Vegas Week 2009

Las Vegas, NV

October 4, 2009 - October 10, 2009

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I probably comes as little surprise to anybody that we did a Vegas Week again this year. At least it took us till April to think about doing Vegas week, instead of thinking about it at Christmas. Since it was already April, and May was going to be a bad month at work for me anyway, we decided to see what Vegas is like in October, after all, all our other visits have been in May. I did recall what we learned last year, and did not use Travelocity to make the arrangements, instead making my own arangements directly with the airline and hotel. As such after landing a $250 per person non stop round trip airline deal out of Cincinnati, and then landing rooms for $300 each for a week, right away we are only spending about half of what we did last year. I think if I could go back in time, I would have had us leave Friday night instead of spending the exorbitant Friday night room rates, then flying out first thing in the morning. I followed that up by getting us two tickets to see KA, which would be this years Cirque Du Soleil show, and I even scored a "Buy 1 get 1 for $25" deal from the Cirque Club. I'm saving a bunch of money already off of last year's arangements. Oh, and those discounted seats are in Row C of the orchestra level, not bad, in fact might even be a bit too close.

Okay, so between April and October, Delta managed to meess around with both of my flight times, due to trimming down their schedule. I didn't really mind what they did to my return flight, moving it from 9AM to noon, however any brownie points they gained for that were lost by moving my flight to Vegas from a nice 4PM which would have gotten us in in the early evening to 8PM which meant we were getting in a night. We decided to try to further cut costs by having an uncle who was not going with us to drive us to the airport and back, thus saving the long term parking fees.

Day 1: Sunday, October 4, 2009

So advance forward to the day of the trip, we decided to leave for my uncles house an hour early, after all he would do the same to us. We got to my Uncle's house, and they insisted on watching the Bengals game (it was vs. Cleveland you know, big rivalry game), and they finally relented when the game went into overtime. Then it was time to get in the car. There were 5 of us going, and we thought we could stuff my cousin in the back with the luggage, at least just to get to the airport. However, that did not work out in the uncle who was staying back's Equinox, but ti would work in the uncle who was going's Explorer. Okay, that just means the non-traveling uncle would take us to the airport, then double back and change cars again, a little inconvineint but you do what you have to do. We thought about bailing on the plans to go to Cracker Barrel and hit a fast food place instead, but in the end wound up going to Cracker Barrel and as luck would have it, getting the slowest server they had. We didn't arrive at the airport late, we arrived at 6m, which was exactly 2 hours before our flight, so we got their just at the recommended time. Any cushion we tried to build up was gone.

I was happy that this year, the airlines on line system actually let us check in over the web, and pay the baggage fees over the web. So, we got to the airport, and all we had to do was show passes and ID's then drop our bags off. A bag claim decal was placed on each boarding pass, and then since we also learned from last year, I had requested wheelchair assistance for mom. She can still walk, but long distances such as airports are a problem. Not a big deal they direct you to wait in a seating area by the ticketing counter, and then a staff person comes out and actually pushes the person all the way to their gate. Sometimes this can really help as they get to cut to the front of the security line, but that would not be a problem today as security was a walk up. Security was mostly painless, they wanted to scan my carry on bag twice, and then the TSA guy called out my name and we realized we had worked together at a former job. That done, I'm walways much relieved to be through security and we got to our gate right around 7pm, which is just enough time to sit down and relax before boarding started at 7:30.

Soon we boarded the plane, and in flight entertainment has really changed. I used to get happy just to hear there would be an in flight movie, now I am bummed out if I'm not in a plane with the personal in seat entertainment system. Such as this plane, no in seat entertainment, wifi, or free meal on this flight. 4 hours is just about my limit before I go insane on a flight, but I better get used to it as I have two more trans atlantic segments already booked for next year. I'm guessing Delta sends the rolling concession stand down the aisle once for every 2 hours of shceduled flight time, on our way to Vegas the flight was 4 and a quarter hours and they came through twice. The first time I just got a Coke and pretzels, the second time I splurged for a $2 pack of peanut M&M's, cookies, and a coke. Other than that the flight was uneventful, and when we arrived in Vegas, they had a wheelchair attendant waiting on the jetway. This was a big help as he escorted us all the way from the jetway to the baggage claim, and then out to the taxi stand. We didn't even have time for airport slots, and yes their airport is lined with slot machines. We got lucky that our bags were some of the first off the plane, and we were soon waiting in line to even get out the door. They have crossing gates so at times the line just to get out of the airport backs up. We then got into a minivan cab and took the ride to New York New York. Yes, we got Tunneled, and somehow the ride from the airport to the hotel was like $23.

At New York New York, we walked from the doors to the hotel registration desk, and hit it at a good time as it was practially a walk right up line. Our desk agent was pleasant and we got some room upgrades and such. By the time we had our keys and were heading back to the ones who were watching over the luggage there was a crowd at the hotel check in area. Well, we didn't quite get adjacent rooms, in fact we don't even ride up in the same elevator. Mom and I were in the Century tower, and those elevators are near the hotel desk. We rode up to the 24th floor, and found our room just two doors down from the elevator, with a view looking out towards the strip facing the Tropicana, so nice view, and nicely furnished room. the iPod docking station in our room didn't quite like my iPhone, but no sweat I did bring a charger. These rooms seemes a bit larger than the rooms at Luxor, at the very least the bathroom was much nicer and had a real tub. After getting settled into our room we met the others back down on the gaming floor.

Early reports from the other room is that their room elevators were by the food court, and while they had a jumbo sized corner room, it was also about a mile from the elevators. We'll keep what we have, even though there room is technically one category higher. We headed to the players club desk so that those who needed to get cards could get cards, and those due free play could redeem that. We played around a bit at New York New York. Mom got the first good spin with a $250 hit on a quarter machine.

Ricky and I decided to take a walk. What we wound up doing was quite similar to what we did on our final day of last year's Vegas Week. We started out by walking to the Bellagio, we noted the construction project between the Monte Carlo and the Bellagio was still happeining but it looks to be nearly finished. We played around a bit at the Bellagio and Rick checked out their poker room. By te poker room they had advertisements printed on playing card sized cards, an I noticed they were using dealers shoes to pass them out. Okay, I lost at New York New York, but I held my own, even had a tiny profit at Bellagio. We then left Bellagio and walked across the street using one of the few street level crossings to Planet Hollywood. Our main reason for going into Planet Hollywood was to visit the Pleasure Pit. That is a table games area with suggestively dressed dancers that dance on little platforms above the gaming tables, while skimpily clad dealers deal the cards. I noted they even have one carousel of Pleasure Pit slot machines, bu they face away from the dancers, so what is the point. We played awhile in Planet Hollywood and it wasn't too kind to me. However, one of the neat things about going to Vegas is they have slot machines that we just don't have at the Indiana casinos, both new and old, and the jackpots are much higher. Even better, they have more machines, so all the games you can never get on at the boats, you can walk right up to here in Vegas.

