Category Archives: Things to Do in Las Vegas

“Brilliant” at Neon Museum is an Illuminating Vegas Must-See

The Neon Museum is a national treasure, and now it’s even better with the debut of “Brilliant.”

“Brilliant” brings 40 vintage signs back to life through the miracle of projection mapping.

As you view photos and video of the new Neon Museum show, remember, not a single one of the signs actually functions.

Neon Museum Brilliant

There are few pursuits more noble than making neon glow again.

“Brilliant” is the work of artist Craig Winslow, and his digital skills and creativity are very much on display at the Neon Museum.

The signs aren’t just re-animated, they’re elevated. It’s reality, or more accurately history, heightened and amplified.

And speaking of amplification, “Brilliant” features about 20 songs by performers like Frank Sinatra, Elvis and others.

Neon Museum Lady Luck

“Luck be a Lady” kicks off the show and immediately activates the tear ducts. Allegedly.

“Brilliant” lasts about 30 minutes, but you’ll wish it would never end.

While photos and video aren’t allowed during the show, the Neon Museum, very thoughtfully, lights up all the signs at the end of “Brilliant” so guests can capture images.

Neon Museum signs

These weren’t part of the show, we just like old Vegas signs.

Here’s a glimpse at “Brilliant,” courtesy of the Neon Museum. And, no, video doesn’t do it justice.

We didn’t use the word “miracle” lightly.

“Brilliant” is a marvel of technology. Craig Winslow used photos and video to create a digital model of each of the 40 signs in the Neon Museum’s north gallery, basically an overflow storage area now put to much better use.

Winslow then created a light show that uses the defunct Las Vegas signs as projection screens. If you look closely, you can see that many of the bulbs on the signs are broken or missing, but during the show, the signs are better than new.

Binion's Horseshoe sign

You will be tempted to lick this, but don’t. Seriously, what is wrong with you?

Beyond replicating the pattern of the bulbs, the show also features film footage projected on the signs.

The eight projectors used in “Brilliant,” which is shown in the round, are housed in two 20-foot towers.

Part of the fun of “Brilliant” is trying to identify the signs and the casinos and other businesses whence they came.

Yes, people still occasionally use the word “whence.”

Neon Museum Brilliant

Talk about an odd couple. The ball is from a Denny’s sign, the bottom is from Flamingo.

Beyond the Lady Luck sign, our favorites included letters and Googie stars from the Stardust and the Binion’s Horseshoe, from a time before it was just Binion’s. Also gorgeous was a Golden Nugget sign, as well as one with the word “Famous,” once used by the Pioneer Club.

Stardust sign

We’ll take a partial Stardust sign any day.

The signs in “Brilliant” are nothing if not eclectic. There’s also the cowboy from Terrible’s (now Silver Sevens), a Liberace sign, one from Denny’s, another from O’Sheas and even one from the Sweetheart Wedding Chapel.

Brilliant Neon Museum

In 2017, Las Vegas experienced a 26-year low in the number of people getting married here. You go, rationality.

There’s even a Kentucky Fried Chicken sign in the mix. Listen for a chicken during the show.

“Brilliant” shows four times nightly, with tickets at $23. The price is even more reasonable ($15) for Nevada residents, those 65 and older, students and active and retired members of the military. The show is free to children younger than six.

The Neon Museum also offers a combination price ($42, or $32 for all the groups mentioned above) for “Brilliant” and the Neon Boneyard, which we not only recommend but consider a non-negotiable part of any Las Vegas visit.

Terrible's cowboy

Nobody was really clamoring for the Terrible’s sign to make a comeback, but just go with it.

Both the Neon Museum Boneyard and “Brilliant” require a reservation, so try being proactive for once in your life and book a ticket ahead of time. Go here.

Neon Museum Brilliant

Yes, it’s technically “Brilliant!” with an exclamation point. Not in this blog, however, we have sensitive hearing.

One of our favorite parts of visiting the Neon Museum isn’t actually inside the museum, it’s the welcome center.

The Neon Museum’s welcome center isn’t just a replica of the former La Concha Motel lobby, it’s literally the La Concha Motel lobby, and it’s gorgeous AF.

