After an exhausting trip to California, what better way to relax then to spend 4 days in Las Vegas? Actually, timing was good here, as every January I meet my cousins for mini-vacation in our favorite desert city.
It’s a familiar trip of sorts; we stay regularly in the Flamingo. After the closing of the legendary Stardust, the Flamingo has become a new home for us. My personal record is 22 days in a row at the Flamingo, and I got to know the staff very well.
For our party, most of us visited the Hoover Dam for the first time, taking the ‘Dam Tour’ down below, just like Chevy Chase in Vegas Vacation. We did choose to ride the elevator back to the top, not climb the power lines. The newly opened bridge that crosses overhead is as spectacular as the Dam itself.
Most casinos now offer 24 hr buffet passes. We took advantage of the Harrah’s Casinos’ Pass for $39.99 and ate at the Rio, Harrah’s and- our favorite- brunch at the Paris. This meal was hardly romantic, but very filling after some late night poker tournaments. My eighth and final table appearance ended when my queen high flush was beaten by an ace high flush. However, watching the Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Divisional Playoffs started the weekend off on the right foot.
Of course, I always like to break up the day with a roller coaster ride. This trip, I managed to hit all four. The Canyon Blaster at Circus Circus is indoors, full of loops and pure fun. If you are scared of clowns, use the valet entrance in the rear of the casino. The Coaster at New York New York (formerly Manhattan Express) is now sporting new taxi-cab type trains. It’s worth the long walk past Nathan’s Hot Dogs and many ‘I LOVE NEW YORK’ souvenir shops.
Down on the North end of The Strip inside the Sahara Casino is SPEED: The Ride. Themed after NASCAR, this ride launches you from inside the casino along the Las Vegas Strip, through the valet car entrance, around a very large camel and up a 180’ section of track reaching 224’ into the Las Vegas sky. The train stalls out and you fall backwards following the same course. After several turns, loops, and the giant camel again, it’s an incredible rush of 45 seconds.
For the first time since 2006, I made the trip of about 45 miles into the desert westbound on I-15 to Primm, Nevada. At the California border lay a collection of casinos and Desperado, once the tallest coaster in the world. The man who designed Desperado, Ron Toomer, always loved this coaster because you can see the coaster as you approach from 10 miles away. Desperado does not disappoint, emerging through the casino roof on a long climb up the lift hill and then terrorizing riders for over 5,800 feet of track, through manmade tunnels, canyon walls and giant live cacti. Located at Buffalo Bills, this makes a great diversion and the drive through the desert is stunning, especially at sunset.
So what’s your favorite roller coaster in Las Vegas?