Sometimes Spontaneous is Good

Last night both kids ended up staying at friends’ houses so at 1030pm the hubs and I looked at each other and said, “let’s go to the casino!” We drove an hour to OK and hit up WinStar.  I wasn’t having the best of luck but as usual my husband could make a $20 last  hours.  On the way out around 245am, I saw my favorite machine and lost my last $20.  I told my husband to take a shot at it and this is what happened:

I’ve been trying so hard to finally see a full screen of unicorns in person instead of watching others hit it on YouTube. It took 60 spins to get this so you can either lose your ass at these machines or make out pretty good.  It was nice to walk out with a $70 profit and a “free” tank of gas and also got us off the couch for once!

 

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Viva Las Vegas Part I

Sorry this is so delayed, it has been a very busy time in the office since I got back from my short two-nighter in Vegas. So my mother and I left DFW early Sunday morning on an uneventful flight. We left from terminal D at the DFW Airport and even thought I worked at the hotel there for 2 years, I never noticed this weird music making contraption inside the terminal.  It was so strange I had to take a picture of it.  You apparently walk around in it and it makes sounds…

Weird

The only comment I have about the flight is that AA flight attendants sure are unhappy with their jobs and it is VERY obvious. We had an older lady who just seemed completely “over it”. To her, I say….go get a new job. We flew first class but were treated like the lowest of the low. I can only imagine how the people in coach were treated.  My mom has since written a letter — we’ll see how much of an impact that makes…if any!

We decided to take a Bell Trans shuttle over to the Aria because we were early and really weren’t in a big hurry. It did take us about 35 minutes total by the time the driver stuffed the filled up the van and we were the 2nd stop. Quick but of info – if you take a taxi you would be dropped off around the Aria’s front drive not too far outside of the check in area. If you take a shuttle, as we did, .they can only drop off in the underground garage area from which you would take the escalators up to the opposite side of the casino from where the front desk is. It is a long walk through the casino to check in. We didn’t mind it, as my mom had never seen the Aria before but if you have a ton of luggage you might take the bellman up on his offer to help with your bags…as you will be walking quite a ways.

View of the Luxor from the route our driver took

Mandalay Bay

Another Luxor View

It was around 10am by the time we got to the hotel and they hadn’t formed a line for check “IN” yet. There was a long line of people checking out and about 5 clerks at the desk. One thing about Aria check in…they are extremely friendly but very slow. I’m not sure what they have to do in their system to check in a guest but from 12+ years of hotel front desk management experience, I can tell you that I could check in my guests in less than 3 minutes each. We had a really nice clerk but he was sure taking his sweet time!

Outside of City Center

City Center / Aria / Cosmopolitan

Aria check in area, fall decorations

Aria casino

The room wasn’t going to be ready until much later so we quickly brought our bags to the bellstand for storage. I only stopped at one machine on the way out the door…the new Ghostbusters transmissive reel machine. $20 gone just like that…nothing,, zilch, nada. Sadly, this would be the recurring theme throughout the trip. We headed out to lunch and like an idiot…I didn’t change my shoes before walking down to the Mirage for our tradition of eating at Carnegie Deli. My dogs were barkin LOUD by the time we got there and I planned on grabbing a pair of flip flops from somewhere before heading back down the strip.

Views while walking

Bellagio

Inside the Cosmopolitan

More of the Cosmopolitan as we were coming down the escalator

Vegas is getting to look more like New York!

Time for lunch!!

Always a tradition to eat here on day 1

Lunch at Carnegie was good as usual…we laughed because we got the same waiter we had a few years back…an older Asian gentleman who just seems constantly confused and forgetful. He’s extremely nice and it’s always a hoot watching him run around like a chicken with his head cut off so we really didn’t make a big deal about having to remind him about our request for pickles 5 times…. We shared a potato knish and a grilled cheese/tomato …just a little over $20 out the door for the both of us. You can barely eat at Mc Donalds for that price nowadays (I don’t eat at Mc Donalds tho…) I swear that the knish size has shrunk however…it did seem much smaller than in the past. Either that or I was just extremely hungry.

Grilled cheese and knish (that is mustard I promise!)

Out of the corner of my eye I saw the purple gleam of light from the new Monsters penny slot machine and headed over there after eating. Not too long and the machine had eaten my $20 for its lunch too. I hit something and saw at the top of the screen it said “45 Wilds added”…sounded good. You can see by the video that I won a whopping $1.80.

What a let down! Of course I had to play my arch-enemy Davinci Diamonds … walked away with about $10 only. We played a few more slots and I walked out of the Mirage about $40 lighter, while my mom played a Wheel of Fortune slot and walked out after doubling her money.

My mom’s win on WOF

$24.21 profit

Next was TI because I knew they had that store where everything is $10 or less and I was in desperate need of some different shoes. We took the tram over from Mirage to TI and I made a b-line for that store. Grabbed a pair of blinged out sandals and my feet cried with relief. After a quick Starbucks run and a bathroom break, we decided to take the tram back over to Mirage and then cross over to do the Casino Royale promo slot and grab a couple of margaritas. My promo $ ran out rather quickly and my mom was able to sit a while longer before hers finally ran out.

