Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mega-TR: Las Vegas - May 11-16, 2008 - Day 5 and 6 May 15, 16 and 17, 2008

Time to start our final full day. I admit it, I slept in today, but after I got up and dressed, I learned that Uncle Rick and his crew had been out and brought back some HOT DOUGHNUTS NOW! from Krispy Kreme. Hmm, Donuts! We get to talking and they mention they had gone out to see the Sirens of TI free show out in front of Treasure Island and did not give it a good review, and coments about how they pack you in like sardines and all. I had planned on taking mom to see that tonight, but after hearing that review, we decided we'll just take it slow and stick to an evening tour of the Venetian, which mom really wanted to see. Rick also mentions that they had won free tickets to see the magician at the Tropicana yesterday, and that was a good show.

I start to think about what i want to do in the afternoon, I could go to the Pinball Hall of Fame, I could go try to ride Insanity at Stratosphere, or I could do something different. I knew I wanted to ride Speed at Sahara, and it is only open from 2-8, but i have a prepaid ride. I decide Sahara will be in the afternoon, Venetian at night, so I have some time until 2. I finally get smart and just call the Stratosphere and I learn that yes it is windy again, so no dice riding Insanity again today.

Mom wants to rest up after our long day yesterday, I'm not surprised, and Uncle Rick and I take a little walk to the sports book. Not to play sports, though I did purchase and lose on a horse race ticket. Anyway, Uncle Rick tells me that he and cousin Rick have tickets to see Fantasy, which is a topless showgirl reivew tonight at the Luxor at 10:30. Hey that will fit into the plans just fine. Rick advises me to go to the players club to try to get a free ticket. One trip to the players club later and I have a voucher for a free ticket to Fantasy and a free buffet put on my acccount. The players club host calls up the Luxor box office and makes the reservation for me and hands me a claim check with the confirmation number.

We then decide to go to the box office to turn the claim checks in for the actual tickets, which is a pretty simple process. We then collect Aunt Wanda, and cousin Rick decided to take in the pool area. I was going to go with them to Mandalay Bay to play some slots, but I remembered I had to put on my tour leader hat and perform an important errand. I excuse myself back to my room and collect up the tickets for the shuttle bus ride back to the airport. I was instructed, and its printed on the ticket to call the bus company 24 hours in advance to schedule the return ride. I call the up shortly after 12:00 and after waiting on hold for about 15 minutes have a pleasant operator schedule us for a 3:30 bus to the airport, and gives me a confimation number. That errand done, I return the group at the casino and excuse myself so I can go to the Sahara.

Of course I don't go to the Sahara right away, first I go to New York New York and take another ride on The Rollercoaster. It actually wound up being the worst of my three rides as I was in the back with a snug shoulder bar. I then head to the MGM Grand and take the monorail to the Imperial Palace. Entering the Imperial Palace from the monorail is really a service entrance, a big solid metal door with a small window. The same monorail platoform also serves Harrahs, and like the Sahara station you get off the train, then go up an escalator to the station proper, then you walk over the tracks on a bridge, then an escalator back down. The walkway ends in a T with the Imperial Palace to the left and Harrah's to the right. I had never seen the Vegas version of the Imperial Palace. I enter and its two escalator rides down to the casino floor. The Imperial Palace is a long thin casino and is entirely unremarkable. I exit the front doors of the Imperial Palace and you can't even see the street for the huge pagoda out front that houses a night club. The walkway to the strip has all the class of an alleyway.

I take a right and walk down the sidewalk. As I walk past Harrah's I get to an annoying area where the sidewalk actually turns and curves in and around the outdoor entertainment complex in front of the casino. I duck into Harrahs and cut through to the front door and come out right by the crosswalk that goes over to the Mirage.

I cross Las Vegas Blvd. and stare at the construction walls around the Mirage. I knew the volcano out front was out of service for rehab, but did not expect the entire entryway includingthe moving sidewalks to be closed off. They have a temorary walkway along the side of the driveway that leads to an entrance. You enter the Mirage by the deli, and I invoke the man law, that means getting lost trying to figure your own way without asking directions. I was headed to the Dolphin Habitat, and I see the signs saying Aquarium and follow those signs. I am taken to the hotel registration area which sports a huge aquarium. Of course i don't get the connection and continue walking in the same general direction and proceed to ride up a tiny escalator and find myself in the parking garage. Uhm, this doesn't look right. I go back down the tiny escalator, and I backtrack through the casino till I see the Magic Garden signs. Ah I follow those past the Love Cirque theater, then through the shopping area and out the back door.

