Vegas - the last leg (but well preserved pancreas)


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North America » United States » Nevada » Las Vegas
September 12th 2016
Published: June 26th 2017
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The decision was made. We had slept on the dilemma: 'Blue Man Group –v- The Fremont Street experience'. To travel the 7 ½ miles to Fremont Street involves a walk, monorail another walk and then a 2 miles bus ride. This would take an hour in a normal environment but in a gazillion degree heat it would feel a lot longer. In the end we would visit a few more shops, see a few more (of the older) original casinos such as the Golden Nugget, the Frontier and the Pioneer. Despite the state of the art screen suspended 90 feet above Fremont Street, being 1,500 feet long, contains 12.5 million LED lights and is powered by a 550,000 watt sound system, this dazzling high resolution imagery that is a feast to tickle the senses lasts only for six minutes every hour. The Blue Man Group create their own special brand of illusion and comedy using unique and original combination of sight and sound. Their show, not so much tickles the senses but tickles the funny bone unless you're sitting in what is referred to as ‘the splash zone' and then your funny bone may become a little damp during the course of the show!! Furthermore the Blue Man Group perform in the Luxor so not too far to walk; out of our room, down the elevator up a few stairs and in to the theatre!!

Tomorrow, our flight is at 4pm and as check out is 11am we still have a few hours before we need to be at the airport, 2 miles away. For this reason we decided to buy tickets for an exhibition (also housed in our hotel) called ‘Bodies'. This is an insight to the functionality and the complexities of the human body.

Today it's time to explore some more of the incredible establishments that make up the hotel casinos at the south end of the ‘Strip'.

Excalibur
This casino is named after King Arthur's mythical sword so no surprise that the casino has a medieval theme. The façade has the appearance of a Gothic castle with multi coloured turrets more in keeping with Cinderella's castle in Disney's Magic Kingdom rather than Arthur's Kingdom of Camelot!! I seemed to recall, in keeping with the theme, a wizard-like figure probably representing Merlin, used to look down from a turret. This now appears to have been replaced by a Dick or to be more precise, an image of Dick of ‘Dick's Last resort' fame, a not-so-traditional American diner where you can expect a fair amount of sarcasm from the politically incorrect proprietor and his staff!!

There are posters dotted along the strip as well as hoarding advertising the Australian Bee Gees. This tribute act have a residency in one of the small theatres of the Excalibur. Personally I don't feel enough thought was put in to the name. How about dressing them up like ghosts and ghouls with a tag line: ‘They're frightingly good' Introducing the Hee-Gee-Bee-Gees!!!

New York New York
A walkway connects the Excalibur to the New York New York, for me, one of the most impressive and aspirational façades. This Big Apple themed hotel and casino features several towers representing the New York Sky line amongst the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings. There is also a scaled replica of the Green Goddess herself, the Statue of Liberty. The only thing missing is a statue of ...a Big Apple!!

Whilst the format of this resort mirrors that of all other casino hotel's we have visited, the gambling areas, lounges, restaurants, and meeting rooms are, surprisingly, named after New York City neighbourhoods or landmarks. For example, we noticed the main casino area is named after Central Park while the shops are modelled on Greenwich Village.

The unique feature with the New York New York Complex is a roller coaster. This used to be called The Manhattan Express but wasn't obviously catchy enough so the owners renamed this attraction ‘the Roller Coaster'!! At least it now does what it says on the tin!! It cost a staggering £25m and is just under one mile of twists, turns, dips and loops.

MGM Grand
So far the hotels visited today, the Excalibur, New York New York as well as the Luxor are all owned by the same company, MGM Resorts International. This conglomerate also own the Bellagio, Circus Circus, the Mirage and Mandalay Bay. That's practically all the ‘A-lister' resorts on the Strip. The founder, Kirk Kerkorian must have been a bastard to play against in Monopoly!!

The MGM Grand is probably the least gimmicky casino of all the ones we've visited. There is an Art Deco feel about the whole set up. David Copperfield has had a nightly show in the MGM Grand for so long that he's made the theatre his own as the management have renamed it David Copperfield Theatre!! Mind you, when you are the world's leading mentalist, illusionist and hypnotist you could probably make the management do anything you want!!

We visited the memorabilia shop in the MGM Grand. They have a whole range of wall mounted frames of signed discs by many artists from the Eagles to Pink Floyd, many sports stars, mainly from the world of baseball and American football are represented. There was a green ‘masters' jacket signed by all the top golfers. There was even a framed Hofner Violin bass signed by Paul McCartney. This was held out for sale at $12,500. The assistant caught me admiring this item. He approached me and said that if I see anything I like, he's sure he could give me a good deal. I don't think so. What he means by a good deal and what I think would be a good deal are probably worlds apart!!

Before we went to see the Blue Man Group we met with a friend Rachael, who had arrived in Las Vegas this afternoon with her mum and dad and by coincidence were staying at the Luxor. This evening they were booked on a helicopter flight over the ‘Strip'. Wow! Start as you mean to go on. Although her mum and dad had visited Las Vegas on several occasions before, this was Rachael's first time and it doesn't get much better than seeing the Strip by helicopter at night. I just hope she hasn't peaked too soon as how do you improve on that?!!!

