatory, including larger-than-life peacocks, dragon flies and autumnal leaves.

Bellagio Conservatory

Random dragonflies? Nope, in China they’re a good luck charm associated with prosperity.

It’s interesting to note photos of the fall exhibit on Bellagio’s Web site don’t actually reflect what’s in the exhibit. The photos show two massive peacocks where the sleeping goddess is.

We suspect the peacocks asked for more money, and poof, mulch.

Bellagio Conservatory

Bellagio Conservatory nerds will note they’ve cleverly repurposed last year’s peacock tails in this year’s display.

Bellagio has truly outdone itself this time, and the Conservatory remains one of the best free things to do in Las Vegas other than watching women in short skirts on a windy day.

Oh, crap, this is so not getting shared by Bellagio.

Bellagio Conservatory

Everywhere you look there are things you’ve never seen before. Take that, every other free attraction in the world.

Just one more look at this beautiful fall odyssey.

Bellagio Conservatory

Just see it for yourself, already.

The Bellagio Conservatory is a must-do every time you’re here, because it’s the most Las Vegas thing you can do that doesn’t involve dice or sequins.

Twerking World Record Broken in Las Vegas

Oh, like we weren’t going to share this news.

According to a news release, adult film star Juelz Ventura broke the world record for twerking at the Crazy Horse 3 strip club in Las Vegas on Sep. 16, 2018.

The standing record was two hours and one minute, but Ventura twerked for an impressive two hours and 30 minutes to snag the record.

Juelz Ventura

Some days, it’s more fun to have a blog than others. Thanks to Crazy Horse 3 for the photo of Juelz Ventura. 

The release from Crazy Horse 3 said the “Guinness World Record” for twerking was confirmed by “official timekeepers.”

As far as we can tell, they weren’t Guinness World Record timekeepers, but a couple of really happy guys with stop watches. It’s a tough job, but somebooty’s got to do it.

In fact, we questioned whether there’s a Guinness World Record for twerking at all. We were delighted to discover there is. The previous record was held by Austrian Elena Sofie Sterlini.

Yes, there’s some video of Juelz Ventura’s effort, but this blog it too classy to show it. We are not, however, too classy to provide a link.

The record sounds legit, although we’ll be curious to see if the Guinness World Record folks agree all of Ventura’s moves qualify as “twerking.”

Merriam-Webster defines twerking as “sexually suggestive dancing characterized by rapid, repeated hip thrusts and shaking of the buttocks especially while squatting.”

Yes, prude, “twerking” is in Merriam-Webster.

From what we can tell from repeated viewings of the Ventura video, for research purposes only, a good portion of her moves were clearly twerking. However, there was a fair amount of merely “shaking her moneymaker” as well.

We’re rooting for an official stamp of approval from Guinness World Records so Juelz Ventura can bring this important record back to American soil where it belongs.

No matter how this story shakes out, we’ll be monitoring the situation closely because Las Vegas news like this only comes along once in a blue moon.

We’ll wait.

Kind Heaven at Linq Shares Fresh Renderings

One of the more enigmatic (ballsy) projects in the works on the Las Vegas Strip, Kind Heaven, has provided a fresh batch of renderings for the $100 million attraction.

And by “fresh,” of course, we mean they were released back in July but we do this blog as a hobby and never got around to sharing them, so sue us.

Kind Heaven is slated to open in 2019.

Kind Heaven

Kind Heaven should definitely have an acupuncture kiosk for the dude in the white shirt and his friend.

We’ve talked about Kind Heaven before, and here’s how we’ve decided to describe it: Kind Heaven is an Asian-themed walk-through attraction with music festival roots.

The attraction is a collaboration between the owner of Linq resort, Caesars Entertainment, and Jane’s Addiction singer Perry Farrell.

It’s a partnership one might describe as an “Odd Couple” rather than a “match made in Kind Heaven,” but the idea’s so crazy, it just might work.

Kind Heaven

Unless we’re mistaken, Kind Heaven is going to be body parts-friendly.

Read more about Kind Heaven.

Kind Heaven will take up 100,000 square feet and boast 40 food stations and bars.

Kind Heaven

We refuse to make smart-ass comments for every rendering. Even if one includes a military coup.

It’s also been promised Kind Heaven will feature 130 artists on five stages. Presumably, not all on the same night.

Kind Heaven is expected to dovetail into other offerings at Linq Las Vegas, including a new sports book called The Book (in the former Tag lounge space) and Fly Linq, a new zipline.

Kind Heaven

It’s tough to think about ziplines when Amorino gelato is also in this rendering.

Here’s a rendering of a cone we personally ate at Amorino gelato.

Amorino Gelato Las Vegas

Yes, it’s random, but we’re drunk.

Back to the subject at hand.

Fly Linq is scheduled to open Nov. 9, 2018.

Here’s what Fly Linq looked like the last time we visited the Linq promenade.

