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    Viva Las Vegas!!May 12th, 2016
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    • • LV's McCarran International (LAS) is the 8th busiest Airport in the U.S. and number 23 in the world, with 41.7 million passengers
    • • 79 percent of McCarran's departures and 82 percent of arrivals are on time, the average departure delay is 52 minutes and arrival delay is 50 minutes, and cancellations are at 0.6 percent
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The Eiffel Tower VEGAS Experience at Paris

WP_20131031_008When you see pictures or skyline views of the Las Vegas strip, the iconic Paris Hotel Casino Eiffel Tower (at half the size of the original) is no stranger. I personally have countless pictures and still find myself, trip after trip, snapping more.

If you didn’t know, there is a caged observation deck at the top of the tower and for one reason or another we’ve never been up there. But during our 1/2016, while in the casino playing, we happened to walk past a sign advertising the Eiffel Experience along with pricing. My wife noticed that FREE admission is given to those on their birthdays and to active military personnel. As that very day was my birthday, the FREE offer was too good to pass, so off we went to get my wife a ticket (Regular adult admission $19.25).

Tip: FREE admission is given to on the day birthdays and active Military Personal

Tip: Discount (think ½ off) admission tickets can be found at tix 4 tonight outlets all over the strip. See Discount coupon on the website

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Have your camera ready because from the bridge to the elevators to the observation deck itself, many, many wonderful photo opportunities await. The 360 panoramic views of the strip and surrounding mountains is priceless. The Bellagio fountains are directly below and offer a unique viewing from 460 feet up!

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Tip: Phone or Camera battery low? Make sure to have a full charge as photo ops are endless

Tip: Best time to visit is at dusk, see the mountains and the lights

Do yourself a favor and plan to visit the Eiffel Tower Experience during your next visit as it won’t disappoint!

jusqu’à la prochaine fois

Eats from our January 2016 Trip – The Buffet Yard House Cravings Feast of not so Grand Buffet

LasVegasFood

Yard House – Located near the High Roller observation wheel at The Linq is Yard House. Nice looking place with good service and 100 beers on tap plus good, very reasonably priced, eats… do I need to say more? Sure I do! If the already mentioned didn’t spark an interest than these tips should:

Tip: GREAT Lunch Specials and Happy Hour (M-F, 3-6)

Tip: The Club Sandwich is da bomb! Seriously large sharable dinner portion.

Mirage’s Cravings Buffet Cravings is a solid buffet option with several themed stations with a variety of consistently good food options. Since we often stay at The Mirage Casino Hotel we’ve visited this buffet probably more than any other.

Tip: Buffet includes unlimited draft beer (Budweiser and Goose Island IPA) and house wine (a red and white)

Tip: Active military receives BOGO or 50% off

Excalibur’s The Buffet – If in the neighborhood and hungry for a buffet that won’t break the budget consider The Buffet at Excalibur. This recently upgraded buffet is well appointed with the usual buffet fare. Taste and selection is pretty good and the dessert area has a crepe station that I always look forward to.

Red Rock’s Feast Buffet – Located 30 minutes west of the strip in the Red Rock Casino is the Feast Buffet. And a feast it is!! This is one tasty, well appointed, clean buffet. I can’t think of one thing that didn’t taste good. We went for lunch and it was very crowded but service and food item availability surprisingly excellent!

Tip: Excellent weekday pricing (with players card), Breakfast under $7.50, Lunch $9, Dinner $14

Tip: Same quality and pricing can be found at Green Valley Ranch which is also a Stations Casino

MGM (not so) Grand Buffet – Saving the worst for last, you’re welcome. Wow, what a disappointment this buffet was. Went for dinner at around 5pm ($60, $30 each) and lunch was still being served. Talked to the manager as he happened to walk by. He admitted that the kitchen was slow transitioning (lunch ended at 3!) to dinner. I told him food dishes were empty and the place was a mess, and he agreed! Ironically there was plenty of cheap pizza coming out of the kitchen. No Thanks, refund please.