La Concha Las Vegas

The La Concha was designed by Paul Revere Williams, one of the first prominent African-American architects in the country.

The Neon Museum is about three minutes from downtown’s Fremont Street, or about a $6 Uber ride. Do not try to walk there, by the way. Fair warning.

In case we haven’t made it abundantly clear, “Brilliant” more than lives up to its name.

In fact, it’s so mesmerizing, we sort of want the whole world to be projection mapped.

Catch “Brilliant” at the Neon Museum and we guarantee you’ll fall in love with Las Vegas all over again.

Everything You Need to Know About the $100 Million Kind Heaven at Linq Promenade

Caesars Entertainment, Jane’s Addiction front man Perry Farrell and other collaborators have announced an ambitious, $100 million project for the Linq promenade on the Las Vegas Strip, Kind Heaven.

Since we know how you like to skim, we’re going to cut through the WTF and sum the project up in a way its development team and other publications have not: In English.

Kind Heaven is an Asian-themed walk-through attraction with music festival roots.

Don’t say we never did anything for you.

Kind Heaven Las Vegas

Prediction: Best-selling item in the Kind Heaven gift shop will be mosquito repellent.

Yes, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but that’s the essence of Kind Heaven. The details range from breathtakingly original to laughably absurd.

Kind Heaven is a little bit theme park, a little bit interactive theater, all wildly original for Las Vegas, and the entire concept is based upon a dream. More on that in a moment.

The intention is for Kind Heaven to be a unique experience, and from what’s been shared, it could actually end up being just that. It could also be a colossal disaster, which is part of what makes it so exciting.

Let’s dive into this whimsically weird attraction set to open in 2019 in Las Vegas.

Kind Heaven Las Vegas

Kind Heaven’s logo features a number of symbols, all of which have growths which should probably be looked at by a physician.

The project is being put together by a powerhouse team of creative minds and Caesars Entertainment. That may have come out wrong.

Aside from Perry Farrell (founder of the Lollapalooza music festival), there’s also Cary Granat, co-founder and CEO of Immersive Artistry. Granat is also the former CEO of Walden Media (which produced the “Chronicles of Narnia” film series) and was formerly the president of Miramax.

Also on the team is visual effects pioneer, Ed Jones. Jones was involved with blockbuster films like “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Indiana Jones” and “E.T.” He’s the president of Immersive Artistry.

So, there are some creative minds at work on the Kind Heaven project.

The driving force, though, is Perry Farrell. He’s the one whose dream inspired Kind Heaven.

Farrell says that in his dream, he “descended upon an imaginary city from the sky and watched a girl pickpocket someone who was passed out on the street.”

It takes a true visionary to have a dream and say, “That’s a $100 million idea right there!”

Whores book cover

Let us introduce you to Perry Farrell, the man once voted “Least Likely to Ever Work With Caesars Entertainment, Ever.”

From there, back in 2014, Farrell tried to develop an “EDM-driven immersive theatrical production” called “Kind Heaven.” That show, which was intended for Las Vegas, never became a reality, but the Kind Heaven dream apparently lived on. Read more in Rolling Stone.

The specifics of Kind Heaven aren’t easy to pin down, but that’s probably because its developers haven’t quite sorted everything out yet.

What we do know is Kind Heaven will be located at the Linq promenade shopping center. The pedestrian mall is anchored by the world’s tallest Ferris wheel, the High Roller. And In N Out.

Kind Heaven will cover a whopping 100,000 square feet of space with 40 food stations and bars. Hint: That’s a lot.

Kind Heaven Las Vegas

Bonus points if your first thought was “Blade Runner”!

Kind Heaven will “transport visitors to Southeast Asia” via a “virtual train” and is set to feature holographic special effects, streetscapes and holy temples in Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal and Hong Kong.

According to Cary Granat, the venue will feature music from 130 artists on five stages. Hey, we said it’s whimsical.

Farrell will curate the “audio soundscape” for Kind Heaven, because why would you ever want to just call something what it is? This is art, that’s why.

Kind Heaven Las Vegas

When “Jubilee” opened in Las Vegas, there was a worldwide rhinestone shortage. With Kind Heaven, look forward to a worldwide monk robe shortage.

