The Sands is gone, the Dunes is gone, and with them Frank, Dean and Sammy, but Las Vegas lives on and continues to prosper, growing by leaps and bounds. It is a city in transition. Nearly 20 years ago, the city began its transformation from the image of the “Rat Pack” to Mickey Mouse’s desert Disney World for adults (and families).
But Las Vegas still swings, baby, as Frank might have said.
While ConExpo-Con/Agg ’99 is the main attraction, as the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas offers a myriad of amusements in which attendees can indulge after the show closes.
Following is a sampling of shows, sights and sounds you might consider during your visit to “Fabulous Las Vegas.”
Splash! at the Riviera
An aquacade of fountains, water curtains and a 20,000-gal aquarium are home to the divers, synchronized swimmers and lovely mermaids of Splash!, appearing at the Riviera Hotel and Casino.
The producers of the show guarantee to captivate you with its dynamic music and explosive dance routines featuring some of Las Vegas’ most beautiful showgirls and hottest dancers. Additional excitement comes in the form of motorcycle stuntmen and some of the top specialty acts on the Las Vegas Strip.
The show’s producers are extending a special offer to ConExpo-Con/Agg attendees. With the purchase of a regularly priced ticket to the show, any ConExpo-Con/Agg attendee who brings their badge along with this Roadbuilders Guide to the Riviera box office also will receive one free admission to the show.
Showtimes are Monday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 9 p.m. For more information, contact the Riviera at 702/794-9433.
Dream King at the Boardwalk
The Dream King is a must see for any attendee who also is an Elvis fan. This Elvis tribute stars Trent Carlini, who is, without a doubt, the finest Elvis stylist this editor has seen perform. The show presents Carlini, who has been named the No. 1 Elvis stylist in the world, tracing Elvis’ career from his beginnings as the shaky-legged Hillbilly Cat through his Army days, Hollywood years, his black leather-attired ’68 Comeback Special to his reign as the King of Las Vegas.
The venue at the Holiday Inn Casino Boardwalk is as intimate as Carlini’s performance is commanding, so arrive early for the best seats. The Dream King is presented nightly, except Mondays.
For more information, contact the Holiday Inn Casino Boardwalk at 702/730-3194.
Club Rio at the Rio
If your feet aren’t too sore after walking the show and you find yourself in a dancing mood, Club Rio at the Rio Suite Hotel and Casino may be the spot. The music video nightclub is open nightly Wednesday through Saturday from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and features dance mixes and Top 40 acts in concert. Dress code is collared shirts or jackets for men and nice jeans only, no tennis shoes or T-shirts permitted.
In addition, in keeping with the city’s trend toward fine art, the Rio is featuring an exhibition of rare art works from Russia. The “Treasures of Russia” is the largest collection of Russian art ever shown in the U.S. The exhibition runs through April 15.
For more information contact, the Rio at 702/252-7777.
EFX at the MGM Grand
The MGM Grand’s $45 million special effects theatrical production, EFX, is performed nightly at 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. and is dark Sunday and Monday. The production show, which takes place in MGM’s 1,700-seat Grand Theatre, stars nine-time Tony Award winner Tommy Tune.
Tune, one of Broadway’s pre-eminent song and dance men, debuted in title role of the show in January, succeeding former Partridge Family pop icon David Cassidy. Tune’s new role in the show unfolds with him embarking on a fascinating adventure, wherein each member of the audience is invited to join in his dream-like journey. The show begins with the 6-ft 6-in. entertainer rising to the stage in his customary top hat and tales.
For more information, contact the MGM Grand at 702/891-7777.
Debbie Reynolds on stage
Debbie Reynolds’ life can be compared to her movie role as The Unsinkable Molly Brown; she always manages to stay afloat. Known for her roles in movie classics such as Singin’ In the Rain, Reynolds is perhaps as famous for the dramatic events that have taken place in her private life. In the 1950s, the love triangle between herself, her husband, singer Eddie Fisher, and the recently widowed Elizabeth Taylor made for scandalous and sensational headlines.
These days, Reynolds, who recently also received critical acclaim for her role as Albert Brooks’ mother in the movie Mom, owns her own stage and a hotel-casino along with it. She entertains Las Vegas audiences in her own saucy style in The Debbie Reynolds Show at the Debbie Reynolds Hotel-Casino and Hollywood Movie Museum. After the show, she meets and greets fans in the showroom and signs autographs. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
For more information, contact the hotel at 702/733-2243.
Siegfried & Roy at the Mirage
When you think of Las Vegas stage shows, you might think of Wayne Newton, but Siegfried and Roy are close by. These masters of illusion combine magic and majestic white tigers to entertain and amaze at The Mirage Fridays through Tuesdays. In addition to the tigers, the duo’s show features 2-ton elephants and rare and exotic animals who disappear before your eyes.
Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. and 11 p.m.
For more information, contact The Mirage at 702/792-7777.
Downtown laser lights
The hub of the city during its early years, downtown Las Vegas crapped out in the 1970s, falling out of favor with tourists who preferred the flash of the Strip. With Steve Wynn’s purchase of the Golden Nugget, the downtown began a resurgence in the 1980s. In 1995, the downtown’s main thoroughfare, Fremont Street, was transformed into the “Fremont Street Experience.” A $70 million project, the street was bricked, becoming a pedestrian mall. A canopy covers the street for four blocks. The canopy accomplishes two goals: it shades people, plants and vendors from the desert sun during the day and at night it becomes a show all its own. The dazzling light show uses 2.1 million bulbs and 540,000 watts of sound capable of distracting even the most ardent gambler at times.
Rock on at the Hard Rock
Though frequented by younger gamblers raised on the fast-food and rock ‘n roll, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino holds a bit of “Rat Pack” Las Vegas in its roots. The property does not try to compete with the mega resorts spreading out over the Strip today. It is small and set off the Strip. It is understated art deco cool that, true to its rock image, flies in the face of its behemoth brethren.
While most Las Vegas casinos are confusing because of their shear size, this intimate circular gambling den is dizzying because it is so small and round. If you’re not careful your head will spin like a roulette wheel while you circle the room looking for that perfect blackjack table. While your there check out the pool and the rock ‘n roll memoriabelia.