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Las Vegas - No longer the "City of Sin"

by Joy Kikuchi, editor

For many years, Las Vegas has been known as “Sin City,” where people of legal age can go to gamble, drink and have “Girls Straight to You 24 Hours A Day!” (a flyer passed out on The Strip.) There are still topless dancing revues and numerous strip clubs. However, after 1990, Las Vegas started cleaning up its image and offering more options for families. While most casinos still cater mostly to those only 21 and over, Las Vegas in general has become more family-friendly. No longer are the top attractions only for adults.

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The Las Vegas Boulevard, also known as “The Strip” or “The Las Vegas Strip,” is where most of the large hotels are located. The Strip, from the Stratosphere Hotel to the Las Vegas Outlet Center, is a little over five miles long, and is home to about 30 large hotels. This is the entertainment center of Las Vegas, where most of the main attractions are for those both under and over 21.

The first attractions for those under 21 are the arcades, the largest and most popular being GameWorks, which is located next to the MGM Grand Hotel. GameWorks has more than 250 games, as well as a restaurant, bar, Coca-Cola Store and M&Ms “factory.” GameWorks has the world’s tallest free-standing rock-climbing structure, as well as a bobsled racing game, and a large assortment of video games, from classics such as Pac-Man to new games developed especially for GameWorks.

A smaller arcade, but the only competition to GameWorks is the arcade at the Luxor Hotel, called the “Games of the Gods Arcade.” This arcade is home to about 200 video games, as well as a programmable roller coaster that allows players to design and ride their own virtual roller coaster. “Games of the Gods” also has an Indy 500 racing simulator and a powerboat racing game.

If games aren’t your type of thing, there are also attractions featuring animals. At the Mandalay Bay hotel, the Shark Reef exhibit is one the whole family can enjoy. The Shark Reef re-creates the atmosphere of an Amazon rainforest, and visitors can gaze at sharks in a sunken pirate ship. The current top feature in the Shark Reef is a 6-foot-long juvenile Great Hammerhead shark. Adult Great Hammerhead sharks usually grow to about 18 feet in length. This is the first time that a Great Hammerhead has been successfully featured in the United States in an aquarium. Another interesting creature is the Golden Crocodile, and Shark Reef is the only place that this creature can be seen outside of Thailand. The Golden Crocodile is a hybrid of a Siamese and a saltwater crocodile, and is extremely rare. The golden-yellow skin of this crocodile is due to a missing top layer of pigment in its skin.

Another animal attraction is the Lion Habitat at the MGM Grand Hotel. This exhibit showcases lions in a simulated forest, complete with a waterfall, and is free to the public from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Viewers and lions are separated by a protective, soundproof glass that stretches from the floor to the ceiling. The Lion Habitat is partnered with the University of Minnesota to promote lion preservation and further lion research.

The Strip is also home to many shows for all ages, from Excalibur’s “Tournament of Kings” to the magic of Lance Burton. The “Tournament of Kings” is a dinner show at the Excalibur hotel from 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. nightly. This live-action show charges a fee and features medieval jousting, wizards and dragons, and includes dinner.

Treasure Island is also home to a nightly show. Formerly home to the “Pirate Battle of Buccaneer Bay,” Treasure Island has changed their show to the “Sirens of TI.” The show is at 6 p.m., 8 p.m., and 10 p.m. nightly and is performed in the Siren’s Cove in front of the hotel’s entrance.

Another free show right next door to Treasure Island is the Volcano at the Mirage. The Volcano “erupts” every 15 minutes nightly, from 7 p.m. to midnight. Located in front of the hotel, the Volcano, during the day is a large waterfall that transforms into a fiery beast every night.

For those who enjoy a step out the present into the past, there are also many museums located on The Strip. The Luxor hotel houses a full replica of King Tutankhamun’s tomb, reconstructed using the same tools and methods as the Egyptians did nearly 3,300 years ago.

Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum is located at the Venetian Hotel, also on The Strip. The museum exhibits over 100 celebrities, including sports stars, movie stars, world leaders, and Las Vegas stars. Here visitors can be one of Brtiney Spears’ backup dancers, shoot hoops with Shaq, or just have their picture taken with stars of long ago.

Many of the attractions on the Strip are no longer only for adults. For those under 21, Las Vegas can still be the “City of Entertainment.”



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