Welcome to a new semi-regular feature, 'Strip Walk'. These photo updates from the Las Vegas Strip (and other parts of the Valley) have previously been presented by our man in the field, mike_ch. Well, now he's an official part of the crew and we're aiming to get these two you about every other work, time and schedule permitting.
His notes follow after the jump and the photos for this and future walks are here:
Wynn/Encore: I came to town on an interesting day, as the entertainment marquee is being removed, piece by piece. The Le Reve piece was being taken off the poles as I was out there. Encore's parking garage has appeared to topped out, as there's some telltale white outdoor lights planted along the highest level. Blush is still walled up, although billboards for it appear on the freeway near the airport.
Mirage: Lots of the waterways are drained and the moving rampways near Caesars are down. It was like this on my July 22nd-24th stay in town as well. However, now the volcano is empty. Is this the long talked about volcano upgrade, or just maintenance? Also, I'm glad to see the LOVE skytags on the upper levels of the hotel tower are coming down. Why would you place a tag on the highest levels of your building and obscure the views from the pricey suites up there? It never made much sense.
Echelon: From the Wynn garage, you can pretty much see all there is to see of Echelon. Dirt-haulin' trucks are haulin' dirt. No impressive holes in the ground or anything yet.
Palazzo: Big gold "PALAZZO" lettering now adorns each corner of the tower. It kinda looks a little tacky in my opinion. Things are just in general coming together, and there's not too much exterior work to go on the hotel tower, or even too much major construction work on the lower buildings. All the work is going to be inside pretty soon, I'd guess.
Planet Hollywood: It looks like 2/3rds or so of their marquee are up, and the new facade is really coming along. That area where the ALADDIN name and video screen once stood is a pretty blank white podium in the middle of it all. Will they put the globe up there? It would obstruct a lot of views. The facade seems pretty enough so far and it'll be nice to see what it looks like all lit up at night. Hopefully it won't be too bombastic. But then again, maybe that's just what they need to get attention.
CityCenter: Construction has started on a low-rise building near the sidewalk. Vdara has some glass facade up now. The other buildings are coming along. The center of the project cradled by the hotel tower is starting to become a crowded place. Lots of vertical construction going on, and I can't help but wonder if that Harmon drive-through is going to be as open and airy and the concepts made it look. Also, somebody decided to scrawl "BOYCOTT MGM" on one of the construction curtains, and this has been there for, oh, I guess a bit over a month? It's kind of funny that it's stayed there this long, and a certain twisted side of me hopes it doesn't disappear the next time I go out. It's sort of like that guy in Toronto who scrawls "LIES" over the vending stands for that city's conservative-leaning Sun newspaper. Once something even as frowned upon as vandalism gains enough notoriety, it sort of becomes a piece of the fabric in local culture all it's own.
Monte Carlo: Diablo's is mostly interior work now. They were testing the fire system, or else there was a fire, as the alarm went off while I walked by. The entrance to Monte Carlo is still there, and it looks like they've put in some steps to help people know it's there, but it's still a bit of a tight fit and I wonder how the whole thing will look when "finished."
Excalibur: Give it up to MGM-Mirage, they managed to make Excali-poor look even uglier than you remember. How so? Well, remember that little balcony in the middle of the castle facade where there was a Merlin with a permanently angry look on his face and red lightning bolts shooting out of his armpits? Now they've put up a Dick's Last Resort advertisement there. So there's this ugly looking cartoon fella perfectly framed in the middle of the castle facade and a sign advertising Cheap Food and Cold Booze, among other things. I only wish I could make this stuff up.
Luxor: The upper restaurant level is now completely walled off. The center bar is still walled off. Keeping with MGM's love of monosyllabic names, the Pharaoh's Pheast Buffet has been renamed MORE: The Buffet at Luxor. They're repainting and redoing the lighting in the casino as many formerly tan-colored ceilings are now white, which makes the casino feel brighter but also feel more stark. The old chandelier things hanging around the center of the room are gone. I tried to get some pictures of Flight, but I try not to moon the ogre of casino security by taking photos too close to games and there's games going on around the whole bar. I took a picture of the area and a picture of the sign, both of which came out a blurry mess due to the dark room and lack of flash so as to respect the players, then got out of the way as a guy with a badge started heading in my direction. I tried to get a photo of LAX's entrance, and got a really over-flashed mess instead, but I basically called it as far as the entrance being that old nook between Flight and the old Ra entrance. It's now a fully enclosed tunnel, although the Ra entrance area is still curtained up. Unfortunately, my camera batteries died after this shot so I moved on.
Mandalay: The old lounge area between HOB and the high limit area is still walled up after all this time.
Tropicana: Sort of like Mirage but different, the Trop also drained their water feature but at the time had a guy with a power hose either trying to clean the floor or fill the lagoon. The hose itself was busted up and spurting water into the air in various places. I dub thee The Fountains of Tropicana. The best (well, only) free show remaining on the south strip.
Well, that's it. So long for now!