Sitting with anticipation in the 700 seater theatre, the assistants started passing rolls of fluorescent tape down every row. People were ripping lengths from the tape and donning it like a boa around the neck. Many had tied a piece around the head, others around the wrists as well. The lights went down leaving an eerie yellow glow illuminating the auditorium. The rhythmic drumming started to a semi dark stage. Strobes and lasers gradually started and what followed was 90 minutes of comedy, theatre, rock concert and dance party all rolled into one. Their act is so unique it is difficult to put in to words. For those who do not know, the Blue Man Group is a theatre company. The cast of each show total three men who are identically dressed in brown tunics (Brown?? In Vegas??) Shaven headed they are completely covered in blue grease paint that never dries. This effect allows the Blue Men to maintain that wet gooey look throughout the show. During the whole performance, they manage to remain expressionless. This continues when they leave the stage and spread out walking in between the aisles. They just stare at members of the audience for several seconds, then move on and repeat. This is so unnerving as I think everyone knows that for one unfortunate soul they will go from being entertained to being part of the entertainment!!

The show ended in a cacophony of noise a loud cymbal crash, a bang and then streamers and ticker paper floated down from the ceiling. The show was over and the buzz going round the theatre was electric. Outside the theatre, the ‘Blue Men' were ready to meet and greet their public remaining in character with not even a hint of a smile although deep down inside I'm sure they were smiling knowing full well they had delivered yet another successful show. I was going to do my ‘you look like an overgrown smurf' joke to see if that would raise a smile but I bet they'd heard it all before!!!

Check out was at 11am. Our flight was not until 4pm so we had a few hours before we needed to be at the airport. We decided to visit the Bodies exhibition, an insight in to the working and functionality of the human body. This was an attraction within the Luxor complex so no walking in to the furnace that was Las Vegas was required. This exhibition was fascinating. I didn't realise how complex the human body is. The amazing thing was that all the exhibits were actually human remains that have been treated to preserve all organs. Photos were strictly forbidden so you'll have to take my word for it!! The exhibition was separated in to sections: Respiratory, circulation, the brain, reproduction etc… and was a mix of short videos, dissected organs and diagrams. Some of the facts were astounding. For example did you know the average human has 60,000 miles of blood vessels running throughout the body? If you stretch the alveoli of the lungs out they will cover half an (American) football pitch and the average small intestine is 6m long!! There was even a glass case of dissected ‘male' organs of the lower nether regions!! The way they were displayed looked like an all you can eat buffet at a bush tucker trial!!!

Throughout a few of the sections we were aware that we were being watched. Just as we were about to move to the next section, a lady in a white doctors coat materialised blocking the way to the next room. She was happy to expend her extensive knowledge of the human anatomy on anyone who would listen and we were too polite not to!! Other than explaining the difference between your alveoli and your elbow, she was explaining how this exhibition can improve one's well-being

‘This is a healthy liver', she pointed out. ‘…and this is a liver with advanced cirrhosis' , as she moved her pointing finger to a shrivelled black mass.

‘These are healthy arteries and this is how cholesterol can cause major heart problems or fatal strokes as a result of excessive 'fatty' eating'. Now was not the right time to mention a belly buster burger and a bottle of wine with my name on it waiting for me at Denny's!!!

Toward the end of the exhibit the lady in white appeared again and after looking over her shoulder (both ways) she said in a low voice verging on a whisper: ‘Do you want to hold a real heart and pancreas??' If I wasn't in an exhibition in the middle of a casino resort in Vegas I would have thought she was harvesting organs and I was being groomed as a mule!!

We both nodded hesitantly and from under a counter that neither of us had noticed before, the doctor produced two Tupperware boxes and from one extracted an object that was anything but heart shaped. It was explained to us that these have been treated with a preservative which gave it a waxy feel. This process also makes the organ slightly heavier than normal. So in summary we held a heart that neither felt like a heart nor was the same weight as a heart!! To be honest it looked and felt like a plastic prop but our personal guide was in her element.

‘Would you like to see and hold a real brain?' Now she was in Dr. Phibes territory!! We made our excuses that we had a plane to catch and politely thanked her for her informative (if not at times a little creepy!!) explanations and headed for the exit.

Wherever you are, you can't get away from the gambling side of the city. When we picked our hire car up several days ago, there were 4 banks of slots in the concourse of the car hire counters. The departure lounge of the airport had numerous slots, for those travellers who were still hoping to get a run of luck before their flight was paged.

We understand why some people don't like Las Vegas but once you accept Vegas for what it is, it can become a very unique and enjoyable experience! This has been a good trip. We have done a lot in such a short time. We haven't seen everything we would have liked to but we liked everything we saw! Will we return? Yes, for sure. Las Vegas is back on the list…but it's a bloody long list!!!


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19th September 2016

A good read...although I'm sure I'm not the only one who prefers the blogs where you are on a boat surrounded by geriatric quizzers and 3rd place runners up from opportunity Knocks. At least we had a mention of Donnie And Marie this visit.
Although no mention made of their obscure 1973 b side 'im evil, watcha gonna do about it, b1tch!' . Get a boat next time! Truce Grovellar

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