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Take the Kids to Vegas, BabyNovember 2, 2006 By: Colin Miner Travel Agent
Book families in resorts that offer entertainment appealing to all age
Listening to people in the Las Vegas tourism industry talk, you get the impression that it's one of those things that they would rather not talk about. Sure, it happens in Las Vegas, but they wish talk of it would stay in Vegas. What do they want to keep hush-hush? Many couples bring their kids to Sin City.
It wasn't too long ago that Vegas built a marketing campaign
around being family-friendly. And while the city itself hasn't changed that
much, the message has returned to "You can bring the kids, but..."
"While it is a destination that offers attractions and
amenities for visitors of all ages, it is a city still best enjoyed by
adults," a spokeswoman for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
(LVCVA) replied when asked about things for kids to do.
It wasn't that she didn't want to see a story about bringing
kids to Vegas appear in print, it's just that she wants it to be known that
there is so much more to write about. A second spokeswoman later added,
"There are, in fact, plenty of things to appeal to people of all ages,
including families traveling with children." The spokesman at the Wynn,
however, put it flatly: "A story about kids isn't something we're going to
get involved with. We don't really have anything that's kid-centric."
The LVCVA makes it clear that only 9 percent of visitors in
2005 were under the age of 21, and that was down from 10 percent the year
before. What they don't make as clear is that more 38 million people visited
means that nearly 3.5 million of those were under the age of 21. They had to do
something while they were there, right?
A survey of the strip reveals not only kid-friendly
restaurants but a healthy number of kid-friendly hotels with pools, exhibits
and amusement park rides. A website, www.lasvegaskids.com, has even been set up to help parents
thinking about bringing their kids. As the LVCVA somewhat grudgingly pointed
out, there are many free attractions for families to enjoy, such as the
fountain show at the Bellagio, The Mirage's erupting volcano and the singing
gondoliers at the Venetian.
And for families willing to open up their wallets, there are
plenty of attractions for the non-gaming set.
Shark Reef at
702-632-4555) is one of the highlights. A 90,560-square-foot aquarium that
attracts about a million visitors each year, it promotes itself as the only
predator-based aquarium in
more than 2,000 animals swimming around—many of them dangerous ones like
sharks, crocodiles, swordfish and piranhas—in 14 major exhibits with more than
1.5 million gallons of water, the excitement level here is considerably higher
than it is at most aquariums.
From Shark Reef, it's only a short walk to the beach.
three swimming pools and a manufactured beach with 1,700 tons of sand, 1.6
million gallons of water and a machine that produces waves of varying heights.
This, along with the fountain show at the Bellagio, the
dolphins at the Mirage and the gondola rides at the Venetian, demonstrate the
fact that, in the middle of the desert,
Down the Strip from the Mandalay Bay is Circus Circus (www.circuscircus.com,
702-794-3939), home of the Adventuredome, an amusement park set on five acres
with 23 rides and attractions inside its 200-foot-high pink glass dome. Since
opening in 1993, Adventuredome has attracted nearly 40 million visitors (last
year it ranked 11th in attendance among theme parks in North America, and 19th
in the world), many of whom ride the Canyon Blaster, the world's only indoor
double-loop, double-corkscrew rollercoaster.
And for the slightly less adventurous, there is a small
bowling alley, miniature golf, family rides and dozens of arcade games.
At the MGM Grand (www.mgmgrand.com), the Lion Habitat ("a 5,000 square
foot showcase of lofty simulated jungle complete with waterfalls") is
celebrating its eighth year, attracting some 12,000 visitors a day.
For kids with a sweet tooth, next to each other on
the Everything Coca-Cola store and M&Ms World
The Coke store (www.coca-colastore.com, 702-270-5952) used to be part of a
larger complex, the World of Coca-Cola, which closed in 2000 and included
exhibits chronicling the history of the soft drink company. Now, it's pretty
much a store whose highlight is being able to order a sampling of Coke products
from around the world that are generally not available in the
Tasting them, you might think that's not such a bad thing, or at least realize
that different people have different tastes.
M&Ms World (www.mymms.com/merchandise/las_vegas.asp,
702–736–7611), while not exactly high-tech, is a lot more participatory.
Besides being able to buy every variety of M&M available, there is a ride,
a film and exhibits showing the history of the candies and how they are made.
So, while Vegas is no longer going out of its way to attract
families with kids, they do recognize that they are going to show up.
As Erika Pope of the LVCVA says: "Only a small
percentage of visitors report gaming as their main draw. Rather, they tell us
that vacation and pleasure are their chief reasons. It follows that, therefore,
the fact that
has so many diversions that appeal to people across the age and preferences
spectrum. It is the sum of these activities that makes