A world-famous casino city. Enjoying the extraordinary in Entertainment City.
Needless to say, Las Vegas is the world-famous Casino, entertainment and resort city. You may have a strong image of the Casino facilities attached to the hotel and the variety of entertainment shows that take place at the hotel. My first visit was in 1988. Stopping at the downtown Casino district, seeing the elderly people sitting in front of the slot machines while walking around the Casino hotels, the image of “a place where people who are in the final stage of life visit to kill time” was imprinted. I had a feeling that this is not the place to come. Later, however, I realized that Las Vegas was a valuable place as the gate city of the surrounding wilderness and national parks that aroused my interest, so it was often included in the beginning or end of the schedule on my trip. Since then, I have visited more than ten times.
Because it is a city that symbolizes entertainment, it is overflowing with an extraordinary feeling. It depends on the extent of individual interest, but it can be said that it is a rare place where you can stay in the same hotel for a week without getting bored. Thirty years have passed since my first visit, but many things have changed. First, I would like to describe the changes since my first visit in 1988. Finally, I would like to introduce some of my favorite places in Las Vegas.
Changes in Las Vegas
■ Younger and more generalized visitors
In the 1980s and 1990s, people had a strong impression that Las Vegas was a place where they came to play Casinos, and the age group of visitors was high. There was also an entertainment show, but the options were limited, and after all, it was a typical pattern to stay at a Casino hotel and enjoy the Casino when visiting Las Vegas. Casino hotel has the priority to get the profit from the Casino, so room rates were very low, and there were Casino hotels that charged only 20 to 30 dollars per night in the 1980s and early 1990s. This point can be said to be proof that the Casino was the main business. At this price, motels around Casino hotels were more expensive, and after realizing this fact, I started staying at Casino hotels.
On the other hand, in terms of entertainment, “Cirque du Soleil” started a residency show at “Mystere” in 1993, and since then it has been involved in multiple performances, which has been a factor in expanding the entertainment audience. Until then, major entertainment was magic and revue shows, so the appearance of “Cirque du Soleil” should have played an important role in making visitors younger and more popular.
■ Casino change
Slot machines have changed a lot. In the 80’s and 90’s, people used to put money/coins into slot machines and play. Put a coin in the ice box (a plastic box for ice cubes) like you would find in a motel room in US, then moved the slot machine platform while making jingling noises, and insert the coin into the coin slot. I put in one by one and pulled the arm. When drew a hit, the coin was ejected to the the machine’s saucer, and the sound was noisy.
Later, in addition to the arm, a button appeared to spin the reel. The reel spins when pressing the button, but it took less time than pulling the arm, so the money was gone in a very short time and it was boring.
Subsequently, the management of money in slot machines was digitized, and money was withdrawn by card. This card is called “Player’s Club” issued by a Casino hotel, and money is transferred using this card. When the card is inserted at the start of the game, the remaining amount is displayed, then the balance at the time of the end was recorded on the card. When the money ran out, the card was charged by inserting money into the bill slot attached to the slot machine. When drew a hit, the coin does not come out on the machine’s saucer, it just increases the number displayed on the machine, and the momentary action made me lose the feeling that I won the game.
As a result of this change, the ice box like coin box that was stacked on the side of the slot machine disappeared. Also, as mentioned above, coins are no longer ejected to machine’s saucer, making it less noisy, but as a result of this, the image of the Casino floor as a “noisy place” has disappeared. This change brought the feeling of change for enjoying the slot machine, and in the beginning, in order to recognize the feeling of winning, the cash out button on the slot machine was pressed intentionally and the money was spit out onto the machine’s saucer, and enjoyed the sound of coins coming out.
After that, from the 2010s onwards, digital slot machine displays appeared. Traditionally, reels with letters and patterns were spinning, but these letters and patterns were gradually digitized and virtualized, and the number of machines with physical reels has decreased. In 2018, when I saw the scenery lined up with these digitized slot machines, I was shocked that the scenery had changed.
■ Diversification of night shows
The atmosphere of entertainment shows has changed since “Cirque du Soleil” started the stage in Las Vegas in the mid-1990s, adding “artistry” to the entertainment. Before “Cirque du Soleil” dominated the shows, major type of stage was magic and review. Siegfried & Roy (1990～2003), Lance Burton (1991～2010) as magic show, Splash (1984-2006), Jubilee (1981-2016) as review show were popular. Of course, adult shows also existed, but the suspicious feeling of the past has diminished and sophistication has progressed. This must also be influenced by the younger age and generalization of visitors.
