Wednesday, September 11, 2002
I just got back from a short trip to Las Vegas a couple of days ago, and since I suppose that I better write something here every once in a while, I thought that I'd post a few impressions from the trip.
Blue Man Group (Luxor): This was by far what I spent the most money on during this trip, but I'd say that the show was worth the money spent. I was able to get a ticket on the third row (in the "Poncho" section, although there wasn't any apparent need for them during the show) which meant I was able to get a really good view. The show itself was excellent. You might want to have some asprin handy though, since the show involves a lot of loud bass. Not that you'll particularly mind. I don't think I've seen a show use that many drummers before. For this reason, I tend to think that this show is probably best enjoyed while sober, a rarity in Las Vegas. Oh yeah, there's also some parts where full presence of mind is definitely required to fully enjoy the show. Afterwards, I also ended up picking up a copy of their CD entitled Audio which I have playing right now with the volume cranked. That's the only way that one can get the full effect from it. I would definitely recommend this show to anyone in Vegas (or anywhere else Blue Man Group plays, for that matter.)
Shark Reef (Mandalay Bay): This may be one of the nicest aquarium setups I've ever seen. It is a little bit expensive ($14.95 for admission) but what isn't in Vegas? They have some huge sharks in their reef environment, as well as some nice displays of various other creatures that you probably wouldn't care to meet in a dark alley. Actually, I think if you ran into most of what they had there in a dark alley, all they'd do is flop around all over the place, since there wouldn't be any water there. Still, this was pretty cool, and is a good thing to do when you're looking for something to do with a little bit slower pace. One caveat: The Shark Reef is in about the farthest point possible from the hotel entrance, which means you'll have to walk through the casino, all the shops (Does getting to anything in Vegas NOT require walking through a casino and a bunch of shops?) and even a little bit of relatively nondescript (for Vegas anyway) hallway to get to the Shark Reef entrance. At least there's trams between the Excalibur, Luxor and Mandalay Bay to help save a little bit of walking in the process.
The Rio Buffet: Just about everyone in town has some sort of buffet. The one at the Rio was absolutely HUGE. As soon as you get there, they inform you that the buffet is over a hundred yards long, and they're not kidding. This place has a ton of different choices, and the food is actually pretty good too, which is a rarity for buffets anywhere. As with everything else on my list, it's pretty expensive (I believe the cost of a dinner buffet was something like $17.95 per person.) The Rio is a few blocks off the main strip, so you need to either take the shuttle from Harrah's, or take a cab over there.
Other stuff that was pretty cool but probably doesn't need a lengthy description:
- The Manhattan Express roller coaster at New York New York (one of the best roller coasters I've been on. This one's a little expensive though)
- The Bellagio Fountains (See them at least once)
- Forum Shops at Caesars (try to catch the aquarium and the free Atlantis show at the fountain at the back of the Forum Shops area. the Atlantis show happens every hour most days, every half hour on Fridays and Saturdays)
- Star Trek Experience (anyone who fancies themselves a Trekkie should go at least once. It's a little too expensive for what it is though, even though you can go through it as many times as you want.)
- The Stratosphere Tower (if only for the view. I didn't go on any of the thrill rides there though. )
- The Mirage (one of the nicer hotels in the area)
- The Grand Canal Shops at the Venetian (This looks incredible)
Most of the north end of the Strip. I was staying at the Stratosphere when I was in Vegas, and since we had no car available most of the time we were there, a lot of walking was involved. For the most part, we just passed everything north of Treasure Island completely. Most of the places in this area (Stardust and Frontier especially) seemed quite seedy. Of the places in the area, about the only ones that I would even consider going to again were the Stratosphere (which was actually quite nice), the Vegas Hilton, and maybe the Sahara (the NASCAR Cafe there was kind of cool.) The rest I'd be hesitant to even walk down the streets near. If I go again, chances are I won't stay at the Stratosphere, not because it's a bad place to stay, but because it's just too far from everything else.
Too much walking. When I got there, the first thing I did was take a (long) walk down the strip to check out the various hotels and find my way around. Somehow, this ended up lasting almost all day, and I think I managed to walk nearly ten miles. By the time my brother and the other people he was with arrived, it was nearly midnight, and about all I could think of doing was getting to the hotel room and zonking out. Of course, the next day, everyone decided that they wanted to do exactly what I did yesterday, so I ended up following them out and doing pretty much the same thing all over again. Finally, by the third day I was there, I think we were all sick and tired of walking all over the place, and just ended up taking cabs everywhere. This can get a bit expensive after a while. I think if I go th Vegas again, I will be renting a car. Trying to walk everywhere in the area is just not a particularly good idea.
The notoroious "Nausea Six-Pack": Be wary of anyone trying to offer you a deal on motion simulator rides. Someone decided that paying $15 apiece for a six-pack of these would be a good idea. If something is being offered cheap, there's usually a reason for it. In this case, not only were the ride films really cheesy, but someone decided it would be a good idea to show six of them in a row. And they wonder why they have abnormally high barf bag expenses..
So there you have it. I have returned from Las Vegas as sober as I left (although something tells me that the town is not intended to be visited by sober people), with a slightly lighter wallet, and a few blisters. I enjoyed the trip, although I tend to think I might wait a while before heading back. It's a nice place to visit, but I don't think I'd care to live there.