In the early 1990s, many Las Vegas casinos opened attractions in an attempt to draw more families, and the MGM Amusement Park Las Vegas was one such attraction, though unfortunately one of the least successful.
About the MGM Amusement Park Las Vegas
The MGM Grand Adventures Theme Park - the formal name of the park that the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino developed - opened in 1993 as a 33-acre amusement and entertainment complex behind the hotel. With a coordinated movie studio theme, the park had several rides and shows highlighting innovative special effects, such as:
- The Haunted Mine: A classic enclosed dark ride with scenes exploring an abandoned mine shaft.
- Grand Canyon Rapids: A white water rapids ride with animatronic pioneer prospectors and timed geysers.
- Deep Earth Exploration: A simulator journey with high-powered drills to the center of the earth.
- Lightning Bolt: A family-oriented roller coaster with a space theme, culminating in a fly by of the Las Vegas Strip (a detailed model constructed by the coaster's tracks).
The park also included several shows, including a dueling pirates stunt show, musical acts, and numerous special performances, one of the most popular of which was the annual October Halloween theme and specialized haunted houses. In 1996, the park added a Skycoaster attraction that simulated both skydiving and hang gliding, but even with that expansion the park's popularity never rose to the Hollywood heights that had been anticipated.
A Failing Park
From its initial opening, the MGM Amusement Park Las Vegas never grew popular enough to justify its continuation. While at first it was open year-round, the season was eventually cut by several months and admission prices were lowered to entice more visitors to enter its gates. After several years, however, the casino opted to reduce the park's size to a mere 19 acres, using the vacated land for an expanded pool and conference facilities to accommodate guests more interested in a luxury hotel and casino than in a theme park. Cutting attractions only further lowered the park's popularity, and in 2000 it was closed permanently to the public.
For several years after the MGM Grand Adventures Theme Park closed, it was still used for private parties and special events as the hotel debated what to do with the extremely valuable land it occupied. Eventually, it was decided to use the real estate to develop a new luxury condominium/hotel complex called the MGM Grand Signature. The high-rise, multi-tower complex rises 38 stories and features ultra luxury accommodations with valet service, a pool complex, fitness center, business center, and owners' lounge in the gated and guarded community. Condominium prices at the Signature range from $300,000 to over $1 million, and the third tower in the complex is slated for completion in 2007.
Today's MGM Grand Attractions
Despite the fact that the MGM Amusement Park Las Vegas was a failed project, that does not mean that the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino is lacking unique attractions. The company's symbolic lions are the stars of the show in a specially designed lion habitat, where guests can view the noble creatures from all angles - including up close and personal through glass tunnels - without a fee. The hotel is also home to numerous popular clubs and elite restaurants, and is one end of the line for the Las Vegas monorail system.
The Future of Las Vegas Attractions
Even as this particular amusement park was failing, other resorts were developing their own Las Vegas roller coaster attractions and other unique options for families. The Circus Circus Hotel and Casino has the most famous of these attractions - the vibrantly pink Adventuredome enclosed amusement park, though other casinos also host individual roller coasters and other features popular with families and children. As more families begin to enjoy Las Vegas as a resort destination, more family-friendly options are being designed, from the animatronic fountain shows in the Forum shopping mall at Caesar's Palace to the Star Trek themed promenade, restaurant, and museum at Star Trek: The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton. As families continue to enjoy Las Vegas, there will continue to be more unique attractions to entertain them.
The MGM Amusement Park Las Vegas may have ultimately failed, but it also paved the way for more unusual and family-friendly attractions in Sin City, and for that it holds a special place in both theme park and Las Vegas history.