Kind Heaven will be family-friendly by day and adults-only at night. According to Farrell, the adults-only part will presumably include “street walkers, nightclubs and sake bombs.”

We’ll see how much of that makes it through Caesars Entertainment’s notoriously stifling review and approval process.

Perry Farrell has provided some of the most vivid (and confounding) descriptions of the attraction.

He told Billboard, “You’re basically walking through a 90-minute show routed in mythology and original content. When you’re within the complex, you’re free to roam around and discover hidden alleyways, visit nightclubs and eat from Hong Kong-style street food vendors. There will be improvisational actors, musicians, acrobats and comedians, combining elements of sensuality and espionage into an experience that will be a first of its kind.”

Think Fremont Street Experience, but rather than downtown’s casino “theme,” an Asian one.

No, really.

Live musical performances on multiple stages (three on Fremont Street, five at Kind Heaven), street performers, bars and restaurants, roaming and exploring, sensuality and immersion.

Oh, and let’s not forget, ziplines. Caesars Entertainment announced its Fly Linq project back in November 2017.

You think we’re kidding about Fremont Street being the inspiration for Kind Heaven? They even included a vagrant in their rendering!

Kind Heaven Las Vegas

Not happening. Unlike Fremont Street, Linq promenade is private property.

Full disclosure: We work in digital marketing at Fremont Street Experience, and worked in marketing at Caesars Entertainment as well back in the day. Our opinions are obviously our own, and God, we feel old.

Here are some other notable features of the Kind Heaven attraction:

googie Kind Heaven is specifically intended to appeal to Millennials.

googie It will be cashless. Our first experience with a similar cashless system was at Rock in Rio USA, the music festival held at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds across from SLS Las Vegas. Event organizers love RFID wristband payment systems because they help avoid employee theft and there’s a windfall from the “breakage.” Read more.

googie The attraction will accept digital currencies like Bitcoin.

googie It will feature “wearable tech.”

googie The exact location of Kind Heaven isn’t entirely clear at this juncture, but it’s likely to span the space between Flamingo and the Linq hotel.

googie The attraction will be open to people of all ages from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., close for three hours and re-open for those 21 and older.

googie The venue will have a “Dynamo” stage with a capacity of 1,000 people for concerts.

googie Objects inside the attraction will have RFID tags, and everything will be for sale. Well, almost everything. Farrell says, “Everything that you see, except for my wife, is for sale.”

Kind Heaven Las Vegas bar

Fun game! See if you can spot the drama. Answer below.

googie There may be holographic porn. Farrell says he’d like to have a holographic porn of himself. We are not making this up. Read more.

googie The venue will feature virtual monkeys that wrestle each other, robotic chickens and 20-foot snake. Guests will presumably be able to wager on the matches.

googie It will take 18 months of construction.

googie Kind Heaven will create 200 construction jobs.

googie The attraction will employ 670, exclusive of the holographic monkeys.

Kind Heaven Las Vegas

“Honey, she’s a friend from work!”

There have been conflicting reports about how many stories Kind Heaven will take up, ranging from three to five to seven.

Specifics of three levels of Kind Heaven have been shared, though.

Level one is a night market. On this level, at a bar called The Dispensary, guests will be able to order feelings. That is absolutely not a typo. We trust one of the feelings will be “WTF?”

Level two is The Forest, with lost temples and cities, tree houses and lush vegetation. Millennials love their vegetation lush.

Level three is The Sanctuary. This level will be above the Vortex (that colorful, tornado shaped structure at Linq hotel). This area is likely to feature EDM.

And more drama!

Kind Heaven Las Vegas

Matt Goss’ girlfriend is not pleased.

And while we’re on the subject, Matt Goss is everywhere at Kind Heaven. Remember that rendering of “The Forest”?

Kind Heaven

The one thing we know for sure about Kind Heaven is Matt Goss is getting a lot of tail.

Yep, Matt Goss and friends.

Kind Heaven

There’s a small chance this isn’t actually Matt Goss. Would it kill you to just play along, or at least pretend you know who Matt Goss is?

As we’re taking a closer look at the Kind Heaven renderings, we would like to also point out there’s more drama lurking in the forest image.

