Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Las Vegas: A Review: Part 2 of 3

The Do's, Don'ts, & Can'ts of Vegas …

So, what did I do while I was in Vegas?

Maybe I should start with some things that I thought I was going to be able to do, but wasn't.

The Can'ts …

First, I took $50, and my wife took $20; to gamble. I honestly thought this was something I'd want to do. It wasn't. I helped my wife spend $11 of her $20 and that was it. I was more interested in walking around and doing things with my wife than I was in gambling. According to my friend who more than quadrupled his money at blackjack ~ the Luxor hotel where I stayed has a great casino.

I thought I would be able to relax at the pool or in a jacuzzi. I was surprised to find that the pools (most everywhere in Vegas) don't open until 9AM and close at 8PM - well before the sun set. I only got to spend about two hours in the pool area on the last full day I was there. It's a shame too, because my wife looks great in a bathing suit.

Pool hours at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas
I'm not quite sure of the reasoning that the hotel has for closing the pools at 8PM. It seemed like they were selling drinks by the dozens at double the high price of normal bar prices. It has to be largely profitable to keep the pool open. The Luxor has one of the nicest pools in all of Vegas. Making it where I had to fill some of my day with some "mandatory pool time" had the opposite affect on me ~ because I couldn't get my pool time in - I probably missed out on some casino time.

Liberty Creek wines served @ Oasis Pool @ Luxor

Speaking of alcohol … I'm not a drinker. In fact, I don't like the taste of wine or beer. I also think the bible speaks volumes about drunkenness. I did however do something in Vegas that can only be done in Vegas ~ I bought a Smirnoff Ice, took it out of the Venetian Hotel, and walked the street drinking it. Due to open container laws in most every other city in the U.S. - this can't be done. It was an indulgence to partake in because it felt like a time to take advantage of a unique opportunity.

Comedian Carrot Top performs @ The Luxor Hotel
I had also planned to see more shows (and scheduled to see more) but comedian Carrot Top, who has an exclusive show in the Luxor; cancelled his performances while I was there, due to laryngitis. This wasn't that big of a deal because I've seen Carrot Top in concert several times. He's very funny and without seeing his Vegas show - I'd recommend it. This also freed up one night for my wife and I to walk around and do things that we probably wouldn't have been able to fit in otherwise.

* Carrot Top's show is adult.

The Don'ts …

I was able to fit in the Criss Angel BeLIEve Magic Show. This performance was actually a part of my vacation package that included flight, hotel, and two tickets to a premium event.

I personally chose Criss Angel for our entire group.

Tickets for this event, billed as Cirque De Soliel Presents: Criss Angel BeLIEve range from $59 + tax to $179 + tax. Entertainment tax in Vegas is 10% - so don't be shocked when you get the final price to pay if buying show tickets. So, I was glad I got my tickets free with my package.

As listed on the Luxor website:

Criss Angel Believe …

Adult tickets from $59.00
Youth tickets from $29.50
+ entertainment tax & service fee

This also appears on the ticket purchase page as a disclaimer …
Children must be 5 years of age or older to attend. Anyone under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult. This show has mature language and may not be suitable for individuals under the age of 12, parental guidance is recommended.
I would change this disclaimer to … DON'T TAKE YOUR CHILDREN! There isn't just mature language but there's extreme sexual content, cursing, and purposeful almost pedophiliac jokes. At one point during the show, Angel "selects" a 17 year old "Chinese" boy from the audience named "Peter Who". Whatever your imagination runs wild with as far as jokes that can be made ~ it's in there! It was disgusting. I doubt I would have enjoyed it when I was in high school and I know that my son would have been embarrassed to be in the audience with his parents. This was on top of a mostly lackluster magic show that presented relatively common tricks amongst magicians nowadays. The show also seems to go through the entire Magic's Secrets Finally Revealed TV Series.*

* Interesting side note, the Wikipedia page from Magic's Secrets Finally Revealed has this concerning Criss Angel:
"Criss Angel claims that the "revealing" is false and the creators of the show are not talented or creative enough ... He implied that those are not the real techniques magicians use to do their tricks."
Seeing Magic's Secrets Finally Revealed certainly didn't taint my perception of Angel's show … it's just that there were certain points where one could tell trickery was going on ~ such as when Angel would disappear and reappear a few seconds later and be tired or when 3 second long blinding light flashes would appear on stage and you could visbly see Angel disappearing under the stage. Too many smoke and mirrors and the outrageously crude humor ruin the show.

