Casinos & The Tournament of Kings


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January 27th 2011
Published: July 3rd 2011
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OK the Excalibur.

The Excalibur Hotel and Casino is a hotel and casino located on the Las Vegas Strip and is owned and operated by MGM Resorts International.

Excalibur, named for the mythical sword of King Arthur, uses the Arthurian theme in several ways. Its facade is a stylized image of a castle and until 2007, a wizard-like figure representing Merlin looked out from a high turret. It now advertises some sort of toilet-humour event called "Dick's Last Resort: The Shame of the Strip". (looks a bit yucky but whatever pushes your buttons and all that!

Excalibur is situated at the Tropicana - Las Vegas Boulevard intersection and the hotel is linked by overhead pedestrian bridges to neighbouring casinos to the north ("New York-New York", across Tropicana Avenue) and to the east ("Tropicana", across the Strip).

We had a look around the hotel and honestly, they're really serious about gambling around here as they even had a "Games, Arcade and Rides" and "Fun Dungeon" for children filled with Sponge Bob, Happy Feet and Merlin stuff. We hung around the cars and one of the members of staff actually showed us a machine that had a malfunction and could be played on for quite longer than our 50 cents had provided for!

Anyway, we wanted to buy show tickets and could only buy last-minute discounted tickets at a ticket booth at the other end of the strip. A ticket booth called TIX 4 in which we had to queue for absolutely ages after getting a sort of pre-ticket in order to actually queue up at all! We paid $44.00 rather than $69.00 each, which included dinner too!

Okay. Now the secret of how to gamble as a family without actually taking the family with you. The very big secret. Daytime gambling.

Yep. During the daytime.

We decided to get back to the hotel, provide refreshments, the remote control, and my mobile phone for "The Small Young Gentleman" for exactly 1.5 hours. We had considered the baby-sitting service but to be honest, I can't and won't leave my child with a stranger. Alone. Absolutely not.

We were going to Caesars Palace which "The Small Young Gentleman" had seen and knew was only 10 minutes walk away. Moreover, we had synchronised our watches and mobile phones so that they would ring in exactly 1.5 hours and also that of "The Small Young Gentleman" so that he could "remind" us if necessary as there are NO CLOCKS IN ANY OF THE CASINOS!!!!!!!

The time that we left: 16:45 so that we had plenty of time to get back, change clothes, pick up "The Small Young Gentleman" and go to our dinner show too!

I had a budget of $50.00 cash and left the credit card at home. I'd only been to a real casino in Monaco. Yes, Monaco, ladies and gentleman. I was just passing through whilst travelling around Spain, Italy and France as you do, and my budget then was €10.00! I'd also been to the casino in Berlin as a corporate event which doesn't count as its not the same thing.

In short, I had no idea of how to gamble and we didn't want to go on the slot-machines as they are a complete rip-off and the likelihood of better chances could be found elsewhere, so we decided to play Roulette.

Frank gave me the ground rules on how to play and the croupier was pretty friendly about things too. In Vegas, if you're "playing" you get offered free drinks so I had two cocktails and even won $30.00 which I ploughed back into the game and a pretty good time was had by all.

1 hour later, we were done and went back to the hotel to once again rush out and go to the Excalibur Hotel.

The "Tournament of Kings" is one of the most popular Las Vegas dinner show which includes invading armies, dancing maidens, Jousting, Fireworks, and eating with your fingers! According to the Las Vegas Review Journal its "A non-stop medieval melee...with brewskies and a banquet." Actually, it was a bit of alright and outright, good, clean fun. Enjoyable by all.

We were divided into teams of nationalities. We were "Ireland" and we had to do all we could to support "our team and country" who were a lovely bunch of sexy-looking, gorgeous young men able to ride a horse gallantly and joust in a safe manner but at the same time making it look dangerous and adventurous enough for us to Ouuhh and Aaaah and to Huzzaaaah! We were on the front row and could see absolutely everything.

