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Photo TR: A Long Weekend in Las Vegas


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Just a few weeks after our trip to Atlanta we made our way to Las Vegas to celebrate a family member's birthday. This was our first time in Vegas, so I made sure that we visited as many casinos (not purely to gamble, but to take it all in) and to experience as much as we could in the four days we were there. Thanks to a meetup with a TPR friend, I had a partner to ride the attractions at The Strat and Circus Circus since my wife had no interest. I did also get a chance to ride Manhattan Express/The Big Apple Coaster at New York New York, which while terrifying, was not nearly as bad as I had mentally prepared for, likely because of the more recent refurbishment efforts by Premier.

 

We also had the chance to experience Cirque du Soleil's O and visit Sigfreid & Roy's Secret Garden during our visit, both of which were unique in their own way. Overall, the trip was very quick with not nearly enough time to do everything I would have liked, to visit every casino I was interested in seeing or to dine at the restaurants that I wished to experience, but we had a great enough time and felt accomplished enough that the trip was worthwhile... One we'd revisit at some point in the future!

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Last time Atlanta... This time Vegas... Who knows where I'll be next time?

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They say buffets in Vegas are unparalleled.

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I certainly ate my fill, but I won't begin to claim that this was the best buffet I've ever experienced.

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Though having the option to enjoy full desserts at breakfast was quite nice.

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I'd only ever seen this view at LEGOLAND before this visit.

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Hotel/casino lobbies in Vegas each have their own unique style...

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Also surprising was the unique kinds of Sugarfina candies that you could find in each of the casinos' gift shops. Very rarely did I find the same flavors offered across multiple locations.

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The Venetian had to be one of the first casinos we'd visit.

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I knew the opulence would be overwhelming, but this is amazing for a US-based property.

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While it is no Tokyo DisneySea Venetian Gondolas, I did appreciate the indoor and outdoor gondola offerings... Just not the price.

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I've now been to two recreations of these famous landmarks and the real thing... Epcot is my favorite.

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When in Venice... Get blackberry cheesecake and raspberry cheesecake gelato.

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The complex is huge!

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Next up was the Mirage... An older property and smaller than I expected but still charming.

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Our hope was to see The Beatles - LOVE during our visit, but it was dark for the two weeks surrounding our weekend in town.

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Chihuly fancy fulfilled... For the first time this trip!

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You probably get this a lot. This isn't real Caesars Palace. Is it?

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I'm not going up to the roof...

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I wish I had time to dine here...

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Where could I be now?

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Oh lord.

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I've now been to three of the five Hershey's Chocolate World locations around the world... Niagara Falls and Singapore still to visit.

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Fun.

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I do love that the coaster does briefly roll through the casino.

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I wish you could see more of the coaster inside, but I love this little approach into the station.

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Nicer than I expected.

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It was by no means a "comfortable" ride, but it wasn't as skull smashing as I prepared for.

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The drops were *almost* fun.

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I've only ridden a few Togo's over the years... But surprisingly enough this was one of the more decent ones. The dive loop is all kinds of messed up though.

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I love Chihuly.

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They play the music from La Nouba before the show starts at “O” in Vegas... I was digging it before the show even started.

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The sheer amount of talent in this show is incredible. I don't know that I would say it was better than La Nouba... Maybe on par but super different. I'd rank both above Turuk, which as much as I love Avatar stands as the worst of the three Cirque shows I've seen.

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This portion of The Strip looks great at night.

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Of course, we watched the Fountains at Bellagio... They're no World of Color, but I enjoyed them.

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Believe it or not, the Bellagio ended up being my favorite of all of the Las Vegas properties we visited.

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I've watched 21 too many times to count, so there was no way I wasn't going to visit Planet Hollywood during our trip. The interior was quite trendy and very much my speed, but for how small it was by comparison to some of the other properties on the Strip, we weren't there long.

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If I had had more time...

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I can't stop staring.

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The next day we visited Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden at The Mirage.

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The dolphin tank reminded me A LOT of old school SeaWorld. Not a lot to them but quite peaceful and relaxing to hang around. This one dolphin was especially playful and threw a buoy our way.

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There was also a three week old baby dolphin swimming with its mother. I'd never seen such a young dolphin up close.

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Time to see some big cats.

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This is already better than the movie CATS.

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He agrees.

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Beautiful tigers...

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Before leaving The Mirage, we had to stop at Carnegie Deli. I was amazed to find this location open, considering the original closed a few years ago... This is one of two locations left. And this Reuben makes me want to visit Madison Square Garden to enjoy the other.

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Open in Florida please?

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Next up, Circus Circus.

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And this insane creation...

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(Continued)

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I'll be honest. Circus Circus was not even remotely on my radar going into this trip... John convinced me to give it an hour and a half (we had limited time to visit) and I'm super happy he did. El Loco was worth the visit alone!

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I discounted the concept that this El Loco was not the catalog model that had been built at parks around the world, rather a custom design that fit into a portion of the old Rim Runner footprint.

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The station for El Loco is actually the old Rim Runner station.

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This moment of hangtime is fantastic!

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I was seriously blown away by how ridiculous this coaster was.

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John and I enjoying some hangtime during our second ride.

