The Stratosphere consists of 3 components, a huge tower, a 5 star hotel and a casino. The tower dominates the strip and can be seen from anywhere in Las Vegas. At 1,149 ft it is the tallest structure in Las Vegas and is the 5th tallest structure in the whole of the United States.
At the top of the tower is a revolving restaurant appropriately named ‘Top of the World’, as well as four thrill rides. The ‘Big Shot’ is the highest thrill ride in the world at 1081 ft high.
In 2010, Sky jump Las Vegas was opened at The Stratosphere. It holds the Guinness World Record for the highest commercial decelerator decent. Riders are attached to a high speed ‘descender’ machine before being guided to the edge of The Stratosphere for an 800ft free fall experience.
New York, New York
The New York New York Hotel consists of several towers recreating the New York skyline. In front of the hotel there is a 150ft tall replica of the Statue of Liberty and a lake that represents New York Harbour. Inside the hotel the New York theme continues. The casino is named after Central Park and the shops are inspired by Greenwich Village.
Numerous tributes such as t-shirts from police and fireman from across America were sent to the New York New York Hotel after the September 11, 2001 attacks. These are displayed in front of the Statue of Liberty replica. There is also a permanent memorial within the hotel grounds.
As the inspiration for the design of the hotel was New York in the 1940s, the World Trade Centre towers are not included in the skyline.
When it opened in 1990, The Excalibur was the largest hotel in the world with over 4,000 rooms.
The hotel was named after the mythical sword belonging to King Arthur. The Arthurian theme is implemented in the hotel design in many ways. The front elevation of the hotel represents a mystical fairytale castle and until 2007 a wizard like structure, representing Merlin was also included in the façade.
Continuing the theme, The Excalibur hosts dinner entertainment called Tournament of Kings. This is a medieval jousting show held in King Arthurs Arena and is held daily.
The 'Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas' Sign
The ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas’ sign was designed in 1959 by Betty Willis, while she was working for the Western Neon Company. It is now an iconic symbol for Las Vegas and is one of the most recognised signs in the world.
It was designed to reflect the thrills and excitement of the burgeoning Las Vegas Strip. The sign was never copyrighted, hence its prevalence on Las Vegas souvenirs and promotions.
In 2009 the sign was entered into the National Register of Historic Places.
On April 28, 2010, the text of the sign was altered for the day. Mayor Oscar Goodman unveiled the new marketing campaign to promote Las Vegas as a summer camp for adults. The sign was decorated with a cover that read "Welcome to Fabulous Camp Vegas."
Positioned in the centre of the freeway, the sign is notoriously difficult to photograph. However, the open top bus provides an excellent view point from which to see this national landmark.
Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino
The tropically themed Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, complete with its own beach and tropical plants, is a 44 story luxury hotel on the strip.
One of the main attractions of the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino is the shark reef aquarium, which contains the third largest tank in North America and houses piranhas and a 300 pound sea turtle, alongside exotic fish and sharks.
It is connected to its sister hotels Excalibur and Luxor by the Mandalay Bay Tram and a large shopping mall called Mandalay Place. A drink in the appropriately named Minus 5 bar in Mandalay Place is a unique and exciting experience. Warm coats and gloves are provided and the drinks glasses are made purely of ice!
On 23rd August 2010, The “Miss Universe 2010’ pageant was held here.
The Paris Hotel
As the name suggests, the inspired theme to this hotel is the city of Paris. One distinguishing feature of the hotel is the half scale, 541 foot tall replica of the Eiffel Tower. The tower was initially going to be built to scale, however the hotel was too close to the airport so this was not possible due to health and safety reasons.
Other features that support the theme are a half size replica of the Arc de Triumph and a recreation of La Fontaine des Mers.
The Luxor Hotel
The Luxor is situated at the south end of the strip and is one of the most recognisable buildings in Las Vegas due to its Egyptian theme. It is one of the largest hotels in the United States and is 30 stories high and has a staggering total of 4,400 rooms.
The main portion of the hotel is a 365-foot high pyramid. On top of this pyramid is a spotlight that points vertically into the sky. The light beam is visible from 250 miles away and even from outer space. It is said to be the brightest beam of light in the world.
At the front of the hotel is a 140ft obelisk and a 110ft tall recreation of the great sphinx of Giza.
The Bellagio is one of the most famous hotels in the world. Probably its most recognisable feature is the lake between the hotel and the strip, home to the Bellagio Dancing Fountains.
These magnificent water jets are choreographed with a music and light display. They are a very popular tourist attraction and perform every half an hour throughout the day. It is possible to see the fountains from various places on the strip and crowds frequently gather to watch them perform to the sounds of Opera, classical and Broadway music.
Botanical gardens are also a large feature within the Bellagio. Displays are changed throughout the year, to mirror the seasons.
The Venetian Hotel & Casino features a fabulous life size imitation tower of the St Marks Campanile in Venice, Italy. The Italian theme runs throughout the design, architecture and styling of the hotel.
To deliver the true Venice experience, The Venetian is interlaced with tranquil waterways and gondola rides are available to transport visitors serenely around the hotel grounds.
Unsurprisingly, given the theme, The Venetian also offers a wide range of excellent Italian restaurants and luxury European shopping.
Caesars Palace was created by Jay Sarno, a motel owner who had magnificent plans to establish a state of the art casino on the developing Las Vegas Strip. He chose the name Caesars Palace because he believed that the Roman Emperor’s name would induce feelings of prestige and power. He hoped that this would attract a more seductive group of women to the hotel, which would in turn encourage more men into his new casino.
In 1969 a federal investigation was launched into alleged links with organised crime games in New York and England. This resulted in Sarno and his business associates being pressured into selling Caesars Palace.
Caesars Palace has hosted a number of concerts featuring popular singers such as Celine Dion and Elton John and has been involved in various stunt acts. In 2006, a motocross cyclist completed ‘The Impossible Jump’ by doing a back flip on a motorcycle over the fountains in front of Caesars Palace.
The MGM Grand
The MGM Grand was the largest hotel in the world when it opened in 1993. It remains one of the largest hotel resorts in the world with over 5,000 rooms.
One incredible attraction of this hotel is the Lion Habitat inside the casino area, in which visitors can enjoy a mini African Safari, complimentary of the MGM Grand. The lions inside the enclosure are all related to Leo, the original and recognized MGM Studio lion, whose iconic statue you can see from the strip. The statue is 45 ft tall, weighs 50 tons and is the largest bronze statue in the US.