Mike's returning with a new Strip Walk. This time we see Fontainebleau, Encore, Echelon, City Center, Luxor and more.
Keep reading after the jump and check out his photos:
These photos were taken waaay back on the last day of the IMAX attraction, and the entrance from the towers was covered up in scaffolding while they went about tearing up the arcade. There's a shot of the new gift store signage (both upstairs and downstairs stores are called Essentials now,) and the walls around the arcade (Bodies) and the old La Salsa. There's walls up around the Steakhouse as well, and the high limit area. Downstairs, the buffet walls are gone and I'm not sure what changed. There really looks to be no difference down there.
Speaking of signs, there is a big ugly Starbucks sign sitting upstairs now, hanging on the food court building and facing the atrium concourse. With three Starbucks in the Luxor, that seems overkill and unnecessary. It's almost the size of the TV screens over the showroom nearby.
One thing that makes me glad about the MGM buyout of Mandalay Resorts is that it ended the reign of the Tram Dictatorship that told people they could not ride the Express tram all the way out to the Tropicana intersection, and how it was a vital matter of essential safety that the tram go back to street completely empty or else someone might go all the way from Mandalay to NYNY in a matter of moments and the terrorists won. It wasn't just inconvenient to hold up an entire Mama Mia rush hour crowd and tell them to squeeze into one train, it was stupid. It even screwed over guests, the people paying the money to stay at Mandalay Bay (or even more for THEhotel) were being told they shouldn't they be allowed to get to Tropicana Blvd as quickly and easily as someone who was staying further up at Excalibur.
Let me rant about that for just a moment, because it speaks to a problem plaguing practically all the Strip kingpins right now, selfish greed. All Mandalay was concerned about was that their guests could ride to MGM's casinos (NYNY & MGM) in their tram. They didn't want that, so guests who were in Mandalay, who should have been treated like the company's best customers for being in their highest end property, were told that if they wanted to get to Tropicana Blvd they all had to cram into one tram and then meander around the Excalibur casino which they were always dropped off on the far opposite side of. That means someone who came out of their room elevators at Mandalay had to cross TWO casinos to get to the street. The guests at Excalibur paid a lot less money than the Mandalay crowd on average but got the advantage of a better physical plant, and Mandalay customers were punished for it and the whole thing made no sense at all.
It's this same kind of thinking that results in cutbacks of food and hours at Diamond Lounges and returning guests being told they can't use VIP rooms or other amenities for the same level of play they were making a few years ago. Why are high-end resorts punishing customers more than the cheap ones? Is it because the cheap ones don't know how to cut back anything more? Is it because the high end market has grown so far upward that millionaires have been displaced by billionaires, and everyone here now in the bottom 95%? And why is it the frequent player, who notices the lack of comps and the tightening odds, who is getting most frequently targeted? Frequent gamblers do make more use of on-the-house perks more than someone who just drops in but they also give the perk of being, well, frequent gamblers.
But, back to the tram....
The current lack of any tram oversight authority, especially on the Mandalay side, means that people are now beginning to stand on the exit side of the train platform. They push their way past the people trying to exit like on any big city subway, and then take up all the seats inside the cabin before the entrance doors slide open. Shame on you! I took some discreet photos of these people to prove just how many people are doing it, but if this continues I'll try taking some blatant, obvious shots and see if they feel guilty enough to react.
Check out the new Players Club desk and Cashier at the old high limit space. The cashier windows are placed at 45 degree angles from the wall. While they are sort of modern looking, they have a subtle art-deco look so it's not like they completely pulled a Luxor/TI. Also, the tiny old newsstand store between the pool and the Empire elevator core has been expanded quite a ways, and given an aquatic blue paint job. In the casino, they were adding new roofs (I don't know what to call them) over the table game pits. These replace the old green Central Park ones and have a wavy look, like some kind of surrealist bridge. Over by the coffee shop, Il Fornaio, and the Century elevators, they tore out the big white bridge and tiny stream that caused traffic bottlenecks between the casino floor and the amenities.
For the most part, I like what MGM is doing with NYNY.
I tried to get a picture of the tree Mike E had seen, but it was too far back there for my wimpy handheld. The area around the garage is now so filled in that there's nowhere to really see what's going on except the view from the sidewalk.