Kind Heaven Linq

You were so busy worrying about Matt Goss, you didn’t notice this situation developing nearby.

And don’t get us started about what else is going on in The Forest!

The jealous confrontation in the bar has apparently resulted in the scorned woman having her leg amputated!

Kind Heaven Linq

When they said there would be danger at Kind Heaven, they weren’t kidding.

That just about covers what we know about Kind Heaven, and we’re exhausted.

So, can a $100 million, Asian-themed attraction based upon a dream thrive on the Las Vegas Strip? We hope so.

Doesn’t Disneyland feels like a dream made real? Come to think of it, doesn’t Las Vegas?

We’ve heard convincing arguments from industry insiders saying Kind Heaven is set to be the biggest game-changing success in the history of Las Vegas. We’ve heard equally compelling arguments Kind Heaven will be the biggest flop in the history of Las Vegas.

Here’s what we think.

Casinos are scrambling to draw the next generation of Las Vegas visitors. Skill-based slot machines, cornhole and eSports are feeble, fruitless attempts at doing so.

With Kind Heaven, Caesars Entertainment is being bold and Las Vegas was built on audacity.

Here’s hoping the dream that is Kind Heaven pays off, because when bold wagers come through in Las Vegas, we all win.

Guy Creates Las Vegas Race for Friends and It’s Amazing

Everyone needs a friend like Gabe Sinna.

Sinna recently celebrated a birthday, and decided to invite some friends to join him in Las Vegas for the festivities.

Lots of people have done that. But Gabe Sinna isn’t everybody.

After months of planning, Sinna created an ingenious game for his friends to play, inspired by the hit travel competition on CBS, “The Amazing Race.” And his game has raised the bar for Las Vegas scavenger hunts forever.

Amazing Gabe

Trust us, the word “amazing” isn’t used lightly here.

See, just about everyone has a friend who’s a planner. But Gabe Sinna is more than that. He’s a savant. He’s a genius. He’s a freak.

And we’re not just saying that because Sinna dove deeply into the recesses of this very Las Vegas blog for nuggets to inform his “Amazing Gabe” race.

Amazing Gabe

Gabe and the better half of the teams competing in the “Amazing Gabe” race.

While Sinna orchestrated an entire Las Vegas trip for his friends, we tagged along on the part that featured downtown. Not only do we work downtown (in marketing at Fremont Street Experience), the area is home to some of our favorite places in Las Vegas.

Sinna did extensive research about downtown before creating his race, then built his “race” using elements of “The Amazing Race,” including “Detours” and “Roadblocks.” He even used artwork inspired by the show. Told you he’s a freak.

Amazing Gabe

This is the photo caption where we don’t mention how much free time Gabe clearly has.

At the beginning of each leg of the race, Sinna distributed clues (“Route Info.”) and his friends, all couples, got to explore downtown in a fun, unique way.

It should be noted Sinna’s friends are also sort of freaks, as they made matching T-shirts with Sinna’s face on them for each team.

Amazing Gabe

Gabe’s friends weren’t messing around. It’s a little thing called “bragging rights.”

The “Amazing Gabe” race included a carefully-curated list of things to do downtown:

  • Take a photo with the gold nugget replica at Golden Nugget
  • Get a pic with a million bucks at Binion’s
  • Try a scorpion shot at Nacho Daddy
  • Visit Banger Brewing
  • Ride the SlotZilla zipline
  • Visit Golden Gate
  • Rub Buddha’s belly at The Cal
  • See the Berlin Wall at Main Street Station
  • Ride the Downtown Loop to the Gold & Silver Pawn shop
  • Take in the Neon Museum
  • Grab a dog at American Coney Island at The D

The downtown race culminated at Pizza Rock, of course. Did we not mention Sinna reads this blog?

Gabe Sinna’s friends are apparently fellow Las Vegas aficionados, because they navigated his clues with relative ease. (It was determined later the Internet may have made some of the clues too easy to solve. Thanks a lot, blogs!)

Amazing Gabe

Everyone got to express their feelings about Communism at the Berlin Wall display inside the restroom at Main Street Station.

Ultimately, the red team won.

Amazing Gabe Las Vegas

Congrats, Joe and Angie. You’re Internet famous. Not redeemable for cash.