Around 3 or 3:30 we finally leave Planet Hollywood, I am glad to see shops, restaurants and stuff have filled in the area between Planet Hollywood and MGM Grand so the area is a little less scary at night. We did stop into McDonalds for a quick bit to eat with some interesting characters and $8 value meals. We idd head to the MGM Grand but did not go in, instead we walked up the stairs, crossed the road and headed back to New York New York. I can already see I like not having the extra commute to Luxor. We played a bit in New York New York then I finally roll into my hotel room around 5am.

Day 2: Monday, October 5, 2009

At 8am Monday, I am getting woken up. What, only three hours sleep? Well that's what I get. We get up, get ready, and then hearing the buffet breakfast in our own hotel is $13 we head to McDonalds at the Excalibur. Okay, we were going to check out their buffet but the line was a bit too long owing to the all you can eat all day deal they have going on. That is the newest gimmick in Vegas, all-day buffet wrisbtbands for about $25-$30. You can't possibly eat that much, and they keep you at or near their casino all day. After breakfast, we head to Luxor and play (and I lose) for quite a while. At least the Luxor construction is completed, so the high limit room and poker room have returned to their rightful spots, and the Cirque Du Soleil theater area is renovated.

When we had our fill of Luxor, we walked out front and were surprised to find the monorail running, so we rode the free monorail to the Excalibur. I note the monroail station isn't quite as heavy handed about forcing you into the casino as it used to be. That said we played around awhile, and I won a bit at the Excalibur. Then we headed to the Tropicana, and remember what I said about mom and long distance walking, well that was about when it decided to bother her. We did try the free pull slot machine out front and each won a deck of cards and $10 in free slot play after signing up for cards. Tropicana has way too few people working their slot club counter, particularly since the guy running the free slot machine can crank through way more players than they can process in, and you have to be processed in to get your free gifts. I hear waits of a half hour for a card are not uncommon. They also still have their $50 of slot play for $20 gimmick machines, no one goes home empty handed even if you lose it all you get a merchandise prize obstenisbly worth $20. We saw no takers. We played a bit at Tropicana, and then headed to New York New York.

We headed right for the food court and determined Broadway Burger was still open and still sellls large bacon double burgers, fries (maybe a bit scaled back) and a Pepsi for $7.50 (was $6) It is still a great deal for a fast food dinner. Rick wants to watch Monday night foodball, which out in Vegas is Monday afternoon football. I play for a bit in New York New York, then go up to the room to get a rest in, we have another long night planned.

We decided I would go to Rick's room to meet, and on the way there I make the mistake of stopping off for a slice of pizza that they had been raving about. No, its not that, it was great pizza in the Italian "fold and eat" thin crust tradition. Then I go meet Rick and we decide to head to Paris. We get there by first walking through the MGM Grand to the monorail station, and then after paying $5 each are boarding a monorail train. Now the Paris would be the very next station, but that wouldn't be much of a ride, so we decide to ride all the way to the Sahara and back to catch the view of Vegas at night, as much as you can since it goes in back of the strip hotels. We got off the train at the Paris/Ballys station, and like most stations it is a long haul from the station to the casino, then we find out we are in Ballys, at this point Rick suggest stopping off for some pizza at Sbarros, see what I mean about the first pizza stop being a mistake?

We then take the incredibly long walk throught the shopping area into Paris. We don't acutally play much, if any, in Paris, instead we head to the Tour Eiffel, or Eiffel Tower experience. I find out that at night it is $15 instead of the ususal $10. We decide to cough it up anyway, and I notice things have changed since last year, now both escalators flanking the gift shop are entrances, the difference is one costs $15 to use, and the other $22, the $22 entrance has VIP rights, but at the current time the line wasn't even back to the merge point. At least this setup means you don't have two way traffic where they are taking your souvenir photo. We had a one elevator wait to go to the top of the half scale model tower. Up top the observstion deck was crammed beyond belief. Didn't stop me from getting some great night shots, or us enjoying the view but it sure was crowded. As an added bonus, we got to watch the Bellagio fountan show from up high, and don't know if they pipe the music over or not, but we had no probem hearing the soundtrack. After the Bellagio show we headed back down, and now they unload you right into the casino.

From Paris, we went to the doorman to get a cab to the Rio. The Paris casino doorman gets demerits for not at least mentioning the courtesy shuttle to the Rio. We didn't spend that long in the Rio, the big poker room was already closed, so Rick didn't get to see that, and the casino was pretty lifeless, and they were changing out machines and all. A lot of folks swear by the Rio, but it just seemed to be lifeless when we were there. Another quick cab ride and we were over at the Palms. The Palms was equally lifeless and soon we decided to just go back to New York New York particularly since we were losng and we could not get a cocktail server at the Rio or Palms to save our soul, even if they were dead and lifeless. Our taxi ride from the Palms to New York New York was noteworthy in that cab had the loudest squealing brakes known to man. We get back to New York New York, play for a litle bit but eventually decide to go up to the room a bit early, gotta get some sleep sometime.

Day 3: Tuesday, October 6, 2009

We slept in a bit on Tuesday, then Mom and I headed down to get some lunch. We decided to try the America restaurant in the New York New York. America,is, as you can guess, a partriotic themed restaurant done up in red, white and blue, flags, decorations and the like. The main feature of the decoration package is a big mural map of the Unites States, what is so cool about it is it hangs down from the ceiling, and is in 3D. For example in St. Louis, there is a model of the St. Louis arch that poked out of the mural. The theme is even carried down to the table where drinks can be served in a souvenier Statue of Liberty glass, and the back of the bar, appeteizer and desert menu has a page or two on US trivia. Following the theme, the menu is mostly good old fashioned comfort food, I had a BBQ chicken sandwich and mom had the club. both were big sandwiches with a mound of fries each. Tab for two with alcohol, tax and tip was around $40. After we had lunch we decided to walk the Las Vegas Strip.