Tip: If something isn’t right, say something. Vegas usually makes things right without hassle

The manager said a buffet remodel is underway and asked us to give them a second chance after completion. Since I’ve had good experiences with the Grand Buffet in the past, I just might do that, but not until the remodel is complete.

 

Excalibur is like White Castle

ExcaliburLasVegasNot because they’re both “castles”. It’s because Excalibur may not be your first choice, but in the end it doesn’t leave a bad taste either. It has its purpose and that purpose for me is inexpensive consistent lodging. The rooms are clean, bed and pillows comfortable. We usually end up here when conventions or major events are going on causing other preferred options to go through the roof price wise.

Tip: I’ve stayed in both towers and Tower II rooms are, in my opinion, nicer/better condition.

Tip: Food Court upstairs offers many less inexpensive food options.

Excalibur_Pool[1]Never chilled pool side but it didn’t look bad from the 25th floor.

The casino and castle grounds could use some modernizing like neighboring properties New York New York and Monte Carlo.

In the end, a solid choice for budget conscious visitors (Stayed 1/2015 in tower II room 25-251)

The Wonderful World of Casino Buffets

Excalibur buffet

Excalibur BuffetThis was our first ever visit to the Excalibur buffet. Freshly re-opened 12/2014, so everything was shiny new. The buffet itself offered a good selection of breakfast and brunch foods. The made to order omelet was large and delicious. I couldn’t help to indulge in the crepe station. The fresh baked muffin wrapped in a napkin was wonderful on the flight home. The buffet has a self-serve drink station with a nice variety of options. Weekday Buffet price was $17.99 each.  (Visited 1/2015)

 

Monte Carlo buffet

Monte Carlo 1This is a middle of the road buffet option in the land of buffets. Went for a weekday brunch and the breakfast items were of decent temperature and quality. Lunch items were disappointingly cold, when they were supposed to be hot. Selection was limited but adequate. It was very slow when we visited so maybe this contributed to our experience. Neither a fan, nor a hater on this one but the Excalibur, Orleans down the road, and Palms has it beat hands down with price and quality. (Visited 1/2015)

Valley of Fire, A Must See

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PictureRocks  WP_20141003_021

Visiting the Valley of Fire State Park has been on my Las Vegas to-do list for many years now. Though I’ve only heard wonderful things about the park, for one reason or another I always failed to visit until our October 2014 trip. Getting there from the strip took just over an hour. Once there, plan on at least two hours to drive through the park and getting out at most stops. To really explore, and there is a lot to see, plan on more time. Walk out and see some of the petrified wood, really cool! Take the time and walk the steps to the Indian petroglyphs. The traveler cabins are also another must see. Many, many, wonderful photo opportunities can be found.

I would recommend turning around at the exit of the park and returning to the strip the way you came. The alternative is beautiful, but takes much longer and there is literally nothing or no-one around for miles and miles. We didn’t have cell service for the majority of the return trip.

petrifiedWLogI will definitely return to further explore the valley on future visits.


Tip
: make sure you have plenty of gas and water before entering the park!

Criss Angel – Don’t Be”LIE”ve this Cirque du Soleil LIE

Don’t Be”LIE”ve this Cirque du Soleil LIE. This show is NOT an “illusion spectacular” nor are there 40 “mind-blowing illusions”. This was a slow and boring let down. I’ve seen KA, Mystere, Zarkana, and Zumanity, I would, and have recommended each one of these. If you want to see Criss Angel save your money instead go to youtube and watch his video’s, then read his Wiki page because that’s what you will see at the show…. Seriously!

UntitledThis “fast paced” show was horribly slow. The I’m so cool Criss brings a 16 year old on stage, and then has an older woman tease the kid, so Criss can make “jokes” at his expense. This show was extremely awkward. It left many people looking around in disbelief. To be fair, some people, but very few, did seem to enjoy this miserable show. I think the overwhelming majority were to stun at the only illusion Criss and Cirque managed to pull off was to make the money paid for this show disappear.

This show stung so bad that we won’t be attending another Cirque du Soleil show doing our next Vegas trip. We decided instead to explore other Vegas offerings for a while. Listen to the reviews and pass on this show!