This exit leads to the hotel pool area, and between the pool and the shopping area here is a pathway to the right that leads to the secret garden. I start down the trail and come to a ticketing plaza. They have three ticket booths, and one line feeds all three booths, which would work great if all windows could handle all transactions, but they can't. The booth I went to told me they could not redeem Power Pass at this lane, and to go to the far left window. I walk over to the far left window just as it became available present my power pass and soon have a ticket. I proceed between the ticket booths and through an unattended turnstile. I head back a pathway to the actual attraction and about halfway back the path a ticket taker tears my ticket nd i am told to go straight ahead to the amphitheater ahead of me, which is odd since the park stresses there are NO shows.

I file into the show venue and it is a stand up venue. The presentation is more of a welcome and orientation of the attraction. They stress again there are no shows, making it quite clear they are an educational attraction, not Sea World. However, they do have animal trainers who will interact with the animals. Our hosts points out the ramps to go down and see the dolphin tank from under the surface, and to take the bridge in front and to the right of the dolphin tank to get to the other dolphin tank where one can also see their new baby dolphin. Interested in the african safari themed Secret Garden, just go through the safari tent just past the other dolphin pool. They point out the restrooms, gift shop and snack bar, then dismiss us to explore the park.

I, like most other spend more time observing the dolphins in the main tank, but since there are no trainers in the area its pretty uneventful, and so I follow the crowd down the stairs to the front of the grandstand and into the park. I must pause now as I started huming the opening song to the new Hitchhikers Guide movie, here is a clip of it, why should I have all the fun.

So I first go down the ramp to the underwater viewing area, and yes the dolphins are much more active down here. I spend some time viewing the dolphins before I return to the surface and cross the bridge to the next tank. Here I find a much smaller tank and two dolpins getting personal attention by a trainer. This is very entetaining and I spend quite some time watching.

From there I go to the safari tent to go from the Dolphin Habitat into the Secret Garden. Ther is a bit of a line to get through the safari hut, and yup you guessed it this is whee they put the green screen photo booth. The Secret Garden is a U shapes area with you entering at the bottom of the U, back here you can see lions, tigers, leopards, etc. A keeper was just putting a leopard on display while I was watching. I take a tour of the secret garden animal exhibits and then exit back into the Dolphin Habitat through a gift shop.

By this time the keeper have left the small tank, and are back at the main large tank interacting with those dolphins. I spent some time watching them, then head to the snack bar. The snack bar is actually reasonably priced for an amusement venue. At first I was going to get a strawberry slushie drink for only $2 until I realized that as a zoological attraction, they can't give you straws or anything like that. Besides the family ahead of me ordered 5 of them, and the slushie machine must not be heavy duty as by the time they got finihsed pouring theres, the solid/liquid ratio was turning very liquid. I settle for a cheaply priced soft drink.

I then follow the path to the exit which is up to the top of the grandstand, then down the long path back to the casino passing through the exit turnstiles along the way. I backtrack through the Mirage, then cross the street, then backtrack through Harrah's using the monorail exit at the back of Harrah's. I am, of course, behind schedule as I simply spent a lot more time than planned at Seigfried and Roys Dolphin Habitat.

I board the monorail, actually making a mad dash from the bottom of the escalator to the train as they train was in the station when I arrived. I ride the monorail to the Sahara, and more or less walk all the way through the casino to get to the NASCAR Cafe, but not before stopping to take, and lose on, my daily players club free pull.

I walk to the NASCAR ticket desk, present my power pass, the put it in the machine, then put a white and blue checkered tyvek wristband on my wrist. She points out how to get to Speed the Ride, and the Cyber Speedway race car simulator, and tells me I get unlimited access to each until 8 pm. She also points out some lockers in case I want to store my stuff.

