Category Archives: Las Vegas

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.

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 50: Interview With a Las Vegas Escort and More

For our 50th episode, we go deep into the world of Las Vegas escorts. Our guest is Nikki, who tells all about the business, culture and lingo of being a sex worker in Sin City.

Nikki breaks down how hooking up with a Las Vegas escort works, from first contact to happy ending and everything in between.

Wax your back and break out your W-2, we’re in for a wild ride.

Las Vegas sex harness

Sin City has “sin” right there in the name, so stop blushing, already.

We’ve also got a metric ass-ton of news, history and pointless rambling that definitely suffers by comparison to learning about “strap-on action.” We soldier on, anyway.

This week’s listicle is “12 of the Best Things at 12 Las Vegas Resorts.”

Cleo at SLS Las Vegas

Topping our list is Cleo restaurant, our favorite thing at SLS Las Vegas. Besides the go-go dancers. Because we’re evolved like that.

We’ll also share some epic iTunes reviews, because as far as we’re concerned, there can never be too much us.

This week’s episode is the final episode of our first season (subject to change without notice), so don’t miss it.

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Luxor’s Sphinx Once Sported a Nose Ring

We are not making this up.

A friend of ours took a photo of the Great Sphinx of Giza replica at Luxor when it was being built.

It was the summer of 1993, which isn’t as catchy a title as the song’s, but let’s keep our eye on the prize here.

As the Sphinx was being constructed, it had a curious bit of “jewelry” that, in retrospect, makes it seems ahead of its time, fashionwise.

That’s right, Luxor’s Sphinx had a nose ring.

Luxor Sphinx nose ring

Thanks to our pal Tom Jones IV for the epic photo.

Who knows what the ring was for. It’s awesome, and we are not personally a facial ornamentation person.

Luxor opened on Oct. 15, 1993, after just 18 months of construction, at a cost of $375 million.

The Sphinx has endured despite efforts to de-theme the Strip resort. In 2007, MGM Resorts spent about $300 million to remove Egypt-inspired elements inside the resort and to renovate all the rooms.

Luxor Las Vegas

Luxor’s design is distinctive, to say the least. In fact, the hotel doesn’t use elevators, it uses “inclinators.”

Unlike many of the replicas in Las Vegas, like the half-scale Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas or one-third-scale Statue of Liberty at New York-New York, the Sphinx is actually bigger than the original.

Luxor’s Sphinx is 110 feet tall.

Some believe the Sphinx at Luxor was built facing the wrong direction. The Luxor Sphinx faces east. The original faces west. This, among other things (like mysterious deaths and the fact Egyptians used pyramids as tombs), has led the superstitious to think Luxor may be cursed.

People be crazy.

The Sphinx is just one of the distinctive features of Luxor Las Vegas. There’s the beam of light, of course, that can be seen from 250 miles away on a clear night.

There’s also an obelisk, one of the most distinctive phallic objects in Las Vegas.

Luxor

And you thought stepping on a Lego was painful.

Luxor also boasts the world’s largest atrium, at 29 million cubic feet. No, we do not know what a cubic foot is, just play along.

While 80% of the Luxor’s original theme has been removed, we’re still a fan of these iconic themed resorts, curse be damned.

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

“Wow Splash” Show to Open at Rio Las Vegas

The Las Vegas resort we don’t quite know what to make of is getting a show that we also don’t know what to make of. “Wow Splash” is coming to Rio Las Vegas in July 2017.

“Wow Splash,” which sounds like it was poorly translated from another language (we’re pretty sure it was), is a straight-up knock-off of a Cirque du Soleil show. Then again, that’s not always a bad thing. Just ask everyone who loves “Le Reve.”

Wow Splash

Attractive, limber performers, check. Wet clothes, check. Yep, all the hallmarks of a successful Las Vegas show.

The description of the “Wow Splash” show must be seen to be believed.

Please keep in mind this is completely real and in no way intended to be ironic.

“Downtown, steaming heat, nighttime, who are the people one would meet at this time and place? Street gangs, a strange panhandler, three sailors who stopped for the night, teenage cheerleaders, officers Jason and Suzy, and the one [and] only, Jason, the street sweeper who sees all and knows all, but right now he’s busy staring at a beautiful woman’s picture on an advertising board.”

Gangs, panhandlers, sailors, cheerleaders, police officers and an omniscient street sweeper. Got it.

Wow Splash

We’re think there’s more splash than wow, but you never know what’s going to click with audiences in Las Vegas.

But wait, there’s more.

“A good enough reason for him to try to climb up and step into the beauty’s world, trying to get a closer look. In the meantime, some thugs fight when suddenly a fire extinguisher erupts, washing the stage in water. The water seems to have magic powers, everyone on stage calms down and the street becomes a playground. A massive and transparent water pool is the heart of the show. International virtuoso artists jump into the water from different heights, dancing, flying and even splashing water on the audience in the front rows.”

First, we are not cleaning this up.

Second, please ignore the existence of “O,” thanks.

