Sunday, June 11, 2000 PRIOR ISSUE   -   ARCHIVES
Strat-O-Fair, Nordstrom Coming, El Rancho Demo, Maxim Sold, More...

Jackie Brett
Send Me E-mail

The Stratosphere will open a multi-faceted, 17,000-square-foot midway attraction by mid-June. It will be located at the base of the 1,149-foot tower which houses the Top of the World restaurant & lounge and observation deck.

The Strat-O-Fair midway will showcase a 1963 World's Fair theme with a stylized decor depicting a futuristic vision of the 1960's perception of what the millennium and 21st century would be like.

The midway will contain many attractions. The Sky Wheel, a 45-foot in diameter circa 1958 Ferris Wheel, will provide passengers at the apex of the ride with a view of the Strip from 80 feet above the street. A smaller version of the resort's Big Shot located on top of the tower will propel kids 20 feet into the air and be called The Little Shot.

The Hover Crash is a futuristic bumper car ride which is battery-operated and the only one of its kind in the world. Hyper-Bowl, a virtual bowling game will have a 10-foot screen and 3-D visual. This computer bowling game is one of the first of its kind in the United States and actual leagues can be formed to play it.

To complete the midway, there will be two food outlets, Astro Snacks and The Launch Pad Lounge, as well as several "games of skill" where patrons can win prizes such as plush, stuffed-toys. The games include: Basketball Shot, Cat Rack, Ring Toss, Milk Can, Milk Bottles and the Water Race.

When and where the Seattle-based Nordstrom will finally land in Las Vegas has been an ongoing speculation for years. The answer is finally known. Nordstrom will open its first Nevada property, a tri-level, 200,000-square-foot department store at the Fashion Show Mall on the Las Vegas Strip in the fall of 2002 or spring of 2003.

Nordstrom will be part of the mall's $300 million expansion project. The Nordstrom store will be on the northwest side of the mall, just to the west of the Robinson-May store.

In addition to Nordstrom, the Fashion Show Mall will add Bloomingdale's and Lord & Taylor to the mall's anchor tenant lineup. Several existing stores - including Dillard's, Robinsons-May, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's and Neiman-Marcus - will double in size.

Florida-based Turnberry Associates purchased the closed El Rancho hotel/casino and will move forward with the demotion of the deteriorating North Strip property by this fall. Turnberry paid $45 million for the 52-year-old property, which sits on 21 acres of land. The El Rancho has been closed for eight years.

On June 1, the country-western themed El Rancho hotel liquidation sale began and will continue for 45 days or until everything is sold. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily except Sunday, when it's noon to 5 p.m. All items are tagged, priced and sold "as is" on a first-come basis, with payment by cash, Visa or MasterCard.

Turnberry, developer of the upscale $600 million Turnberry Place condominium project located behind the El Rancho on Paradise Road will open the first 40-story, 184-unit tower phase of its project in December.

The Maxim hotel-casino was purchased on June 1, for $10 million at a foreclosure sale. The deal will result in the 800-room hotel remaining in operation. The casino will remain closed.

On June 21, the stage spectacular "Splash" at the Riviera will celebrate its fifteenth year anniversary. Since the show's debut in 1985, "Splash" has featured the death-defying stunts of seemingly mad motorcyclists racing about a steel sphere referred to as "The Globe of Death." The act is called "Bela Tabak's Riders of the Thunderdome."

Originally the show's motorcycle-stunt routine consisted of two motorcycles inside an 18-foot diameter ball of metal mesh. In the late 1980s, a third bike was added, followed by the globe being split for the first time. While the riders circle the upper two-thirds of the chamber, the lower one-third of the structure drops. The space between the top and bottom sections creates the potential for the bikes to fly out of the steel structure. Today, the routine is performed daily in "Splash" with four motorcycles racing about inside the globe.

Always pushing the envelope, Tabak and his team appeared two years ago on an NBC special, "Death Defying Thrills," in which they performed their four-man, daredevil motorcycle stunts with Tabak's wife standing in the middle of the globe.

Now, over July 4th weekend, the act will attempt five bikes within their 14' 3" globe. The globe, the seventh for Tabak's team, is fashioned from four tons of cold steel, machine-rolled and then hand-assembled by the riders themselves into a perfect sphere. The inner walls of metal mesh are polished to a flawless finish. The bikes propel to speeds as high as 43 mph and pulls several G's.

This newest daredevil attempt will take place during the 7:30 p.m. performance of "Splash" on July 2. It will be a covered show so children may attend. Tickets inclusive of all applicable taxes and fees will be $50 for adults and $22.80 for children ages five to 15, call 702-794-9433 or visit


New York financier Carl Icahn opened his third Las Vegas hotel/casino, Arizona Charlie's East on Boulder Highway at the end of May. He also owns Arizona Charlie's on the west side of the valley and the Stratosphere. Icahn is known for his takeovers of financially distressed companies.