I head through the empty Speed queue , up the stairs, into the station and into the empty train. I take 2 solo rides on Speed in the front seat, yes having to walk around each time. Walking around here is no problem, really, you exit to the unload side, walk to the back of the train, there is a bridge that goes over the track in the rear (that leads back to the service area), and then the chain is dropped so you just walk right back down the load side to a seat queue.

Another group comes up and I take 3 or 4 more rides with them, with us alternating to share the front seat. Speed is a Premier shuttle coaster that still has the shoulder bars, and I note unlike the original Flight of Fear trains, seat dividers have been added to the seats on Speed. The ride starts out with you inside the building, and the launch is indoors and you shoot out the front of the casino, then do a severly overbanked turn to lead you to a tunnel under the entryway to the casino, you then go up a hill and continue along the front of the casino at a high speed pace. You go through a vertical loop and then you slice through a real tiny minaret shaped cutout in the Sahara Casino sign. Talk about visuals, then you continue past anothher launch and then up the reverse spike, time to do it all again backwards. Fun ride, not spectacular, but still a fun ride.

After I had my fill of Speed, I head down the exit stairs. I then decide to try a game of Cyber Speedway since it is included. I head to the entrance and the hosts asks if have had the briefing, I respond I hadn't, so had me go over to a rather plain yellow door. After she got the next race started she led me into the closet sized room. The room had metal benches and a TV with what looks like an old laserdisc player. She tells me to watch the briefing video, then exit the briefing room through the other door and go to Car 1. The briefing introdues the attraction and tells you its not a game, its a simulator. It then goes through in detail how to approach and get into your car. (There is a step up platform involved, and no you don't climb in through the window, there is a door handle), how to adjust your seat, start your car (simple toggle switch like a racecar) shift gears or if you put the shifter in A, you get an automatic. He points out thee is no clutch to worry about,and that there is an emergency button if you start experiencing motion sickness or need to end your race for any reason, I am surprised that with as detailed as the attraction is, they don't put racing harnesses in the cars, if only just for theming. They also mention that unlike comon driving games your car will get slower and less responsive with each crash, but you can opt to go to Pit Row to get your car repaired, at the cost of time and position as the other cars will keep racing. The video ends and I go out to my car and wait for the next race.

I head out to my car, wait for the next race, then get into my car and prepare to race. It takes me the first lap to get used to the response time of the car and all, but during the middle of the race I do petty well, I do have one crash where I get the car in a position where I am parked facing a wall. The game does not help you out, and I think I tried every position on the gearshift to try to find reverse. (You can't see the shifter pattern during the race), after I get out of that mess I do pit in, which is neat because you can feel them shake you car and jack the car up to change the tires. I should point out the cars here look like full size scale models mounted on motion bases with screens that wrap around at least 180 degrees. Pretty amazing, after the race I get out of my car and as I am waiting for the results I hear the other players complaining about that klutz on the track, I decide to make a quick silent exit. I exit the NASCAR cafe section and am headed back through the casino when again the cell phone rings, just like it did Tuesday. Dinner plans?, meet me at the Kuxor players club at 4pm.

I take another monoail ride from the Sahara back to the MGM Grand, which is at least a 15-20 minute ride and I admit to falling asleep on the monorail. I get back to the MGM Grand, high tail it through the casino, and darn it the up escalator out by Rainforest Cafe is broken. Man it is steep walking up a malfunctioning escalator. I cross the bridge, duck through the New York New York, have to love a casino that shows roller coaster footage on the jumbotron above the entrance. I take another walk through the Excalibur and into the Luxor where i join Mom, Wanda, and Uncle Rick at the players club. Everybody gets comps for the buffet. As I had done this earlier, I played and won some slots while I waited. We wound up playing more slots as we got the entire group all together at one place. Well, most of us anyway, we called Cousin Rick and he wasn't interested in dinner. So the four of us go down to the basement of the Luxor and partake in a free buffet. All in all, we weren't that impressed with it, the fresh fruit was good, the deserts were excellent but most everything else was merely ok. I did like the nice cut of lamb I recieved complete with mint jelly.

