Farewell To The Sirens of TI. RIP Vegas.

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While the past decade has brought about a variety of positive changes to Las Vegas, including massive new hotel developments in the $9.2 billion CityCenter complex and the opening of luxurious new favorites like The Wynn and Encore. There’s even more to come in early 2014, as we should expect to see the opening of the world’s largest Ferris wheel, which is being built at a cost of $550 million, at 55-stories high, and will take 30-minutes to go in one full rotation. It will be even taller than the Bellagio!

This is all fine and dandy, but it still shows how Vegas is headed in a themeless direction, as it is starting to become just like any other old city. Sure, the hotels exteriors may all look the same as they always have, but the interiors are slowly getting rid of their themed elements. Now I love a modern hotel just as much as the next guy, but that extra little bit of theming always gave me a reason to want to come back. Now, it’s almost as if each hotel is like staying at a super-sized Hampton Inn. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I would have preferred something a little more extraordinary.

But lately, Vegas has been removing many of it’s free attraction in lieu of more lucrative–or less costly–ventures. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bellagio itself got rid of it’s fountain show and then the Bellagio built an expansion tower in it’s place! Or why not turn the Bellagio pond into a big-fat money making indoor ice skating rink. That’d really rake in the dough! Just kidding, but in a way, it really wouldn’t surprise me at this point. Pigs may even start flying. Who knows.

Nevertheless, family attractions all throughout town are being consistently removed and replaced with shopping malls and new hotels. The days of needing to build a free attraction to attract guests have gone out the door, as new hotels like the Aria and Cosmopolitan offer practically zero theming in exchange for a luxurious, but bland atmosphere that gives it no way of differentiating itself from every other mega-resorts on the strip. Don’t get me wrong, I think these are among the nicest and most innovative hotels in all of America, but I still would have liked to see a touch of theming here or there. Like how Disney places hidden mickey’s throughout each of its hotels.

In early 2013, The Rio’s free ‘Show in the Sky’ parade closed after 16 years of fun, with nothing even taking it’s place. Here our economy is recovering and the people at Caesars Entertainment won’t even spit out a few dollars to entertain their guests. What cheapskates! The greed is killing me.

The free African penguin exhibit closed at the Flamingo in 2006, after first opening in 1995. Now only a lonely Flamingo habitat sits in it’s place. It looks rather bare-some… and of course it’s far less thrilling than a free penguin sighting.

The free Lion Habitat closed at the MGM Grand in early 2012. The $9 million glass-enclosure habitat once gave tourists a viewing of their African lions. The 20 lion residents lived on an 8.5-acre ranch 12 miles outside of Las Vegas, yet were rotated into the exhibit. What was even cooler was the fact that they were said to be descendants of the most recent mascot used by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios. What took it’s place? Of course it’s not another themed restaurant like the Rainforest Cafe across the hall, instead it’s just some random old generic piece of steel. It’s not like the old days when the Bellagio was building a restaurant with over $30 million dollars worth of real Picasso paintings hanging from its walls or back when the Mandalay Bay built Aureole, which is home to the world’s largest wine tower. While both of those restaurants still exist, all the restaurants at new developments like CityCenter are practically clones of one another–each having a celebrity chef and the same old run of the mill contemporary theme. What a bore.

While it wasn’t free, at one point the MGM Grand had their very own on-site 33-acre theme park, which opened back in 1993 and consisted of seven rides and five shows; but it closed in 2002 to make way for a high-rise hotel and condominium project.

The famed Speed roller coaster at the Sahara closed back in May 2011 when the Sahara hotel closed its doors for good. Of course it still hasn’t reopened. Luckily we do still have the rollercoaster at the New York New York, the rides at the Circus Circus and at The Stratosphere.


So you thought all those closings were pretty brutal, huh?

Well wait till you hear this. Treasure Island’s famous pirate show, which has featured the sirens in skimpy costumes dancing with shirtless sailors (in recent years anyway), has been canceled for good and the stage is already being torn to pieces. This iconic show was shattered, after attracting large crowds to this area ever since 1993. Why would they do such a thing? To build a pharmacy. Yup, they went to all that trouble and ruined all of our fun just to build a pharmacy, and some other shops as well, as part of a three-story, 48,000-square-foot retail space that is set to open in Fall 2014.

I wouldn’t deem these executives to be quite so greedy if they would have done this back in 2009 during the heart of the recession, but there was no excuse to make such a move in 2013. Vegas has plenty of shopping as it is, especially with the Fashion Show Mall just right next door. This is a city that has 6 Louis Vuitton stores and 5 Chanel stores, all located within a few clocks of one another. The Linq (formerly The Imperial Palace) is even building more shops and so is Bally’s. Enough is enough. Trust me when I say that this city does not need any more malls.

What I really want to know is why they would build a pharmacy when there is a Walgreens right across the street and a CVS not too far after.

It looks like this whole end of the strip is starting to become more of a ghost town than ever before, especially with new developments like CityCenter being build at the opposite end of the strip. There’s really no reason to come down here any more, except to shop at Fashion Show Mall. 🙁

The only good news I have for you today is that those who never got to see the show can watch it below in full length.


Video: Entire show in HD


Are you guys just as disappointed as I am? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.


Taylor Goldblatt

After years of research, travel, and dreams, I have created this website for people like you who want to experience the things that only America can offer. My passion is to explore and share America's greatest destinations and attractions. Follow me on Twitter @USCityTraveler for additional travel tips and ideas.

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