As mentioned, the downtown “race” was just part of the fun. Sinna created a nearly 20-page, spiral-bound booklet for his friends.

The booklet included, among other things, his friend’s favorite drinks.

Amazing Gabe

This is what we meant when we said, “Everyone needs a friend like Gabe.”

There were also agendas for other days of their trip, shuttle schedules, maps of The Strip and downtown and a page for his friends to note which Vegas casinos they’d visited.

One of our favorite parts of his booklet was devoted to a photo hunt. Sinna created an extensive list of Las Vegas-themed photo ideas, including images of:

  • Bachelorette with a sash
  • Slot win of more than $50
  • Any celebrity (yes, a photo with this blog qualified)
  • A doppelganger
  • Guy with a mullet
  • Bike cop
  • Tasteful side boob
  • Pink flamingo
  • Vegas sunset
  • Neon sign
  • Party pit dancer
  • In line at White Castle
  • Any Elvis
  • Showgirl with feathers
  • Guy named Don (I.D. required)
  • David statue at Caesars Palace
  • Pay phone
  • Night club line
  • Kissing at the Bellagio fountains

Now, that’s a Las Vegas photo hunt right there.

Amazing Gabe

What happens in Vegas goes into the Cloud.

Sinna’s booklet also included another scavenger hunt list with items like “business card from a pit boss,” “slot ticket worth .01 (exactly),” “show ticket stub,” “deck of casino cards” and “trifecta of porn cards (brunette, blonde and redhead).”

While we love Las Vegas a lot, we bow before the love Gabe Sinna clearly has for this town. Seriously. His name even has “sin” in it.

Thanks to Gabe for letting us tag along on several legs of the “Amazing Gabe” race! We were truly impressed with his knowledge of Vegas, as well as his organizational ability, as it’s well-known we are personally bereft of the planning gene.

Amazing Gabe

We are not a heights person, but for some, winning prevails over woozy.

If you’ve done anything even remotely as creative as Gabe for a Las Vegas visit, we’d love to hear about it. We won’t hold our breath.

Amazing Gabe

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MSG Sphere Arena Details Revealed and It’s Wonderfully Weird

There’s a new, 18,000-seat entertainment venue in the works near the Las Vegas Strip, the MSG Sphere arena, and it’s pretty weird.

The new venue is a partnership between Madison Square Garden Co. and Las Vegas Sands Corp., the company that owns Venetian and Palazzo.

MSG Sphere Arena

Besides concerts, the MSG Sphere will host Carousel. Oh, just watch “Logan’s Run” again.

The arena project was announced back in May 2016, but is only now picking up steam.

According to a story in USA Today, the MSG Sphere will boast some impressive audio technology developed by a German company, Holoplot. The technology is called “beamforming audio,” which sends sound via witchcraft rather than through speakers.

Here’s another look at Sphere.

MSG Sphere Arena Las Vegas

Get used to your mouth being agape, it’s Las Vegas.

The Sphere’s exterior is a dome with 190,000 feet of LED lighting, which translates into about 36 miles of lights.

Inside the dome, guests will enjoy what amounts to a 360-degree IMAX experience, with about 180,000-square-feet (four acres) of high resolution video across the dome’s roof.

Translation: Holy crap.

MSG Sphere Las Vegas arena

Finally, a Las Vegas venue that can legitimately use the word “immersive.”

One of the best things about the MSG Sphere is its developers promise little to no sports will be hosted in the venue. Although, fights are a possibility. Hey, nobody’s perfect.

The unfortunately-named MSG Sphere arena (some people are intolerant, you know) will be located on Sands Ave., between Manhattan St. and Koval Lane.

You have no idea where that is, so here’s a photo we took. Let’s just say we used a very tall monopod and leave it at that.

Sands music venue

The future home of some awesome.

The MSG Sphere breaks ground in 2018 and the new arena is expected to open in 2020.

We can’t wait.

Bellagio Conservatory Goes Doggy Style for Chinese New Year

It’s the Year of the Dog, and the Bellagio Conservatory has not only unveiled another wonderful seasonal display, but it’s also provided an opportunity for this blog to make a gratuitous sexual joke in our headline, so what’s not to love?