Wow Splash Las Vegas

It’s all fun and games until somebody puts an eye out.

To finish things off, the show says, “As in past ‘Wow’ shows, ‘Wow Splash’ includes 3-D animation, extravagant costumes, changing settings, big screens and beautiful dance and music. Prepare to be wowed.”

Here’s a look at this moist, game-changing and immersive stage extravaganza coming to Rio Las Vegas, and to which we are definitely not being invited to media night.

Despite all the P.R. flotsam, the show’s previous incarnation has gotten rave reviews on TripAdvisor, so despite all the evidence to the contrary, we’ll reserve judgment until we see it. Sorry, further judgment. You know what we mean.

Everyone loves a good Cirque-style show, right? Variety acts. Skimpy costumes. No dialogue to slow things down. Nonsensical storyline. What’s not to love?

The show will take up residence in the Rio’s Crown Theater, former home of “Rock of Ages” and gang-related gun violence.

Thanks to Johnny Kats at the Las Vegas Review-Journal for the heads up about “Wow Splash.”

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

The Trains Are Officially Leaving Palace Station

The off-Strip Palace Station is getting a major facelift, and that includes dumping its train station theme.

The resort recently unveiled its fancy new porte cochere.

Palace Station

Hey, it’s fancy for Palace Station.

Other upgrades have included a remodel of the hotel’s facade and a new bingo room.

Since it opened in 1976 (as The Casino, because naming things is hard), Palace Station has featured several decorative trains—more art than accurate replicas—on its north-facing exterior.

The trains are out of sight thanks to a large construction wall.

Palace Station

Nice attempt at thwarting us there, Palace Station. We are, however, 100% thwartproof.

Construction walls don’t tend to serve as a deterrent to us, so we nabbed a photo of the very first of the train noses to be removed.

Somebody’s got to do it.

Palace Station trains

Thwart this.

While Palace Station claims it’s in talks with the Neon Museum to take the trains, but that’s a symbolic exercise. The trains aren’t of any particular historic value to the Neon Museum, and more significantly, they don’t have any neon.

When donations are made to the Neon Museum, a nonprofit, removal and transportation of the signs is paid for by the donor, often at a cost of thousands of dollars. Donors are also asked to donate additional funds for the restoration of the signs.

So, as we said, an unlikely scenario. The Neon Museum might get one of the trains, but otherwise, it’s farewell to these decorative touches at Palace Station.

It remains to be seen what will happen to the large, classic marquees at the resort, as they’re clearly train-inspired.

Palace Station

The device on the front of a train that deflects objects is called a “cowcatcher.”

Palace Station officials have said the renovations are moving the resort toward a “mid-century modern design.” Translation: “Less interesting.”

A number of Las Vegas casinos have attempted de-theming to modernize and presumably have a broader appeal. We’re looking at you, millennials.

Monte Carlo will soon become Park MGM, and Treasure Island was rebranded as TI, along with removal of many of its swashbuckling elements, including its free “Sirens of TI” show. The Luxor, at least on the inside, is much less Egyptian than when it opened.

Next up, Palace Station will revamp its buffet and add two additional restaurants.

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Tone-Deaf Billboard Promotes New York-New York Thrill Ride With 9/11 Phrase

A tone-deaf billboard touting a Las Vegas thrill ride could have unintended consequences given its chilling 9/11 connection.

The new billboard for the roller coaster at New York-New York uses what was once an innocuous phrase, but which on 9/11 became associated with the worst terror attack in American history.

The phrase, “Let’s roll.”

Let's Roll billboard

That’s some serious WTF right there.

Use of “Let’s roll” in an advertisement wouldn’t be as problematic were it not for the fact 9/11 is so closely associated with New York City, the theme of the New York-New York resort.

Following the events of September 11, 2001, New York-New York was even home to an impromptu memorial, a “spontaneous shrine,” to the victims of the 9/11 attacks. The memorial was outside the hotel, near its replica of the Statue of Liberty.

Items from the memorial were moved to UNLV’s Lied Library in 2016.

“Let’s roll,” of course, became inexorably intertwined with 9/11 when United Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer said it to rally other passengers as they attempted to wrest control of the hijacked plane back from terrorists. The plan ended tragically, but the phrase became a symbol of defiance, bravery and patriotism.

The use of “Let’s roll” on a billboard associated with New York-New York is unfortunate, and it’s hard to believe no one who created or produced the ad made the connection to 9/11, or if they did, chose to use the tagline, anyway.

For those who still remember 9/11 vividly, or lost loved ones in the attacks, it’s more than a gaff, it’s a slap.

Update (5/5/17): MGM Resorts and New York-New York have taken the extraordinary step of saying they’ll remove the offending billboard (at no small expense, by the way). The company said in response to this story, “We intended no connection between the tragic events of 9/11 and our billboard. Any perceived association between the two is something we deeply regret. We are already voluntarily removing the billboard in question and apologize to anyone who may have been offended.”

Much respect and thanks to MGM Resorts and New York-New York for their quick and decisive response to the concerns raised by this inadvertent misstep.

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone