Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mega TR: Las Vegas - May 11-16, 2008 - Day 2 5/12/08

Mega TR: Las Vegas – May 11-16, 2008 – Day 2 – 5/12/08

Welcome back! When last we left our traveler, I was just getting ready for my first night’s sleep in a pyramid. With the 24 hour day, and the airline flights and all I admit I slept pretty soundly. Perhaps not as soundly as the original residents of pyramids, but pretty soundly nonetheless. So around 9:00 or so, we get up, and ready to greet the new day. While getting ready the housekeeper stopped by our room, so I asked about the non-slip mat available for the shower upon request. Soon we were headed down to the food court.

So close, and yet so far away. We could easily see the food court from our hotel rooms. Never mind the fact it was 12 floors lower than us, so we got on the inclinator and pressed 2. Everything in Vegas can become a gamble, and we even started guessing which of the four inclinators would arrive first. I mean it’s a 1:4 chance! We step off the inclinator at 2 which we would think would be the atrium level, however there is no access to the atrium. In an exercise both to add to the access control system only allowing hotel guests to hotel floors, as well as make it where you have to walk through the casino to get anywhere.

So, it’s back into the inclinator and down to 1, and we enter the casino. We walk along the back wall of the casino past the sports book and come to a stairway up to the garage and pool connector. Up that sort flight of stairs, turnaround and there are escalators up to the atrium. Approaching the escalator I saw something that I would call an architectural mistake, that the architects would probably call an architectural feature. To get to the UP escalator first you go down about 3 or 4 stairs, I note there are no other options other than to go to the escalator. It would seem to me that they made the escalator a few steps too long, and they could have flattened this area out. But, I await for somebody to point out how it improves the detail. Actually, putting a couple stairs before escalators seems to not be that uncommon out in Vegas, ad I wonder if it is really for asthetics, or if it is a deterrent for those considering taking walkers and the like on the escalators.

At the top of the escalator you come out between the wedding chapel and the food court. The food court, like the buffet has managed to retain some Egyptian theming, most notably the cloth covers over the dining room that further the image that the food court is meant to look like an outdoor bazaar, and those fabric covers are like tents shading the dining area. As I noted a similar decorative tactic is used in the buffet. We look around the bazaar/food court, lets see there is a Starbucks, an ice cream parlor, a Quiznos, a Nathans, a Mcdonalds and a Little Ceasars. Since its still breakfast hours, we grab a quick breakfast at Mcdonalds. At table I notice the table tops contain ads for the IMAX movies. So we start the day off with a nice relaxing breakfast, then cousin Rick announces he is going to play some poker. The rest of us decide to go out and see some sights.

We first walk through the atrium. At the back of the atrium are the food court and wedding chapel, then moving towards the front you have a concession where you and your family sit on an oriental rug in a lime green booth, then through the magic of chromakey they have you flying your magic carpet over various tourist destinations. We decline the offer. Also along the back you have the elevator to the casino and buffet, I believe the only elevator in the place a non hotel guest is allowed to use. Moving towards the front on the north side you have the King Tut museum, which is a walk through exhibit of a replica of King Tut’s tomb. We had seen a similar exhibition at Cincinnati’s museum center. I would use caution if you want to see the King Tut Museum , as the Luxor has taken it off the attractions page of their website, which would seem to tell me it could close down at any time, if it hasn’t already. Past King Tut is an IMAX theatre showing a rotating selection of movies on an hourly basis. Looking at the Imax from the 14th floor, it has a sleek all black appearance, not unlike the outside of the Luxor itself, the spiral access ramps reminded me of a parking garage ramp. Next to that is the sign for the Games of the Gods Arcade, which was a video arcade, I say was as construction walls are up all around it, and the walls advertise one of the plastinated Bodies exhibits coming soon. This surprises me as Tropicana just across the street already has one of these exhibits open. On the other side of that more construction walls block of La Salsa which was a chain Mexican restaurant which is said to be replaced with a different Mexican eatery in the future. A path in the front of the atrium runs past a gift shop and then ends at the front escalators. On the South side of the atrium starting at the back is the Atrium Showroom (not to be confused with the Luxor Showroom down on the main floor) Atrium Showroom is currently featuring Carrot Top as their headliner act, and then their late show is Fantasy, which is a Vegas style topless showgirl revue. Past the showroom is the connector to Mandalay Bay, which also has an escalator down to the casino. It’s funny at the top of this escalator they advertise you can ride down to the casino, at the bottom they don’t advertise you can ride up to the atrium. On the other side of the connector is a gift shop, then the entrance for an IMAX based ridefilm called “In Search of the Obelisk” which is a motion siulator attraction, then you have the box office for the Luxor shows and attractions. You then up at the other gift shop and the front escalators.

We wanted to go to Mandalay Bay, which is a casino none of us have spent any significant time at. We start down the connector and pass an Asian restaurant and an upscale table service burger restaurant that the Luxor claims ownership of. The connector is called Mandalay Place and looks much like a shopping mall as it provides a climate controlled indoor walkway between Luxor and Mandalay Bay, lined with shops and eateries. At the other end we ride an escalator down and into Mandalay Bay, passing a House of Blues right next to the entrance.

Mandalay Bay has a tropical theme to it, and soon we are heading into the casino floor. I won’t bore you the gory details, suffice to say we played lots of slots here. Luckily for us, their players club program is linked to the same one as Luxor so we are earning points towards Luxor. After we had our fill of the slot machines, we deicde to go see Shark Reef. Shark Reef was one of the attractions that Uncle Rick mentioned he wanted to see. The resort has numerous directional signs, and soon we find signs pointing the way to Shark Reef. We keep following the signs, eventually they take us out of the casino, we keep following the signs through the tropical themed shopping area, we keep following the sign through the shopping area and even see a real big Shark Reef sign, this must be it. Nope, we follow the signs out of the shopping area and into the resorts convention center. We keep following the signs all the way through the convention centeer and out the other side. Shark Reef itself is still not in sight.Mom is starting to tire of walking but we see two attendants pushing wheelchairs, and they will even give mom a push to Shark Reef. It seems they won’t loan you a chair here, but you can summon somebody and they will be happy to provide a loaner chair and push you your destination. So the attendant is pushing Mom and we are walking along just in back of them. Ages later on the further outer reaches of Mandaly Bay we reach the reach Shark Reef. The attendant points the ticket booth out to us, and says that he will take mom the rest of the wa.

Rick and I get in the ticket line and proceed to each buy two tickets at $16 each. Tickets in hand we continue along the hallway and through the door way to Shark Reef. The tropical theming resumes and we see we can either go up a flight of stairs or take the escalator, we take the escalator and meet the other two just before the attraction entrance.

We hand in our tickets and get park guides as well as Audio Wands. It seems that an audio tour, dubbed Audio Wand here is included in the price of admission. Audio tours are a neat idea, the add to the experience by adding an narration, just like you were on a guided tour of the attraction, plus they can mix in appropriate incidental music at times, guest speakers, speak in different accents, whatever. It can do much more than a basic printed sign that a good number of guests aren’t likely to take the time to read anyway. Unlike a guided tour you don’t need the actual guides and you can move along at your own pace, skip parts you aren’t interested in, and can repeat something you missed or something you want to hear again. In that regard audio tours have come a long way since the days when they would loan you a tape and a tape player.

We get our stubs back and enter the attraction, but first a grouper asks how many in our group, I quickly respond 5 before being reminded cousin Rick is not here, okay 4 then. In the first room we stand against a lime green wall for a couple photos, get handed a card and are then invited to enter Shark Reef. “Go into the first room, and press the number 1 on your Audio Wands” We do as instructed. The audio wand is a long thin black ‘wand’ shaped stick with a speaker at one end, and a keypad about midway down the same side. The idea is as you look at exhibits or enter new parts of the attraction, there will be numbers posted on markers, you dial that number into your audio wand just like a phone, and then the recording plays. I suspect the audio wand is actually a heavy duty mp3 player, made a little bulky to discourage theft. The audio wands also have their own volume control, a button to stop the current recording, and a button to replay the last recording played. At this particular attraction, it first plays a short summary description when you dial an exhibits number, then at the end of the summary you can press the # key for a more detailed recording

Anyway, we step into the first room and I note there is a marker there with a “1” on it for the Audio Wand. Pressing 1 causes the unit o play a brief welcome message, then it teaches you how to use the Audio Wand and then some ground rules for the attraction. You are then invited to go down the ramp to the exhibits. The first part of Shark Reeft is designed to look like you are looking at ancient ruins on a tropical island, astute observers will note the path is constantly going downhill in this section. You first pass animals that can like on land such as the alligators and when you have progressed low enough you can start seeing into the tanks. The various aquarium displays are viewed primarily through large floor to ceiling picture windows instead of small windows, and there may be two or 3 large windows for each exhibit offering different viewpoints and allowing more people to see the exhibits faster. Some areas are designed to allow a crowd to build up as there may be 5 or 6 audio wand cue numbers posted for one display, each one keyed to a different species of animal. The audio wands also help with crowd control because the vast majority of people we noted were dutifully listening to their wands, and that seems to control the pace that people move through the attraction. Suffice to say the exhibit is so much more than just about sharks, it is a full aquarium exhibit. When you have wound down to the lower level through the ancient ruins section of the attraction, you actually enter the ruins and walk through a darker indoor portion.

Up to this point you had been under massive skylights that help give the illusion you are outdoors, albeit a comfortable climate controlled outdoors. This area features the very colorful when seen in the proper lighting coral reef area. At the end of the coral reef area you enter a room that has the touch pool. The Audio Wand message entering this area advises you to hand your audio wand to somebody else in your party to hold while you participate in the touch pool activities. They have mostly stingrays in the touch pool, and they also have a baby shark, just like the aquarium close to me. Also in this area they do have an area to clean up or use Purell. Another feature of the area is a glass cylindrical column that contains jellyfish. How delicate, how exquisite, how fascinating.

From there the next gallery looks like the deck of a pirate ship, albeit a sunken pirate ship whouch would exlain the floor to ceiling windows that wrap all the way around your ship, except for the entrance and exit, aws well as some areas where the animals can swin overhead, and there are some ‘broken’ parts of the deck that you can look through into the tank under you via glass in the floor. It’s a well done room. The last section is the shark reef itself where you go througha glass tube (even the floor is glass in parts) right through the middle of the shark tank. Very impressive, and here the Audio Wand makes the comment about what sharks like to eat includes “and guests who forget to return their audio wands”

After the glass tube through the Shark Reef you come to a room that has stairs back up tot the upper level of the attraction as well as an elevator. For those scared of snakes, watch out for the snake climbing a tree sculpture in the middle of the stairwell. Also in this room you get your final audio wand cue which triggers a thank you for visiting message, exhibit credits, and an inspirational message to send you away with. We ride up the elevator which, not too surprisingly, leads to a gift shop. The exit turnstile is manned by a person collecting the audio wands as you exit the attraction. Appart from Shark Reef logo items, the gift shop here is very similar to the aquarium back home. After the gift shop is the counter where you check your photos. We checked but did not purchase our photo. We then exited the attraction right next to the booth where we entered. We decided to head to Excalibur next.

We follow the directions given to use by the gentleman that pushed Mom to Shark Reef, and we learned it would be about a 15 minute wait for a wheelchair escort. Rick and Wanda decide to get a head start and say they will meet us at the monorail station. In a time that was more like 7-10 minutes our escort arrives and we all head to the monorail station. We go down an elevator which is “hidden in plain sight” as it sits in a tiny alcove off the main hallway, we then proceed to the monorail station and I can be assured we didn’t miss a shortcut as he took the same very long walk that we did getting to the aquarium.

Excalibur, Luxor, and Mandalay Bay are all owned by the same people, and they provide a courtesy monorail between the three. Mandalay Bay as well as being the most upscale of the three, also has the nicest platform as it is located inside the casino. We head to the one far corner of the casino where the escalators are up to the monorail platform and we duck into another tiny alcove to catch the somewhat hidden elevator. The system is not unlike that appearing in airports all over. We enter the platform and there are two tracks, the express which goes directly to the Excalibur, and the local which stops at the Luxor and then goes to the Excalibur. Signs indicate the Luxor/Excalibur line is closed. (Still?). I’ve ridden the local line, and they use a clever tactic where they only stop at the Luxor while going northbound, not southbound, as a means to get more people to go into the further away Mandalay Bay.

Our escort leaves us at the monorail platform, and not too much later Rick and wanda join us. We then all catch a train to Excalibur. The monorail in general and our car in particular are not too crowded so everybody gets to sit down while riding the monorail. We pass over the big lot out front of Luxor and see a big white special events tent, but no clue as to what that might be about, might just be something for all the work crews. We also get a good look at the Luxor from the outside as we glide past Luxor platform which is at the base of the Sphinx statue outdoors in front of the Luxor. I note people waiting at the Luxor platform, maybe they just got it open. We glide alongside the castle that is Excalibur,, and glide past the unload platform for the local line. They do something cunning there, you exit the monorail outside, then go down an escalator (or elevator, or stairs) then through a one way door into the casino, you can’t just turn back around and leave you must go through the casino. We continue on to the platform for the express line, and the load platform for the local line. We exit and walk around the end of the track where you can see the big glassed in operators booth. Signs here also indicate the Luxor line is closed, and you can see the train for the Luxor line parked. Did the Luxor not post the signs at their platform, somehow I doubt it, and I have a hunch that people see the express monorail running, so think the signs are out of date and go up to the platform anyway, then after watching the trains for a liitle while may realize no trains are running on the near track. The main monorail station for this line is in a turret shaped building in front of the Excalibur. We exit the station then take an elevator to dodge the stairs down to a ramp. If we were to go up the ramp, we would get to the bridge that Rick and I used last night to cross the street towards the Tropicana. We go down the ramp and into the castle forecourt where there is a bar, and other stands. The entrance to the Excalibur is to the left, the bridge to New York New York is on the right, and to the immediate right and behind us is the ramp down to street level.

We decide that since we have to pass through Excalibur on our way back to the Luxor this evening, that we’d just cross the bridge to New York New York. The casino themed to famous east coast city. I am eager to point out The Rollercoaster as its lift hill, first drop and second hill can be seen running alongside this side of the casino. Straight ahead you see a stylized New York skyline with several famous skyscrapers represented in miniature (It should be noted that the World Trade Center is not, and never was a part of this imitation New York Skyline) Looking down in front of the casino you see a harbor with a Statue of Liberty proudly standing in the middle flanked by giant American flags on both sides. There is even a boat out in the harbor. We come to the end of the bridge and I note warnings have been posted because there are two or three steps down from the bridge to the doorway, and its very easy to miss. (a ramp is availale) You enter New york New York: The greatest city in Las Vegas on the second floor and enter an area lined with shops, fast food stands, a nightclub (Coyote Ugly), a bar (complete with a huge collection of beer taps mounted in what is meant to look like a huge slab of solid ice). This little area takes up a small corner of New York New York and serves to connect the bridge to Excalibur to the bridge to MGM Grand. (conveniently all three owned by the same people). At the corner of this indoor walkway there is an escalator down to the casino floor, which we take.