To faciliate my Mom's enjoyment of the strip, we learned since we were guests of the hotel, we could rent a wheelchair from the hotel for a nominal fee, if you are not a hotel guest your rental is limited to just the casino grounds. Having secured a chair, we headed up out of New York ew York, over the bridge towards the MGM Grand but we did not go inside, instead we caught the elevator down to the street then proceeded to head north.

You first pass a few strip malls (as opposed to strip clubs...) that contain the usual tacky souvenir shops, restaurants, and stuff. The first one is best known for having M&M World and Coke World, along with a movie theater, Gameworks, half price show kiosk and a food court. We hit this last year so we pretty much avoided the shopping centers and headed for Planet Hollywood Casino. Along the way we did stop to look at New York New York, Monte Carlo, and City Center from the other side of the street.

We then went into Planet Hollywood, our main purpose was to show off the Pleasure Pit, but while the hot pink gaming tables were there, the area was closed and the girls that make the area so special were not on duty. We played a very little bit at Planet Hollywood before continuing. It should be noted there are three speedramps in front of the Plant Hollywood, all going up, there isn't even a ramp, so we had to back track to the other end of the casino to get to the street. According to Wiki, changes were made to improve pedestrian access from the strip, so I'd hate to see the former arrangements. What I do miss is the former Aladin theming when it was one of the themed resorts. I notice resorts that are decorated with arabesque touches are dwindling, I think only the Sahara remains in that regard.

We headed next door to Paris, now I had shown this one to Mom last year, and to Ricky the night before. The rest hadn't seen it with all its faux outdoor sky and parisian street feel, complete with the legs of the Eiffel Tower coming up through the casino. We rested and played a while in Paris, and while there Ricky tried Casino War. Remember the card game War you played as a child, it was probably a simple game your parents taught you and your sibling to get you out of their hair for a long time as the game is incredibly simple to play, yet seems to go on for hours or until you give up and just count who has the most cards when you got tired of it. It's almost a forerunner to the customizable collectible card games as I can remember games lasting several days, and being protective of your part of the deck between sessions . Well now the casinos have discovered it, maybe after it was used as joke in the movie Vegas Vacation. Anyway, the game is real stupid out in Vegas, You sit down and toss a chip on the table, the dealer deals two cards, one to you, one to himself. If your card is higher (aces always high), you get paid even money, if not you lose, unless you War. Getting a tie leads you to war, you can either surrender the war, and lose half your bet in the process, or go to war. Going to war requires you to post a second bet identical to your first, and the house does the same. So if you started with a bet of 1 chip, there are now 3 out on the table. Just like the kiddie card game, three cards are dealt and burned, and the fourth card up becomes your new card. Winner takes all three stacks. I hear their is slight bonus of 8-1 or 10-1 if your war ends in a tie. The catch, if you didn't get it, is all in the war, if you win the war you essentially win $1 for every $2 you put up, but if you lose the war you lose all your stake. That's where the house edge comes from. Insanely stupid. And they use a continuous shuffle machine with 6 decks, so any kind of card counting is out the window.

From Paris, we walked past but did not stop in Bally's, particularly since the moving sidewalks from the strip were out of order, and its a long walk. Views of the Bellagio and Ceasars Palace coming into view across the street.

One of the safety minded features of Vegas is the building of overhead bridges with complete ADA access with elevators, escalators and stairs, followed closely by laws mandating their use when available along with walls and fences to further encourage their use. We crossed over the street and looked through the victorian themed Bill's Gambling Hall. It's a small dinky casino but is part of the solid wall of Harrah's owned casinos that I think stretches clear from Paris all the way to Harrah's Much the same as MGM/Mirage owns most of the places on the other side of the street, with the gaping exception of Ceasar's Palace.

We didn't linger long in Bill's before stopping in the Flamingo for a while. I mean now we are getting closer to old Vegas, the Flamingo is a name that has been around for a long time. After having our fill of the Flamingowe proceeded on past the dinky Osheas casino (Irish theme), and also bypassing the pagoda of the Imperial Palace. Imperial Palace sets back off the strip, and its access from the strip has all the charm of a dark alley. It doesn't help I have also heard the word Dump used to describe it. Instead we took a short trip through the New Orleans/Mardi Gras themed Harrahs. Harrahs has a clever tactic, the sidewalk bends inward to obstensibly allow for the ramps to their parking garage, and they have taken full advantage by putting a popular club in the center and routing the sidewalk so its easier to walk through the casino than stay on the sidewalk.

We came to the Venetian, themed after Venice. A big pool out front has gondolas, the Dodges Palace, bell tower, rialto bridge, San Marcos all figure into the facade. We tried to get Rick and Wanda to take a romantic gondola ride, but that didn't happen. We were then further dismayed at the lack of wheelchair accesibility. The only way in seemed to be a small 'service entrance' from the overhead street connector. We spent some time in the Venetian and its sister casino the Pallazo, joined by a high end shopping area. It was a fun time, including the slot machine that decided it didn't like us and gave both Rick and I a nice shock. Ouch, that wasn't nice.

After leaving the Palazzo, we crossed the bridge over to the Wynn, but did not go in. We instead decided to turn around, so we crossed the bridge over to Fashion Show Mall, walked past Nieman Marcus to get to the bridge over to Treasure Island. Treasure Island is one of those casinos that is losing all its interior theming. It seems like casinos like to keep the fantasy facades, but inside they all present the same modern looking neutral color based gaming areas. We didn't spend much time in Treasure Island, but went outside to look at the pirate ships in the caribean style port area where the Sirens on TI show takes place. We also learned we were an hour or more away from the first show.

Moving right along, we came to the Mirage. We didn't go into the Mirage, but upon learning we were about 10 minutes away from the eruption, we gathered along the rail by the volcano to experience a Volcanic Eruption, a show based on water, fire, lights and music. First the volcano simmers and smokes, then small flames shoot out, then larger flames, then torches in the lagoon light up so it looks like the whole lagoon is on fire, then the blast gets bigger and bigger until it lights up the sky. It gets a bit toasty standing by the rail with those flame effects going on.

After the volcano show, we headed to the Forum Shops where we rode the spiral escalators before heading to the back of the mall to try to watch the statue show, but we were almost an hour away from showtime. Four visits and four failures to see this show. One of these years I am going to see it. We headed to Ceasar's Palace for dinner at their buffet style restaurant. It was a bit pricey, but you got good carved meats, prime rib, sushi, and a whole lot of fancy things. When we thought we had seen it all they brought out trays of crab legs and shrimp. A nice touch is they went with the bite sized sampler deserts.