We didn’t play any there but went into the Flamingo to get our TR cards (I forgot mine and I don’t think mom even had one). We tried a few slots there. Here is a small bonus win on one of my most favorite slots, Ghostbusters:

And another small win on the Hangover slot machine (another favorite — btw, I had just reduced my bet because I was running out of money and hit the bonus…always happens that way!)

I sat down at the new “Clue” machine and got some random bonus after just a few spins that made me $40….that was the one and only time that “Clue” game paid me anything. I wish I would’ve filmed it but I forgot.  I also played “Aladdin” and made it to the bonus where the chair moves – which was pretty cool if you ask me. I think I made like $15 off of that bonus…I was only playing like $.40 a pull. Mom fell in love with one of those Penguin machines…because her Penguins were pretty active. They were jumping around, leaping and swimming, turning things wild and re spinning…which resulted in about a $50 profit for her. I tried the machine next to her and I think my Penguins were hibernating. I got nuttin.

From Flamingo was a walk past Harrah’s carnival court to get to Paris. They’ve got the sidewalk all torn up over there and it is a tight squeeze to get around. We saw some interesting “characters” hanging around. I don’t know about you but there is something incredibly wrong with a 6 foot Dora just hanging around on the strip! Creepy. Inside Paris we took a stab at that new community Wheel of Fortune video slot and a couple of others. No profits but we had fun.

Creepy Spongebob and Dora

Be afraid kids, be very afraid!

By this time it was nearing 4pm and we needed to see if our room was finally ready…as they never texted us to let us know. I picked up our show tickets from that night at the old Viva Elvis box office…now the “Zarkana” box office.  When I mentioned to the guy that I would be back in February and am excited to see “Zarkana”, he commented that they probably will still be working the kinks out of the show at that time, so it might be a good idea to see it twice.  Once in Feb and once later in 2013.  The box office area was really gorgeous and the show seems like it’s going to be excellent.  He mentioned that “Zarkana” will be a resident show to the strip, similar to the other Cirque shows like “Mystere” and “O”.

Zarkana theater area

The room was available and we were able to change and get ready for our show at NYNY. The room was decent – they had given us 2 beds even though I had made the reservation for a room with one king to avoid the extra $30 they originally wanted to charge me for 2 beds on the night that was not comped. It ended up that they gave us the 2 bed room for free because there was never that $30 additional charged to our room. The room seemed much smaller than the one my husband and I stayed in back in Feb. In my opinion, the huge entry way wastes a lot of space. However, the shower/tub combo thing is awesome.

Tryin out the technology

We took the back way through Monte Carlo to get to NYNY and grabbed a soda on the way. We had tickets for the new show “Broadway Celebration”. Mom and I are both musical theater nerds so this was right up our alley. I had heard and read some not too good reviews of this show but we both thought it was really good. Obviously the chorus/dancers were lip syncing to all of the background vocals while they were dancing. However the 4 main performers, 2 guys and 2 girls, were great and they had microphones. They had amazing voices and outstanding charisma. The guy who sang “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables gave us chills and brought tears to my mother’s eyes. That is personally my favorite musical ever so I was very glad that they didn’t change any of the arrangements and to me this was the best part of the show. They did a great job with it. The show is in a very small and intimate theater and all the seating is at one level. We got second row center and the view couldn’t have been better. The man next to me was begging his wife (before the show started) not to post anything about him going to this show with her on Facebook. He said the guys at the office would kill him if they knew. It was hilarious to me later that he was dancing in his seat, singing along and was cheering loudly at the end of each segment. I think he secretly wanted to be up on that stage with them!

I snapped this shot of the stage prior to the show

After the show was over we were starving. Nothing at NYNY sounded good and we were planning to try out the Lion’s Share machine anyway so we went over to MGM. I’m really getting to dislike MGM…it seems dirty and smelly to me…crowded and just …well, a zoo. There’s constant construction (I can’t remember a time within the last 6 years where there hasn’t been any construction on something) and it’s a pain to walk around without getting trampled by some drunk hoochie in 9 inch heels. Unless MLife comps me my entire stay and offers me a ton of free play to go with it…I won’t be staying here in the future until everything is renovated and complete.

We don’t really do any fancy dinners when I go with my mom so we ate at the Studio Café which didn’t have any line. I ordered the potato skins (4 tiny skins) and my mom had some chicken noodle soup. Add a side of fries and the bill came to $40. What a ripoff.

Thanks so whomever on T2V described exactly the location of the Lion’s Share machine at MGM..because we found it immediately. It’s like they’ve hidden it – it faces the wall of the high limit room! I expected to see droves of people around it but there it was…all by it’s lonesome. My mom and I sank $100 into the machine without even so much as a small hit. It was gone in less than 10 minutes. We were so not expecting that and just sat there staring at the machine once it was gone…..in shock. Hopefully it is still there when I go back in Feb with my husband. I want to kick it.

The infamous Lion’s Share

After MGM we just headed back to the Aria. The crowds and the smell was getting to us and we needed some fresh air. My mom wasn’t feeling too good either. It was either the chicken soup or the fact that we just blew a shot at $2.8 mil In 7 minutes. I could’ve put more money in but I figure that if it were meant to be, then it would’ve hit…apparently someone else needs that money more than we do.