My, a nice size chunk of the New York New York casino floor is blocked of by construction walls as well, including my favorite statue of Madonna as the Statue of Liberty. We walk through the casino and see an area that is clearly Times Square, we pass an escalator up to Coney Island (I eagerly offer to show the family whats up there, they aren’t going for it), we walk around and come to a Grenwich Village themed area. It looks like a small town downtown in the 1930’s and these storefronts house the resorts food court. We had wanted to get a bite to eat. The food court contains mostly internal brand restaurants and not chains. There is a deli, pizza place, burger place, ice cream stand and more. Also for some reason the area also contains the entrance to the Zummanity theatre for Cirque Du Soleil. We find a table alongside the “street” and notice there is a period parking meter by the table. I quip that we have to rent the table. The storefronts that are not service windows for the food court house fake period stores. We opt for Broadway Burger, and they have an indoor eating area as well, but we stick to our table ‘outside’ as it is better for people watching. Rick and I go in and get lunch. Most of us opt for the double cheeseburger combo (fries and pepsi), and I note there is no single burger combo, and mom doesn’t eat that much, but when I ask about if they are willing to work wiih me to create a combo using a single burger. These sandwiches are HUGE, the single Mom had would have plenty for any of us a this was merely meant to be a snack, the doubles are so enourmous it is a challenge just to get your mouth around it. The burgers come fully loaded with all the toppings you could hope for, including the always scary but tasty “special sauce” Not only was it a HUGE burger but it was also a quality burger. Extremely filling to say the least especially when you add in the decent size order of fries. All in all, not a bad meal at all for only $6.

We walk the rest of the food court, and I notice a rollercoaster support column and hear a train approaching, I grab on to the column to feel the vibration, yes I know that’s a weird coaster enthusiast thing. We get back to the gaming floor and ass by a Sic Bo table, a Sic Bo table with a lonely dealer who proceeds to give us an introduction to his game since we stepped over to look at it. Sic Bo is apparently an ancient Chinese dice game that Vegas has gone all out to make look really modern to try to attract the American gambler with its pitiful odds. To that end, the game table is glass on top instead of felt, and after every game the sections on the very confusing looking bet layout light up to show which bets win and which bets loose. This is the same game we have been playing back home for many years back home at church festivals as Chuck-A-Luck, but without half of the confusing bet options. Here you can bet on the outcome of 1 die, any 2 dice, or all three dice, or the total of all three dice. Wizard of Odds tells me it’s a bad game, as evidenced by the fact even out in Vegas casinos usually only have one of these, unless they cater to a large Asian client base, and then that one table is usually not too busy. They had a dealer though, that tried to make the game sound exciting and fun. We proceed to enjoy the gaming floor of New York New York for awhile. Every few minutes I hear the roar of a train and screams of riders. It’s like a siren’s call.

Midway through enjoying the games at New York New York, I decide to go up to Coney Island and ride The Rollercoaster. The ride used to be known as Manhattan Express, but now its just The Rollercoaster. I head across the gaming floor to the escalators up to Coney Island, at the top of the escalators I note construction walls are up to make way for a Nathan’s hot dog stand with dining room and all. I think there were some cute taxi shaped bumper cars and another kiddie ride here at one time that have since been removed. The arcade is meant to be Coney Island, and at the very back of the aracade is the Rollercoaster. The arcade looks like a maze even though it is just one twisty windy path back to the coaster. They are nice enough to put arrows on the floor showing the most direct route. Further back in the arcade you pas under a Luna Park sign, and shortly after that is one of those MaxFlight coaster simulators that I am too heavy for. I get to the back of the arcade and note the ride exit is closed off, and more games have been placed where the lockers were. I proceed down the ride entrance hall and note the lockers have been placed back this hallway and a small gift shop has been added. Knowing how strict they are about loose artickles here, I ditch all my loose articles into a coin op locker (50 cents) and head to the ride. I note the pricing options are $14 for a ride ticket, $25 for a all day Scream Pass, and $57 includes some thrill package for two including ride passes and an on ride photo. I’m going to go with “none of the above”