After dinner we part ways, and mom and I get in a taxi and head to the Venetian. We arrive into a taxi cab cluster as it seemed like about a zillion cabs were all arriving at the same time. The cabbie drops us off, and greeters dressed like gondoliers act as crossing guards to get people accross the driveway and into the casino safely. We enter by the hotel serivces area and the hotel lobby has an ornate hallway with paintings on the ceiling and everything, a golden object that looks like some sort of navigational instrument sits at end nearest the desk. We go to the bell captain, and just like Bellagio I fill out a loaner chair contract for mom, and leave a credit card slip. We walk through the breathtaking lobby and then walk into the casino itself which is very posh an upscale. I try to find access to the Grand Canal shops on the second floor but have trouble finding an elevator. I ask a staff member and they point out an elevator that is literally hiden inside a plain column. It looks like a support column and on one side of it is an opening to get to the elevator. The Grand Canal shoppes is another shopping area with very upscale shops, and the illusion of walking outdoors through Venice, complete with a canal down the center of the mall. This means to get across from one side to the other you either have to walk around the fake canal or cross one of the many bridges just like in Venice. We don't even get to the canal when we come across a mime doing a living statue act. We pause to watch that, then continue towards the canal. Just like in Vencie gondolas and their gondoleirs are plying their trade. The gondolas look pretty close to genuine articles in style. They have the distinctive back fin, and the crest on the front of the gondola and everything. They are slightly smaller and only seat 4 people whereas the real gondolas seat 6. These gondolas also have seatbelts, unlike the real things. (Note: I have ridden the gondolas in Venice, and you can read about them in my Italia mega-tr) . I note that singing Italian romantic standards must be a job requirement of the gondoliers, Its a very romantic setting, and I noted more than a few couples taking the option of buying out the other two seats to get a private boat to themselves for a romantic gondola cruise. We observe and watch the gondolas for quite some time, and eventually wind around to the St. Marks Square area which is like the mall's center court area. We arrive just in time to see a live band on the bandstand in the area, then we continue one, we see docked in this area a white and gold gondola that we figure must be reserved for bridal parties.

We do a lap around the edge of the canal, stopping again to watch the dock where people board and alight from the gondolas. It's a very efficient operation, and the gondoliers pilot their small watercraft so effortlessly I do have to wonder if they are on a track. We exit the shopping area and step out onto the balcony outside. The casino building is made to look like the Dodges palace, and you can overlook a big man made lake out front with antoher gondola ride concession. You also have a buildling facade that looks like San Marcos Cathedral, they also have the bell tower, but it is covered in giant Phantom banners. We take in the view from the balcony, then I take mom inside the casino and get her settled in.

I go back to the bell tower which houses a Madame Tussauds's wax museum, its something I would probably not pay for ($25) if it weren't on my Power Pass. Between the casino and the bell tower, they have a big arched bridge just like in Venice, unlike in Venice they have special moving sidewalks that go up, over and back down the bridge. I show my Power Pass and get a ticket to the wax museum and the entrance hall looks like you are walking the red carpet for the academy awards complete with camera flashes and all. You then go up an escalator to the museum level. At the top of the escalator your ticket is scanned and you enter. I learn the museum would be much better enjoyed with friends, as they have was figures posed for you to take picutres with, One room has a waiter serving coktails and you can sit at the table, another one is a chair you can sit in while a showgirl lusts over you. There is a scene where you can get into a wedding scene the minister and groom are there, and there is a slip over wedding gown available to wear to fit the scene. In one area they have several sports scenes, play basketball with Shaq, golf with Tiger Woods, that sort of thing. Evil Kenevil is there as is a NASCAR winner, and there is a container with checkered racing flags you can hold and wave to pose with. Its really meant to be shared with others.

After the sports scene there is an area with entertainers like Blue Man Group, Steve Wonder and others, and an area where you can be on the American Idol stage or sit amongst the judges. I come to a room where they start to explain how their wax figures are designed and made. I figured this was the end of the exhibition, but then you go down a stairway to the lower level. To make it clear there are more exhibits there is a sign at the top of the stairs that lists what you still have to see, The stairs are dark and forboding with spider webs all around, and at the halfway landing on the way down is a wax figure of Spiderman, At the botto of the stairs you have a haunted house. This part is optional and you wait in a queue and go in small groups. The usual hands on shoulders of the person in front you rule applies here, and it works out about as well as it does at Kings Island. The haunted attraction on the whole is pretty weak, I expected more gruesome wax figures than there were. About the only real thrill is they have the required chainsaw weilding maniac who chases you out the haunted house area exit screaming.