After dinner, we headed out of Ceasar's Palace and took the walk to the Bellagio. This is where we rested after dinner playing at the Bellagio for awhile. After leaving Bellagio, we took the real long walk through the contruction tunnel past City Center, skipped the Monte Carlo and headed to the New York New York where we stopped and played some more.

After getting mom settled into her room, Ricky and I took another evening walk, we looked at Coyote Ugly, but it was packed like sardines, playing the same crap DJ dance music you hear all over. We headed to the MGM Grand played for probably too long, then went back to our rooms. Exciting evening, I know.

Day 4 - Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wednesday is my day with Mom, to be headlined by watching "KA" by Cirque Du Soleil at the MGM Grand. Mom and I started the day a bit late by heading to the Denny's a few doors down from the MGM Grand right around 11:30. I miss Denny's as they are now gone from our area, but they always have done a good breakfast.

After Denny's we headed back to the MGM Grand, making a couple stops along the way. Our first stop was the Coca Cola shop. The first floor is the general gift shop where all manner of Coca Cola merchandise can be had, but that's not why I'm here. We go to the second floor where they have a soda fountain in the back of the store. The feature item here is the "Coke around the world" sampler package. For $7 they give you about 8-10 oz cups of 16 different drinks made by the Coca Cola company throughout the world.

I was honestly thinking they would give us maybe a shot glass or double shot full of each one, but trust me when I say to get about 3-4 of your friends around before you do this. The drinks come to you on two cafeteria trays with numbered sections, they also give you a drink guide so you can tell which numbered glass is which drink.

On the day I was there the sampler included: Inca Cola (Peru), Sunfill Mint (India), Stoney Ginger Beer (South Africa), Aquarius Citrus (Taiwan), Delaware Punch (USA), Vegitabeta (Japan), Smart Watermelon (China, Kinley Lemon (England), Lift Apple (Mexico), Fanta Kolita (Costa Rica), Krest Gingerale(Mozambique), Bibo Kiwi Mango (South Africa), Bibo Pine Nut (South Africa), Smart Apple (China), Beverly (Italy), and Mezzo Mix (Germany). I mention the list since I have read other reviews and it sounds like the menu changes regularly.

We tried the lot of them, acting like wine fantics, first smelling each drink to determine smell, swishing it around to determine carbonation, then drinking a little of it.

Most of them are to be quite, frank, just flat out wierd. The mint soda tastes like mouthwash, the Aquarius Citrus reminded us of a bold flavored Fresca, Delaware Punch is basically grape juice, Vegitabeta is basically orange gatorade, one oddity is we love all things Waterlmelon, so of course Mom disliked the Smart Watermelon. One of the Apple sodas is just like Jones Sour Apple, Pine Nut is an odd one, its a coconut flavored drink. I forget which one it is now (and I'm not talking about Beverly), but getting past the smell of the drink was an issue. Then there is Beverly, Beverly has gained quite the reputation as possibly the foulest soft drink ever created. Let's just say in a masochistic moment, I reconfirmed that, even though I have had it at Epcot. All in all, it wasn't a bad way to kill some time. One last comment about their place, they were good enough to have a restroom right by the soft drink sampling area, but they thought one one urinal would suffice for the men's room. After 16 soft drink samples, really?

After our soft drink sampling, we went down in the Coca Cola elevator, its a glass elevator in the shape of a giant Coke bottle. We then headed next door to take the tour of M&M World. Yes, we came out with another insanely expensive bag of mix-it-yourself candy.

We then headed to the MGM Grand. Our first order of business was to go all the way to the back of the casino and pick up our show tickets. That is one of Vega s's anti-scalping measures,wanting you to pick up show tickets, in person, day of show. Then they make you produce the confirmation letter, an ID, and the credit card used to buy the tickets. Recall last year, I had trouble at the Bellagio when they took my 7:00 reservation, and put it in their system as a 10:30 reservation. This year, no such trouble existed and in 30 seconds or less I had my tickets. We spent the next few hours playing at the MGM Grand.

We had heard we should be there an hour early, so around 5:50 we head to the doors for the 7 pm show. We are greeted by an usher who appreicates the punctuality and enthusiasm, and then lets us know the doors won't be opening until 6:20 tonight. I suspect this is due to the fact the show appeared to be less than half full. Time to play some more slots.

On our way in, we stop at the usual sales table to get our $15 program book and then our ticket is scanned. As we travel through the lobby area, we notice this isn't quite like any other theater, instead the lobby appears as if you are traveling through a tribal villiage at night on the way to a celebration. The "tavern" is open, and that contains your bar and concession stand. We had gotten there just after the doors opened, and of course everybody dashes right to the next set of doors. They tried to encourage people to get their snacks early reminding them all seats are reserved, there is no need to rush. The staff in this area discourages the use of the term "usher", instead they are villiagers welcoming you to the celebration. We passed and talked with several friendly viliagers and upon showing them our tickets they all commented we had fantastic seats, but worried if my Mom could get down the stairs to them.

You line up at the town gates to enter the ceremonial area, and at about 6:30 there is a brief moment when a town crier type person calls out "Open the gates!" You then head in the doors and up a curved rampup to the theater. The way the theater is arranged is both entrances lead to ramps that go up to a walkway that crosses the house from left to right about halfway back. The seating is stadium style, so you go up or down from there. As we would learn our seats were in the second row. The good news is the stairs are pretty shallow, and there are railings all the way down. We checked the wheelchair and recieved a claim check and then the usher type person helped us down to our seats. We wound up being seated next to a couple from the Seattle area, if I recall correctly. Real friendly people As we were waiting for the show another usher type person comes to our section and I guess one of the benefits of sitting up close is they talk to you about the show and do questions and answers. The couple next to us are big theater buffs, so the conversation was real interesting. This staff members other job is to inform the people sitting in the front row of the "Front Row Rules" Essentially, there is no traditional stage, just a barrier separating the audience from a deep pit, so stay in your seats and don't approach the barrier. All during the load in a fireball would erupt from the pit. The safety warning was obstensibly about the fire effects, but strangely once the show started there were no more fireballs.

They do a funny take on the usual house rules. Essentially they talk about no cameras, and of course somebody starts taking pictures, so the host tosses their camera into the firepit with a small explosion, then they say no mobile phones, and of course somebody gets a phone call, so now their phone goes flying into the fire pit. By the end of it, they throw the obnoxious 'guest' into the firepit to a big explosion.