I head through the empty queue maze and reach the ticket booth. Here you wait in line first and pay for the ride just before you board the train. Those using VIP passes, comp tickets, or wristbands get to skip the line through a VIP lane that merges back in with the regular line right after the ticket booths. (I suspect reirde trade is low enough that this isn’t a problem). I get to the ticket booth and present my Power Pass, I note that this is the frist use of my Power Pass which means this will start the clock, I bought the 5 day pass, so at Midnight on Friday the pass will expire. By midnight on Friday I will no longer be in Vegas. I have no problems, she insters my Power Pass into the Power Pass machine and out pops a ticket. I get my pass and the ticket back. I go up the stairs to the platform and hand in my ticket and get assigned to the back row. The train is just about to leave so I hastily board the train. They say to pull back on the lap bar which I do to a reasonable level, then I start to pull down on the shoulder bar but it doesn’t move very far at all. The attendants check the bars and okay everything. A few moments later the train is leaving the station. From the load station, which is indoors, you go directly outside and go along a long lift approach that takes you to the back of the building, then you make a turn to the left to go up the lift which is in back of the casino. I note a bright silver safety cable all the way up the lift. I know most coasters have safety cables for fall harnesses and the like, but these looked so new and so shiny that it ust sort of jumps out at you. At the top of the lift you curve to the left and go down the first drop alongside the side of the hotel, back up the second hill, then down the second drop which sends you to the bulk of the ride which is placed on the roof of the casino part of the resort, and various parts of can be seen peeking out behind the skyscrapers when you look at it from the strip. The first pass includes the vertical loop and the demented dive loop which forms a turnaround, from here on is more fairgrounds coaster with lots of curves hills and valleys packed into a tiny area on the roof. After you negotiate this section you hit the brakes while still up on the roof, then you enter a tunnel where you start to be slowly lowered down a tunnel back to the coaster station. About halfway down the ramp, the lowering mechanism lets go and you start coasting the rest of the way down the ramp, which causes riders to scream as the ride suddenly picks up speed. This is where you actually go through the casino for about 3 seconds, its easy enough for you to see down into the casino but due to the way the tunnel is built its not so easy for those in the casino to see the ride. The final brakes hit, and you enter the unload station. I unload and note they are continuing the Coney Island tradition of selling discounted rerides at the exit gate, here they are $7 for a reride. I go through the exit turnstile and the exit stairs are roped off so you have to walk past the on ride photo booth and then back towards the load station. You go down the stairs right next to the load stairs and are forced to go through the gift shop. The gift shop is set up in such a way that you have to snake through the entire shop. Not that it’s a large shop, but still. You exit the shop right by the lockers. So how was it? Not as bad as I remember, with the shoulder bars loose, I learned the ride actually has airtime, and I didn’t seem to get banged around as much. I reclaim my stuff, back out through the arcade, down the escalator and rejoin my family playing slots on the main floor.

So we play slots for quite a while, and just before we leave New York New York we see a disturbing scnene. We had just finished a round of drinks and we had set the empty glasses down, so we see a guy come up and at first we thing he is collecting the empty glasses, but no he tosses the straws on the ground and proceeds to finish the ice and last remnants of our drinks without even knowing what those drinks were. Disturbing, and sad since remember New York New York, like most casinos runs an open bar policy. He could have just sat down at a machine an ordered anything he liked.

So, we took a ride back up the escalator to the mezzanine and start to exit to the bridge to MGM Grand, the doors and area around this exit remind me of Grand Central Station. So we cross the street and then enter the emerald green MGM Grand. You may recall it started out being Wizard of Oz theme, but is now de-themed but is heavy on the art deco, as the emerald city in the movie. We enter the MGM Grand and in the entrance hall we are stopped by a worker for the CBS studios giving us free tickets for the show where you get to preview and give your opinion on possible new shows. We pocketed the tickets but never did get to use them.

At the end of the entrance hall is an escalator down to the main floor. On our way down we look to the left and see the unmistakable interior of a Rainforest Café. I had eaten at two of these, and find them to be quite fun. We had seen several people carrying yellow M&M World bags so we go to investigate. There is a resort map near where we are and it looks like if we exit out the west wing we will be near the shopping mall that ontains M&M World. We head down the hallway next to Rainforest and exit through some red doors that lead out to an alley. We can see the back of the shopping plaza, so we walk around to the front of it. This is the kind of place that has a “Grand Canyon Experience shop and booking desk for Grand Canyon tours, a discount show tickets booth (good deals to be had if you wait till day of show) They also have movies here, a Gameworks, food court and more. I note the World of Coca Cola is now just a Coca Cola gift shop, but the giant Coca Cola bottle elevator remains.