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I've always been interested in the indoor park concepts like Adventuredome and the Mall of America, but this was the first large-scale operation I'd experienced. Canyon Blaster was surprisingly fun!

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I love how the coaster wraps around the park's many attractions.

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Time to ride!

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You can get pretty close to the coaster throughout the park, which makes for some cool photo ops.

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These trains are certainly something...

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I like that both coasters get so close to each other.

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I guess you could say I'm an Arrow fan, man.

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You can definitely see how the designers wove the the coaster into the mountain structure at the center of the park, weaving in Rim Runner as well.

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It is interesting that the lift and initial turn from Rim Runner is still intact.

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HANGTIME!

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My favorite vantage point in the park.

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Another section of where Rim Runner used to be...

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This is like a Rollercoaster Tycoon fanboy's dream.

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Impossible tunnels everywhere!

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Next up...

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Welcome to The Strat.

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Strat stats.

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Next time I'm back here I'll be experiencing Skyjump.

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And down he goes...

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Here we are.

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Notice that the supports that held up the High Roller were simply left on the building.

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Time to be dangled out on the side of the tower...

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I'm not scared.

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Nope, not terrified... Not not terrified.

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My first time riding a first generation S&S Space Shot and it was quite fun.

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Having ridden something like this at Rye Playland on the TPR East Coast Trip 2008, I was interested to know what one dangling over the edge of the Strat would be like...

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It was something.

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Another something.

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My eyes saw this and I knew I had to stop.

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I can't resist.

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I LOVE the Coca-Cola Polar Bear.

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Similar to the Coca-Cola Rooftop Bar at Disney Springs!

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Smart Watermelon on tap to go!

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Best photo is best!

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Time to fly away home!

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lol @ polar bear gnawing at your head

 

Cool stuff. I'm going to Vegas next month and was debating on Adventuredome. We don't have a ton of time but El loco sounds great. Do they sell individual ride tickets if that's all I wanted to do? I was on canyon blaster as a kid and have no desire to ride again.

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I need to put Circus Circus on my Bucket List! Having been on an original El Loco over in the UK,

I really want to experience this custom model. Not to mention, a lot of the other rides to ride, while there.

 

Good reports on everything you visited. And great photos too!

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We stopped at Circus Circus very briefly and the two of us both used BOGO coaster rides that we got via the myVegas app. Which isn’t a great way to save $$, but the BOGO rides are like super easy to get because it’s not sought after. It’s $10/ride.

 

I’m happy I went but I’d never need to go back/didn’t feel the need to ride anything but the two coasters.

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Does that El Loco not have a trim on the first drop? I couldn't see one in the pictures. The one I rode at Indiana Beach unfortunately did.

 

Nope! No trims here! Just an insane, throw you out of your seat drop that happens incredibly fast!

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Enjoy Circus Circus while it lasts, it was just sold yesterday to Phil Rufin, the same man that bought Treasure Island and got rid of the Pirate show. Not saying he will get rid of the Adventuredome, but he is known to tighten the belt of the proprieties he buys.

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I really never found Manhattan Express to be that bad either. It's far from smooth, but I've been on much worse. It's more bizarre than anything, I find, turning from a pretty decent-sized coaster into something that resembles a compact traveling coaster midway through.

 

It's a shame that Speed: The Ride hasn't been reassembled somewhere as that was the best coaster in Vegas.

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The next day we visited Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden at The Mira,ge.

 

Don't know if anyone here happened to see the recent Dateline special on Siegfried & Roy? It updated their lives since the tragic incident involving Mantecore, their white tiger and Roy. As viewers, we'll probably never know the exact details of the what happened on that stage (and perhaps neither will Siegfried & Roy and their staff). But I DID enjoy the short tour they showed on Dateline of the Secret Garden they created. There's lots of controversies about "white tigers," but S&R's Secret Garden looks like a place that visitors to Las Vegas would find fascinating.

 

Thanks for those photos, Adam.

 

Alice

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Enjoy Circus Circus while it lasts, it was just sold yesterday to Phil Rufin, the same man that bought Treasure Island and got rid of the Pirate show. Not saying he will get rid of the Adventuredome, but he is known to tighten the belt of the proprieties he buys.

 

But hasn't his M.O. been more about getting rid of the free or costly-to-operate elements of the resorts he has bought? I feel like Adventuredome probably is profitable enough to leave as is, even if he doesn't seem fit to invest any more into the property.

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Enjoy Circus Circus while it lasts, it was just sold yesterday to Phil Rufin, the same man that bought Treasure Island and got rid of the Pirate show. Not saying he will get rid of the Adventuredome, but he is known to tighten the belt of the proprieties he buys.

 

But hasn't his M.O. been more about getting rid of the free or costly-to-operate elements of the resorts he has bought? I feel like Adventuredome probably is profitable enough to leave as is, even if he doesn't seem fit to invest any more into the property.

 

I saw an article that states Phil Ruffin's primary objectives for the Circus Circus were Slots of Fun being underperforming and he wasn't sure if the RV Park and the Events Center as being the best use of the property. There was no mention of any changes to the Adventure Dome.

 

Unfortunately, the private equity firm Z Capital is also known for cutting expenses to the bone and they own Strat and Buffalo Bills, so who knows what rides are ultimately safe in Vegas.

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