Headin' to Sin City

In typical fashion, we try to see the entire thing in one trip. There's plenty left for next trip, but we had a great time!


Bellagio Fountains

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by VA_traveler on July 9, 2007

Who knew that water could look so cool? I wish I had realized how impressive this fountain was earlier - I would have planned more opportunities to stop by and see the show.

During the week, there are shows every half hour beginning at three (noon on the weekends), and every night, starting at 8pm, they run one show every fifteen minutes until midnight. The shows might be delayed or postponed when the wind is strong, but trust me, it's worth waiting for!

The show is set in rhythm to one of thirty or so classic Vegas songs. As the music players, the jets spray water up to 200 feet in the air, and really make it dance. I didn't know it was possible, but it's true. The lighting that's turned on at night makes me most highly recommend an after-dark viewing for the best effect.

We got to the Bellagio early enough to get a good spot along the railing - this made us feel a bit more "Ocean's 11". However, a close-up spot isn't strictly necessary, since, like everything else on the strip, the fountains are huge - set in an eight acre lake that's viewable from space!
Bellagio Fountains
3600 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, Nevada
(702) 693-7111

Blue Man Group

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by VA_traveler on July 9, 2007

I've seen a couple of documentary-type shows about these strange blue guys. I was "this close" to seeing them a couple of times in different venues. But I have to admit that once we bought the tickets for the Vegas performance, I started getting nervous. There's something about plunking down over $100 for a ticket, and then having it dawn on you that maybe the designation "poncho seats" isn't just a cute name. I mean, these guys spit things, and splatter paint, and play really, really loud music!

So night of the show, we headed to the Venetian with a bit of trepidation. Turns out that we needn't have worried - not even about our clothes getting dirty.

When we arrived, we were shown to our seats. The first few rows are called the "poncho section", which turned out to be a literal thing. On the back of each chair in this section was a disposable plastic poncho - which every one of us dutifully pulled on. The show began, and we really enjoyed it - from the great beats played on PVC pipes, to the "art" the guys created using chewed marshmallows and spit-sprayed paint.

The show was very lighthearted. The audience involvement was the best part - "volunteers" were pulled onto stage at several points, and the Blue Men walked through (and over) the audience. The music was all percussion, and was impressive. Those looking for a theater lab feel will be pleased, I think.

I saw an interview with the founding members of the group where they discussed how they decided what to put in the show. They said that as a group they had two talents - percussion and catching things in their mouths. And you know what? That's a big part of what you'll see in the show. It does get a little deeper, though - they also commented on how three is the smallest group you can have where one member can feel excluded. So there's a bit of that theme running through - that "outsider" feeling we've all experienced at times.

Not everyone will enjoy the Blue Man Group. Some of the humor is a little physical, the music is very loud, and this is not a high-polish Vegas show. It's a little bit artsy, a little bit crude, and a little bit whimsical. I wouldn't take my parents to see this - not because it would shock or offend them in any way, just because they wouldn't enjoy it. I wouldn't hesitate to take kids to see the show, though.

The Blue Men perform nightly at the Venetian - two shows (7pm and 10pm) on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and one show (8pm) on Wednesday and Sunday.
Blue Man Group at The Venetian
3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89109
(866) 641-SHOW

'O' - Cirque Du Soleil

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by VA_traveler on July 9, 2007

If you are at all interested in Cirque du Soleil, then Las Vegas is the place to be. There are currently (2007) 5 Cirque shows with permanent homes on the strip. Ka, O, Mystere, Love, and Zumanity. You know what that means, right? It means that at any given moment during the day, there are probably 400 people walking around the Vegas area who could scratch their ears with their toes while walking on their fingers and juggling fire.

But also, it means that there are choices to be made if you want to see a Cirque show. For us, it was a tough decision. We narrowed it down to Mystere and O, and decided on O. I'm glad we did. O has all the acrobatic wonders of any other Cirque show, but it sets this activity above a unique stage, comprised of a pool that can go from meters deep to bone dry in a matter of seconds. Just seeing the stage alone was worth the price of admission.

This show made me happy. The synchronized swimming was beautiful, and graceful, but there was also a lot of synchronized splashing - in a kind of joyful, playful way. I loved the fact that almost every act ended by sinking or diving or jumping into the water.

I've read that there's a plot running through this show. My husband (deep one that he is) claims to have been watching the progression through a man's life - birth, childhood, marriage, death. I am not a deep thinker - I saw a series of incredibly athletic acts, some mildly humorous clowns, a really cool stage, and a guy with a whip who kept showing up (I just didn't get that one). Both of us thoroughly enjoyed the show, though.

We paid about $110 per ticket, and sat in the front row of the balcony. The seats were great, giving a good overview of the action, and allowing for leaning over to get a better view when needed. There is no intermission, so be prepared to sit for two hours. There are two shows every night, Wednesday through Sunday, at 7:30 and 10:30.