We enter M&M World, their come-on is that a $40 or more purchase includes a plastic M&M dispenser that looks like a gumball machine. The first floor has general merchandise but not what we were looking for. In the back of the store we see escalators up to the second floor. In the back of the second floor we see the main attraction, a wall full of M&M’s Here you can mix your own bag of M&Ms with a wide selection of M&M flavors and colors to choose from.. This bulk candy operation comes at a price though, as a pound of M&M’s go for $12 here. I also admit we mixed a bag and purchased it. Hey, look at the fun we had, and they have colors here you can’t find anywhere else. As we are mixing our bag, Rick cautions us not to be too hasty making selections, we still have two more floors to go. This place is almost a parody of the giant downtown department stores of yesteryear. We take another escalator up to three. Hee they have higher prices collectors items. I mean there is one of M&M’s riding a roller coaster, note NOT the Wild Thing candy dispenser from a few years ago, but a “museum quality” sculpture, that sells for around $1,000, they have another amusement park related one for $1,500. Yes these items are in locked cases.

Towards the back of the third floor I see a walk through path that looks to be a “Making of M&M’s tour” except the displays are more humorous than informative, and not too long I realize this is more of a fun house, including dodging my way around punching bags, and a light tunnel that creates a rolling barrel illusion. I go first and stop (there were no groups behind us) until the others protest the illusion is getting to them. There are photo ops with giant M&M statues and then a host comes through and advises us to hurry on to the preshow room as the very last showing of the movie is in 4 minutes. It seems this fun house is actually a cleverly designed queue for a 3D movie. The preshow room has a couple benches in the back, with most of the crowd standing. In this case there was just us and another family so everybody could be seated. The room looks like a theater lobby and has movie posters advertising various movies starring M&M’s. A video screen in the front of the room gives an update as to the time until the next show and shows a movie trailer for the movie you are about to see. Showtime comes and we enter the theater, pick up 3D glasses and go into a relatively small theater. I must say they actually did a major theme park quality job with this, as the attraction host has a speaking part and interacts with the movie. The movie “I lost my M in Las Vegas” starts out with Red and Yellow at, where else, a Las Vegas casino playing roulette. Red is not having good luck, and asks the dealer if he could get some chips for his M. The dealer says yes, and Red gingerly hands his M over to the dealer, who issues chips and then roughly and heartlessly shoves the M into the tables drop box. Red bets the whole lot on, what else, Red. The wheel is spun and starts to slow down, the ball is clearly headed to a red pocket, and then in a cartoon like last second jumps over to the adjoining black pocket. It is at this time that the attraction host summons the two M&M’s into the lab, and gives Red grief for his actions, commenting “Now you look like a Skittle” (made by the same company of course). The host leaves and the rest of the movie shows a humorous quest by Red and Yellow to get Red’s M back from the land of Lost Causes before it goes into the firey furnace. Suffice to say they rescue it at the last second, They then go back to the lab where our host is waiting, she asks how he got his M back, and they start to demonstrate with the tractor beam, and then our host is quickly whipped back into the machine behind her. She reappears in a glass orb on the other side of the theater by the exit doors not unlike the Madame Leota effect in the Haunted Mansion. The movie ends and the host (via the glass orb) interacts with people as they are leaving.

We exit back into the gift shop and I note a big red gate blocking the entrance for the movie attraction. We head up to the fourth floor where a good amount of space is given up to a M&M race car, or at least the full size replica of the M&M race car, surrounded be related souvenirs. There is a balcony where you can look outside, more souvenirs and an exit to the upper level of the shopping plaza. We make our way through the entire shop to get to and ride the three escalators down to the first floor, where we pay for our purchases and head outside. We meet up outside next to escalators down to the “Glacier Bar” offering frozen drinks. I failed to go downstairs and see if it was an Ice Bar or not. I started feeling moisture in the air, and wasn’t sure if it was rain of coming from the façade for the Glacier Bar. I did note it was getting cold and windy real fast. We made a brisk walk back to the MGM Grand.