You then go through an area with Vegas legends like Wayne Newton and Micky Gilley, and of course Elvis has his own large display. Marylin Monroe is there to. You go through the kitchen and meet Lucy from I Love Lucy. The last gallery is a patriotic themed room where you can be at the podium with the President, or astronauts planting the flag on the moon, or other famous presidents and famous americans. You then exit the museum into a gift shop. I looked through the gift shop and then headed out the exit door and down a couple stairs to exit right next to the ticket booth I entered through.

I rode the moving sidewalk across the high arched bridge, and rejoined Mom in the casino. Shortly thereafter we returned to the bell desk, and we traded chair for my credit card information back, then we exited the casino. The gondoleir costumed staff helps us cross over to the taxi stand at the far other side of the driveway. Their big theatre show must have just let out as they had a long amusement park syle queue for a taxi. I feared i might not make it back to the Luxor by 10:00, but that whole massive queue only took about 20 minutes until we were seated in a taxi headed back to the Luxor.

We get back to the Luxor and earlier I had noted how they didn't have doormen or automatic doors, but due to the way the taxi dropped us off we learned the doors on the far right on the way in are actually automatic. We renter the hotel, and we head up to the room to meet the rest of the gang. Then we go back to the casino floor, and the guys all go up to the atrium for a different kind of entertainment.

We were headed for the Atrium Showroom and arrived after the lobby had opened but before they had started seating. We entered the lobby where there was a cash bar and merchandise counter available. The ticket taker starts taking tickets, and I have a feeling the Atrium Showroom is actually up a floor with the 'backstage' type functions underneath. This is because after the ticket taker, you go up a long curved ramp almost all the way around, then an usher guides you to one of two ramps up the rest of the way. Even though our seats were only 4 seats from each other, we were sent up opposite sides of the theater, you then come to another podium "Wait here to be seated". I first thought self seating was not an option so as to generate tips for the ushers. The usher though merely pointed to my seat from the door. The Atrium Showroom is roughly a round room, with stadium seating. There are no center aisles, just the side aisles, but there are a couple cross aisles. I entered at row D, so had to walk up one row to E and my seat is just off center. I noticed the seats still show evidence of being rigged for the 4D movies that used to be played here, but I have no idea if the 4D equipment is still operational.

To refresh your memory, we are about to watch Fantasy, which is a topless showgirl review, and Pharaoh is treating us to this show in his Pyramid, the face price on our tickets was $55+$5.50 live entertainment tax. Therefore, looking around the theater, I was somewhat surprised at the number of females in the audience. The curtain is closed with a projected Fantasy logo dancing around while we wait for the show to begin. The curtains open to reveal a movie screen, and they short a short movie which serves as highlights about what you are about to see. Don't worry about thinking you are actually going to see a movie of a showgirl review, as the movie screen then rises in a slow teasing manner slowly revealing the live showgirls on stage. When the screen gets up high enough you may be disapointed that the girls still have their clothes on, but don't you worry that will change soon enough. To be clear this is a topless show, not a nudie show, bu that doesn't mean they don'tsometimes come out wearing the skimpiest g-string they can find. There is a mistress of ceremoies who leads the show (and never gets undressed). I could talk about the artistic merit of the show, or give you a rundown of the scenes, but let's face it, there is exactly one reason why hot blooded males are watching this show, and its not the theatrical quality of the production. The set is done with almost tacky overdone vegas show glitz, and as you might suspect sometimes suggestive props are used like a giant bed, and some bondage gear "Who likes to see women tied up!"The basic format is showgirls dancing, often suggestively, to popular music standards. In between the scenes, they have a male comedian come out, and he does some stand up as well as several celbrity impersonations. His role is to keep the hot blooded males thermostats under control so they don't blow a fuse. He is on stage so often that he would be annoying except he is so funny and his impersonations are so good. At one point he brings a guy up from the audience on stage, after hearing he is there with his girlfriend (???), and the comedian asks him "Tell, me who is the hottest woman in this room?" The guy starts looking the showgirls over and the comedian goes "Hint: there is only one safe answer for you right now" He does get a Fantasy showgirls calendar for being up on stage, which of course gives the show the chance to plug that the calendars are available for sale at the sales table on the way out. All in all it was a 75 minute show, and I was loving every minute of it, especially when the girls were on stage. At the end of the show you go back down that same ramp to exit the showroom and they have the commedian and a couple girls in the lobby as you exit. Oh, for those wondering how my Mom took the fact I went to see a topless showgirl review, her response was "I'd be more concerned if you didn't want to see it!" After the show I go to toe McDonalds counter at the food court to get the largest Pepsi they have. Ahh, that is so refreshing.