January 2014 Trip – Reviewed – Old and New Again

With our January 24, 2014 Vegas trip fast approaching I can’t help but find myself getting excited. Leading up to each trip I always try to loosely plan out things I want to see and do. Here’s what I have planned this time around, I guess you could call it, old and new again.

O’Sheas

osheas

The new O’Sheas, after being closed for over a year and a half it has reopened and from the sound of it better than ever. I’m really looking forward to drinking an Irish beer in this dark stained wood casino.

Flamingo

For this trip our new hotel to stay at is the Flamingo, yeah I’ve wrote bad things about this hotel in the past but this time around I have high hopes for their newly updated FAB rooms. They look great from the pictures and for the price at $26 per night just couldn’t be beat. Well not so fast, they now add an $18/night resort fee but overall still a FABulous deal.

Last time we stopped in the Flamingo it was absolutely hopping with a surprisingly younger crowd. Maybe it’s the Jimmy Buffet “casino” that’s doing it, whatever it is I’m looking forward to staying and playing here.

Downtown: Downtown Grand and Container Park

fabulous-downtown-las-vegasThe Downtown Grand  opened in late 2013, noted as the first new hotel to open downtown in 30 years, this off Fremont Street, former part Lady Luck Casino looks great from the pictures. On paper this place sounds like a winner though early reviews suggest otherwise. From what I’ve read gaming is less than stellar with poor video poker and black jack odds and slots tighter than a hungry boa constrictor, never the less I am eager to see for myself.

Downtown Container Park opened in November 2013, personally I’m not a shopper or remotely interested in shopping but this unique idea sparks my curiosity enough to go check it out. Located on Fremont Street, kiddy corner from El Cortez Hotel Casino, is the new 34 outlet style mall made up of all steel prefab shipping containers, some even stacked three tall.

To be honest I’ve never been a fan of downtown, but I’m starting to have a change of heart. With so many improvements going on, better video poker odds and lower table game minimums than the strip plus an overall fun atmosphere I foresee myself spending more time in this forming, much improved, playground.

Cirque du Soleil

ZumanityShow selection for this trip was an easy one, we are seeing Zumanity at New York New York. Simply could not pass up the fantastic deal we got from MyVegas.com, $53 (tax included) + 4k in MyVegas points for TWO tickets. Zumanity will be our 4th Cirque show and I’m sure it won’t disappoint.

Tip: Have a Facebook account? Play MyVegas.com and earn REAL points

We had a GREAT trip, here are my REVIEWS

Zumanity

Best Cirque du Soleil show ever? No, but it was truly enjoyable. I’ve seen KA, Mystere, and Zarkana, all of these share commonality. Zumanity the edgy side of Cirque is well… that. Unlike other Cirque shows where sitting a little farther back is better, Zumanity is intimate so sitting closer is a plus. Nudity, profanity, sexuality, yes all here. In bad taste? Well that’s subjective. Sitting in the front row was an elderly (late 70’s/early 80’s) couple. I kind of watched them to see their reaction and from what I saw they held hands, laughed, and enjoyed the show along with everyone else.  

If you’re easily offended or prudish choose another Cirque show otherwise buy a ticket and enjoy the show.

Tips: The stage was small as was the theater itself. The best seats are definitely surrounding the stage. Get a drink before you enter the theater, but ask for it in a cup, yes they let you bring it in.

Click to EXPAND FULL REVIEW

Play a legend and possibly become a millionaire

Did you know that a slot machine legend still exists in the Las Vegas MGM Grand? It’s called Lion’s Share a lone survivor of a bank of $1.00 progressive slot machines from yesteryears past. Okay I guess “yesteryear” may give the wrong impression, the machine is actually from the 1990’s. Anyway, apparently Nevada gaming laws states it can’t be removed until someone hit’s the $2.2 plus million dollar jackpot.

Now for the best part, theoretically this machine should have hit a long time and therefore “should be” way overdue to hit. Also unlike lottery or other large value progressive jackpots the Lion’s Share jackpot will be paid off in one lump sum not over regular installments. And rumor has it the jackpot winner will even be able to keep the machine!

