Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Vegas Experiment That Failed

I visit Las Vegas once a year and each time I return, I'm always amazed by what has changed.

Landmarks that I'm used to seeing have been blown up and demolished to make way for new hotels and entertainment experiences.

Back in the 90's, Vegas tried an experiment where they wanted to lure families to "Sin City."

They wanted to make Las Vegas into the Orlando of the west.  They wanted to turn the gambling mecca into a family-friendly destination where children and their parents could have fun together.

Sound familiar?

Despite having the MGM Grand Adventures Theme Park, Wet and Wild, Pirate Stunt Shows, roller coasters, simulators and a bunch of other family friendly attractions... the idea failed miserably.

Today, Las Vegas is well on its way to becoming solely an "Adult Disneyland" once again.

There is a great article in Vegas Inc. about how GameWorks, the Strip's giant arcade, is shutting down.  It's joins the MGM Grand's Lion Habitat which also closed down last month.

The article talks about how 38 million of Las Vegas' annual visitors come from California, where they have easy access to Disneyland and Universal Studios.

Why would these visitors want to leave home for a family friendly experience when they have the best ones in the world in their own backyard?

Heck, I'm a giant theme park fan and I haven't ridden any of the rides in Las Vegas since my first trip back in 2004!

I go to Las Vegas for blackjack, interesting meals and people watching... I don't necessarily need to pay $14 for a mediocre, head-banging roller coaster.  (Sorry, New York, New York).

After saying all of that, there still are some new park-like attractions opening out there.

Circus Circus is still alive and well and recently opened the "Chuck Jones Experience," celebrating the creator of Looney Tunes.

And... in 2013, we'll see a 500-foot observation wheel across from Mandalay Bay! The ride will have 32 24-seat gondolas and offer unbelievable views of the world famous Las Vegas Strip.

So, maybe that "family friendly" dream isn't totally dead after all.

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