Spring Break in Vegas, Family Style 2015

Another adventure that has happened in the past year was a Spring Break vacation with the kids to Las Vegas.  The last time they were there was back in 2009 so this time around it was a bit different but still a lot of fun.  My parents were supposed to go with us but my mother took on a new job right before and had to travel to MD for training that week.  Bad timing.  But I still urged my dad to come with us.

We had 4 nights comped at MGM and one night at Excalibur…also had 4 nights + one paid night at Flamingo – which is where my dad stayed. This was great for a mid-strip resting point most days.

This is the longest we have ever been in Vegas at one time. Did a lot of walking and mainly played slots at night after the kids were tuckered out. My husband had a few good wins on the 2nd and 3rd nights which let us go home with one day’s full budget still in the bank. That has never happened before!

Unfortunately I was the only one recording slot bonuses and I wasn’t winning anything big. We missed out on recording some nice big wins by my husband which would’ve been good to add to our slot channel. Isn’t that the way it always happens?!

The trip was too long for me to post the daily details so I will just post the highs and lows.

Highs:
– Limo transport both ways via Presidential Limo. I booked this as a surprise for everyone. We got in from Dallas really late so it was nice to just get in a vehicle and go without making a gazillion stops and without having to worry about the tunnel. The cost included gratuity but I tipped extra there and back. The way in we had a stretch limo with champagne for us adults and on the way back it was one of the SUV stretch cars. Complete with mood lighting and an awesome sound system – everything was perfect. Hubby and I have decided we will spring for this every trip now that we are spoiled!

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– Freeplay at MGM through MLife and MyVegas turned into a profit. Not much but $75 freeplay at MGM turned into $95 cash and $20 freeplay at Excalibur turned into $35 cash. It was nice not to lose it for once.

– MGM breakfast buffet was great. We ate here twice and normally I don’t like breakfast buffets but going around 10am gets you breakfast and lunch so there was a wide variety of food.

– Sprinkles cupcakes in the Linq area. My daughter is Vegan so we got two Vegan red velvet cupcakes there. They were so good and I think we inhaled them in under 4 minutes!

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– Diablo’s Cantina @ Monte Carlo. We had the $50 food credit from MyVegas to use there and our bill came to about $100. The waitress came back and said that their cashier wasn’t there and the bartender said he didn’t know how to apply it so the entire lunch was FREE! We were floored and I gave her a big tip that she was very appreciative of.

– Ka @ MGM. Of course it is always a good show. Hubby and I saw it about 6 years ago. The pre-show entertainers (the ushers) were really fun. Dad dozed off in the beginning but midway through it grabbed his attention and he stayed awake. One of the ushers playing with “George”, my daughters stuffed whatever it is

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– Dad’s room at Famingo. It was a CET comp and I think it may have been a Go room. Hardwood floors and a nice view of the pool area. I was actually impressed.

– Slots at NYNY and MGM – for my husband at least. He had a nice $310 win on a new Azure progressive slot at MGM we had never played before (picture below) and the whole bank of them were playing out nicely for a few hours hitting progressive amounts every now and then. I was able to catch the very end of it on video. He also had a nice $260 bonus win at NYNY on some WMS slot we don’t know the name of and another $150 line hit on 50 cent Wicked Winnings there. His best hit of the trip was at MGM on a Monopoly game. Not sure the name but the bonus win was $38 and then he hit a 10x multiplier for a $380 total win. He also had a $188 bonus on Goldfish 3. My one good win came from the Reel Em In slot at MGM for a catch of about $160. I did manage to get that one on video. One night we went back to the room with that entire day’s budget, including what we had spent during the day on non-gaming activities and food.

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– Monorail transportation. All I can say is thank God for it. With Dad mid strip and us on the South end, it made meeting up each day and going back much easier!

– The weather. After being in the Dallas area with nothing but rain and recent ice – it was so nice to walk around in 80 degree weather for a few days.

– Lucky Cat @ Cosmo. Even though my fortune said “By the time you turn around the person in front of you will have disappeared” it was pretty cute and they let the kids come in and take a pic.

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– Hash House a Go Go. Man the pancakes are huge! Nobody could finish theirs. The biscuit that came with my veggie hash was the best I’ve ever had.

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– The Secret Garden at Mirage! After watching the dolphins play, we walked through to the tiger area and who was there? Seigfried!! Probably the highlight of my trip, it was an honor to meet such a Vegas legend. Totally unexpected and worth the price to get in. I’m so glad my daughter talked me into it! They say he just shows up sometimes to meet people and hang out. We caught him before he left for the day.