There was a king, a Merlin, princes, the enemy, a dragon, saucy wenches, dancers and knights, horses, pyrotechnics, strobe lights, smoke and fog effects.

Our food was in the style of Mediaeval England and therefore refreshingly, cutlery-free as in the old days, bare fingers and a napkin.

We had paid for dinner and a show so as a first course, were given a bowl of "blood" which was tomato soup which you had to slurp.

The second course was also put in a bowlish dish and had a medium-sized, whole, roasted, cornish hen, steamed bunches of broccoli, roast potatoes and a biscuity thing which they described as a "scone" but was more like a rock-bun 'cos in Britain scones are only eaten at tea-time as a sort of dessert-snack with jam and clotted cream (Yum-yum). Anyway, I digress. You could dip your fingers in a bowl of water and we were all provided with napkins to wipe our hands and mouths.

The third course was a sort of mini fruit pie. 'Can't really remember anymore I'm afraid, but what I can't forget was the fact that the drinks were all inclusive. Not really something that I encourage due to the fact that the drinking utensils were huge Bavarian-like glass mugs of coca-cola or iced water. I had a hard time keeping an eye on how much "The Small Young Gentleman" was drinking as the waiters kept filling up the glasses faster than you could say "Hi" and at one point I had to insist that they didn't fill up his glass. As for myself, I stuck to water and without the ice thank you very much!

I'm not against free stuff. I mean, who is? But I like to know what I'm being offered and we realized that in the US, a lot of products have humungous amounts of sugar, butter, oil and other stuff which we're not aware of and which we don't want and I definately, don't want it given to our son. Bearing in mind that "The Small Young Gentleman" is not allowed to have carbonated/ soft drinks at home, we were more than generous in allowing him to do so in small quantities.

And my reward. He ended up with some sort of allegy as the sides of his mouth turned bright red and then eventually black and sore.

I told you so!

After that it was scrutinised pure fruit juice, milk and non-sparkling water.

Anyway, it was a very good show that we all enjoyed and we were enouraged to shout, scream, stamp our feet, point fingers, huddle up in fright and excitement and generally have a good time. The actors were all really nice and friendly too as "our hero" shook hands with us, chatted and allowed us to take some photos.

Soon, it was time to go as we wanted to see the Fountains of Bellagio as we were leaving the next day and boy, were we stuffed.

The Fountains of Bellagio is a vast, choreographed water feature with performances set to light and music. The performances take place in front of the Bellagio hotel and are visible from numerous vantage points on the Strip, both from the street and neighboring structures and because the show takes place every 30 minutes in the afternoons and early evenings, and every 15 minutes from 8 p.m. to midnight we were keen to see it again at closer range and with cameras at the ready.

Before a water show starts, the nozzles break the water surface and the lights illuminating the hotel tower turn to a purple hue (usually), or red-white-and-blue for certain music. The fountains are set in a 9-acre manmade lake and contrary to urban myth, the lake is not filled with treated greywater from the hotel but is actually serviced by a freshwater well that was drilled decades previously to irrigate a golf course!

The fountains actually use less water than irrigating the golf course did and incorporate a network of pipes with more than 1,200 nozzles that make it possible to stage fountain displays coordinated with more than 4,500 lights. It is estimated that the fountains cost $40 million to build.

I've enclosed two videos. The first one is of the Pink Panther" by Henry Mancini.

See ya later.

PS. We, as "Ireland", won the tournament. Huzzaaaah!





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Additional photos below
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with Caesar himself.
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Getting into the game.
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Las Vegas 215

'looking like I know what I'm doing even though I don't!
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Las Vegas

looking from above.
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Las Vegas 219

I thought this was rather funny and even asked this chap to pose for me while I snapped away. 'Probably thought I was off my rocker.
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Las Vegas 225

Open the gates sir!
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Las Vegas 228

with one of the knights but not ours!


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