Watch the Lion’s Share in Action.

 Found on youtube.com (Warning: contains profanity)

This machine has gained in popularity over the last several years. It’s often talked about on several Las Vegas themed Podcasts and has its only twitter feed

Tip: This machine is not ticket in, ticket out its old school hand pay

Tip: I found this on MGM Grand’s website announcing exclusive high payout progressive slot machines.

For even more excitement, try our custom machines that you won’t find anywhere else in Las Vegas. Majestic Lions, our most popular $1 progressive machines, pay out over $750,000 each day. Want more? For a chance to win $1,000,000, take our exclusive Reel Millions and Lion’s Share machines for a spin.

Even though I’ve known about this machine for some time now I’ve never played it. I have asked slot attendants about its location and they have told me it’s in the rear of the casino.  But for some reason or another I’ve never gone to check it out. But it’s a new year my friends and with only 8 days to go until my next trip and from the excitement of writing this post I truly believe I am going to be the Lion’s Share jackpot winner! I plan on playing the machine on January 17, 2012 sometime before noon. Don’t believe me? Follow me on Twitter or watch the news and look for the announcement.

Post Trip Update

As you may have guessed I was not successful in my quest to become the Lion’s Share progressive Jackpot winner. My second spin yielded $30 bucks so I thought I was on my way and at one point I even stood up like Babe Ruth, eyed by opponent, pointed at the jackpot, and swung.. .I mean, pushed the button. But unlike Babe Ruth’s crushing home run I fell back in my chair in defeat as the Lion’s Share machine mocked me by leaving me an empty payline.

Stung, but determined, I pushed on searching out my next opportunity. It didn’t take long as around the corner stood MGM’s Majestic Lion’s. These too are $1.00 progressive machines but after they hit they reset to $1,000. Of the 25 or so machines I don’t think a single one had a jackpot over $1,100. Before diving in I stood and observed the hand full of people playing. It didn’t take long for me to realize these machines had something going on. I put in some money, had a few hits but again fell short. My wife came over and put in a $20, she hit for $300 on her first spin.

The next day we again visited the Majestic Lion’s. We both put in a $10 and on the third or so spin hit for another $300. The short time we were there several other people hit for $300 and while looking around I noticed that several of the machines that had larger amount were reset indicating they were hit. Needless to say these are active machines.

On your next Las Vegas trip plan to stop by the Lion’s Share machine and drop in a few bucks but don’t blow it all, save some for the Majestic Lions as they are some playful cats.

Good Luck and Happy Gaming!

Check out these other related posts:

BLACKJACK – know the odds, know the strategy, maximize your play!

What is a player’s card? What are comps?

Table games? How do you play? You can learn!

East Side Cannery, a Review

This was an interesting experience, I’m glad I stayed here but I’m not certain I’ll return. You see our flight was scheduled to arrive in Las Vegas at night 11pm (2pm Detroit time). Part because I’m frugal and part because I like to experience different Las Vegas Casino Hotels I decided to stay at the Eastside Cannery (A 16 story hotel containing 307 rooms ranging in size from 450 to 900 sq ft) for the first night of our trip. Since we usually take a later flight into Vegas I like staying at a cheaper off strip hotel for that first night. While looking where to stay I saw East Side Cannery had $39 deluxe rooms with a $10 off promotion making the room just $29 per night plus tax and NO RESORT FEES! After consulting with my wife, who had no issues with it, I booked the Cannery.

East Side Cannery is located on Boulder highway next door to Sam’s Town Hotel/Casino and Boulder Station Hotel/Casino is down the street a little further. According to slot statistics Boulder Highway is known to have some of the loosest slots in Las Vegas, Video Poker pay tables are favorable and table games have low minimums.

When we arrived at the hotel it was about midnight so check-in was a breeze. We then headed straight for the room. The elevators were close to the front desk and right off the casino floor. Unlike strip hotels where elevators and hallways always seem to have activity the Cannery was a ghost town. We opened the door to a surprisingly very nice room. We found the room better than the website description:

Standard Queen at 450 sq. ft. is well above standard. Enjoy a plush pillowtop mattress, down pillows and 400 thread count sheets. 42inch plasma TV, writing desk, easy chair and convenient in room refrigerator will make your stay easy.