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– Pink’s hot dogs. The boys really enjoyed theirs and I was able to get a veggie dog. It was the cheapest meal we had the whole week.

$8.99 Prime Rib dinner at Tony Roma’s downtown. The boys loved this meal.

– The Bellagio Conservatory. It’s so much prettier at night!

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– Adventure dome @ Circus Circus. It’s pricey to get in but my husband and the kids said the rides were great and they liked that there wasn’t a wait for any of them unlike most amusement parks. I bowed out of that one and lost some $$ in the casino while waiting with my dad.

20150312_141909– The dude impersonating Dr Evil in front of Planet Hollywood. Spot on!

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-Gold and Silver Pawn Shop…aka. Pawn Stars.  We took the bus towards downtown and walked to visit the shop.  It’s a tiny little place but fun to see, especially since my dad and my husband are fans of the show.

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Lows:
– Our room debacle at MGM. I opted for the $34 upgrade from the offer I got via email before our trip to the tower spa suite so we would have more room. Upon arrival very late that night, she said they were all out of them but we could do a 1 bedroom instead. The catch – it was their last one on the 1st floor – but she said she put an 8th floor room on hold for us that we could move to the next day. I hate those first floor rooms. Right off of the casino floor, you feel like you are in a dungeon. The couch and couch pillows had what appeared to be crusty food – or vomit on them. It was a large room and would’ve been great on a different floor and minus the unidentifiable substance on the couch. The next day I went to check on the 8th floor room and the lady said come back around 2 and it should be ready. 3pm I go to the desk and the agent is talking forever – talking to a manager back and forth a hundred times. She tells me that the room that was on hold had a maintenance issue and we were being upgraded to a different room on the 20th floor. I didn’t mind that because I heard the word upgrade. Getting to the room, it wasn’t an upgrade – it was the tower spa suite I originally reserved. That room is actually smaller than the one on the first floor. But on a good note – there was no vomit on the couch. On the 2nd night around 915pm, the shower backed up and flooded the bathroom. We waited an hour and a half for maintenance to come up and plunge it and for housekeeping to replenish our towels and take away the soaked ones. They did give us 4 free buffets but in hindsight I think I may still write them a note. They charged me $40 per night for the upgrade instead of $34 because we were supposed to keep the 1 bedroom – which we weren’t able to.

– The crowds. The college basketball tournament was going on at MGM and by Wednesday there were fans and players everywhere. When the games let out you could barely walk without stepping on someone.

– Chasing progressives. I need to make a mental note here. Chasing progressives only make you frustrated and depressed. There was one hanging on at over $460 on a must pay by $500 WMS Queen of Africa at Flamingo. I played it for a long time and hit about 7 bonuses. That damn thing never dropped. I gave up. The next day of course I just had to go check it. Yup…someone won it and it was back at $250. Dammit.

– Flamingo slots in general. We lost our butts there and couldn’t hit a damn thing. They don’t seem to have many new slots, just a bunch of old ones.

– The smoke. I’m an ex-smoker. I vape now. Maybe I’m just more sensitive now but the smoke at the casinos – especially NYNY – was so heavy I could literally taste it. Made me wonder why the hell I ever smoked those things. Our clothes went straight into the washer when we got home.

– The line at Carlo’s Bakery! Insane!

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– The Walking Dead slot machine. OMG. $200 gone in no time on max bet without one bonus and only one good hit for $90. Unbelievable. Never again!

– The Excalibur room – oh…the Excalibur room. What can I say? Motel 6 downgraded a few categories with 1970’s décor, little plastic cups in the restroom and hallways that smell like an old gym sock. Yuck. I’ll never stay there again. I added the night as an afterthought when we bought our airline tickets and had to extend a night to get the cheap fare. One good thing, they did not charge the resort fee so it was completely free. I will never stay there again and I made it clear on my survey that they are in dire need of a renovation!

– Downtown. Not really a low for me and my husband but my dad hated it this time around. I think the 70 year old man wearing a diaper up his ass and the naked large ladies with nothing on but duct taped nipples did him in this time. I found it hilarious and didn’t mind our teens seeing it, it made for some funny conversation. I mean, it is Vegas!

And finally, Chief Two Cheeks:

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The trip was fun overall but I think 5 nights is a little much in Vegas!  My daughter had a blast.  My son, well he’d rather be home playing video games or on a beach vacation. At least I don’t have to worry that he’ll slip off to Vegas when he turns 21 and become a degenerate gambler like his mom and dad!

