My family (wife and two daughters - 14 and 16) travelled from Australia for a two week holiday in the US. We spent 5 days in Anaheim and 3 days in Hollywood before our sojourn to Vegas. We stayed at the Flamingo as my daughters were free ( being under 17). This works out much cheaper than a quad rate. Our trip went something like this:
Saturday 26-Sep: Departed LAX for Las Vegas with America West early afternoon. Short trip - no time for coffee. Transferred at McCarran by shuttle (pre-booked from Australia) to the Flamingo Hilton - our home away from home for 5 nights. This is a great hotel and an ideal location - Slap bang in the middle of the strip. Our reservation had been cancelled for some reason but as I was using my AMEX for any additional charges we got a room anyhow (overlooking the strip) and they said they would sort it out with our booking agent (QANTAS Holidays) on the Monday ( which they did and all was OK - Glad they had rooms available though). The view was magnificent although we couldn't really see up or down the strip to any great degree. Our view was from the Bellagio looking south to the Mirage looking north and west to the Rio and beyond) - good enough for me. I just couldn't close the drapes with that view:-) After settling in, we checked out the Mirage (very nice) , Forum shops and Treasure Island. The Forum shops should not be missed, and neither should the shows they have where the some of the statues of Greek gods in two areas come to life. We decided to have a dinner buffet at Treasure Island. Although it didn't get good reviews here, that's where we were when hunger kicked in. The line at about 9.00pm was only 15 minutes. Drink service seemed ok with a good range of food, all nice but nothing *great*. The fresh shrimp (prawns to us) was probably the best item in the buffet. After dinner we watched the Mirage's volcano erupting and the Treasure Island's pirate ships. From there we dawdled back to the Flamingo. Kids went to bed. Wife and I had a tiny flutter on the machines - no luck there :-(
Sunday 27-Sep: The line was too long for breakfast at the Flamingo so went to Ballys. This was a great breakfast. Loved the crab claws. Thought it a bit funny to have crab claws for breakfast but hey - who am I to complain. Turns out it was a brunch. Staff were friendly. The Hotel didn't seem as up market as the Flamingo but a good buffet:-) . We caught the bus (CAT) to BELZ factory outlets. The only way to travel the strip seems to be the CAT. They run about every 10 minutes but a funny thing is that what seems to happen a lot is you wait 20 minutes and along comes 2 buses seconds apart - strange. To get to BELZ you need to catch the CAT to Vacation Village, and change buses to get further south. BELZ is a large mall with supposedly factory outlets only. There were some good specials to be had but my legs are starting to tire. That night we saw King Arthur's Tournament at Excalibur's. This is a good show and well worth the money ($39.95 I think which included a pre-set dinner that you eat sans utensils). Back to the Flamingo via the Coke museum and Ethel's chocolates M & M store.