Our only complaint was that there was always so much going on, it was hard to keep up with everything. There were so many "little" things happening around the edges of the pool, even while the main acts were occurring, it was difficult to keep focus in one place or the other! I guess this is due to the circus heritage of the show – think "three ring circus". We agreed we would probably see something new each time, even if we saw the show again and again. I’d be more than happy to try it and find out!
"O" by Cirque Du Soleil
Bellagio Casino, 3600 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89109
(888) 987-3456

Star Trek: The Experience

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by VA_traveler on July 9, 2007

Don't shoot me, but I'm not a big fan of the original Star Trek series. Just never got into it. I am way more of TNG girl. I can't really understand the whole fascination with Kirk, but gimme an eyeful of that Picard any day. So needless to say, I was very pleased to learn that the Star Trek Experience was primarily a Next Generation and beyond kind of thing. It's actually pretty cool. In a sci-fi kind of way.

The Experience is kind of a cross between a museum, a thrill ride and a movie, with a smidgen of live-action role-playing thrown in. You arrive and wind your way through displays of Star Trek memorabilia, including costumes, props, and models of different star ships. There's also a huge timeline, laying out the significant events involved in the Federation's and Star Fleet's "history". The displays end at the entrances to two shows - the Borg Invasion and the Klingon Encounter.

We only wanted to wait in line once, and we opted to be assimilated. Resistance is futile, after all. The ride was fun, and very involved. I'm not going to give away anything, I'll just say we all enjoyed it; even my sister, who isn't a fan at all.

You can buy your tickets online ahead of time and spend about $38. This will save $5 off what it costs at the gate. Each ticket is good for both rides, as many times as you want to wait in line. The gate opens at 11:30am, and the first ride is at noon, but the Hilton has located a Star Trek themed casino right outside the entrance, in case you get there early. The Hilton is a little ways off of the Strip; for those who can't arrange to be beamed directly there, the monorail ends provides a convenient means of arriving.
Star Trek: The Experience
Las Vegas Hilton 3000 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89109
(888) 462-6535

Stratosphere Tower

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by VA_traveler on July 9, 2007

If your city has a tower, and you really need someone to climb it and enjoy panoramic vistas from the top, please let me know. I am totally a sucker for panoramic vistas. So when I heard about the Stratosphere Hotel and tower, I knew I would have to give it a look.

Located at the northern end of the strip and measuring 1149 feet, the Stratosphere holds the distinction of being the tallest man-made structure in America west of the Mississippi. The first floor is a casino (no surprise), with a hotel above. The building is capped by an observation deck and restaurant with great views of the city. Getting to the observation deck will cost you - $10.95 per adult, plus more if you want to try one of the rides at the top.

Because as if the view itself wasn't enough to draw you, there are also three thrill rides on the very top of the building. My husband and I (thrill seekers that we are) decided to brave Big Shot. Basically, they strapped us to seats on either side of a 160 ft tower that sits on top of the Stratosphere, then shot us up into the air at 45 mph. I screamed my head off the whole way up. Not just some "woohoo, this is so fun" kind of scream. More like an "oh my god, at least I've had a good life" kind of scream - couldn't help it. We then dropped about half that distance, and then kind of bounced gently up and down a couple of times. After the initial acceleration, the ride was pretty peaceful - and the views were gorgeous.

In addition to the charge for the elevator to the observation deck, the lines for tickets can get pretty long. This is where a little planning ahead can help. If you have a reservation for the restaurant a the top, you get to skip the regular line and get to the observation deck for free. Once at the top, you can buy tickets for any rides you want from the gift shop in the observation deck.

We did this, and had lunch in the restaurant afterwards. We had sandwiches and salad, which were a little overpriced, but tasted pretty good. The view is why you come here - not only does the restaurant have 360 degrees of windows, but every table has a great view, because the restaurant is slowly revolving. Very cool. I think this would be best for dinner, looking over the lights of the strip after dark.
Stratosphere Tower
2000 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89104
(702) 380-7777

The Sirens of Treasure Island

Member Rating 1 out of 5 by VA_traveler on July 9, 2007

I admit it, I was the idiot in our group who said "Hey! let's see the pirate show at Treasure Island! It's free, so surely it'll be worth seeing!" When am I going to learn?

The "sirens" said things like "C'mon girls, let's rock this house". The dialogue continued in this vein, and at one point, I'm pretty sure the pirate ship captain and the sirens were arguing over how much closet space a woman needed. This was about when we left.

Look, I understand the need to see scantily-clad dancers on a trip to Vegas. I was disappointed not to have been able to fit in a burlesque review during my trip. This show was NOT a good alternative - it was sleazy without being sexy, the dancing was awful, the singing was dubbed in, and the show itself was just...well, stupid. The only redeeming factor was the pyrotechnics, but even those weren't enough.

Save your time, save your brain cells. Don't see this show!

Still intrigued? You're one of those folks who won't believe it until they've tried it? Go ahead, but be prepared for my "I told you so". The shows are free, and are performed nightly in front of Treasure Island. Look for the big crowd and the equally large pirate ships - you can't miss 'em. Get there 20-30 minutes before the show in order to get a good spot (I recommend the viewing deck along the street side of the sidewalk). Shows start at 5:30, 7:00, 8:30, and 10.
Sirens of TI/Sirens Cove
3300 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89109

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