The KA theate looks like no other theater you have seen. Cirque has always been on the cutting edge of stage technology, even in their tent shows, but imagine Cirque with the seemingly bottomless pockets of a Las Vegas casino funding them. I already mentioned the town village lobby, but inside the house, instead of the sides of the theatre being plain walls, they have an intricate series of metal platforms that the actors use as either an extension of the stage, or as rigging to do aerial acts. The star of the show is the stage, or lack thereof. There is no traditional stage, instead there are several movable platforms. When I say movable platform, I mean a platform on the ends of robot arms, it can raise, lower, turn, spin, tip, even tip up from a horizontal orientation to a vertical orientation. Yes, it can still spin even in the vertical orientation. This is in addition to having manholes in the stage that can open and close, and numerous "pegs" that can project out of the stage surface to provide handholds to the performers when the stage is vertical. The surface is also a LCD projection, but not only that, it is interactive and can respond to the performers movement. The technology doesn't end with the stage, every seat in the theater has its own speakers for the ultimate in surround sound, and we learned our close up seats also recline to allow us to see the high up parts of the show.

The storyline is your basic tribal celebration ruined by the attack of a rival tribe, leading to a show that is essentially the battle between the two, and of course the tribe you are visiting wins. Highlights of the show include a scene where they are trying to stay on a small boat that is tossing and turning in the sea, a slow scene where they are on the sandy beach leading to a moment where the platform covered in sand tips up vertical dumping the sand in a big sandshower, an aerial act in the middle of the show that just has so much going on its sensory overload, their take on the traditional circus "Wheel of Death", a scene where they appear to be climbing up a sheer cliff face, in this scene the archers are shooting arrows at the wall, whch covers the "pegs" shooting out from the wall to form handholds. The interactive LCD systems allows you to see the rock face crumbling as they climb. Towards the end of the show there s a a full battle scene while the stage is full vertical, and they are moving about this spining sheer vertical wall effortlessly. The finale even includes indoor pyro effects. I'm going to rank this Cirque second only to "O" at Bellagio. My full cirque list is: "O","KA", "Quidam"," Corteo", " Saltimbanco" in order of preference.

So after the show we claimed the chair as instucted, and headed to the KA Gift Shop. On the way out of the theater the staff checks the claim checks on all wheelchairs leaving the theater. On the way out they were pushing the ultimate KA gift pack:program, soundtrack CD, and making of DVD - for $65. The couple next to us highly recommended the DVD,and I found they were willing to give me credit for the already purchased program, so I could complete the set for $50 more. I then got a KA t-shirt from the gift shop. Yes, it was a very expensive night at the theatre.

On the way out of the MGM Grand, I showed mom an old Sigma Derby mechanical horse racing game. It's one of those novelty games they keep around since they have more casino floor space than they know what to do with. We headed out of the MGM Grand, returned to New York New York, then returned the wheelchair, then played some at NYNY. Ricky asked me if I wanted to go to a club, but I declined. I would later found out he didn't enjoy the club either. Too high of a cover charge, crap music, too crowded, drinks too high, etc.

Day 5 - Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thursday came,and I started the day with an alone day. First I got up and then headed over to the Exclaibur for a breakfast buffet. Sure its around $15,but you have a breakfast bar that can't be improved upon. They had at least three styles of scrambled eggs, burrittos, fresh fruit, all the standards, pastries, omlettes. It was a great way to start the day. I then walked over the Luxor manly to cash a $80 ticket I had forgotten to cash on Monday. It seems while you can port slot club points between the two casinos, you have to take cashout tickets to the issuing casino to be paid. Of course I wound up playing a bit at Luxor before walking out front to be on the first monorail of the day over to Excalibur. I played a little bit more on my way through the Excalbur and headed to the MGM Grand.

When I got to the MGM Grand I headed to the back of the casino into the shopping mall area, and then all the way to the back of the shopping area to where CSI: The Experience had opened less then a month prior to my visit. As I approached the area two greeters dressed as CSI officers have an information table out in front of the entrance, and I learned you buy tickets at the MGM Garden Arena box office. $30 later I had an admission ticket. I returned to the attraction entrance and rode down the escalator into the exhibit. At the bottom, they tear your ticket and admit you to an anteroom where you can decide which of the three cases you would like to solve, or you can have them select a case for you. To help you decide brief descriptions of the cases appear on huge signs around the room. Case 1 is a mysterious car crash into somebody's living room, case 2 is a body found behind a seedy motel, and case 3 is a skelton found out in the desert. Each case required different scientific techniques to solve, and each case description tells you which labs will be involved, so you can decide based on your particualr interests. In my case only case 2 involved the Electronics and technology lab, so I chose it. So did most of our group.

When I say group, you go through the attraction with a small group using timed entrance tickets. Once inside you can collaborate or go at it solo, your choice. Having three different cases helps to improve capacity as they can have essentially three teams going through at a time, not to mention it adds replay value for the attraction. Want to try your hand at another case, replays are $26 each. You must make a decision while still in the ante room so that you can receive a clipboard with the correct materials. You are also assigned a unique agent ID number which will come in handy later. On your clipboard, you recieve an investigators note sheet. It has areas for the crime scene and each of the labs, don't worry its mostly of the multiple choice/ fill in the blanks variety. After everybody has their paperwork, you are let into the first room.

In the first room you stand to watch an introductory video by the creator of CSI and Gil Grissom. They talk a little bit about the CSI franchise and then Gil gives treats you like you are a new recruit in his office. He gives you some pointers, instructions for touring the exhibit, and then sends you on your way.

At this point you go down one of three paths depending on what case you chose. You are led to a room corresponding to your case, and to make it easier the cases are color code\d, green, blue or red, you merely follow the signs for your assigned case. When you get there you enter a room that has a big tableuax of the crime scene in front of you. Here you are invited to take as much time as you need to study the scene and take down any notes you feel are important. It is worth noting you can't return to this room, so like in real like you may only have one chance to see the crime scene and gather what you think might be important. Oh, and no you can't use a camera, as photograpy in the experience is forbidden.

Your lab paper has a section of graph paper with some key features already drawn in but not labeled. You are instructed to examie the scnene, look for any useful evidence and then draw it into the crime scene diagram. As Gil just told you, if it isn't in your report, you didn't see it. Some of the stuff is really subtle, like in the one I did you can learn the name of the hotel by reading the labels on the dumpster, and if you are tall or don't mind climbing on the railings you could look into the dumpster, there is a clue in there, but not vital as the same clue appears in a far more visible location. I don't want to give the answer or any clues away in case you want to try this for yourself. Just be sure to note everything no matter how insignificant it may seem. in my crime scene you come accross a dead waitress in the back of a seedy motel with tire tracks over her waitress outit. Her purse is beside her and the contents of the purse have strewn about the ground, and there are other things of note. I'll talk about some in the various lab stations.

