Sunday, October 5, 2008

The City of Sin and Family Fun

I saw a lady puking in the Mirage parking garage last night and it got me thinking. I really miss the old Vegas. No, I’m not speaking of the typical Rat Pack and “holes in the desert” Vegas. I’m talking about Disneyland for grown-ups AND their kids.

I moved here the first time at the end of 1993 to open the MGM Grand Adventures theme park. At that time, all the hotels were trying to be theme parks. It was great for me. There were rollercoasters everywhere, a giant pyramid filled with simulators and detailed theming, an entire hotel that was like Pirates of the Caribbean 2.0 (with a freakin’ ship that sank!), the very first and only Cirque permanent show, a Roman mall replete with animatronic laser shows and magic caverns, and a chance to beam aboard the Starship Enterprise. It was theme park nerd heaven.

Despite the fact that Vegas is a relatively small and historically young city, I think it has had more facelifts than just about any other. You are hard pressed to find any original parts. Name any other city that the average person has heard of and you can find it still contains elements from it’s past. In Vegas, that is predominantly relegated to archival photos. I’ve now experienced it firsthand.

I spent 4 years here, gained a wealth of experience in my industry, and found the love of my life. Then I ran off to Florida to chase my dreams for a bit (bit = decade). So here I am, back in the city 10 years later and the atmosphere is different. It doesn’t even look the same. It’s not bad but I do miss the old version. Now the rollercoasters are falling apart, the pyramid is filled with Criss Angel, the pirate ship still sinks (but it is caused by bad lip-syncing instead of cannons), there will soon be 7 Cirque shows here (not a complaint), the Roman mall has gone “high end”, and the Enterprise was recently decommissioned.

The current vibe of the city is nightclubs. Guys in carefully untucked “going out” shirts with girls wearing minimized dresses and maximized heels rule the strip right now. Loud music, lots of booze, and pretty clones in various VIP lines with velvet rope. The main side effect is the aforementioned puking in the parking garage. The secondary effect is the homogenization of the city. Everything is going high end club culture and anything remotely unique in appearance is being flattened into the same marble floor and wood panel with tangerine accents “look”. Seriously, when did the ugly furniture that your parents finally threw out in 1979 become hot again?

OK, I’ll stop now since this sounds more ranty than I actually want it to be. I’m just feeling nostalgic again. I know I’m in the minority and I clearly don’t know what is best for making money in this city but I swear there is a market for people like me. We don’t want to puke in the garage – we want to experience warp speed, dammit!

No comments:

Post a Comment