on April 7, 2012
The Freemont Street Experience was one of my favourite things about Las Vegas. I love Las Vegas, I love the lights, the brashness and the newness of the place that comes in massive proportions. But Fremont Street is old style Las Vegas – how it used to be before modern money took over – and it has one great attraction in the light experience that was created in 1999.So What Is It?The Fremont Street experience is essentially a sound and light show that takes place above the street every night on the hour, every hour from sunset until midnight. As I said, the Experience was built in 1999 in a bid to bring in some of the millions of tourists that visit The Strip each year to the downtown area. All along the street is a ninety foot high archway that contains over twelve million LED lights, which transform the ‘ceiling’ into a huge TV screen.Is It Worth Visiting?The short answer is absolutely. The long answer is as follows: (!)Getting to Fremont Street from The Strip is very easy as there are buses that run along Las Vegas Boulevard and into the downtown area at least every ten minutes. It is cheap enough too – you simply buy a ticket from one of the ticket machines at each bus stop and board. The tickets are about $2 and last for a couple of hours or you can get a 24 hour bus pass for about $7. A couple of hours could be enough, if you time it right – remember the show starts on the hour and it lasts for about six minutes – but if you want to explore the area a bit and visit some of the casinos there, I’d recommend spending the extra for a day pass. If you do this you can also use it to stop off at some of the hotels to the northern end of The Strip (including The Stratosphere and Circus Circus) which are a long way on foot if you are staying in the central area near Bellagio and Caesar’s Palace.The show is sponsored by a consortium of the hotels on Fremont Street and so they play their part in making the show what it is by turning off all of the lights in their casinos just before the show starts. I think this makes all the difference and is a fantastic idea. For me it did a lot to build up the excitement and create atmosphere before the show. There is something slightly spine tingling about seeing the city of lights go dark. The show itself has no particular format or story. It is more of just an independent mini movie that is shown each hour. The shows are different every time and they tend to incorporate soft rock and cartoon like images. They are designed that you can’t help but tap your feet and swing your hips to them regardless of whether you like the featured artist. When we visited we saw Queen and Bon Jovi, neither of whom my husband likes but both of which he thoroughly enjoyed. There are huge speakers all along the street, so it really is an experience rather than just a show; you can’t help but feel part of the show. All along the street there are hundreds and hundreds of people staring up at the ceiling bopping along happily. One of the best things about the show is that it is entirely free, so if you are on a budget, it is a great thing to do to pass a bit of time or even an evening if you want to stay and watch more than one show, which we did quite happily.Seeing the benefits of creating such a big tourist attraction in the area, there are lots of other things that you can do to pass the time between the shows that have appeared as a result. There are many little free standing gift stalls along the street selling everything and everything you can think of in the form of Las Vegas souvenirs – we were oddly mesmerised by a lady who was writing people’s names on grains of rice!There is a huge flying fox type thing that runs along the street underneath the LED arch. It’s not cheap at $20 per person, but it is very popular and you will find that any walk down the street is punctuated by the screams and shouts from the people above who seem to be having a whole lot of fun.Then of course, there are the casinos. The Golden Nugget is kind of Fremont’s answer to the big casinos of The Strip. It doesn’t live up to its aim of being an upmarket establishment in downtown, but it is glittery and eye catching all the same. You can get one of the famous 99 cent shrimp cocktails in The Golden Gate, pretty much the only thing going for this understated and pretty old casino that has been there since 1901. There is also Binion’s Horseshoe which is an old school casino that has no airs and graces and it shows. That said, the casinos here are worth a visit because they are supposed to pay out more than elsewhere and they offer a much more casual experience. To be honest, we absolutely loved spending time in them people watching – you really do get all sorts in this area and it is truly fascinating stuff!Overall I wouldn’t hesitate recommending a trip to Fremont Street because the Experience is fantastic and it is easy to get to and free to enjoy.
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