I also failed to see much (if any) Cirque De Soleil acrobatics or ballet during the show and didn't really get how the term was even associated other than to entice people who aren't completely sold on Angel or magic shows in Vegas.

On a scale from 1 to 10 - I'd give Criss Angel BeLIEve a 4.

It would be 5 without the crude humor.

For those of you saying, "It's Vegas - what'd you expect?" I honestly expected better after following Angel on Twitter for several months before my trip and his hyping up of his religious background. (He also does this during the show.) I also expected more because there were so many children in the audience.

* I've seen David Copperfield in concert twice (once in my home town) and seen how he does a number of his tricks, but I certainly felt like I got my money's worth and that it was a good family show.

The Do's ...

View of the Vegas strip - all bridges have glass barriers
I did get to walk the Vegas strip. This was one of my favorite parts of my trip ~ looking and observing.

Fountains at Bellagio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas
I enjoyed seeing part of the show in front of the Treasure Island Hotel, I enjoyed seeing the fountains at the Bellagio and walking the courts and gardens of Caesar's Palace. Out of the three, I'd highly recommend visiting the inside and outside of The Bellagio. There's lots to see - like a glass flower collection and the world's largest chocolate fountain.

Full sized replica of The Liberty Bell inside the Bellagio Hotel

The "world's largest chocolate fountain" at chocolatier Jean Phillipe's inside The Bellagio

Glass Sculpture Fiori Di Como by Dale Chihuly inside the Bellagio Hotel
Some other things I was able to see and do …

The Bodies Exhibit in the Luxor Hotel ... I had seen this in Atlanta when it was on tour and it is truly educational. It showcases REAL preserved human bodies dissected to display bodily systems. The look inside a real pregnant woman at different stages of birth is fascinating as well as seeing the real lungs of a smoker.

Titanic: The Exhibition in the Luxor Hotel ... I actually gave my tickets to see this to another couple that I travelled with and they said they liked it. They particularly liked the stories that went with each artifact. Much of what you've read and seen in the movies isn't true. If you're a big fan of the movie though, you should really enjoy this.

Our view at the hotel overlooked the Nevada mountains … it was a great view.
Jelly bean Statue Of Liberty
Inside New York, New York

The New York, New York hotel and the replicas of various New York City landmarks is impressive and  worth visiting.

The Excalibur hotel (the medieval castle) is interesting to visit and walk through.

The Monte Carlo hotel was impressive - one thing my wife noticed was the scent in this hotel. It was very calming. I expected to smell smoke in the casinos and hotels - but didn't experience that at all. In fact, each hotel seemed to have its own purposeful welcoming aroma.

Venetian Hotel Las Vegas gondola ride
The Venetian Hotel - this hotel is home to many gourmet restaurants from the likes of Wolfgang Puck and Emeril Lagasse. The impressive art recreations on the inside are worth visiting the hotel to see. This is also the hotel that has the gondola rides, although during our visit the outside gondola area and "recreated flooded streets of Venice" were drained and being worked on.

One other part of The Venetian I enjoyed was The Phantom of The Opera: The Las Vegas Spectacular. Everyone in my group attended. The tickets to this show are pricey ~ topping $250 for the nicest seats. Luckily, I was able to find a deal a few weeks before taking the trip to Vegas ~ we each got tickets for $74 (½ off). I've seen the original broadway play and the traveling Phantom play when it came to Greenville. This performance ranks right up with those. The show takes place in a full recreation of the Paris Opera House where the story takes place. The added effects (which are very impressive) and Paris Opera house ambiance make this show a must see if you are going to Vegas ~ even if opera and musicals aren't your thing. One warning ~ the theater is COLD - I was told mid 50〬F.

But, it wasn't just hotels that I enjoyed seeing …

Take a look at this awesome McDonald's …

McDonald's on Las Vegas Boulevard
I ate at the New York Slice Pizza place underneath the McDonalds. This is kind of a secret little "hole" in the wall to get a great tasting, but reasonably priced meal. As you can see there's also a Panda Express Chinese fast food place and a Chipolte Grill Express. All three are reasonably priced.

Something rather unique that I got to see was the Pawn Stars pawn shop from the History Channel TV show. We went to get a T-Shirt souvenir for a family member. It was worth the cab fare just to see a part of "old vegas" that you most likely won't see otherwise. The line outside to get in was about 20 minutes wait. We were told it sometimes is up to an hour long. 

Continue on to Part III

Read ... Las Vegas: A Review Part I

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