by Stephanie Zonis
Even if you never venture off The Strip, it's a great place for walking and taking pictures. At least 8 couples or groups asked me to take their pictures while I was there, so I gather this is a common thing. Wear good walking shoes, go into the casinos and shopping arcades often attached to them, just look around. Nobody ever objects to your doing so, and, if you get lost, ask any resort employee for directions; everyone I asked was courteous and helpful. It's a good idea to take a small bottle of water with you (though they're sold all over the place), and you might want sunscreen, too. PLEASE follow crossing signals on the streets! Accidents involving pedestrians are becoming more and more common in Vegas; in part, this is because people pay no attention to "do not cross" signals. True, some of these signals seem to last forever, but it's a lot better to wait than to be hit by a car. A number of the resorts now have monorails running between them, convenient if your feet get tired. Make certain you see The Strip at night, which is when it really comes to life. Many resorts, such as Treasure Island, host free shows periodically, and they're pretty good about letting people know when they happen; it's often a good idea to get there early, especially if you have kids or want to take pictures. While you're out walking, consider seeing the following:
Bellagio. The lobby includes a small but immaculately kept-up botanical garden, and some huge, painted, probably glass flowers on the ceiling. The whole lobby and front of the resort are nicely done, and cost someone an awful lot of money, but the effect is really pretty. The lake in front of the resort is the site of a periodic synchronized lights-water-music show.
The Venetian. The effect here is pretty, as well, but different. The Venetian is supposed to resemble St. Mark's Square, I believe, and the front of the resort includes a bridge and looks classy, especially at night. Several ceilings are done up with mock frescoes, like the one in the lobby. This resort even offers short gondola rides, if you can believe it. There's a strolling accordion player, too.
The MGM Grand. Worth seeing just for the size of the place, which is mind-boggling. A monorail runs between this resort and Bally's.
The Luxor. A Sphinx and an obelisk out front. A lobby done up in more, smaller sphinx-like statues and heiroglyphics. Genuinely impressive. At night, the outside of this resort looks especially silly, with lights travelling up the pyramid corners to a huge bulb on top of the pyramid.
Mandalay Bay. Next to the Luxor. There is an area out front with waterfalls and columns and huge urn-type things. Is all of this evocative of 1890's Burma, as it's supposed to be? I don't know about that, but it's restful and easy on the eyes.
Paris in Las Vegas. Much of the ceiling here is painted to resemble the sky. I like the front of this resort, with a fake Eiffel Tower, a great water fountain, and a big balloon-type structure. Along the "Boulevard", if your timing is particularly bad, you might run into a trio of stereotypically-dressed "Frenchmen" who entertain with vocals, harmonica, and accordion. No kidding. Some of the directional signs in the casino area are in fake French.
Caesar's Palace. Lots of moving walkways, tons of statuary. There's a free show here, at one end of the shopping arcade, that supposedly tells the reason why Atlantis was swallowed by the ocean. The animatronics are very good; the rest of the show is pure fertilizer. I did enjoy the fact that Zeus' face looked like that of a ticked-off used car salesman, though. You could easily get lost in this resort for days, as it's enormous. Incidentally, the ceiling of some of this resort also looks like the sky; the colors are supposed to change according to the time of day.
The Imperial Palace. If you're into classic cars, The Imperial Palace has a small museum devoted to them. Deusenbergs, Silver Shadows, cars owned by the rich and famous, and many others. There is an admission charge, but I'm told that sometimes they hand out free passes in front of the resort.
In a city famed for tackiness, you might think I'd have a hard time picking just one event. But the hands-down winner in this category was the Masquerade Village "Show in the Sky", at the Rio Suites (not on The Strip, but a short cab ride away). This is a free event, and one of the four different shows is put on 5 or 6 times a day. I initially witnessed the "Venetian Masquerade"; while I liked the giant animatronic peacock and the acrobats, the rest of the "Show" was a medley of hackneyed pseudo-ethnic and pop tunes, accompanied by "dancers" and "singers" of marginal talent, and "floats" that move on tracks along the ceiling. It was awful. The rest of the crowd loved it, especially when the "performers" tossed out strands of Mardi Gras beads. I have been to Graceland, South of the Border, AND Prairie Dog Town, and this was tackier than any of them. I also saw what I think was the "New Orleans Masquerade", which featured an inflatable Louis Armstrong that dropped down from the ceiling and some hapless soul dressed as a large crawdad with what looked like moon boots on his/her feet. I'm not making any of this up. If you must see this, don't go on a full stomach and don't say I didn't warn you.
Copyright © 2000 Francesca Chocolate Productions. All Rights Reserved.
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This page created January 2000
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