Uncle Rick goes down to play some slots, and cousin Rick and I decide to go to Coyote Ugly at New York New York. Rick things he has some VIP passes in the room, so he goes to fetch those, but when he returns he says he couldn't find them. We take the now usual walk through the Luxor and Excalibur anyway, this time for the last time, which is good becuase it had already gotten old and annoying. We'll take the details as read. When we get to Coyote Ugly, we find a long stand by line to get in, and a sign indicating that VIP passes are only being accepted for half price, not free admission due to a special event. We look in the exit door and the place is packed in like sardines to the point where people couldn't even move. We decide this isn't the scene we want and decide to just walk down the strip. We exit NYNY and take the escalator down to the strip so we are walking along the faux harbor and Statue of Liberty. I'm kind of glad we did, because between the two giant flagstaffs, I discovered that there is a 9/11 memorial setup. The story is that since the casino is themed to NYNY it was a natural site for people to congregate and build a memorial, and in the cases alongside the harbor they have a representative sample of items donated to the memorial. Since most people don't walk around this corner since you can't cross the street here, so the area actually becomes a nice peaceful reflection area.

We walk alongside the fake Brooklyn Bridge, and then past the Monte Carlo. I have never been in the Monte Carlo, and didn't visit this time eiher. The bar and grill alongside the strip is interesting it has a pirate theme and a sign states that they have fast, friendly waitress service SOMETIMES, at least they are honest about it. We the go though a construction safety tunnel as we walk past the massive City Center construction project. This tunnel is full of people passing out dubious advertisements, but it is well lit and at this time there was still a steady crowd moving through it.

We arrive at the Bellagio, and use the moving sidewalk to travel the far distance from the street to the casino. Once in the Bellagio we play slots for quite some time, and I start to win back some of the money they took from me the night before. My only complaint would be that waitress service was very slow. From the Bellagio we cross the street and fail to visit Bally's or Paris. As we are passing Paris, Rick asks about going up in the Eiffel Tower. Its now almost 2AM, I mentioned that if he had mentioned it when we first left the show, we could have possibly had a chance of getting here before they closed at 12:30 or 1. We press on to Planet Hollywood. Last time I was here this was the Arabian themed "Alladin" Well, all the arabian theme is gone, and by day the place looks plain from the outside, but at night is glows blue and pink. The entrance is up a stairway from the strip but there are three speedramps, right next to each other, all of which go up.

The interior has no real theme but is modern and hip inside. We see a pit of table games where just behind the tables are small elevated platforms upon which are females dancing suggestively. I meanm how is a guy supposed to concentrate on his card game? We pick a bay of slots that have a convenient view of a certain table game section. We play awhile, have a drink or two, and then around 3AM, we decide to start heading back.

We exit Planet Hollywood and head down the strip to the MGM Grand. Between the two there isnt much on that side of the strip, the businesses are mostly shops that are closed overnight, and its not that well lit. We passed some dubious characters, and realized they were soon trailing us. We felt a bit better when we joined up with a larger group who were walking the strip, but I didn't really feel good or breathe easy until we were in the safe confines of the MGM Grand.

We didn't stay in the MGM Grand long, just long enough to calm down, then we headed back to the Excalibur, and while passing NYNY, you have to love a casino that shows clips of its rollercoaster on their jumbotron. Once inside the Excalibur, Rick mentioned he is hungry, you may recall he didn't have dinner. I could use a bite, so we headed to Sherwoood Forest Cafe for that $7 new york strip steak. I note that the menu price for the same steak is around $20. The best part of this meal was the conversation with the next table, as the cheap steak tasted like a cheap steak.