Although it might be not suitable expression, magic is assumed that there is a mechanism of “imaginary” part, whereas “Cirque du Soleil” pursues “genuine”. I think that this is related to the elimination of “imaginary” according to the increase of the information disseminated. I have seen a few magic shows, but “Steve Wyrick” show was impressed. It was at deserted venue, the stage was wide long, and there were only about ten rows of seats from the front to the back end row. The whole venue had a dubious atmosphere, but I think the number of stages with this “dubious atmosphere” is decreasing.
■ Luxury and sophistication of hotels
Compared to the late 1980s, number of hotel has increased at the Strip. At that time, the center of the Strip was the intersection called “Four Corner” where “Caesar’s Palace”, “Flamingo Hilton”, and “Bally’s” gathered. At the intersection, called as “New Four Corner” where the most popular and people gathers nowadays, there was only the ”Tropicana”, and the south side was a wasteland with no hotels. ”Luxor” did not even exist yet, and across from where “Luxor” was built was a row of old, seedy motels, catering to people who could not stay in a Casino hotel or who were not interested in Casino.
Until then, Casino hotels had for common people, but around Bellagio (opened in 1998), they turned to high-end oriented, Mandalay Bay (opened in 1999), Venetian (opened in 1999) ), the flashy neon decorations synonymous with Casino hotels have disappeared.
After that, Aria (opened in 2009) and Cosmopolitan (opened in 2010) appeared. When driving along the Strip, I used to be distracted by the dazzling neon lights emitted from the left and right sides of the street, but now I feel that the neon lights have been subdued.
The downtown area, on the other hand, does not change as much as the Strip. The neon lights emitted by hotels and Casinos are as flashy as ever, and the people who gather here are of an older age group. From the late 1980s to the early 1990s, it felt dangerous, but after “Fremont Street”, the main street, was turned into an arcade in 1995 and a neon show was started using the monitors on the ceiling, the surrounding area changed to be clean. The feeling of danger and suspicion softened a little. Personally, if you want to feel the neon streets of Las Vegas and a little dangerous atmosphere, I recommend visiting the downtown area, not just the Strip.
■ Pinball Hall of Fame
This place is just amazing. I have never seen like this place. That is what it feels like. Retro pinball machines are lined up in a large warehouse-like building. There were 6 rows of pinball machines with about 20 to 30 machines each row. It seems that there are about 200 machines in total, but it is amazing anyway. “Amazing” is the perfect word. In the backside, the staff seemed to be doing repair work, but I think it is hard to maintain this facility. In addition, the pinball can be played by inserting a 25 cent coin. The person who like Pinball machine will never get tired of being there for a day. It reminds me of a scene from Haruki Murakami’s novel “Pinball in 1973”. I visited in 2015, but have moved to the close location in 2021.
(Haruki Murakami: “Pinball in 1973” quote)
At best, it looked like an elephant graveyard. And instead of the skeletons of bent-legged elephants, pinball tables were lined up on the concrete floor as far as the eye could see. I stood on the stairs and stared down at the strange sight. A hand involuntarily crawled to my mouth and then returned to my pocket.
■ Ghost Bar 【Closed】
A superb view point where you can see the night view of Las Vegas. A club on the 55th floor of “The Palms”, about 2km west of Four Corners on the Strip. The night view overlooking the Strip seen from here is wonderful. This is a nightclub, so it is troublesome to enter, but if you go early on weekday nights, you can get in. Anyway, let’s secure a place where you can see the night view of the Strip outdoors. This outdoor location does not apply a perplexing system of extra charges for seating. The sight of the neon lights flickering on the Strip is a masterpiece. The night view from the observatory of Strat (ex. Strasphere) in the north of the Strip is also wonderful, but this ghost bar is closer to the center of the Strip, so the impact should be stronger. Visited in 2002.
** It reopened in 2022. The system and atmosphere should have changed, so be careful.
“Ka” caught my eye personally at “Cirque du Soleil”. The gimmicks of the stage were wonderful, and during the performance, I could not understand what was going on, that ended before I knew it. Rather than artistry, it feels like a landscape in a state of confusion flows in front. I admire the people who created this show.
By the way, I have seen “O”, “Le Reve”, “Mystere” for “Cirque du Soleil”, but it did not fit very well. By the way, I appreciated “Ka” in the seventh row from the front, which may have something to do with it. The other stages were from the middle to the back row of seats, so if I was watching from the front row of seat, my impression might have been different. As for the entertainment show, I think it is good to see it in the front. I would like you to get the front row seat. Visited in 2008.
■ Carrot Top
Standing comedy. Played by a man named “Carrot Top”. If you do not speak English, you cannot keep up, but the triggers for speaking are the props scattered around the stage and can imagine the situation and keep up with some level of English capability.
Carrot Top is in the age of 50s, and his story is based on themes that took place in the 80s and 90s. If you want to experience American comedy, please try. Visited twice in 2018.
Visited about 15 times since 1988.
■ Name：Las Vegas
(described on Feb 17 2023)