Las Vegas Strip casinos offer so much more than hotel rooms, casinos, restaurants, and shows. The massive properties owned by companies including MGM Resorts International (MGM) – Get MGM Resorts International Report, Caesars Entertainment (CZR) – Get Caesars Entertainment Inc Report, Wynn Resorts (WYNN) – Get Wynn Resorts, Limited Report, and others need, and provide, more than just those things to attract customers.
Each casino resort needs to attract people who simply walk by, That has led these companies to build not only incredible facades but also world-class free attractions that almost force people to stop. Las Vegas has moved well past the days when a 99-cent shrimp cocktail brought people in off the streets.
The big casino companies have added impressive free shows and attractions like the fountains at Bellagio, the Eiffel Tower Lights Show at Caesars Paris Las Vegas, the free circus acts at Circus Circus, the flamingo habitat at Caesars Flamingo, and the Fall of Atlantis show inside Caesars Forum.
These attractions have set a very high bar in the effort to bring people into the various casinos. The Venetian, for example, has canals — a kind of replica of the ones in Venice — and while they’re beautiful, they’re also free to look at because they draw consumers into the property.
Now, one iconic Las Vegas experience that’s been delighting tourists since 1989 has entered its last days. That’s a blow to the city and a sort of symbolic end of an era.
The Mirage Volcano Will Soon Erupt No More
Late last year, MGM reached a deal to sell the Mirage to Hard Rock International for just over $1 billion. The move was sort of a follow — a swap of sorts — to MGM taking over operations of the Cosmopolitan.
“Now I’ve mentioned in the past that we are happy with the amount of exposure we currently have in Las Vegas,” Chief Executive Bill Hornbuckle said during the company’s third-quarter earnings call.
“As such, we are currently in the early stages of a process to sell the operations of the Mirage. Doing so will allow us to maintain our existing Las Vegas exposure while focusing on the complementary and diverse nature of our offerings in our hometown.”
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It’s easy to see why MGM sold the Mirage: Adding Cosmopolitan gave the company added Las Vegas Strip exposure.
But the move doomed an iconic piece of the Mirage.
Under a licensing deal with MGM, Hard Rock plans to keep the main hotel and casino towers at the Mirage under that name for up to three years. It also plans to build a Guitar Hotel, a mirror of its property in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on the property,
That new structure will be built partly where the iconic Mirage Volcano currently sits.
Las Vegas Loses an Icon
While many other attractions have followed, The Mirage Volcano holds a special place in Las Vegas history.
“At the time, there was no on-Strip outdoor attraction that even came close to The Mirage’s volcano,” Alan Feldman, a distinguished fellow at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas’s International Gaming Institute and former longtime gaming company executive, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“It would become an instant success, drawing huge crowds of pedestrians, and even its fair share of drivers along Las Vegas Boulevard who would stop their cars on the street just to watch the show.”
Hard Rock has not made any statements as to when the Volcano will close, but given the three-year name-licensing deal and the time it takes to build something as intricate as a Guitar Hotel, the attraction’s days are numbered.
“The volcano is incredibly iconic for its generation,” said Feldman. “I think it’s very important to remember that Las Vegas is a city that is built on change. And it has built its success on change and on reinventing itself.”