Fly Linq zipline

In our day job, we work at SlotZilla, the downtown zipline, so we’re Switzerland on Fly Linq.

That’s the take-off tower for Fly Linq (on Las Vegas Boulevard), and here’s a look at the landing platform, all the way back at the base of the High Roller, the world’s tallest Ferris wheel. Suck it, New York. And possibly Dubai.

Fly Linq Las Vegas zipline

Given the location of the landing platform, the Fly Linq zipline is poised to be a High Roller customer delivery system.

On the whole, Kind Heaven, the new sports book and zipline are intended to appeal to a younger audience than is typical for Linq and its surrounding casinos.

Caesars Entertainment and other casino companies are grappling with changing gambling habits, and Kind Heaven is one of the boldest moves on The Strip in some time.

Kind Heaven

Aw, crap, we’ve run out of blog post and still have more renderings. Proceed will the filler!

If you’ve ever had a fantasy about being hit on by a monk, Kind Heaven is going to be right up your alley.

Here’s another rendering!

Kind Heaven

Apparently, people who do renderings also have issues with alcohol.

Kind Heaven says it will make guests feel like they’re “walking through an actual night market, getting all the scents and smells.”

First, we’re a little unclear about the distinction between a scent and a smell.

Second, we’re not convinced that’s a selling point. Have these people ever been to an actual night market?

Either way, we’ve now had enough additional words to share another rendering.

Kind Heaven Las Vegas

This is the view of Kind Heaven from the Flamingo. We’ve got to say, Caesars Entertainment has done a kick-ass job of re-imagining what was previously the alley between Flamingo and O’Sheas.

Random O’Sheas memories here.

Here’s a teaser video for Kind Heaven. Please try and keep up.

Here are our top eight buzz phrases from that video, because somebody has to do it.

1. “Experience collectors.”
2. “Inspired to take the journey of transformation.”
3. “Adventurous, curious and connected.”
4. “Full immersion into culture and exhilaration.”
5. “Ready to catalyze change.”
6. “Rebirth your senses.”
7. “Revolutionizing the audio landscape.”
8. “Seekers of the elevated moments in life.”

Not all the announced elements of Kind Heaven—like holographic wrestling monkeys and  streetwalkers—are likely to survive the development process, but from what’s been shared, the entertainment district could very well deliver what Las Vegas visitors crave most, unforgettable experiences they can’t find anywhere else.

“Friends” Parody on Its Way to The D Las Vegas

A parody of the long-running sitcom “Friends” is slated to open at The D Las Vegas in Oct. 2018.

The show, “Friends: The Unauthorized Musical Parody,” has put out a casting call for Sep. 14-15, 2018.

Rehearsals are set to start Sep. 24, and the plan is for the show to start previews Oct. 18, with a media opening Oct. 25.

Friends parody

We’re looking forward to this despite not being a musical theater person. Any more. Long story.

The “Friends” TV show had a 10-year run, from Sep. 1994 to May 2004.

The off-Broadway version of the “Friends” parody opened in Dec. 2017 and ended July 22, 2018. The show clocked 213 performances.

Here’s a video with some behind-the-scenes scoop about the off-Broadway incarnation of the show.

The show was written by Bob and Tobly McSmith. The team has a history of creating spoofs, including “Bayside! The Saved by the Bell Musical” and “90210! The Musical.”

“Friends: The Unauthorized Musical Parody” is described thusly, “It’s a seemingly typical day at New York’s only coffee shop, Central Perk, until an unexpected runaway bride with beautiful
hair enters the picture and kicks the whole gang out of second gear.”

Friends parody

Before they landed on “Friends,” the working titles of the TV show included “Insomnia Cafe,” “Friends Like Us” and “Six of One.” Naming things is hard.

The “Friends” parody casting call sheds some light on rarely-shared aspects of stage productions in Las Vegas.

The notice says, “local talent encouraged, as performers will not be relocated if cast.” The show is not a union production.

Performers will be paid $300 a week for rehearsals and $100-150 per performance, with six shows a week.

Auditioners are asked to bring in a “16-32 bar cut of a ’90s pop/rock song.” Then, in all caps, “Please don’t sing the theme song or ‘Smelly Cat,’ Gunther will tell you to leave immediately if that happens.”

Those vying for a part in the show are also asked to “be prepared to tell a quick funny story or joke or monologue.”

We are a huge fan of “Friends,” so our fingers are crossed for this take on the series, despite the spotty history of spoofs in Las Vegas.

“50 Shades: The Smash Hit Parody” had a solid run (Feb. 2015 to Sep. 2017) at Bally’s, but “Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody” at Golden Nugget got spanked hard.

Another parody, “Pawn Shop Live,” also at Golden Nugget, tanked.

In fact, “Spoofical the Musical” never even opened at all.

Still, let’s hope “Friends: The Unauthorized Musical Parody” defies the odds and takes the “oof” out of spoof. Or something.