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Best of Barney Vinson

Gaming Guru

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Barney Vinson's World

29 October 2000

In Las Vegas, there's plenty to do away from the green felt jungles, and it's all in keeping with the city's modern image as a family resort destination. Here's my top ten list:

  1. Wet 'n Wild, a sparkling water hole on the north end of the Strip, features nearly a dozen attractions including the Royal Flush water slide, Black Hole, Raging Rapids, Willy Nilly, Banzai Boggan, Blue Niagara, Bomb Bay, Der Stuka, Whitewater Slideways, Flash Flood Hydra-Maniac, Surf Lagoon, and the Lazy River. It's expensive, but you get to see girls in bathing suits.

  2. Beam me up, Scotty. I'm on my way to the Las Vegas Hilton and "Star Trek: The Experience." File through the futuristic Space Quest casino and into the Star Trek museum. At the far side of the museum, you'll beam aboard the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise, then blast through distant galaxies at warp speed. After shooting down a few dastardly Klingons, it's on to Quark's Bar where you can rehash your adventures if you've got any money left.

  3. The Big Shot at the Stratosphere is probably the most heart-wrenching ride in all of Las Vegas. I rode it with my wife, who claims that I prayed out loud as I was rocketed 160 feet into the air at 45 miles an hour. You hang up there for about 10 seconds, the entire panorama of the Las Vegas valley spread out beneath you, then you free-fall back to the launching pad -- and then up you go again -- and again! Empty your pockets before you go, or gravity will do it for you. Ticket and pass to the top of the tower will run you around $10, with $1 off if you're a local resident or have slept in the Lincoln bedroom at the White House.

  4. Speed, the Ride is the most ambitious roller coaster ever opened in Las Vegas, and it's at the Sahara Hotel on the north end of the Strip. This one lumbers right out of the casino, down the Strip, through the Sahara's 192-foot sign, around the porte-cochere (a French word meaning "front porch"), straight up a 224-foot tower, then repeats the process in reverse! The ride, which uses electromagnetic waves to propel the coaster cars without touching them, costs less than $10 and includes overnight observation at Sunrise Hospital.

  5. The Manhattan Express at New York-New York is another Vegas roller coaster ride. You go almost 70 miles an hour -- but you've gotta stand in line half an hour to do it. Sure it's scary. Remember this, though. The odds of dying on a thrill ride are only 1 in 200 million. How many people have ridden the Manhattan Express? Exactly 199,999,999 people. So maybe you better wait a week.

  6. You're in the biggest IMAX dome in the world with 80-foot ceilings and walkways suspended over a 6,000 square foot pool of sound and visual effects. Now your motion simulator whizzes off to the majestic metropolis of Atlantis where you race your chariot against such fierce competitors as Neptune (the current reigning monarch) and Ghastlius (a pit boss at the Horseshoe). It's the IMAX motion simulator ride "Race For Atlantis" at the east end of the Forum Shops inside Caesars Palace.

  7. The Liberace Museum, a mile east of the Strip on Tropicana, is filled with the stuff that made "Mr. Showmanship" a legend. Liberace's sequined cars, costumes, jewelry, and pianos are all here. I wanna see his WIGS! It's a bargain at $6.50 for adults and $2 for kids 6-12.

  8. MGM Grand Adventures, a mini-Disneyland on the property of the MGM Grand Hotel, features 12 major attractions; four theaters, nine themed areas; and a variety of street entertainment, specialty shops, and restaurants. Pay $15 for a wristband ($10 for kids under 13) and go on all the rides except the SkyScreamer, a 25-story sky-diving, hang-gliding, stomach-upchucking adventure. The SkyScreamer will cost you anywhere from $22.50 to $37, depending on whether you go up alone or with other people (like your lawyer). SEASONAL.

  9. The Secret Gardens of Siegfried & Roy gives you a chance to see white tigers and royal white lions in their own natural habitat. Contrary to popular belief, these are not man-eaters. They also eat women and children. The $10 fee also includes admission to the Dolphin Exhibit. They're both at the Mirage.

  10. Mandalay Bay's Shark Reef features one of the country's largest displays of sharks and other bad guys, including moray eels, stingrays, jellyfish, and crocodiles. I enjoyed watching the squid, mackerel, prawn, and scallops — until I learned they were going to be fed to the sharks, moray eels, stingrays, jellyfish, and crocodiles. Passages under the salt-water aquariums give you a great view, and divers in scuba gear answer your questions through a sophisticated underwater communications system (waterproof walkie-talkies from Radio Shack).

Honorable Mention: Adventuredome at Circus Circus, Ethyl M Chocolate Factory, Bonnie Springs Old Nevada, circus acts at Circus Circus, King Tut's tomb and museum at Luxor, Grand Canal gondola rides at the Venetian, and Madame Tussaud's Celebrity Encounter at the Venetian. The best of the theme restaurants is Planet Hollywood (inside the Forum Shops at Caesars). Owners include Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Sylvester Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzeneggergrooberloober. You're bound to see a costume or prop from one of your favorite movies, and afterwards you can buy a jacket or T-shirt commemorating your visit.

Barney Vinson

Barney Vinson is one of the most popular and best-selling gaming authors of all time. He is the author of Ask Barney, Las Vegas: Behind the Tables, Casino Secrets, Las Vegas Behind the Tables Part II, and Chip-Wrecked in Las Vegas. His newest book, a novel, is The Vegas Kid.

Books by Barney Vinson:

> More Books By Barney Vinson

Barney Vinson
Barney Vinson is one of the most popular and best-selling gaming authors of all time. He is the author of Ask Barney, Las Vegas: Behind the Tables, Casino Secrets, Las Vegas Behind the Tables Part II, and Chip-Wrecked in Las Vegas. His newest book, a novel, is The Vegas Kid.

Books by Barney Vinson:

> More Books By Barney Vinson