When you think you have it all, you exit the room with the crime scene and enter a room with one of those light up tables like you see in the show, the table has areas for each case, your instructions suggest you stop at the layout table to make sure you caught everything. In my case, I was surprised at the stuff I missed that they showed you, noting that some of the stuff they show you are red herrings just like the real show. They make a big deal about "Are you smart enough to solve the case" but with constant reminders like the layout tables and labs that are for the most part real obvious, I don't think its really that much of a challenge.

After you leave the layout tables you can either go to the stations in lab 1, or go to a computer terminal in lab 1. I can make a case for going in either order. At the computer terminals you tell it which case you have, then you can watch videos from the various CSI characters who talk about their roles in CSI in general, and your case in particular. You can get quite a few hints out of these videos. It also has a section where you can view videos recorded by prior guests to the CSI Experience, these may or may not be useful, and you have the ability to record your own video for others as the computer is equipped with a camera and microphone.

So I'm doing crime 2, so I was directed to stop at the Digital Evidence, Latent Prints, and Impression Evidence stations in lap area 1. Each lab station has a display and perhaps a video that talk about that area of forensic science in general before you move to the hands on area.

In digital evidence, you learn the victim's cell phone was found (you should have noticed it when you did the crime scene), you are now shown to a computer station where the contents of her cell phone memory have been downloaded to the computer and you can examine her contacts, incoming texts, outgoing texts, pictures, etc. Above the computers is a sign with copies of her cell phone records, as well as those of the people she most recently had contact with. This exercise helps you build a time line. In this case I got the backstory that our victim was an asipring actress (explains the headshot photos found torn at the crime scnene), and piecing together the contents of her incoming and outgoing texts you learn she recieved a role in the new play, and she tells her boyfriend and her best friend (another aspiring actress), the best friend wants her to celebrate and invites her to party. The text messages further show her accepting the invite, but then its only incoming messages from that point, all from her boyfriend all asking where she is, and why isn't she responding. The cell phone records concur with this. For your labwork, you are asked to identify who she sent her last text message to, and the date. Sure, you could do that in a matter of seconds, but you wouldn't get the back story then, now would you? You are also asked to translate what a cryptic incoming text means, this partly requires knowlege of text message slang and knowing the name of the motel, which you would only know if you read the front of the dumpster..

Moving on to Latent Prints, recall those headshots I just mentioned in the last lab, well they collected the headshots into evidence and discovered fingerprints on them that are not the victims. The photo is now visible to you under glass, they even furnish a magnifying glass. Try as you might you won't see the fingerprints unless you turn on the ALS (alternate light source) in this case UV light which causes the fingerprints printed in black light ink to appear. Sitting next to the photo you have a mostly clear block you can actually pick up and hold that has the fingerprint you just saw in the photo printed on it. Now you can use that block to line up with the fingerprints of the various suspects, find the match, note it down on your notesheet.

Moving on to the Impression Evidence lab - Remember the tire tracks found on the ground and over the waitress's body, well they got an impression of them. It also so happens a stolen car was recovered near the scene, I think the stolen car is a model Red Herring, anyway the impression they found is printed on the center of the lab station, and you are given blocks with tire samples of three suspect cars. Just like the fingerprints, there is only one clearly obvious choice. This one is a bit harder in that you have to remember you are looking at an impression, that means ridges are really valleys, and vice versa. On your notesheet, note which tire tread smaple matches the impression like a good CSI.

After you finish Lab 1, entirely on your own time, when I as there they didn't try to speed you up or anything, take as little or as much time as you like. Of course, I think how much you get out of it depends on how much you put into it. Official guideline is to allow 60-90 minutes. There are other lab areas, such as the one dealing with firearms that are skipped as they don't pertain to your case, but might deal with one of the other two cases, which also helps the replay value to see the other two crime scenes. .

I went to Lab 2, they have a second layout table which appeared to be just like the one in the center of lab 1, giving you another chance to see the crime scene photos. They also have computer terminals, and I think the expert/colleague (your fellow tourists) videos are different on them.

For my case I was first sent to Toxicology/Drug Chemistry. It seems you found (and if you were like me, totally ignored) the white rock crystals found by the body at the crime scene. You have a sample of the mystery substance and have to do testing to determine what it is, for this you are shown a rack of 'test tubes' pushing the button by each one will casue it to light up in the color the liquid would turn if the reagent were mixed with the mystery substance. A reaction color code chart is posted above the test tube rack, Identify the drug, mark it down on the sheet. The one clear obvious answer rule applies here as well, and if you watched all the Expert videos from the lab 1 computer station, you already know the answer anyway.

The next station was Forensic Entomlogy, ah you can't have a good classic Gil Grissom era CSI case without insect evidence. In this case insects on the body can be used to put a timeline on how long the victim has been dead. They have a microscope incased in plexiglass that you can look into to see the insect sample, then a computer terminal gives you a little entomolgy lesson and models the insects growth cycle. All you need to is match the two identical images and it tells you the time estimate. This does take some skill as it gives you a handful of stages in the insects growth, and it tells you the time to advnace to each stage, you have to add the times together to determine the answer. Mark it down on your paper, the other two choices aren't even reasonable. One choice can't be right as she was still alive, and the other doesn't seem right as she had already gone missing.

For the last lab station Forensic Biology/DNA you have reason to suspect your victims nametag does not reveal her true name. No ID can be found on the body but you were able to get her DNA, you also have the DNA profiles of 6 couples who have filed missing persons reports matching der description. By using a block that has the victims DNA profile cut out of it, and laying it over the DNA profiles of the parents, you can determine the victims true name, write it in on your note sheet. Again, there is one clear choice here, as it is the only one that matches every single DNA marker.

After finishing the labs you report to the medical examiners office for the autopsy, this is done in the three rooms, follow your path style. Here I was most impressed in that they have a model of a body sitting on the autopsy table, and as Dave the coroner is talking to you via video monitor the parts of the body he is mentioning show up on the model in full color projection. Your notesheet has a sketch of a body for you to make notes if you wish. After going over the body, the coroner will give his commentary and render his expert opinion, note that down on your notesheet.

From here you leave the Medical Examiners office and go to a computer lab. Here you sit down to a terminal and "Give your Report " to Gil Grissom. I was really glad to see these computers were not equipped with cameras and microphones, instead Gil leads you through a multiple choice test. The answers to all his questions should already be on your notepaper by now. When the quiz is done, it explains each answer, and then Gil comes on the screen with either a congratulatory message or he tells you where you might have gone wrong. In the end you get to see a short video of what actually did happen.

