If Las Vegas has one attribute that makes it stand out from other destinations, it would be its perpetual surprises. It is the element of surprise that makes tourists return over and over again — to discover new surprises.
How to make it so that the surprise is something to be joyful about, of course, is the rub because therein lies what Las Vegas is truly all about — gambling with luck is the ultimate surprise. Just as quickly as dreams are made, they are just as easily broken. No other place in the world can build a hotel and make it disappear without even opening its doors at least once other than Las Vegas.
Las Vegas can claim that it will deliver on its promise of surprise whether you like it or not. Based on a recent tour put together by the Las Vegas Conventions and Visitors Authority, Las Vegas delivered a shocking revelation with Aria Hotel and Casino’s “Viva Elvis” show – not one decent Elvis impersonator in the show! The Cirque du Soleil production offered very little innovation in its circus acts and ultimately betrays viewers looking for an “Elvis” sighting. The news: Elvis is not in the building. Well, of course not, he died a long time ago. But, some tourists still expect to see an Elvis impersonator on the Las Vegas Strip at some point during their trip, let alone on a tribute show called “Viva Elvis.” After all, Elvis Presley or the “King of Rock and Roll,” as the show even claims, “put Las Vegas on the map.” Pumping neon colors on its circus stars was supposed to suffice? The show is about Elvis, so the star is Elvis.
Cirque du Soleil’s tribute to “The King” falls flat on its promise of “Elvis being in the building.” The tricks such as the “flying piano” are devoid of human emotions, and the female singers who take on Elvis’ songs with their almighty glorified notes are more nuisance than entertainment. The show should be re-titled “Diva ala Elvis,” because women singers who dominated the show tell this version of Elvis Presley’s life. The show’s most memorable moments are the times when Elvis is shown on the video projector or heard singing in the background. During those moments, Cirque du Soleil does not matter. The show succeeds in claiming the life story of Elvis Presley is compelling, but Cirque du Soleil’s attempt to tell it through “Viva Elvis” just didn’t feel right. It did feel, however, that Cirque du Soleil was given way too much freedom to play with Elvis’ catalog. No one goes to a Cirque du Soleil show expecting great singers; audiences want a great circus act. Then again, would Elvis have chosen a circus act to tell his life story? No one can ever answer this question, but here is a tip should you feel compelled to go see the show: bring an MP3 player ready with a playlist of Elvis songs as an alternative to the atrocious female renditions of Elvis’ songs in the show.
The hotel in which “Viva Elvis” resides in, on the other hand, is another story. Aria Hotel and Casino is in sync with Las Vegas’ reputation as a whimsical city! Part of the City Center Project, the architecture and design of Aria and its smart rooms have pushed the envelope on accommodations standards in Las Vegas. The room’s control pad is certain to leave customers in wonderment, but the beds deliver on the promise of a good day’s or night’s sleep. Poor customer service is a constant gripe among past customers, however, so expect to wait a little longer to check-in and out, and for your food to arrive when ordering in-room dining.
Wynn Hotel and Casino, based on Lakeside Restaurant, and its resident show called “Le Reve,” is a fierce competitor on the Las Vegas Strip and offers guests and visitors its own distinct allure. Lakeside Restaurant offers the typical fine-dining experience — food and price-wise – but sets itself from its competitors by offering visual twists and turns for nighttime diners, beginning at 8:30 pm to be precise.
If “Viva Elvis” left a bad taste in my mouth about Las Vegas shows, the Wynn’s “Le Reve” show, inspired by Picasso’s masterpiece, did exactly the opposite and delivered based on entertainment value. The show features jaw-dropping acts through amazing displays of athleticism and creativity. The music and the visual effects blend perfectly well with a script that doesn’t need explaining. Quite simply, it is a must-see show, maybe even more than once.
Meanwhile, history buffs and nostalgic tourists may also be surprised to find that Las Vegas has a latest attraction that they might enjoy. Neon Museum has collected pieces of defunct Las Vegas establishments such as signage, former neon signs, and other objects that they now collectively call “Las Vegas iconic art form.” The museum is currently being built and run by a non-profit organization, which is aiming to “preserve the rich history” of Las Vegas. If you or someone you know has historical ties to Las Vegas, then you will appreciate what Neon Museum is all about. You may even overlook the fact that there really aren’t any working neon lights anywhere on the premises and that you aren’t allowed to freely share your visit through pictures because of the museum’s strict photo-taking rules. Surprised? It’s Las Vegas!
Las Vegas is continually evolving and is re-writing history, including its own. Though not very long ago, gone are the days when showgirls ruled; this era belongs to Cirque du Soleil, which offers little or no hint of yesteryear’s heydays. Essentially, this guarantees Las Vegas yet another surprise – everyone has a different story to tell. For some, the transformations seem bittersweet, even brutal. But, like others that have come before, everyone leaves sooner or later; then another cycle begins. The current cycle, with its advances in architecture, entertainment, and technology, does seem impossible to top. Aria and Wynn are leading the pack, but given Las Vegas’ history, the question that begs to be answered is: How long can they stay on top?