Las Vegas Strip adds two new major attractions

For decades, the Las Vegas Strip mostly catered to adults looking to gamble. That’s still the focus, of course, but Sin City has gone through a few different phases.

There was a period in the 1990s when Las Vegas decided it wanted to become a family destination. The city didn’t shed its adult skin, but it added amusement park rides at multiple resorts and Circus Circus made a huge push to appeal to all ages.

Related: Beloved Las Vegas Strip icon makes a big return (for now)

And while that seems preposterous, it actually made sense at the time. Las Vegas was facing the threat of an exploding number of regional casinos and riverboat gambling. That led to Las Vegas seeing a major drop in tourism and gambling revenue and the city tried to pivot to being a sort of Orlando that offered fun for all ages.

It was a massive investment that saw the majority of the resorts on the Las Vegas Strip get knocked down and rebuilt. MGM Resorts International (MGM) even spent $100 million building an amusement park designed to give families something to do during the day.

Circus Circus, which was built in 1968, already had rides, circus-style attractions, and other family-friendly offerings. It was always aimed at all ages and was well-positioned for the new Vegas of the 1990s.

The problem is that family-friendly attractions aren’t nearly as lucrative as gambling. After a decade of trying Las Vegas gave up on trying to attract families and leaned into its adult roots with the “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” campaign.

That led to a Sin City resurgence, but over the past few years, since the Supreme Court allowed states to make their own decisions on sports gambling, Las Vegas has become a little less adult. 

Las Vegas has become a destination that’s about more than gambling.

Image source: Flite Golf

Las Vegas welcomes a beloved character     

Las Vegas has not marketed itself to families but it has become a world-class destination for sports and music. Parents might not want to spend a week there with their kids, but Sin City has hosted both Taylor Swift and BTS for multiple sold-out shows at Allegiant Stadium.

In addition, Las Vegas has an NFL team and an NHL team which draw fans of all ages. The city has also learned that while the adults who visit the city want to gamble and attend shows at night, they also want more.

That’s why Area 51, an amusement park-like off the Strip has thrived and why Comcast’s (CMCSA) Universal Studios plans to build a permanent installation of its Halloween Horror Nights as an expansion at that popular destination.

Circus Circus has stumbled since its 90s heyday. It has remained a family-friendly property that feels out of place on the Strip, but its owner Phil Ruffin has invested heavily in the past few years to refresh the property.

The latest piece of this, a dark ride based on the popular SpongeBob SquarePants character opened on March 1. “SpongeBob’s Crazy Carnival Ride’ is a hilariously entertaining, interactive attraction that takes guests on a hijinks-filled ride through Bikini Bottom, brought to life through vibrant sets, special effects, animatronics, and vivid integrated projections, fully submersing riders in the nautical nonsense of SpongeBob SquarePants,” according to the company.

It’s a first-of-its-kind attraction for the Las Vegas Strip.

“Riders will experience a one-of-a-kind adventure through the world of SpongeBob SquarePants in a highly immersive way. The ride starts when Mr. Krabs invites guests to try their luck at his collection of zany ride-through carnival midway games, and his arch-rival Plankton hatches an evil plan to steal the ‘Krabby Patty’ secret formula once and for all,” the company added.

Atomic Golf opening at The Strat

Another struggling Las Vegas Strip property, The Strat, plans to open its own unique venue, Atomic Golf, on March 22. 

“The golf entertainment venue will be a destination for golfers and non-golfers alike to take advantage of the technology-fueled entertainment in a welcoming environment. The 100,000 sq. ft. destination will boast 103 separate hitting bays, 10 putting bays, and six bars, in addition to meeting space and other large breakout areas,” according to its operator Flite Golf & Entertainment.

A new take on a driving range, Atomic Golf offers a variety of games that go beyond traditional golf practice.

“Atomic Golf is a bigger, better, bolder brand of golf entertainment. Our venue is over 99,000 square feet of electrified and animated fun where the best elements of the game fuse together with great food, colorful drinks, and an engaging atmosphere. Come tee off with a golf experience built around fun and games,” the company shared on its website.

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