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8/9-8/11 First Vegas Trip With the Family

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by JohnnyBlaze, Aug 19, 2014.

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  1. JohnnyBlaze

    JohnnyBlaze Newbie

    Jul 18, 2014
    Denver, CO
    Trips to Las Vegas:

    My Trip Report

    tl;dr Huge flight delay out, $20 Trick bust, High Roller fun, Mystere, and The Mirage. Great fun!

    Planning & Finances

    We're a family of six, aged 40 (me), 33, 15, 14, 12, and 11, and I'm planning a trip which is more family-oriented yet fun and exciting. This trip includes flights to Denver on Friday the 9th via Frontier F9 783, two nights (three days) at the Mirage, and flights back on the 11th. I booked this trip through Mirage Vacations for $2,026 in July, just under a month before the trip. At the time, I had no MLife or TR account, and didn't even know about this board! Other things purchased in advance were rides to and from the airport via Presidential Limousine, High Roller tickets as well as tickets for Circue du Soleil Mystere at TI, and a surprise "Yoga With the Dolphins" at the Mirage Secret Garden. To make folks more comfortable during the flight, I paid an extra $5 per seat to reserve seats in the same row (Airbus 319 row 17A).

    I tend to plan trips to the minute detail yet leave specific open times for wandering around and doing whatever. The TripCase web site (and iPhone app) was super helpful to collect reservations together! My flight, hotel, limo, and attractions were all neatly organized, all free of charge.

    Day 1 of 3: Flight Delays, Limo, $20 Trick, and High Roller

    It's August 9th; our first flight out to Vegas as a family, and -- for everyone but myself -- the first trip in a plane as well! We splurged and got the kids some classier outfits; dresses and a lot of cheap-yet-pretty bling at Forever 21. The boys and myself are wearing vests, and we're excited and nervous for the plane ride. We get to Denver Int'l Airport on time, print our boarding passes, and head to one of the many medium-grade restaurants in Concourse A. I always fly with a mild buzz, so the lady and I had a couple margaritas to get ready. Outside, the skies are a typical Colorado summer-afternoon gray; a mix of mild thundershowers and blue sky. Then TripCase shows an alert on my phone: delayed by one-and-a-half hours! Apparently, the storms are close enough to the airport to cause delays. Long story short, our delay increased to a whopping two-and-a-half hours and 53 flights were diverted away from DIA! Fortunately, everyone remains in good spirits. I think the gang was somewhat relieved that their very first plane ride was delayed. Finally, we board the plane, stuff our (free) single carry-on bags under the seat, and sit down in the surprisingly comfy leather seats. Everyone holds hands during takeoff, but after thirty minutes everyone realizes... flying is fun!

    We land in Vegas and begin seeking out our limo. Since we had only carry-ons, we skipped the baggage claim and walked straight outside. Our driver, however, was waiting inside! With a quick phonecall and a check of the Presidential iRide app, he came outside, met us, and took this picture. I was relieved that Presidential automatically adjusted their schedule to accommodate our giant delay. We step in the limo and find it cool, classy, and awesome! Champagne and three Cherry Cokes are waiting on ice as requested. Despite the reviews on TripAdvisor, our limo did not have any A/C issues; it was perfectly cool! Finally, I relax, pour some suds, and ask the driver to take us up the strip. He turns onto the strip at the MGM Grand, and I'm excited to see everyone else so excited to see Vegas for the first time. If the limo was driving at half the crawl it was, there would still be so much to point out for everyone! I had forgotten how much I love Vegas.


    Tip: The Presidential Limo is not that much more than a taxi. Get a two-way reservation, include your flight number, and specifically request champagne and other drinks!

    We arrive at The Mirage, step out into the blazing night-time heat, and enter the many clear doors to the tropical Mirage lobby. There's a huge line... but it's not for the front desk. It's for 1OAK! Before the trip, I had a casual talk with the kids that Vegas can be racy. It is, after all, "Sin City." I'm not worried because we've always talked openly about things; that life wasn't about hiding children from reality but of talking about it. The kids knew what to expect, so the occasional club outfits that wandered by was no big deal. Just a few giggles and raised eyebrows, my own included. After only a minute's wait, I arrive at the front desk. At this point, I'm happy just to be in Vegas safe and sound. But it's time for the $20 trick! Our clerk offered us water, and I handed over my ID and card -- no sandwich. We make a few jokes, trade friendly smiles, then I ask if there are any upgrades while pulling a $20 halfway out of my wallet. She knows what's up, grins, and walks to the back room. After a few minutes, she comes back. No dice, the hotel is full. Only somewhat disappointing, she gives us two rooms in separate wings. I was hoping for adjacent rooms at first. We head up the elevator to lucky floor 21, explore the rooms, and let the girls choose which one they want. They chose the pool view, giving us boys the strip/volcano view. In retrospect, I think the strip view was better! Despite the higher floor, we could still hear (and feel?) the volcano show every time it started. Everyone is a little tired and it's 11:30PM, but we still have tickets for the High Roller! We settle in, unpack, spend maybe five seconds to relax, then it's off to explore the Strip for the first time.