Night view

Once back at the Aria, the gaming began. We played a ton of machines until around 1230am…and thanks to a quick bonus hit and run on the community Batman machine I ended up $50 up for the day. That was the only large bonus of the trip but it came at a good time. It was around $100. One thing I absolutely love about the Aria is the size of their drink glasses. At the Mirage, they are tiny….the Aria’s are huge. The waitresses are quick to return also and pretty friendly.  I think I finished the night with about 5 Vodka/Crans!

Small line hit on Double Davinci Diamonds

My Batman profit

Feeling every one of my 35 years, it was time for bed and hope that the next day would be just as much fun as the first.  Stay tuned for part II…this one took me forever so with any luck, I should have it up by tomorrow night.

Travel Tip Tuesday: Vegas Dos and Don’ts

Last week I had a really good idea for Travel Tip Tuesday but I should’ve written it down when it came to me because I cannot for the life of me remember what it was about.  So I decided to go with what I know.

Aaaah Vegas!

My husband and I have been to Las Vegas approximately 15 times in the last 12 or so years.  Our first trip was in 2001 for our 2nd wedding anniversary.  Having only been there once in 1994 with my mom when I was 16, I knew nothing about what to do, where to stay, how to book etc… I booked a package through Vegas.com with airfare on Sun Country airlines and a room at the legendary Stardust Hotel and Casino.

I think this is from 2002…boy does time fly!

Before booking the trip, I had to talk my husband into going.  He told me “Vegas is just for gambling and drinking — neither of which I do.”  I begged him to just give it a chance.  Upon walking out of the plane, it was love at first sight.  We had an excellent trip, learned how to play blackjack, ate some good food, did all the touristy things and vowed that we would be back.  And, we did go back….14 more times!

Another visit

And….another

Over the years we’ve learned a lot of things about Sin City.  What to do, what not to do etc… If you are going for the first time, it helps to know some of these things in advance so that you can be sure to get the most of your money while in town.

DO:

  • Check the Las Vegas convention schedule prior to your trip.   Huge groups flocking to the area will cause airfare and hotel prices to be higher than normal.
  • Try to go during the week, Sun-Th.  Hotel/Casinos offer their best rates on these days.  Weekend rates can be nearly triple and if it is over a holiday weekend…even higher.  Off peak times are good (don’t go during spring break, Labor Day weekend, Memorial Day weekend etc…).
  • Sign up for players cards at every hotel/casino even if you don’t play much there.  You will get future offers for discounts, show tickets, food etc..
  • Learn how to play.  If you are new to the world of casino gaming, look into lessons.  many of the casinos will offer free lessons during off-peak hours and allow you to practice with “play money” before taking a chance on the real thing!
  • Try the $20 trick at check in.  Many of the hotel front desk agents would be happy to upgrade you for a little extra cash in their pockets if it’s possible.  Stick a $20 bill between your ID and your credit card to where it is noticeable to the clerk.  Be nice and say “I’d really appreciate any upgrade you might be able to do for me…” If they can, they will.  If they can’t, they will look disappointed and turn you down.  No harm done.

    $20 trick at the Bellagio got us this view

  • Be aware of your surroundings.  Las Vegas is a busy, busy place at all hours of the day.  Keep your purse close to your body (I wear mine across) and gentlemen, don’t keep money in your back pockets.  Thieves are everywhere and you might not even notice until you are already a victim.

DON’T

  • Let your cabbie take the tunnel to the strip.  This is called “long hauling” and it is not allowed.  Tell your can driver to take you to your hotel “no tunnel”.  If they argue with you or do it anyway, then tell them you will be contacting the Las Vegas Taxi Cab Authority to report them.  They will shape up right away.
  • Think you can smoke everywhere.  A lot of places now are non-smoking even in Vegas.  Obey the signs and only smoke in designated areas.
  • Try to hail a cab in Vegas.  It is illegal, you are not in New York City. Cabs cannot stop in the streets to pick you up.  Find the nearest hotel and wait in the taxi line for one to pull up.
  • Think she is THAT into you…for the guys.  Women of the night are prevalent in Las Vegas.  They are like vultures waiting for their next meal.  If she seems too good to be true, she probably is.  And hold onto your wallet!
  • #1 don’t in Las Vegas: Don’t go to Vegas expecting to go home a winner!  Those ginormous, glittering monstrosities weren’t built on winners.  You are there to have fun.  If you win, then even better but if you expect to win you will be disappointed and ruin your experience.  We’ve been close to 16 times and are still waiting to win THE BIG ONE.

    They are fun but dangerous!

    I read a blog recently where someone absolutely loathed and hated their time in Sin City.  To each his own I guess.  My husband and I really enjoy going there.  We enjoy the lights, the sounds, the crowds…even the smells of Las Vegas. There is just something about it that keeps us coming back.  Yes, we even took our kids….once.

Say what you like about me taking them, but they had a blast! (2009)

If you have any specific questions about LV, don’t hesitate to contact me.  I’d be happy to help where I can!