After admiring our room we quickly dropped off our bags and headed down to the casino floor for a couple of drinks and a little gaming action before going to bed. Being an off strip property it was evident that the majority of the casino’s patrons, though few in numbers, were made up of locals. Security seemed a little heavy for the number of patrons and they definitely were keeping an close eye on a few sketchy looking characters. Though we felt safe this scenario gave us the “keep your heads up” kind of feeling.

The 65,000 square foot casino offered a decent variety of slot machines, video poker, and table games. I recall that penny machines dominated the casino floor. I was surprised to see a band playing in the casinos Marilyn’s Lounge given the number of patrons. Waitress service was extremely slow and when present was served with a bit of attitude. The anticipated gaming action and drink service was an overall disappointment. So off we went through the deserted hallways to our room.

We woke early the next morning and got some breakfast downstairs at Snaps Restaurant. We used a buy one, get one coupon that we received upon check-in. Afterword’s we packed up and checked out. The lady who assisted us had some problems doing this. She called over someone else who assisted her. I don’t know what happened but after I got home and was reviewing my Credit Card statement I noticed they completely refunded our night stay!

After each hotel stay my wife and I like to discuss whether or not we would stay there again, we both said we would pass on the Cannery. Though the room and price was excellent, the casino was just ok. So with all the other hotel/casino options available in Las Vegas I think I will continue to try something new.

Check out these other related posts:

Bill’s Gambling Hall and Saloon Review… I’m serious!

Getting an awesome Las Vegas hotel deal? Don’t forget about the resort fees!

Review: Palazzo Resort Hotel and Casino

Tips on how to find the lowest hotel rates in Las Vegas

Review: Palace Station Hotel and Casino

Pawn Stars Las Vegas Revisited

We first visited Pawn Stars (Gold & Silver Pawn) back in January of 2010 (see original post here). On that visit we parked with ease and just walked right in. We saw everyone from the show except Corey (Big Hoss). Chumlee was just standing there helping customers and the old man was well doing his thing. Items for sale were numerous and wide ranging from video games for a few bucks to Rolex watches and beyond. The Pawn Star TV show souvenir area was very small with only a few items to choose from.

Speed up 18 months and wow have things changed! The parking lot is packed, cabs are lined up to cart curious fans to and from the strip, and there’s a line to enter the shop.

Tip: Long lines form outside the Pawn Shop but don’t worry they move fast

 Once inside more changes are quickly noticeable. The pawn shop has seemed to morph from an everyday working pawn shop to a tourist attraction. Yes there are still “pawn shop” items for sale but they’re limited. The remaining space it occupied with items that were featured on the show and a very large Pawn Stars souvenir area.

Oh, and one more thing that’s changed since our first visit. The pawn shop staff has increased 2 fold but not a single Pawn Star “celebrity” was seen. Since I was traveling with my daughters who were eager to see someone from the show I asked one of the female associates behind the counter the question. I said I’m going to ask you a question I bet you hate. She said, Please don’t. I said I’m gonna with a smile and proceeded to ask the dreaded question, are the Pawn Stars here and when/if they be coming out? Her reply was not surprising, she said, yes they’re here and no way will they be coming out. She continued to say, they can’t come out because the fans get way to crazy.
So there you go, if you’re planning on visiting the Silver & Gold Pawn Shop aka “Pawn Stars” on your next Las Vegas visit. Take your picture by the Gold & Silver Pawnshop sign, go in and look at the items you saw on TV show but don’t expect to see the guys from the show.

Have something interesting you would like to sell or pawn? If so, then you might have a chance to be on the show yourself. Check out this History Channel link or email Pawnstarstvshow@gmail.com with a text description of the item.

Check out these other related posts:

Advice from the Veterans, Las Vegas Traveler Style…

Red Rock Canyon Excursion

Las Vegas Area Thrills by Land and Air