"LAS VEGAS THEN AND NOW" Las Vegas by JeanCooke

Las Vegas Travel Guide: 8,460 reviews and 17,447 photos

30 years ago

Las Vegas has come of age from an adult Disneyland to family friendly environment with culture. My first visit more than 30 years ago as a naïve teen became a pilgrimage many times over. With rippling desert heat outside the cool inviting Desert Inn assaulted my senses with clinking coins, winners screaming, eye-popping neon and flashing lights, delicious cooking aromas and cool drinks for the asking.

Returning in my 20’s to gamble legally, I could not believe there were no windows or clocks in casinos. Loosing track of time playing blackjack, by 4 am I was dead tired and astounded it was so late. My twin’s boyfriend gave me $1 to gamble roulette that I put on superstitious black 13—and won $33!! I never played roulette again because I could never top that win.

For years, in the days before Interstate 15, Las Vegas Boulevard was known mostly as the primary highway along open deserts between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Fascinated by the Zzyzx dirt road exit in California, Zzyzx name is the alphabetical last place name in the US. Howe Springer a charlatan physician and Methodist minister who erected a hotel, church, health spa and a castle founded Zzyzx Springs in 1944. Arrested in 1974 for violations of food and drug laws the BLM took over Zzyzx that is now a Desert Studies Center for California University system.

Entering Las Vegas’ Strip the tiny Hacienda casino was so far on the outskirts it was a joke. I always looked for the motel with clear glass sided swimming pool (does anybody remember it’s name?). Other notable landmarks: El Morocco Hotel studded with conch shells, the Stardust with it’s long gone Kon Tiki Restaurant, and the Tally-Ho changed to Aladdin, Wilbur Clark’s Desert Inn, Dunes and the Sahara. I fondly remember downtown Glitter Gulch’s neon lady and waving cowboy on Fremont Street that I prefer to the Fremont Experience lights and sounds of today. Back then, gamblers never brought kids unless you hired a babysitter.

Favorite eatery for years was Foxy’s Deli and the Flame where I first ran into choosing steaks brought to my table for inspection and grilled to order. In between specials and buffets I feasted on enough shrimp cocktail to make me sick.

Vegas Now

And boy, has Vegas changed! Now casinos welcome families with thrill rides, museums, circus acts and arcades. Outside the casinos adventure beckons at Wet and Wild water slides, hiking Mt. Charleston and Red Rock Canyon or tours such as Ethel M candies and near-by Hoover Dam.

MANHATTAN EXPRESS
http://www.nynyhotelcasino.com/pages/ent_coaster.asp
Riding New York New York Casino’s Manhattan Express--riders twist, turn and dive through a series of rough but thrilling hills, loops and corkscrews that leave them short of breath. Plummeting 160 feet at a 50-degree angle on the second drop, the coaster can reach speeds of 67 mph while speeding through a vertical loop before barreling through a one-of-a-kind heart line twist on the C-shaped track. Just when your heart is racing wildly arrives the best part, a 540-degree spiral. Not for people with arthritis of the neck due to the jerking ride. Wait for when the ride’s line is short.
STAR TREK EXPERIENCE http://www.startrekexp.com/welcome/index.html
Transportation into the 24th century via Hilton’s theme attraction “Star Trek Experience” is a Mecca for Trekkies of all ages.

Experiencing the “Experience” starts by placing your hand into a Vulcan form with middle and 4th fingers split in a “V” greeting (live long and prosper). Florescent dye allows the guest to return any time from 10 am-11 pm that day. Ticket price includes the History of the Future Museum of Trekkie trivia and time-lines, actual uniforms worn on the show, Tricorders and Phasers, spacecraft, masks/statues of Ferengi, Cardassian, Borg, Klingon’s and other alien species.

The ride is a “special mission” where guest “ancestors” of Captain Jean Luc Picard are beamed aboard the USS Enterprise’s Bridge assisted and instructed by employees dressed in Star Fleet uniforms. Jean Luc Picard is being held hostage and we have to get away so the future Jean Luc won't be wiped out by us being wiped out. Original characters on screen give warnings and instructions. Riders board a shuttlecraft simulator surrounded by a video screen overhead, sides and front as our craft evades hostile alien battleships firing at us. Riders twist, turn and bump in sequence with the video. An A+ ride and effects.

No need to leave when hungry because Quark’s restaurant continues the immersion into the 24th century but with 21st century food. Quark and Worf characters stroll among present day Hilton guests posing for pictures and inviting guests to the “Experience”.

  • Last visit to Las Vegas: Oct 2002
  • Intro Updated Jan 15, 2003
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JeanCooke

“A rolling stone gathers no moss”

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