Monday 28-Sep: Not feeling hungry for a buffet , we went next door to the Barbary Coast for breakfast. Now this is sneaky. There's no line for breakfast, but the waitress says 10 minutes wait??? Well..you get a vibrating pager that only works in the Casino. You can't go outside cause you might be out of range. So all you can do is walk round the Casino until your pager goes off. After breakfast we headed to the south end of the strip to check out Luxor, MGM Grand and New-York New-York. After walking a thousand miles from the front of the MGM Grand to the MGM Theme Park entrance at the back we were greeted with a sign - "Theme park closed - opening Spring" or something to that effect. Long wait. LOL . Kids rode the Manhattan-Express roller-coaster at New-York New-York.. If you ask why I didn't join them, then you haven't seen it!. Wife and younger daughter returned to Flamingo to rest (so they say). Myself and older Daughter go searching for 2nd hand CD stores. This was very successful, especially out near the University. E-mail me if you want more info. That evening we took the CAT downtown to witness the Freemont Street Experience which is well worth the trip (*very impressive*) and have a buffet at Main Street Station. I know there have been good reports here about this buffet, maybe we were late (about 9.00 p.m.) but I would put it on par with Treasure Island but with a greater range. The funny thing about Freemont street is it's like an oasis in the desert. I wouldn't like to venture outside the casino area. After the Freemont show we took the CAT back to the Flamingo. Now I should point out that where you catch the CAT from Freemont street is the CAT terminus. Even though it was the beginning of the route *I still had to stand up*. I can't imagine what it must be like during your summer holidays or even weekends:-( Kids to bed now. Wife and I have small flutter on machines. I should point out that when the Kids go to bed it's actually to watch TV as we have 3 commercial stations back home and no cable. We can get cable but it's a sorry state except for the old shows ( Miami Vice, Magnum PI etc) and MTV. My girls like Friends ( alright - I do too) and being able to watch new episodes *and* re-runs on the same night was great:-)
Tuesday 29-Sep: Breakfast at the Flamingo buffet. Just looking out on the waterfalls and the fish in the streams seem to set you in the right frame of mind for the rest of the day. I loved it:-). Another thing I liked about the Flamingo breakfast is the "egg man". A Cook who prepares your eggs *exactly* the way you want them. I guess other hotels have this but it's a nice touch. Out to the Hard-Rock hotel and Hard-Rock Cafe for souvenirs and a look at all the memorabilia , then on to the Fashion-Show mall for some more shopping and a coffee at DIVE , an underwater themed coffee-shop conceived by (maybe owned) by Stephen Spielberg. The night saw us at the Imperial Hotel to see Legends in Concert. I had originally wanted to see Danny Gans but even though it's fall (autumn to us) and a Tuesday night I still couldn't get tickets. Be warned - you've got to book a fortnight in advance to see this guy. Anyways on to Legends. This was a great show, consisting of entertainers who impersonate famous vocalists. Our show had Gloria Estefan, Rod Stewart, Dianna Ross, Michael Jackson, The Four Tops, Richie Valens and Elvis. I believe they vary the impersonations so you could probably go to the early and the late show. Then on to Planet Hollywood in the Forum Shops for a light dinner , a bit more shopping and that's about it for Tuesday.
Wednesday 30-Sep: After breakfast at the Flamingo, we caught the CAT to the Stratosphere. The kids went on both the rides while I took in the *magnificent* view. Their comment was the roller-coaster was only scary by virtue of the fact that it was 1000 feet in the air. This was enough to keep me away. Using free vouchers from the ShowTime magazine ( I think that was what it was called but it doesn't matter cause they were available at the Stratosphere Concierge desk) , we saw the Viva Las Vegas show. The only condition is you must buy at least 1 drink and all drinks are $4.35. (wow you say) . Actually I don't think you could buy tickets to the show even if you wanted to. I think it's vouchers or nothing. The show went for about an hour at either 2.00 p.m. and 4.00pm. We saw the 2.00pm show. For $4.35 the show is good value. Bit of dancing and 3 comedy acts, one which I found particularly funny . Not up to Legends but worth the $4.35 ( at least the show was not the drink - I had bourbon and coke. I think they put my straight coke near a bottle of bourbon and the bourbon passed thru the glass via osmosis ). After some souvenir shopping just down from the Strat we bused it back to the Mirage to see the Tigers. Don't know why but the Tiger's secret garden was not open for viewing but the dolphins were. Being from Queensland in Australia, we don't pay to see dolphins - see em anytime for free :-) . On to the Flamingo dinner buffet. Although there was a lack of seafood in this buffet it was very enjoyable - especially due to the setting ( and wine included - I'm a sucker for carafe of wine that appears free - even if it's not)
Thursday 1-Oct: Depart our hotel at 5.00am (!!!!) for an America West flight to LAX with a further connection to AUS. Good to get home to rest those weary legs. Bomb scare at LAX was an event for the first 5 minutes, than a pain in the butt for the next hour while they tried to do whatever they do when there's a bomb scare.