Lazy Sunday

Happy Sunday friends!  Hope you are getting some relaxation in today.  I woke up late and found myself addicted to this show “The Haunted” on the Destination America channel.  That’s some creepy stuff!  The lady on the show said “then the voice said…you are all gonna die…” and at that exact moment my dogs leaped up and started barking crazy while running around the house.  I thought to myself….that’s it, I better find something constructive to do!  So instead of tackling this mountain of laundry I need to do, here I am writing a blog post.

I wasn’t sure what to write about today because not much has been going on but I thought I might tell you about the couple of “adventures” we have planned for the fam within the next upcoming months.  My husband and I couldn’t go to long without our Vegas fix so we have another trip planned in May too celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary.  We scored a great deal on a room at the Mirage with our players club benefits.  I’m sure I’ll have a fun trip report to post when we get back.  Could this possibly be the trip where we win the BIG ONE?  I guess we shall see….

Then, in June we are spending our family vacation at Disney World once again.  This will make our 7th or 8th trip since 2003. It could possibly be our last for a while since the kids are getting older and I see visions of exuberant expenses due to having two teenagers so I seriously doubt we will be able to afford it after this year.  Not to mention, Disney’s prices have gone up and their discounts have gone down.  A sign of the times I guess.

I just recently started working for an upscale hotel chain.  We have an awesome hotel in downtown Boston.  Because of my son’s love for the Xbox game Assassin’s Creed where the setting is in the old Paul Revere days of Boston’s history, we are planning a weekend in August to show him the sights.  I’m most looking forward to eating at Faneuil Hall and staying at this hotel that is supposedly haunted….

Lastly (so far) In September, Mumford and Sons are coming to a city in Oklahoma about 3 hours from here for a stopover on their “Gentlemen of the Road” tour.  I will be attending this 1.5 day music festival with my niece and I will be camping for the first time in my life.  I would camp out in the middle of the arctic tundra with no clothes on for a chance to see Mumford and Sons live but I won’t lie and say I’m looking forward to that part of it….it will be an experience.  I’m still trying to find out how I can keep my electronics charged the whole time so I can have pictures and video to share when we get back.

So there you have it.  The Dockfam travel schedule for this year.  I’ll be sure to take lots of pics and if you go ahead and add me on Instagram and YouTube, you will see my pics and videos there.  I put all of our vacation videos on YouTube and I’m trying to be better about Instagram sharing.  And if you add me, I will follow you back.

Have a great lazy Sunday and I’ll be back soon!

Explore the Strip for FREE (or almost)

For today’s Travel Tip Tuesday I wanted to share some insight on the many, many things you can do in Vegas without spending too much of  your hard-earned cash — better to save that for the slot machines right?

A little background:  After much deliberation and trying to “convince” my husband that there was more to Vegas than degeneracy and debauchery, we decided to spend our 2nd wedding anniversary in Las Vegas.  I had been there once before, when I was 15 and I went with my mother, her friend and her friend’s German high school foreign exchange student.  We ate, saw the sights and went to a few shows….It was 1994 and Vegas was a totally different place then.  Our first trip as husband and wife in 2001 sparked an addiction that we would be feeding for the next 11 years and more.

I think I will save the details of our first visit for another blog post some time and today,  list a compilation of the things we have experienced over the years in Vegas for free or close to free.  A weekend in Las Vegas does not have to break the bank, wipe out your kid’s college fund or blow the family nest egg.  There is plenty to keep you entertained on a small budget.  Here’s some of our favorites as we :

Luxor & Mandalay Bay

  • Mandalay Place – Shops and restaurants
  • Free tram and indoor walkway between the two and to Excalibur
  • Shark Reef – Open daily, 10am-8pm; $16.95 adults, $10.95 children 5-12 (pricey) Mandalay Bay
  • Titanic, The Artifact Exhibition – daily, 10am-10pm; $28 (pricey) Luxor
  • Bodies… The Exhibition – daily, 10am-10pm; $32 (pricey) Luxor

Excalibur

  • Motion Rides 11am-10pm daily, from $9.95

MGM Grand Hotel and Casino

  • CBS Television City Research Center – 10am-8:30pm
  • LV Monorail Stop – Daily 7am-2am. 3 ticket types starting at $5

New York New York Hotel and Casino

  • Manhattan Express Rollercoaster – daily, 11am-11pm; $14

    Manhattan Express

Cosmopolitan

  • Art scattered all around the property
  • Live music at several bars

City Center

  • Fine Art Collection – Free, open daily 24/7
  • The Gallery – 10am-midnight, daily; free
  • Water features – at Aria’s porte-cochère

