Trip Report: Las Vegas - Day 4Sharks, champagne, thrills, big fat babies, and stupid last minute decisions. My final day in Vegas.
From Joshua CounsilDay 4
Posted January 14, 2009 at 3:09 PM
We finally slept in after days of waking up early. Man, I couldn’t take it anymore. I was sleeping terribly the whole trip. I kept having nightmares of losing tons of money at roulette. I wish I was joking, but I’m not.
We began the day at the MGM Grand Buffet. We were in Vegas for one night a few years back en route to Cali, and our breakfast here had been fantastic. We were significantly less impressed this time round. It was Sunday, so it was a champagne brunch. Some of the dishes, like the cold salmon and roasted red potatoes, were excellent, while some others, like the pastas, were horrible. Most of the food was OK but uninspiring. On the plus side, the waitress must have liked me as she brought me a glass of champagne on the house.
We picked up all-day passes for the monorail for $12/person. The price seems steep, but we made it worthwhile. The downside about the monorail was that corny jokes, such as “this monorail moves faster than David Copperfield’s hands”, played continuously throughout the journey. They even stole and butchered the classic Simpsons quote, “’Mono’ means ‘one’, and ‘rail’ means ‘rail’”. Pitiful. As you can see, my brother and I were thoroughly impressed.
One interesting fact the monorail voice told me was that 86% of visitors gamble, and the average gambler loses approximately $600. I’m surprised they share that information.
We started the day at Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef, a $17/person tour of aquatic life. It was very interesting and showcased many creatures I’ve never seen before, but it was crowded and overpriced. Also, you were equipped with a wand that discussed each creature as you walked, which, as seen below, was sort of frustrating.
I think, at that price, there should be workers/trainers throughout the exhibit to answer questions. The wand, like the monorail, also cracked lousy jokes. “Piranhas rarely attack humans, but usually make exceptions for those who forget to return their audio wands!”
Yeah, well, tourists rarely attack Shark Reef employees, but usually make exceptions for those who charge $17 for a lousy exhibit. Cool animals, but overpriced.
As a theme park junkie, I was craving a big thrill, and Vegas had a couple. We took the monorail to the Sahara in order to catch Speed: The Ride, but it was closed for the season. I didn’t know there were seasons in Nevada. I thought it was hot, then hotter. Guess I was wrong. Instead, we hoofed it to the Stratosphere to catch The Big Shot.
Note: This photo is the property of EarlyVegas.com.
The Big Shot is a launched freefall ride. It claims to be the world’s tallest because no other resides on top of a building so tall, although the actual ride is only 160 ft. Still, it packs quite a punch and offers a spectacular view of the Strip and the mountains. My brother and dad’s photo is priceless, but at $22 we decided to pass on buying it. We had already paid $15/person to get to the top of the Stratosphere, and paid an additional $12/person for the three riders (mom sat it out).
At this point, we went back to our rooms for drinks and some lounging about. At 6:45p, we departed for Cirque du Soleil’s Mystere at TI: Treasure Island. This is one of the six mind-and-money-blowing Cirque shows in Vegas, and we heard from multiple sources that it was the best. I’m unsure of the price we paid as it was paid for in advance, but I know it’s upwards of $85/person. And, I must say, it’s worth every penny.
What the hell is that thing? If you’re anything like me, that’s what you’re asking right now. It is what it looks like – a big, fat, grinning baby who serves as one of the comedic counterparts the show has to offer. He plays with giant balloons, hits himself with his bottle, and drives a golf kart on stage. Why? I don’t know, they’re French Canadian. They’re weird like that. And the show is weird. Damn weird. Just go in, turn your brain off, and enjoy. The weirdness is outweighed by the incredible stunts and acrobatics, not to mention the exceptional music and lighting (both of which are, naturally, weird).
If you thought the baby was weird, get a load of these freaks - the Chinese pole dancers. They basically do everything Spiderman does except catch thieves just like flies, although I’m sure they could do that, too. Then there are the two guys who use each other as a balancing beam, the trampoline acrobats, the trapeze artists, the drummers, the dancers, and everything in between. I’ve seen this and the Orlando show and they’re difficult to compare, but both come highly recommended. Unless you’re terrified of big, fat, grinning babies.
Afterwards, it was time for another night of Bouchon, the best restaurant we’ve eaten at in Las Vegas.
Junior got the Croque Madame (toasted ham and cheese sandwich on brioche, fried egg, and mornay sauce – served with fries) with a side of Macaroni au Gratin. He seemed thrilled with his choice.
The rest of us got the special (cream of garlic soup followed by a beef rib with wine-braised cabbage and a side of corn polenta).
As one critic mentioned, “I could write sonnets” about this dish. It was like butter in my mouth – the meat just melted. Typically, I take seafood over red meat, but oh man – talk about beef. I could have gone for thirds. We capped off the meal with Mousse au Chocolat Noir.
Not the best I’ve had, but still great, and probably overshadowed because of the amazing entrée I had just devoured. The soup was pretty good, too, but didn’t compare to the oysters of the previous evening. So, we finished our drinks and said goodbye to our helpful and friendly waiter, Damian.
I cannot recommend that restaurant highly enough. If you’re ever in Vegas, or one of Thomas Keller’s other locations, be sure to pop in.
We wandered the Strip for one last time and called it a night. I sat up in my comfy bed while everyone slept and tried to finish my leftover Miller Genuine’s. I then remembered I had chips to cash! I went to the casino, won some money, and left the tables at an even zero. No money lost, no money won.
… Leaving Vegas neutral … What kind of story is that?
$100 ON RED!!!
Cheers and happy travels, Insiders.
-- Joshua “should have left neutral” Counsil
Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.
From Don NealThanks for sharing your trip Josh!
Posted January 15, 2009 at 8:54 AM
From Joshua CounsilThanks for reading it. It's not really a theme park topic, but I'm glad some people took the time to read it.
Posted January 15, 2009 at 2:35 PM
This discussion has been archived, and is not accepting additional responses.
Planning a trip to Orlando?
Insider's Pick: Get all the best advice from ThemeParkInsider.com in one convenient book! Theme Park Insider Orlando 2014 offers you the insight, background, and how-to skills that will help you enjoy Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando like, well, a theme park insider. Save yourself time and money by learning how to visit the Orlando-area theme parks the insiders' way.
Top U.S. Theme Parks
Other Top International Parks
Features, News and Advice
Connect with Theme Park Insider