From the other side of the street though, we did see more of the exterior themeing for New York New York including a “Brooklyn Bridge” section, the ESPN Zone, and the front of their new Irish pub, “Nine Irish Men” or something like that. The gigantic United States and Ireland flags draped on the front of the resort above the new Irish pub should have told you.

We renter the MGM Grand the way we had left, and make our way through the MGM Grand to the Lion Habitat, but not before seeing the bartenders dancing on top of the bar at the bar at the front of the MGM Grand. Unlike Shark Reef, Lion Habitat is FREE. Its also located right on the casino floor. There are large glass windows floor to ceiling on either side of the entrance to Lion Habitat. There are large crowds lining the windows as the lions were awake and easily visible through the windows. We went into the exhibit, and its really not needed you go through a glass tube not unlike Shark Reef where you walk through the middle of the Lion Habitat, and at this time the tube was just crammed full of as many people as they could stuff in there. On the other side you go through a short cave that has more windows into the habitat as well as the habitat exit through a gift shop.

After touring Lion Habitat we stuck around the MGM Grand enjoying the casino for awhile When we tired of the MGM Grand we headed up the escalator next to the Lion Habitat and crossed the bridge to the Tropicana. We were starting to return to the Excalibur where we had planned on having dinner, but I asked if we wanted to see the Tropicana. Since we were right there we decided yes, and went down the escalator that feeds directly into the casino. We hadn’t planned on staying here long so we failed to get cards, but while walking through the casino, where we saw one person sound asleep using a row of slot machine stools as a bed, then we found a bank of machines and started playing some at the Tropicana. We didn’t stay all that long, before we headed out the front door, cut across the driveway, and then rode the escalator up to the bridge back to the Excalibur. Once on the Excalibur side we walked through that same castle outbuilding as before that houses the monorail station, and this time in the forecourt we took a left towards the Excalibur. As I noted last night, the Excalibur entrance is a tunnel under the main driveway, and in the center of the tunnel, they have a Speedramp to go into but not out of the casino. Since we were going in, we were eligible to use the Speedramp. We stepped on the conveyor belt, and one long belt takes us down the ramp to the entrance tunnel, then flattens out and goes through the tunnel, then slants back up and goes back up the main floor once inside. I note how the different casinos have door handles that match the theme on the front doors: Excalibur uses, well swords as door handles, NYNY has Torches (from the Statue of Liberty), Luxor has pyramids, etc. The Speedramp lane through the entrance tunnel does not have doors. We walk through the Excalibur but don’t play any slots.

We were headed to Sherwood Forest for their 777 special, $7 for new york strip steak dinner, from 7pm to 7am. We arrive at Sherwood Forest Café and find a line hanging out the door and wrapped around the casino for a ways. We decide it looks to long to wait in, and instead head up to the food court on the second floor. Here we decide to exploit the virtues of a food court. Unce Rick and I have subs from Quiznos (he had philly steak, and I had the closely related Black Angus Steak), Mom had a pizza and breadsticks from Pizza Hut Express, and Wanda had a Big Mac from McDonalds; We did laugh that here too, the wedding chapel is accessed through the food court. As we chatted about the days events over dinner, we decided that tomorrow would be my first attraction day. I would spent the morning and afternoon touring Vegas on my own, and meet up with the group at night to go to Fremont Street. Mom would tour with Rick and Wanda.

We finished up eating and exited the food court, failing to be tempted by the lit HOT DOUGHNUTS NOW sign at Krispy Kreme. We take the same connector that Rick and I took last night, except heading towards Luxor. Wouldn’t you know it the long first moving sidewalk was broken. I could tell Mom would probably rest in tomorrow as today was a full day walking for her. The second shorter moving sidewalk, as well as the speedramp down to the Luxor were working,.

We re-enter the Luxor and wind up spending a good bit more time playing slots in the Luxor before going up to bed for the night, Then, its time to Walk Like an Egyptian up to our room, then Sleep Like an Egyptian. I predict I will not sleep as well tonight with rides and stuff on tap for tommorow.

See you then!


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