What’s changed in Atlantic City since I was here last at the turn of the century? We were here when everyone thought the world would come to a standstill in 2000; remember the Y2K scare? Of course, we rang in the New Year at Caesar’s without a care in the world.
Not a gambler by nature, I am usually reluctant to go to gaming destinations; and if I do, it’s the nickel slot machines. Ever since I won $200 at Black Jack, I haven’t had the courage to do a follow up act. But Atlantic City is close enough to New York to lure the occasional gambler, with comps, prizes, free rooms and the like. It has changed quite a bit in the last five years, and these are some of the things I noticed which pointed to a more positive experience.
The whole town seems to have gone through a face lift, as this area of South Jersey is not well reputed for its run down neighborhoods. I was sad and happy at the same time, to notice a slew of stores (about 75+) a stone’s throw from the Sands Hotel & Casino that now form the Atlantic City Outlets , which opened in 2003. Alas, this cannot be done on crutches, and not even on a wheel chair. As it was year end, there were promises of outrageous rebates.
I had also heard a lot about the new Borgata Hotel & Casino, of which I caught a glimpse when we arrived on Friday evening. The entire structure appears to be a glowing ember of red, and is away from the other hotels/casinos. Atlantic City does not have a strip, as does Las Vegas , but it has its now six-mile famous boardwalk, which can be accessed from most of the established casinos.
Also of interest is the slate of entertainment projected for the first few months of the year; it used to be that most of the worthwhile concerts were to be found at the Taj Mahal . Now one can also check for happenings at the House of Blues, and the Boardwalk Hall ; too bad Neil Diamond was already there on December 3rd. However, Bon Jovi is appearing in concert on February 4th and the Johann Strauss Orchestra on May 19, 2006.
There are also quite a few Asian/Viet Namese markets in the area, owing to the flux of Viet Namese families who live here. This made my heart sing, even though I could not indulge in browsing of any kind. An Imax theater has also appeared as well as a row of lovely pastel colored townhouses, reminiscent of downtown Charleston .
One of the things I enjoyed most is closing, and that is the Legends in Concert which used to be at Bally’s. It will be replaced with a game show of sorts, which is too bad.