Bellagio Chinese New Year

Behold, the Moon Gate. The slooping roof symbolizes the half moon of Chinese summers. Which would make an excellent porn name, all due respect.

Each year, Bellagio pulls out all the stops for Chinese New Year, mainly as a way to kiss up to
all the Asian gamblers who frequent the resort.

For the rest of us, Bellagio’s Chinese New Year display provides a sample the work of some of the most prolific and talented horticulturists in the world.

Bellagio Chinese New Years

People born during the Year of the Dog are said to be honest, friendly, smart and likely to chew your favorite shoes.

As mentioned, this year’s display features 18 dogs, one of our favorite forms of life on Earth.

The star of the show is an 18-foot-tall Husky.

Bellagio Chinese New Year

We aren’t entirely sure whether this is a Siberian or Alaskan Husky. We are a blog, not a dog whisperer.

Huskies are beautiful dogs, but are bred to run, so can’t be trusted off a leash and don’t particularly make good pets. They also like to chase small animals. They also aren’t obedient.
They also shed a lot. But, again, they sure are beautiful!

The Chinese New Year display at Bellagio has lots of other enchanting features, including 13
Chinese lanterns.

Bellagio Chinese New Year

There are three main types of Chinese lanterns: Hanging, flying and floating. Which, coincidentally, are the three ways mobsters would be disposed of in the early days of Vegas.

It’s interesting to note that while 13 is considered in Western cultures, it’s actually good luck to the Chinese.

Also good luck in Chinese culture are Koi fish. They symbolize perseverance and abundance. And possibly sushi to some people. Let’s not dwell upon it.

Bellagio Chinese New Year

Koi fish are also known as “swimming flowers.” These horticulturalists are smart AF.

The display has ding pots, too. We don’t know what they are, but we sort of like saying “ding pot.”

Bellagio Conservatory  ding pot

Ding pot. Ding pot. Ding pot.

The Chinese New Year display at Bellagio Conservatory will be open until Mar. 3, 2018. Next up is the spring exhibit, Mar. 10 to Jun. 2, 2018.

Bellagio Conservatory

This is what happens when you have one more photo than photo captions.

The Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens remains one of the best free things to do in Las Vegas, so make sure to stop by and rub some bellies. Which is probably frowned upon, and
you’re likely to be wrestled to the ground and tossed out by security, but the stories you’ll tell when you get back home will make it all worthwhile.

Bellagio Chinese New Year 2018

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The Killers Light Show Debuts at Fremont Street Experience

The free light shows at Fremont Street Experience are a big draw for Las Vegas visitors, and a new show from The Killers has been added to the rotation at the downtown pedestrian mall.

The new Viva Vision show showcases three songs by The Killers: “Mr. Brightside,” “When You Were Young” and “The Man.”

The Killers light show Fremont Street

Fremont’s light shows are one of the best free things to do in Las Vegas, along with the Bellagio fountains, the Mirage volcano and rejecting the sexual overtures of bloggers.

This blog is a big fan of “The Man,” mostly because the video for the song was shot in Las
Vegas.

The Plaza casino is featured prominently in the video, and former Mayor Oscar Goodman even has a cameo (he’s the one with the martini at the roulette table).

The Killers got their start in Las Vegas when the band formed in 2001.

The unfortunately-named band’s members include Brandon Flowers, Dave Keuning, Mark Stoermer and Ronnie Vannucci, Jr.

Their new light show was designed by a Canadian firm, Moment Factory.

Here’s a look. It’s better in person.

Other recent additions to the Viva Vision line-up include shows devoted to Imagine Dragons (another Las Vegas band), Green Day, Linkin Park and Tiesto.

The Viva Vision screen at Fremont Street Experience (where we work in digital marketing as our day job) is about to undergo a major upgrade at a cost of $33 million.

The project will be paid for by Fremont Street Experience, the City of Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Installation of the upgrade is expected to begin mid-2018 and is expected to take a little more than a year to complete. The Viva Vision canopy will continue to operate during the improvement process.

The upgrade project will vastly improve the resolution of the screen, making it visible even during daylight hours, and will create a “floor-to-ceiling, interactive” experience.