After that comes the marketing piece, you are asked to enter your email address for Gil to email you your diploma, theat fine, but then it asks for all kinds of demographics. In the end if you comply with their wishes, they tell you that you can pick up a printed diploma in the gift shop. That should be your first clue. On my way out of this room, I was handed a survey form to fill out about how I enjoyed the attraction. In the end you turn in your clipboard, survey and pen as you exit the attraction into the gift shop, the notepaper is yours to keep as a souvenit.

The gift shop itself is full of both CSI: Experience and general CSI souvenirs, of course you can get the CSI stuff in many of the tacky gift shops, but these are the official souveniers. And yes, you can get your diploma free, the hitch is they try to upsell you on a frame or a portfolio for your diploma. This attraction is so new, that the day I was there they were still puttng the gift shop together. I exited back up the escalator and played just long enough at MGM Grand to score a free beer.

My next stop is the Pinball Hall of Fame. The Pinball Hall of Fame is not located on the Vegas Strip, but they are conveniently accesed by bus. So I left the MGM Grand, used the bridge to cross over to the Tropicana, dodged the Tropicana's irrigation system and cars to get to the bus stop located in front of that casino. I'd say not 4 minutes and $1.75 later I was on my way to pinball paradise. Articualted busses, that is those that can bend in the middle are still a novelty to me, and not knowing where I was, and despite the clear audio announcements on the bus, I fired up the GPS/Maps module on the iPhone and mapped out the Pinball place and the bus. Cool use of technology in an urban setting. I was thrown a bit off guard when instead of pull ropes to signal the driver, their busses have pushbuttons located on the center poles. So following the GPS and the instructions I had been given, I got off the bus at Pecos, crossed over over Pecos and Tropicana and found myself looking at not the nicest shopping center. The big sign on the store list out front read simply "PINBALL" I headed to the back of the shopping center nearest a twin movie theater and found the nondescript museum. Big pitucre windows let the row of machines inside smile at you to welcome you in.

Upon entering, there is no admission fee, and you enter at the center of what might be 4 or 5 rows of games. Directly across from the entrance are three conveniently located change machines, and you learn the games do use quarters, not tokens so don't feel sared of buying in for more than you will have time to play. The layout is real simple, there is little room for decortion, what you do have are the 5 rows of pinball machines. The front row is a single row proudly facing the front windows with mostly newer and some of the more unusual machines one one side, and some older machines on the other side. then you have three double sided rows , then a single sided row in the back with an airhockey table and some tables and chairs along the back wall as a sort of party area. Along the two end sides are some smaller novelty arcade machines as well as some classic video games. There may be some games here that would be redemption games in most settings, but here they are novelty games, no tickets are awarded. For the most part the video games are along the side walls or hidden in the back row. A sign in the front recognizes them winning an award for the Best Arcade. The games themselves range from 1950's era electormechanical pins all the way to the newest machines off the factory floor. Not only are the domestic manufacturers represented, but there is a selction of foreign made games as well. In general, the rule is that a game produced before 1990 is 25 cents, '90s games and early 2000's are 50 cents, and the brand new releases are 75 cents. Of course, this is all subject to change based on the rarity or unusual factor of a machine. If a machine is particulalry rare or expensive to maintain, its cost goes up. The important thing to remember, expesially for a guy whe grew up in 3 ball Add-A-Ball territory. (Cincinnati banned pinball machines from awarding specials or replays up until quite recently) is that the machines in the museum are, for the most part, set to give the full 5 ball game, and replays/matches can be had. I'm not sure how many places offer 5 ball pinball since even the museum was making a big deal about offering the FULL FIVE BALL GAME! For the most part, the machines had little cards down by where the information cards that told the vintage and manufacturer of each game, as well as any noteworthy features, some games also have a little card telling if the machine had recently had any major restoration done to it.

So I started with several older electromechanical games, the kind with the car odometer style score readouts, and usually much simpler gameplay without multiball. Note simpler does not mean easier, just easier to know what you have to do. One of the games had the novelty of extra long flippers. I saw a lot of my childhood favorites in the room, but I resisted the urge of playing them, instead focusssing on older or unusual games. One of them Orbitor I maybe had the unusual feature of having a playfield that appears to be cratered instead of flat, and the outhole is truly that a drop hole, so you can play the ball off the bottom of the playfield even below the flippers.

Speaking of unusual machines they have a Pinball Circus, according to the signage this is an ultra rare machine that didn't make it out of the prototype stage, and only two prototypes survived. The concept here was a pinball machine that could fit in the size of a video game cabinet. The machine has 5 levels, the first is the main playfield, its naturally smaller than a traditional machine, but if you can hit the right ramp you go up to level 2, on level 2 you have to flip at just the right time for it to go up to level 3, on level 3, the ball will hopefully fall into an elephants tusk that will raise it to level 4, here you have to sink the drop targets to access the chain lift to level 5, in level 5 it's another row of drop targets to reveal the jackpot target in the clowns mouth. I can see why it was scuttled, as it looks like a mechanical maintenance nightmare. Being a rare game, I paid a full dollar for the right to play it, but you did get the full 5 ball game.

Overall they have 200 machines, with about 150 of them being pinball machines, the story goes the operator has a massive collection of about 1,200 machines that he rotates through the museum, and he is looking to move to a facility that is both larger and closer to the strip. It might be able to hold 500 machines at one time. They also had a cocktail table sized pinballl machine, and an example of the old Bingo pinball. Bingo pinball was once a gambling game, put in money, shoot 5 balls, no flippers its purely what drop holes the balls land in. If you miss all the target holes, the game returns the ball to you, so you will get 5 numbers. At the end the numbers you hit light up on a bingo card, get the specified number of lights in a row and you won credits. In days of old, these credits would be cashed out under the counter, here they have a sign making it very clear you are paying just to see the machine operate, no cash outs. At least it was only a nickle, they also had two other odd nickel games, where isntead of a ball, your nickel was the game piee, they were both one offs of pinball. One was basically a slot machine in that you would flick your coin with a lever towards a group of targets, it would light up the slot mahine symbol your coin landed in, repeat three times. The other was more complex, you got to flick the coin more times, this time the rowsof lanes had differing score values, the harder the shot the higher the score.

