Being stuck in Southern California due to the blizzard in New York has its benefits. It gave me the opportunity to drive out to Vegas and experience the coasters offered by the hotels in that city.
The drive from Anaheim was about 4 hours. Three and a half hours into it, we crossed the stateline and sitting on the side of the road was Buffalo Bill's Hotel and Casino. This is a nice example of entertainment architecture with a hypercoaster springing out of its roof and creating a circuit aroundthe whole property, including a western butte themed tower. For the record, the casino in this hotel is one of the nicest and certainlymost fun I have seen. In addition to Deperado, the facility offeres a flume as well as other thrill rides.
You enter the train via a leopard carpeted station overlooking the game room inthe casino. The trains are rather comfy with lots of leg room. The lift hill rises through a tunnel in the roof. The first drop was sweet and the ride kept the momentum from there. There were some rough spots, but overall this coaster delivered. The helices in the "mountain were nice and the ride itself was rather long. Nothing like a coaster oasis in the middle of a desert. This was worth the ride - at $6 a pop it was reasonable - especially because each ticket gave me a 2 for 1 coupon for Manhattan Express in Las Vegas.
The drive to Las Vegas from Buffalo Bill's was another 45 minutes. Las Vegas is a city comprised mostly of Hotels and Casinos that seems to have sprouted and flourished in the most unlikely (and unattractive) of places. If you enjoy hotels in the middle of no where, you'll love this place. The architecture is imposing, yet fun. In the evening, I enjoyed the sidewalk fountain show at the Bellagio and the sidewalk Volcano show at the Mirage. The Pirate Ship Battle at Treasure Island was an hour off my schedule - so I skipped it.
The strip was fun to walk, but I'm glad I didn't plan a weekend here. I don't drink, smoke or gamble, and, after the coasters and sidewalk shows, there really isn't much to hold my attention.
Speed: The Ride (10/10)
From the launch through all its elements, this coaster mastered its track. First launch takes you 0 - 45 mph. After the loop, it accelerates again to 70mph and sends the train reeling toward a 90 degree vertical tower (similar to Mr. Freeze). The return back was equally thrilling. I though that this was the best coaster in Vegas and one of the best launched shuttles I've been on. The ride was smooth with no head banging and the atmosphere was very relaxed. It's at the Nascar Cafe at the Sahara Hotel.
High Roller (4/10)
The criticism of this ride is accurate. It is not much of a roller coaster. Two circuits on a relatively tame track. However, you have to be impressed with the location and view. It was somewhat daunting to be perched 900 feet above ground riding around on the roof of this thing. Not a great roller coaster - but a great novelty. It's at the rather dumpy Stratosphere Hotel and Casino.
Worth mentioning and definitely worth the admission price is Big Shot a Tower of Power kind of thing lovated on the spire of the tower. This is the only time I have been shot into the air and have felt that I have completely left the ground. An absolutely thrilling and terrifying sensation. Delicious - check it out!
Canyon Blaster (5/10)
This is a double looping Arrow. A wholly forgettable ride in a rather poorly laid out setting. Located in The Adventuredome, a domed amusement park featuring a handful of rides. It's at Circus Circus resort & casino. One of the older and dumpier hotels on the strip.
We headed over to the Rio Hotel & Casino. It was off the strip, but had a renowned buffet and we were famished. The casino there seemed to have a twenty-four hour Mardi Gras parade going on with floats and dancers suspended from the ceiling. We ate at the World Buffet and the food was great - we got there at 3:20PM and paid lunch price of $11.99 each. It was a bargain, because the place switched all the food to dinner courses at 3:30PM. Excellent Food! Excellent Bargain!
Manhattan Express (7/10)
This coaster is certainly beautiful running all around the New York, New York Hotel & Casino. I was wary of it, because as soon as we saw the trains we guessed correctly that it was TOGO. We sat in the front for both our rides and it greatly reduced the roughness (as was apparent from the moans and groans of riders behind us). The coaster itself was pretty good, but still had some drops that slammed the train rather than gliding it in. One element in particular was unique and worth note: a heartline roll into a reversing dive. Very effective and executed quite well. A good ride in the front seat - I can't vouch for the ride in seats behind.
Las Vegas Buffet Tip: The Rio's Carnival World Buffet is indeed good, and I have been there many times, but the Spice Market Buffet at The Aladdin puts it to shame. A bit more expensive, but well worth it.
SCREAM with me... in 2003!
I hope they kill that iron yuppie. Thinks he's so big. The great homer simspon
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