Icahn picked up Arizona Charlie's East in a bankruptcy auction in January for $43 million and has since spent $10 million on improvements and equipment. The property includes the casino, a 300-room hotel and an adjacent 224-space RV park. The property was formerly called Sunrise Suites and the hotel portion has been open since late 1998.

Arizona Charlie's East is about one-third smaller than its sister property, and features 826 slots and 13 table games. A future expansion should use some of the RV park and will include bingo, a sports book and an expanded buffet, all popular player components at the other Arizona Charlie's. Shuttle buses for Arizona Charlie's regular patrons will begin running from the new casino by the end of the month.

The valley's newest golf course with a South Seas theme is under construction just south of Mandalay Bay on the Strip. The Bali Hai 110-acre, 18-hole course began construction last summer with completion slated this October followed by the clubhouse opening next January or February. The entire project is estimated at $32 million.

Marty Allen and Karon Kate Blackwell have returned home to Las Vegas after months of performing on cruise ships. The comedian and his singing wife are now entertaining fans through June 26, at the Gold Coast Showroom doing 8 p.m. shows Friday through Monday. Tickets are $19.95, call 702-251-3574.

The multi-talented musician, orchestra leader and songwriter Lon Bronson is basking in the long overdue "Vegas limelight." He currently conducts for the David Cassidy show at the Rio, oversees another group of musicians backing "The Rat Pack Is Back" at the Sahara, and serves as production manager for the entertainment at the Riviera's Mardi Gras complex, where his association with the resort celebrates 10 years on Saturday, June 17. Holding late night court for the past decade, Bronson has also led some of the hottest musicians in town for weekend evening jam sessions in the Le Bistro Lounge.

The Riviera will recognize its permanent fixture and his world renowned "Lon Bronson All-Star R&B, Rock & Soul Revue," with a special midnight party and the public is invited. For the price of a two drink minimum, the celebration will include free T-shirts to everyone in the audience and birthday cake. For more information, click on

Singer Marlene Ricci and former prot‚g‚e of legendary crooner Frank Sinatra has taken over the special guest star spot from Rip Taylor in "The Great Radio City Spectacular," starring the Radio City Rockettes. Sinatra discovered Ricci in Las Vegas and she became his opening act for two and a half years and 200 performances.

Ricci went on to perform on her own CBS Special, to record two top-40 hit records in Europe, and to make concert appearances in Chile, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Germany and The Philippines.

The famous Rockettes began as the "Missouri Rockets" in 1925, debuting in St. Louis. They first performed at Radio City Music Hall in 1932. Since then, more than 2,000 women have danced as Rockettes.

The MGM Grand recently introduced a new topography on the casino slot floor with the introduction of Family Feud Slots, based on Pearson Television's again-popular game show. In addition to the actual machines, the attraction includes custom signage, lighting, seating, carpeting, and other fixtures all of which reinforce the Family Feud brand and heighten the game playing experience. The MGM Grand and its affiliated casinos, New York-New York, and three in Mesquite, NV, Primadonna, Whiskey Pete's, and Buffalo Bill's, will be the exclusive Nevada venues for the Family Feud attraction.

The Family Feud games are based on three of Silicon Gaming's most popular product types, two of which are reel slots: the multi-line, multi-coin and the multi-spin. The third is a multi-deck poker implementation. What remains consistent across the game variations is the Family Feud Bonus.

The Bonus Round of the game begins when a player acquires a four-of-a-kind or a three-symbol match depending on the game. What happens next is the player becomes a participant in an assimilated on-the-spot version of the game show complete with a camera, stage manager, theme music, Q & A, audience, etc.

Fans of the brothers-and-sister act, The Walkers will find them doing afternoon shows in the Lady Luck's bubble domed showroom. The show called "Stars of the Strip" features the talented trio doing incredible star impressions for the 2 and 3:30 p.m. shows, Mondays through Fridays. Admission is $3.95 for one drink.

The final performances of "Wheel of Fortune - Live on Stage!" at the MGM Grand's newly renovated Cabaret Thetare closed on June 4. Comedienne Rita Rudner will take over the Cabaret Theatre from June 14-July 29.

The Studio 54 nightclub at the MGM Grand will play host to the closed circuit telecast of the World Welterweight Championship between Oscar De la Hoya and Shane Mosley on Saturday, June 17. General admission tickets are $40, call 702-891-7777.

Penn & Teller, "The Bad Boys of Magic," will return to the MGM Grand's intimate 670-seat Hollywood Theatre for two engagements, June 15-21 and July 27-Aug. 9. Tickets are $37.50 plus tax, call 800-929-1111 or 702-891-7777.

>Return to "Heard Around Town"
>Return to Las Vegas Leisure Guide

Editorial Content Copyright(c) 2000 Jackie Brett; Internet Presentation Copyright(c) Las Vegas Leisure Guide