Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

August 16, 2007

Strip Walk: August 2007

Posted by Hunter

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!


Read archived comments (16 so far)
August 17, 2007 6:16 AM Posted by mike_ch

A few miscellaneous notes I forgot:

The metal bars that held up the Producers banners on Paris' Arc De Triomphe are sitting bare to the world. I'm guessing new banners with "starring Tony Danza!" will be coming soon but who knows. Either way, those rods are firmly attached onto the arc, so you'll wonder how good a job they'll do hiding the damage when they're gone.

NYNY has construction of some kind construction going on at the old blackjack/whatever space immediately next to the escalators on the upper level. I guess it took a man opening fire from that space for management to realize that it was being underutilized.

August 17, 2007 6:31 AM Posted by detroit1051

Interesting stuff! Isn't The Mirage about a year behind in re-doing the volcano? I sure hope they don't "improve" it like they did the front of TI.

August 17, 2007 7:28 AM Posted by Mark D

The "BOYCOTT MGM" thing might be a result of the stalled culinary union negotiations. They're going to have a strike vote on September 12.

August 17, 2007 8:14 AM Posted by mike_ch

This is the LAX entrance bad photo, by the by, but it wasn't rotated 90 degrees to the left for some reason. I guess I forgot about it:

As far as the changes go, putting the nightclub line out here instead of in the casino is a great idea, though they might need to redo the placement of machines and signs and miscellaneous stuff nearby. It's kind of crowded with furniture in that area.

August 17, 2007 8:18 AM Posted by Brian Fey

Detriot...OMG, Funny, I could not agree more. TI is horrible now. Yeah, I think City Center will be more crowded than Time Square on New Years Eve! What a mess.

Did the remove the Le Reve sign, because of Encore construction??? They were taking out trees and other plants in front of the Wynn Self Park garage a few weeks ago, and I wondered why.

August 17, 2007 8:21 AM Posted by Hunter

Brian -

Yeah, all of that frontage from the self park entrance to Encore and even in the other direction is being re-done, new driveways, new landscaping, etc... Encore's going to have multiple car entrances/valets plus of course pedestrian access.


August 17, 2007 10:05 AM Posted by BillyInLasVegas

Two new MGM-Mirage rumors, one is that Shintaro (at Bellagio across from Caramel next to Le Cirque) will be shut down and handed over to the Light Group.
Rumor two is that MGM-Mirage will not give in to the Culinary Union demands and is ready for a strike.

August 17, 2007 10:11 AM Posted by Hunter

Isn't Shintaro going to be renamed 'Yellow Tail' and be a Light-managed sushi joint?

August 17, 2007 10:18 AM Posted by BillyInLasVegas

Yes, the name is not a definite yet, but this will give the Light Group 4 outlets almost next to each other at Bellagio.

August 17, 2007 6:03 PM Posted by Mike T

Speaking of Shintaro, I ate there with some coworkers back some years ago, and I have to say that was the most overrated and overpriced restaurant I may have ever eaten at. It will not be missed, at least not by me.

August 18, 2007 5:04 PM Posted by hail2skins

Thanks to Hunter and others, we've had good discussion about how the interior of Encore will be laid out. What is almost as interesting to me is how the exterior will play out, particularly the Strip frontage. Wynn's resorts have been known to have the most cool'll be interesting to see what he had in store for his newest project.

August 19, 2007 11:44 AM Posted by Andy S

Thanks for the report Mike.

"More the buffet at Luxor", dont know whether to laugh or cry, who comes up with this stuff? I would also suggest "yummy the buffet at Mandalay" and "grubby the buffet at Exal".

Agree with the other comments about the Treasure Island pirate village, it looks awaful, all the detail and colour was removed when they put in the awful new show. Oh and those ugly light things on the wooden pillars.

If this is the new Mirage volcano being installed, I fear for the worst, lets hope its not too bad. I also suspect the statues and that will be removed.

August 19, 2007 1:00 PM Posted by mike_ch

You know, MGM removed all pricing information from the Excalibur buffet entrance a few months ago. The big signs that used to list the prices were changed to just say the name of the joint. It seems to have worked to some extent, I see more people at the registers for that thing than I used to.

More Luxor news, maybe, ads for LAX advertise two other establishments in the corners, a bar I've read about here before but whose name escapes me, and "Company: An American Bistro."

I don't see squat about Aspen 702, which makes me wonder if that got cut.

August 19, 2007 7:38 PM Posted by Mike T


Yes, Aspen 702 was dropped from the plans. The two venues accompanying LAX are Company restaurant and Noir Bar, a small, exclusive lounge.

August 19, 2007 11:00 PM Posted by Hunter

My friend Mark Diederichsen was kind enough to allow me to re-publish some of his recent City Center shots:

Also, they have been tagged for the various properties and also under August 2007, along with the other photos from this set:

August 20, 2007 9:01 AM Posted by mike_ch

More recent Luxor events: I peeked behind the curtain at LAX's entrance, and while it's still under construction, think of an open space with a curving staircase and a couple of big, well, I don't know, arch-like light rigging. I mean, it's obviously not complete and everything was turned off, but what I saw back there reminded me of the entrance ramp rigging at a pro wrestling show. Hopefully it's better when it's all lit up.

It's also still where the RA entrance was, although that tunnel to the south of the main casino entrance will probably be what they use to route the line through on Friday nights, and I still think that's an excellent idea.

And having finally gotten a real chance to stop and stare at Flight, it's easily a very nice lounge. Not Parasol Up or anything, mind you, but way better than Aurora to look at.