 

Mirage

  • Volcano – Daily, every hour dusk to 11pm.
  • Aquarium behind the check-in desk in hotel lobby.
  • Free tram to Treasure Island
  • Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat – Hours vary, $15 for adults, $10 for children

Treasure Island

  • Sirens of TI – Open daily, 5:30, 7, 8:30 and 10pm
  • Free Tram to Mirage

Venetian/Palazzo

  • Gondola – daily 10am-11pm, $16.
  • Grand Canal Shoppes – Shopping, restaurants, street performers and more.
  • Madame Tussauds – (702) 862-7800 times vary, $25 (a little pricey, but fun)
  • Painted ceilings, 2nd floor balcony and hotel lobby.
  • Giant waterfall and flower display, changed seasonally

    Venetian Singers

Bellagio

  • Fountains – every 30 minutes from 3pm-7pm, then every 15 minutes until 12am.
  • Gallery of Fine Art: 10am-6pm daily, Admission $15
  • Conservatory – Displays change with Seasons.
  • Fiori Di Como – Artwork by Dale Chihuly on ceiling of hotel lobby.
  • Chocolate Fountain – Jean-Philippe Patisserie
  • The Art of Richard MacDonald – 10am-11pm daily, free.
  • Free tram to Monte Carlo and CityCenter

    Bellagio Fountains

Wynn/Encore

  • Penske/Wynn Ferrari-Maserati showroom – 10am-9pm, $10 per person.
  • Lake of Dreams – nightly on the hour beginning at 8pm. Outside the Parasol Down Bar, 2 drink minimum for balcony seating.
  • Gardens near the lobby.

    Water feature outside the Wynn

Imperial Palace

  • Auto Collection – Located on the 5th floor of parking garage. Daily 10am-6pm. Admission $8.95.
  • Dealertainers – Celebrity impersonating blackjack dealers
  • LV Monorail Stop – Daily 7am-2am. 3 ticket types starting at $5.

Harrah’s

  • Carnaval Court Live Entertainment
  • Dueling Piano Bar
  • Ghiradelli Ice Cream Shoppe
  • Free shuttle to Rio, Bally’s/Paris
  • LV Monorail Stop – Daily 7am-2am. 3 ticket types starting at $5.
  • Hash House – Order one meal and share, the portions are HUGE

Flamingo

  • Wildlife Habitat – 8am-dusk, free.
  • Bugsy Segal Memorial – Plaque located in a small grotto behind the hotel.
  • LV Monorail Stop – Daily 7am-2am. 3 ticket types starting at $5.

Casino Royale

  • $1 beer specials and $1 margaritas
  • Free promotional slot play with player card sign up

Fashion Show Mall

  • Fashion Shows – Fri-Sun every hour noon-6pm

Paris

  • Indoor walkway to Bally’s with shopping and eateries
  • Eiffel Tower Experience – Open daily, 9:30-12:30am weather permitting. $10 for adults; $7 for children. From 7:30 p.m. – close: Admission is $15 for adults.

    See Vegas from the top of the Eiffel Tower

Planet Hollywood

  • Miracle Mile Shops
  • Pleasure Pit – Sexy dealers
  • Indoor rainstorm at timed intervals

Bally’s

  • Jubilee! – All Access Backstage Walking Tour: Mon, Wed, Sat at 11am. Admission is $10 purchased with Jubilee! show ticket or $15 without.
  • Indoor walkway to Paris.
  • Free shuttle to Harrahsand Rio
  • LV Monorail Stop – Daily 7am-2am. 3 ticket types starting at $5.

Bill’s Gamblin Hall and Saloon

  • Big Elvis – M, Tu, Th, F @ 3pm & 7:15pm

Caesars Palace

  • Forum Shops – Don’t miss the great statues or the spiral escalator.
  • Fall of Atlantis and Festival Fountain Shows – Forum Shops. Every hour 10am-midnight.
  • Large aquarium near Cheesecake Factory

Showcase Mall

  • Gameworks
  • M & M World
  • Movie Theater

Stratosphere

  • Tower – Tower rides Sun-Thurs 10am-1am, Fri-Sat and holidays 10am-2am. $15.95 for adults, $10 children
  • Big Shot – $13
  • Insanity the Ride – $12
  • X Scream – $12

This extensive list was put together with help from my friends at the Vegas Message Board