Vegas Vacation

at the MGM Grand!

June 4-8, 1995

Traveller's Update - This vacation was back in 1995, and there's no place in the world that changes as fast as Las Vegas. Some of the items on this page are no longer there, or have been modified drastically: The Emerald City at the MGM, the MGM Great Adventure, etc. Please check the official MGM Grand homepage for current info before planning a trip. You'll still enjoy this site, though, as you can see everything that we did on our trip to Las Vegas!

Day 1, and Welcome to McCarrin Airport

This photo was taken from the parking garage at the airport, but it shows one of our favorite sights - the Las Vegas Strip! From left to right you can see the Luxor, the Excalibur, and the green hotel is our destination, the MGM Grand. Other hotels continue on to the right as you look up the strip. We love seeing all these familiar hotels out of the airplane window as we land, and it's the last thing that we see as we leave the runway.

BoomTown Casino

Since we were a few hours from check-in at the MGM, we followed I-10 south a bit to the Boom Town Casino. It had a mining-town theme, and was built out in that manner to every detail. It was a nice stop, but was quite a bit away from the Strip

We took a taxi to the MGM Grand, and it was a beautiful (but EXTREMELY LARGE) hotel. After a standing in a line to check in, we walked through the massive casino (the size of 4 football fields) and got settled in the room. In the photo on the right you can see how extravagant the lobby is.

The Room

For a few extra dollars, we upgraded our room to a suite, which gave us a living area, a wet bar and a lot more room. Our view of the strip overlooked the pool and the two hotels that were under constrution at the time, New York New York and the Monte Carlo. Each room is themed from a classic Hollywood movie (Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, etc.)


The pool at the MGM was divided into a large pool that was a beach at one end (with real sand) and a regular swimming pool at the other. There was also a circular fountain that you could step into and get splashed by one of four huge sprayers.

Downtown Las Vegas

After checking into our hotel, we took the bus downtown. We wandered into most of the casinos there, but the most interesting thing that was going on was right behind us in this photo. The middle part of the street was fenced off, and the city was constructing some kind of overhead covering for Fremont Street. This photo shows the four travellers that you'll be with on this trip: Mitchel & Tami, and Mitchel's parents Betty & Leonard.

One Million Bucks!

This may be as close as we ever come to a million dollars, but we're within a foot or two. At Binion's Horseshoe Casino downtown, they have a million bucks encased in thick plastic (and heavily guarded). Even though you can't touch it or take souvineers, you can have your photo made in front of it!

Day 2 - Hangin' Out At The MGM!

The Wizard of Oz

Everything that we planned for the day was at the MGM, so we figured that we probably wouldn't even leave the property. To start out, we went through the Oz section of the casino. The walk-in entrance to the MGM Grand from the Strip currently has a "Wizard of Oz" theme, complete with the emerald city and the four main characters from the movie - so here we are at the end of the Yellow Brick Road with the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, Dorothy, and of course, Toto!

The MGM Grand Adventure Theme Park is a scaled-down version of Six Flags, Magic Mountain, etc with the theme of a movie-studio back lot. Elaborate attention to detail is evident in every part of the park. It has 6-7 rides, most of which were made for visitors of all ages (a couple are kiddie-only rides). There are also several shows, the best of which was the pirate-stunt show. You can visit the park free, and walk around to decide if you want to buy a ride/show pass.

EFX, Starring Michael Crawford

EFX (pronounce the letters, like an acronym: E-F-X) is the elaborate stage show at the MGM. It is staged like a broadway musical, and the sets and special effects are incredible. This time-travelling tale weaves its way through Merlin and a pair of dragons, an after-death rendevouz between Houdini and his wife, and then off to other worlds with the "Intergalactic Circus of Wonders". Very entertaining! The star of the show is Michael Crawford, the original "Phantom of the Opera".

The Forum Shops at Caesar's

After the show, we taxied down to Caesar's Palace, for a late-night snack at Planet Hollywood in the Forum Shops. The Forum Shops is an extravagant mall with statues, fountains, and a stores from Louis Vittan to Brookstone Tools. It's a great way to spend a few hours.