After we had our steak dinner, we headed to the Luxor, and not wanting to go to be until dinner had time to digest, we sat and played slots till about 5:30 AM. Rick decides to just pull an all nighter, but I decide to run up to my room and get a nap. Tomorrow is check out day.


I get up around 9:45, get cleaned up, dressed and packed. We all push the check out time of 11am to the limit and we check out of our rooms using the video check out feature on the room TV's at about 10:58. We make sure we have everything, and we head on out after putting our keys in the sealed envelope provided. Its our last sideways ride down the inclinator because when we get to the first floor, we have to deposit the envelopes with the keys into a lock box. We haul our lugage through the casino up to the bell captain. We turn the bags over to the bell desk an they give us a claim check and tell us when we are ready to leave, to go out to the taxi stand ad hold the ticket up in the air anrd ou bags would be brought outside to us. Baggage turned in, we head up to the food court for lunch, then back own to the casino.

I consider going to snag my daily ride on the coaster at NYNY but that walk just doesn't seem worth it. We wind up visiting a couple gift shops in the casino, and then wind up playing slots and tables until just before 3pm. I do go to the blackjack table and burn that $30 in promo chips I bought the first day for $20. The table minimums are $10, so I am in for three hands. I find out the brown chips can't be cashed out, if I lose, they will of course be collected, if I win, I will get paid my winnnings in real cashable chips, but will retain the promo chips for the original stake. Thus, you WILL lost all $30, you just have to hope you win enough real chips in the process to reover your stake My first two hands are losses, but on the thid hand I also put down the "If you win the dealer gets $1" coupon on the table with my last $10 in brown chips, and my luck turns. We start a new shoe, n I have a shoe where I can't do anything wrong. I get dealt 12, I hit I get a 9, I get dealt 13, I hit and get an 8. It was glorious, and it ran everybody else at the table away as they were not enjoying my success. When the shoe ended I was playing alone, and I decided to just color up my chips and leave instead of chancing going through another shoe.

I also go to the player club to get my cash rebate for slot play, and I found out they cleared out the charges I had made to my hotel room, how mice of them, and they said I was eligible for $20 rebate. They do't give you the cash, you go to a machine, insert your card and some money. You have to enter a code on the keypad next to the slot card reader. Follow the not so obvious instructions and eventually you will get it to put the slot machine in free play mode Any machine you like, what happens in free play mode is you have to insert the money like normal and you play the machine as normal but at the end of each spin the machine refunds your wager, until your free play credit is exhausted. You get the refund no matter if your spin was a winner or loser.

At around 3pm, we go outside, and I hold the baggage check up and as promised a bellhop comes up to me, asks how I am getting back to the airport and when I mention Gray Line shuttle he goes inside, gets our bags, and takes them all the way over to the Gray Line pickup point. You can set a watch on the shuttle as it pulls up at exactl 3:30 and we find out we are the last pickup before the airport. The ride to the airport is quick and convenient, and the diver drops us off in front of he proper terminal.

We go into the terminal, and now that we have two seperate confirmation numbers, I try using the self serve kiossk and this time, the thing doesn't crash, but it won't let us check in, instead it says that Delta has a very important message for us. We go over to the ticket counter and find one of the nicest Delta employees. See our flight was originally a Las Vegas -> LoS Angeles -> Cincinnati via the red eye. It was great as we would leave Vegas at around 9pm on Friday night. Well the afternoon Vegas->LA flights were discontinued, and instead of doing something logical, they instead sent us to Salt Lake City ->LA -> Cincinnati. Recall, I booked through Travelocity, and after dealing with call centers in India and finally getting a Travelocity manager who said that in the eyes of Travelocity these arangements were comparable to what we had, and that I was pretty much stuck. This experience which had angered me but the rest of the family took pretty well combined with having the Luxor tell me that if I hadn't used Travelocity they could have refunded a lot more of my room bill means I will likely never use Travelocity again, at least not for Las Vegas.

