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Friday, May 6, 2016

CLASSIC TRIP: Las Vegas, Nevada - 2002


NOTE: See video of our helicopter flight at the end of this report, below...

Sunday dawned and after a delicious breakfast, we continued on to Vegas.  Since we were a bit early, a drive down the strip to see the casinos and hotels was in order for Tim.  Soon, the traffic proved to be unbearable so we headed over to the Tropicana, our home for the next couple of days.  Still early for check-in, we parked the car and headed across the street to the New York, New York casino.

NYNY is elaborately themed.  There is a 300 foot replica of the Brooklyn Bridge you can cross over to get to the entrance.  The skyscrapers of New York...the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building among others...are reproduced in half scale as is the Statue of Liberty out from.

The casino is themed to Central Park and in the back is a very nice streets of New York section with many places to eat.  A lot of attention to detail went in here down to the steam rising up through the manhole covers. 

We ended up at the Mango Hut, which is an homage to those great juice and hot dog places in New York such as Gray's Papaya.

While one hot dog will set you back four times as much as it would at Gray's, it's still a big beefy sausage and it was delicious.

At 1:00pm, we headed back across the street to check in at the Tropicana.  We had planned on seeing their Birdman show at 2:00 but an hour later I was just reaching the counter to check in. 

As we walked to our room in the rear tower, we passed the bird show.  It looked interesting but the location of it...a lounge that was basically a wide spot in the hall...was not too conducive to a show.

Our room was pretty nice.   A king size bed for my wife and I, and a full size sofa bed for Tim; lot's of room to maneuver; a great view of the pool area and the strip; and a large bathroom with a large bathtub.  I asked about the accessible rooms and the only difference was grab bars on the toilet and tub so we stuck with the normal room.  No roll-in showers here.

The Rick Thomas Magic show is also found at the Trop and we were looking forward to its family-friendly reasonably priced entertainment, but Mr. Thomas was on vacation for a few more days.  Add this to the list for things to do next time.

With the afternoon magic showed cancelled, we put on our swimwear and headed down to the pool.  The pool here at the Trop has got to be in the top three or four of all Vegas hotel pools.  It's huge, has waterfalls, an island, a water volleyball court, an indoor section, and...in the summer...swim up blackjack!
Looking Across the Tropicana's Pool Toward NYNY and the MGM Grand

There are also a couple of smaller pools nearby in this heavily landscaped area.  One for adults and one for kids.  Not to mention, a few spas here and there.

Lifeguards are on duty during pool hours.  You can rent a tube and just float around or get a lounge chair and soak up the rays.  A pool side bar will take care of your thirst.  If you have money to burn, three private pool cabanas are available.

Tim and I chose to float and swim around in our inner tubes while my wife spent most of her time working on the tan.

I had read on a Vegas web site that the San Remo had one of the best cheap prime rib specials in town.  Being very close to our room, we walked over for dinner.  I don't know if that web writer has been there lately, but it was really bad.  Bad food, bad service...but cheap...and to top it off, the security guards started hassling Tim because he lingered a little too close to the slot machines while I paid the dinner bill.  Not doing anything but waiting mind you, but given a hard time by an unnecessarily rude guard.  When I complained, he said he was just doing his job but I think you could ask someone to move a little nicer.

Across the street from the San Remo was a monorail station at the MGM Grand.  It's accessible but the elevators are not too easy to find but there are signs to mark the way.  This monorail (an old Disney World train) takes you a few blocks north to the back of Bally's hotel and casino. 

From there it is a very long walk through the casino out to the Strip.  Wheelchairs have the added bonus of taking several elevators to navigate up and down levels along the way.

Out on the Strip, we are deposited directly in front of the Bellagio hotel.  Here, we are able to watch the huge fountain show on the lake in front of the building.  It's really spectacular (someone said it's a quarter mile line of fountains) and best of all, free.

Our plans had included taking in the pirate battle at the Treasure Island and the Volcano at the Mirage, and seeing the shops at Paris and Caesar's Palace but my wife was worn out and had back pain from all the walking so we headed back to the monorail to return to the hotel.

The next morning we had breakfast at the Trop's coffee shop, Calypso's.  It was very good but a bit on the expensive side ($8.50 for what was essentially a Grand Slam without the bacon).  In comparison, back at Buffalo Bill's, a New York steak & eggs breakfast was only $2.95.  Delicious too!

After breaking our fast, we headed over to the MGM where there is a Coca-Cola store and M&M World (basically anything and everything you'd want to buy - plus more - adorned with Coke & M&M logos).  The 75 cent Cokes in the old-fashioned bottles hit the spot and my wife loaded up on some pretty cool Coke souvenirs.  We didn't buy a thing at the M&M store.

In Front of the Luxor...Notice the Monorail Track

Catty corner to the Trop is Excalibur where another accessible monorail whisked us down the road to Mandalay Bay.  My wife bought some shoes in the shop there and we then boarded another train to take us to the Luxor next door where we gaulked at the re-created Egyptian monuments.  Be aware that the monorail back to Excalibur is designed with making you walk through another large casino before you exit.

Back at the Trop, we spent the rest of the afternoon in that really lovely pool.  Ahhh, I get a warm feeling just thinking about it...and that's not just the 8-year old who just swam by!
Another View of the Great Pool at the Tropicana

Just before dinner, we head back to NYNY and buy tickets for the Manhattan Express roller coaster.  This is a steel coaster themed to New York taxicabs that takes you on a three minute excursion around the Statue of Liberty and the buildings.  There are two inversions...a tear-drop loop and a heart-line roll into a half-loop.  It's fun, expensive ($10), and very, very bumpy.  Be prepared to have a headache when it's over. 

The large amusement area where the coaster station is located is themed to Coney Island and it even smells the same! 

Dinner was at Il Fornaio inside NYNY.  We got a great table next to a pond and bridge (supposedly Central Park).  I guess this place is supposed to remind you of Tavern on the Green.  Doesn't really, but it's still a very nice place with very good food.  Not cheap though, but after the debacle of San Remo, a very nice sit down meal was just what the doctor ordered.

After the sun went down, we called on Maverick Helicopters to give us a lift.  We headed down to their office on the outskirts of McCarran Airport.  After plying us with a glass of champagne, we were ushered into one of their ASTAR helicopters.  Since Tim couldn't get in on his own, the pilot shut down the engines before helping us get him in the craft making it safer, easier, and less noisy than with them on.


Watch the Video!

Once aboard and with the engines up, we donned our headsets while our pilot, Darren, whisked us up and away.   We flew at a thousand feet and a hundred miles an hour up the strip, passing by the observation deck of the Stratosphere, over the Fremont Street Experience, and headed back to the south.  Darren flew us threw the ultra-bright spotlight emanating from the top of Luxor's pyramid and we hovered over the endless expanse of the Mandalay Bay's pool area (the very best hotel pool in Vegas) before landing back at Maverick's offices.

It was over with all too quick, but was worth every penny and turned out to be the highlight of the trip.

Darryl
Copyright 2002 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

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