In one corner of the place, you can watch them restoring a machine. The snack bar is a couple of vending machines, gift shop is whatever you can get out of the crane machines and the like, unless you find a machine they want to sell. Prices are posted on some of the games I played around $10 worth of pinball, and bought an A&W Cream Soda at the reasonable for Vegas price of 75 cents for a can. The drinks machine did have some unusual drinks in it. For the nickel operated games, you can get a roll of nickels from the candy machine. As it turns out I caught the return bus right in front of the shopping center, and it dropped me off right in front of New York New York. I got the phone call remindng me to met them to go to Freemont Street as I was walking in the front door. So I had a short time to run my stuff up to my room, get freshened up and then return to the taxi stand. Here we shared a taxi van down to Freemont Street.

If I didn't already mention it the taxi vans are designed to seat 6 passengers, but since the local rules limit them to 5 passengers the back seat has a seat divider effectively making it a two seat bench. We were dropped off at the Plaza, but crossed the street to walk down the street. Freemont Street, or "Old Vegas" Here instead of massive casino resorts that take up an entire large city block, here they cram like 8-10 casinos in a four small city block area. These casinos are lightly themed, if they have any theming. The attraction here is the small size, lower prices for food, and the nostalgia factor. The casinos have also banded together to market themselves as a attraction to get tourists down from the strip. Sure, they don't have a volcano, but they have a 4 block long LED matrix board built over the street, and the street has been closed off to vehicles, and filled with bars, stages, souvenir stands and the like creating a "street party" atmopshere. At night they show a light show on the matrix boards every hour as part of the entertainment package.

We started off by going into Mermaids,which is a tiny casino that uses $1 cocktails and cheap eats to get people inside. Those are tiny $1 cocktails and the $1 fried oreos were the worst I've ever had They also haven't invested in the technology, as their slot machines are still coin based instead of using the cashless ticket system used in almost all modern casinos. To put the crowning blow on it all, we got out just before a fight erupted on the gaming floor between two people drunkenly swaggering with 40 ouncers.

We headed down the street stopping in the Horseshoe where apparently the million dollar display has returned, the Fitzgerald, and the Four Queens. We had dinner at the Four Queens, where we were assigned to the same table as last year. This year though we passed on the $7 prime rib to have the $12 ribeye steaks instead. They sell good food, at cheap prices and are apparently pretty popular. We also hit the souvenir stores along the way. Every now and then we would take a break from gaming to go out and watch the hourly light show. We wound up staying till the last light show at midnight, then caught a taxi van at the Plaza to return to New York New York.

After we played awhile at New York New York and it was just Ricky and I left, we walked next door to the Monte Carlo and played some more. We played until we looked at the time and were shocked to learn it was 4AM. We then returned to our hotel and went to bed.

Day 6, Friday October 9, 2009

Friday arrived, and I admit I had pretty much had my fill of Vegas, I was losing and all. We wound up not even leaving our room till 2pm and had lunch at the food court. I must recommend Greenburg's Deli, great deli sandwhiches. Most of the family was willing to just hang out in NYNY for the day, but Ricky and I decided to make one final night walk.

We started by walking up the street to the same McDonalds between Planet Hollywood and MGM Grand that we stopped at the first night, then went to Planet Hollywood to enjoy the Pleasure Pit one last time. Next we went to the Flamingo and spent some time exploring the Flamingo animal habitat and Bugsy Siegel memorial in the hotel courtyard. We admitted its probably a better activity for daytime than nighttime.

Our next stop was Harrah's where we played a little blackjack at the outdoor club out in the carnival area. We stopped soon thereafter when we noted blackjack only paid 6:5 instead of the usual 3:2. We walked further to Casino Royale and tried the promotional machines outside the casino. These are slot machines with skill stops,so it is supposedly a game of skill but in the end the game issues a $50 voucher without a barcode. The hitch is you can only redeem that $50 voucher for a special pink $50 bill that can only be played in specified machines. Yes, its the typical promotional game where you only get a cash prize if you hit the jackpot on the machine, anything else merely awards more promotional credits. It's a popular Vegas come on.

We next went to the Venetian, entered using the moving walkways over the Rialto Bridge entrance, then we walked through the Grand Canal Shoppes while admiring the indoor gondola ride. At the other end of the shopping mall we rode an escalator down into the Palazzo where we played some more games.

We next headed to the Wynn, we admired the outdoor fountains , and walked through the shopping esplanade and admired the Rolex store. We toured the Wynn casino, and observed somebody playing craps for $10,000 stakes. We played some at the Wynn just to say we had been there,and while playing a slot host came up to us and issued us player cards on the spot, and gave us each $10 free play. Great, friendly service.

After the Wynn, we went to Treasure Island (TI) to watch Sirens of TI,the free show in front of the casino. It used to be a pirate battle between two pirate ships, but now its one pirate ship, and the other boat is full of sirens, better known as showgirls. It starts with one pirate going alone in a rowboat being captured by the sirens, then the big pirate ship arrives and they try to rescue the one pirate, a battle ensures with flame effects, and damage to the sirens ship. The pirates aren't so lucky as their ship sustains fatal damage and sinks. The pirates flee to the sirens ship and then its all sexy dance numbers. The show ends with fireworks and the promise that the pirate's treasure awaits you inside.

After the show the large crowd stayed thick all the way through walking past the Mirage and finally thinned out by the time we got to Ceasar's Palace. We skipped that to, and we walked all the way into the Bellagio but decided not to play. We eventually just left the Bellagio and returned to our hotel. Early morning tomorrow.

Day 7 - Saturday, October 10, 2009

The next morning we were out of our rooms by 9:30 and we briefly thought about an offer of a $45 limo ride to the airport,but eventually turned it down for a $12 taxi van ride. You might remember the ride from the airport to the hotel cost twice as much. We arrived at the airport and despite web check in working fine on the way to Vegas, the web check in and the self serve check in kiosks in the airport refused to check me in. I had to wait in a long slow "problem resolution" lane for the one human check in person. She was able to check me in right away, but could not offer any reason for why I could not check my self in. We wound up waiting some more for the wheelchair escort as they were short staffed. That all balanced out as the wheelchair escort meant not having to wait in the security line.

Eventually we got to the airport food court just in time to have enough time to eat and get back to our gate. Our flight home also did not have the personal entertainment systems, and was pretty uneventful. I did try a Chicken Gyro for $8, which was served cold and by far not the best gyro I ever had. When we got to Cincinnati we got a wheelchair, but they said there would be a wait for an escort, so I pushed. We had no trouble claiming bags, then we headed home.

And that ends Vegas Week 09.


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