Well, the impotant message from Delta was Delta making things right and they were willing to put us on a direct non-stop from Vegas to Cincinnati, but leaving Vegas at 1am. The family decided that since we are already here, they said to stick with the crazy whacked out schedule we had The ticket agent decided to bundle and staple all the flight 1 tickets into one bundle, then all the flight 2 tickets into another bundle and so on. Made a lot of sense to us, but besides being compassionate, she noted that Mom was having trouble walking after the week in Vegas and told us that show could arrange for wheelchair assist at all layovers as well as at Vegas and at our arrival point, We take her up on this, so she puts that on Moms reservation.

We go over to the wheelchair area across from the ticket counter and she had warned us it could be a 15 minute wait, but in reality, a wheelchair host arrived no sooner than we sat down in the waiting area. This turned out to be have even more benefits as when he walked us back to the gate, at the TSA checkpoint we dodged a long line as he had authority to take us through the First Class TSA entrance. It is the same screening, but we were expressed through it. He wound up taking us all the way to the gate and making sure Mom was situated and everything at the departure lounge. Well we had about an hour and a half to the flight, so we did go and play some of the slot machines in the airport. I can say the Las Vegas airport gave me a nice $100 parting gift on the way out.

Our flight to Salt Lake City was short and uneventful, and as promised there was another wheelchair host that met us at the gate at Salt Lake City and he took mom all the way to the next gate over in a different terminal building, The rest of us walked or used moving sidewalks. It was a LONG walk. I noted the professional wheelchair pusher turned mom's chair around backwards to go down a long ramp. I mentioned my experience at Ceasar's where I was yelled at for doing that, and he helped to reassure me that, yes, I was correct. We get to the gate and the gate agent is already there when we arrive at the gate. She says its about 45 minutes to boarding, but that we should be there about 15 minutes before the normal boarding time as they were going to allow us to pre-board. Not only that she looked at our tickets, we were in they very last row in coach, and she said she could do us better, and she moved us way up to the second row of coach. We boarded the plane early as promised and at first it seemed like there would be lots of empty seats, in fact the flight attendant even commented that it looked like we had a light load. There was a large last minute crowd who boarded the plane. We get in the air, and I learn that I am having my first flight on a Delta jet with the in seat personal entertainment system in every seat in coach: Satalite TV, a loaded mp3 player, video games (pay extra except for the free trivia game), movies on demand (pay per view), and a feature where you can track your flight progress. On this particular flight they could not get a good satelite signal, so spend most of the flight playing the trivia game which is free and you compete against anybody else on the plane who is also playig trivia. The game format reminded me of the NTN (National Trivia Network) system that used to be common in bars.

We land in LAX and yes there is another assistant waiting for us, which is a good thing, as we landed in building 5 and our next flight was in building 6. The good news is they have a tunnel so you dont have to exit and then go through security again, the bad new is the tunnel seems to be about a mile long, and is butt ugly. You also have stern warnings to be careful as you go through the security cut off doors, which could slam shut at any moment. So we get the whole crew to building 6, then the three guys go all the way back to building 5 to get food, then walk back to building 6 where we have dinner while waiting for the red eye to Cincinnati. The redeye home is long as you might expect, I didn't get much sleep which is normal for me, but there is good news it was my second flight with the personal in seat enterainment system in coach, and their plane had working satelite service. It would have been better during the day, but first I watched the late night rerun of an NBA game on ESPN, then CNN news after that. The only bad thing about the in seat system, is you don't get the free in flight movie, put instead can pay ($6) to watch the movie of your choice of their movies-on-demand system.


We arrive in Cincinnati, and yep the host is waiting for us. We is thoughtful enough to make a restroom stop for everybody after that long red eye flight, then he takes mom all the way to the baggage claim area. I go to buy some drinks out of the vending machine, and by the tie I get back out bags have arrived. All we have to do is walk outside and wait about 10 minutes for the shuttle bus to arrive. The shuttle takes us to our off site parking space, and our parking bill comes out to just around $32 with a coupon good for 1st day free. I guess thats not too bad for a weeks worth of parking. They then drive us home, and help us get our bags in the house. They deciede not to go get breakfast, and they head off to their house.

I settle into bed for a nice long long nap.

And so ends the Vegas 2008 experience, hope you enjoyed it.

Coming up: TRs for Holiday World, Beech Bend Park, Strickers Grove, and Coney Island - OH.

Watch for them,


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