Day 3 - Looking Around On The Strip

Looking North from the Room

The strip across from the MGM is relatively bare. Construction is everywhere, though - we heard that the two properties that are under construction will be hotels called "New York" and "Monte Carlo", after the two respective cities. The hotel that you can see in the distance is the Rio.

Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage

After spending some time at the MGM, we made our way back up the strip to look around some more: Bally's, Aladdin, the Sands, and over to the Mirage. One of the must-see items there is the Dolphin Habitat. It isn't a show, but instead a refuge for dolphins rescued from shows, parks, etc. No dolphins were captured from the wild - this is just a safe haven where they don't have to put on shows, entertain the public, or anything like that.

An Underwater View

A team of marine biologists take care of the dolphins here at the Mirage. There are several huge areas where the dolphins live, and one of them has underwater portals where you can take a peek into their world. Like we said, there aren't any shows or anything like that - and the admission that you pay to get in to take a look at them helps to fund a program to bring area schoolkids in to learn about dolphins.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Just a shot of the hallway outside our room - the movie theme is carried out all through the hotel. After knocking around the strip all day, we hit the room for an hour or so to recharge before our evening show.

Lance Burton at the Hacienda

Right down the strip from the MGM is the Hacienda, one of the older hotels on the strip. It's just south of the Luxor, and the home of one of the magicians that we'd been hearing about, Lance Burton. Of course, we don't have any pictures of the show, since magicians generally frown on people photographing their acts, but here we all are before the show. By tipping an extra twenty bucks, basically five dollars each, we were given one of the best tables in the place. The show was wonderful, and Lance Burton is probably someone that you'll be hearing more about in the future.

Day 4 - More To See On The Strip

Hitting the Beach!

As you can tell from our wet heads, we started the day by taking a dip in the MGM Grand pool, which had a sand beach surrounded by palm trees. It was very relaxing, like spending a few hours at the beach!

Meanwhile, Across the Street...

Just south of the MGM Grand is the San Remo, a smaller Italian-themed hotel - of course, most places are smaller when compared to the MGM! We walked across the street and had their lunch buffet, which had a wonderful assortment of pasta and sea food. The photo is in the San Remo parking lot, looking back at the main-drive entrance to the MGM.

Exploring the Luxor's Treasures

We spent a couple of hours in the Luxor, the Egyptian-themed Pyramid on the south end of the strip. There were several thrill-rides there, lots of unique shops, a boat tour on a river that winds through the hotel, and lots of good food (we ate at the Manhatten Buffet). One of the most interesting things was the Tutankhamen Museum, which is a walking tour through a re-creation of King Tut's tomb, exactly as it looked when Howard Carter opened it in 1922.

Back to Medieval England

Working our way back up the strip, we went through the Excalibur Hotel. It was like a stop in Merry Olde England, with knights and winches and royalty abounding. A quick ride up the escalator took us to an extensive shopping and dining level, where we spent some time before heading back out across the drawbridge and into the real world.

A Visit to the Rio

After wandering our way up the strip and through many different hotel/casinos, it started getting late and our stomachs were growling. We'd heard about the huge "Carnival World Buffet" over at the Rio, so we caught a shuttle over across I-10 for dinner. The hotel has a "Rio de Janerio" festival feel to it, and everyone was extremely friendly. The buffet was HUGE, with different types of food from all over the world - we loved it!

Day 5 - Heading Back to Dallas

View from the Room

The last morning, we enjoyed drinking coffee and watching all the activity on the strip. From our room, we had a good southerly view of the Tropicana and Excalibur, with the pyranid of the Luxor in the background.

Rockin' at the Hard Rock

The plane didn't depart back to Dallas for a couple of hours, so we took the opportunity to go explore the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, which is owned by the Hard Rock Cafe folks. In fact, the interior looks a lot like any of the world-wide Hard Rock Cafes, but with slot machines and gaming tables. There is rock-n-roll memorabilia everywhere, and even the slots have rock themes to them.

Elvis' Favorite Hotel

Before heading back to the airport, we went visited the old stomping grounds of the King himself - the Las Vegas Hilton. This elegant and luxurious hotel and casino looked first class all the way. You can even see one of their red limos that they use to shuttle high rollers back and forth to the airport. As for the Whitingtons, we simply hailed a cab to take us to McCarrin. The vacation was wonderful, and of course, we'll be back to Las Vegas!

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