    The High Roller

    I told the kids to stay close and to never linger or wander off without speaking up, because it can be easy to become lost in the crowds! Sure enough, the moment we step outside it's a hot bustle of activity. As quiet of a person as I am, I love Vegas energy. It's liquid hope somehow, with a generous shot of human class and animalism. We make a turn and venture down the LINQ, which is new since I last visited. It's clean, crowded, noisy, and wonderful. The High Roller is freaking massive, looming colorful over the clean white light of shops below. We have ten minutes flat to get there, and we make it with two minutes to spare! I show the clerk my reservation code in TripCase, and they print tickets.

    Tip: If you won't be near the High Roller until you plan to ride, purchase tickets directly. Third party tickets like Vegas.com are cheaper yet require a pick-up of tickets at least one hour before you ride. Also, buy four-packs of tickets. Kids 12 and under ride free.

    The High Roller is a great way to get acquainted with Vegas. Use the bathroom, grab a drink, and enjoy thirty minutes to take it all in and see what you want to see more of! I pointed out the bright beacon of the Luxor, the moneygreen MGM Grand, the Bellagio fountains, and the pink Flamingo. Despite everyone's fear of heights (ironic considering the 37,000-foot 500MPH plane ride an hour before) and the couple making out, it was a great way to introduce someone new to the Strip.

    The Candy Factory

    Maybe it's just the oxygen they pump into casinos, or maybe its the raw surplus of energy flowing in from all directions, but we're not ready to go to bed! Near Paris is The Candy Factory, open 24-hours-a-day. We ask for a seat outside but -- despite the open tables -- are sat indoors. The host says that outdoor seating is for groups of four or less. Hmm. We order a Lollipop Passion, made with dry ice for a most bubbly buzz! ... actually, was there any alcohol? I don't think there was much, but the drink itself was worth it for the fun. There are a zillion other ways to get a buzz, right?

    Mirage Slots

    We make it back to the hotel room and the lady and I plan to share a couple of hours at the slots. But then I sat on the bed, and got really sleepy! I call the lady and she doesn't mind, so we all settle in for the night. It's 2AM and we have yoga at 8:20AM... with dolphins.

    Day 2: Yoga With the Dolphins, Car Museums, and Mystere

    The hell? There's no way it's 8AM already. I rustle the boys and call the girls' room. No response. Eyes open for a moment and close. After ten minutes of trying, we're finally awake with ten minutes to spare to get downstairs. We visit the Mirage Spa in our pajamas, check in at 8:20AM, and, after enough minutes for everyone to consider just falling back asleep right there in the lobby, our instructor shows up. She leads us outside through the entrance to the Secret Garden, past the dolphin pool, and down a ramp into a 20'x20' room with square windows. It smells like chlorine and sweat but the muffled splash and arrival of dolphins turns our sleepiness into curiosity. We draw circles in the air with our hands and turn ourselves around to make them do tricks, which was great! This yoga session is limited to eight people, but I counted nine. It's $50 per person.

    Admittedly, our group doesn't take time to relax, let alone to meditate. Yoga was just as much about taking care of the Self as it was about stretching and trying not to rip one. Despite our lack of sleep, after an hour of breathing (try it!) and stretching, we're calm, peaceful, and ready for the day. I really admired our instructor for dealing with us newbies while also attending to what must have been four highly limber dancers in front of us.

    Tip: Yoga with dolphins is limited to eight people so book a month in advance. You might be able to get into a full group if you ask nicely.

    Cravings Buffet

    My sensei taught me well: stretching and calmly focused meditation is best followed by a massive breakfast! The Spa gives us fruit smoothies which we sip while wandering (still in our pajamas) to Cravings Buffet. I must admit I got some sticker shock at the price ($212 I think?) for six people, though it was late enough that it was the brunch price. I billed it to the room on the off chance I got to gamble and ask for comps. It's the weekend, which means free (normally $10) mimosas! We go nuts, drinking about six of them apiece (er, minus the kids), and a server keeps them filled. The kids have been great the whole trip, so I tell them to go nuts. "Let's see who can make the craziest pancakes!!" The kids get wide-eyed and adventure off. Yoga and mimosas is a good combination! If you start a Yogimosas business, I'll be there for you. The service is great, and the food is just wonderful. There are many varieties of food like shrimp and Chinese delights, but I stick to a common breakfast. It's all wonderful. I haven't sampled other Vegas buffets but I definitely loved Cravings.

    Tip: Play myVegas at least a month before your trip for a 2-for-1 buffet discount.

    Mystere: Picking Up Tickets

    We're spending our day on the north end of the strip: The Venetian, The Palazzo, and Treasure Island. Since we have to pick up our tickets for Mystere more than an hour before the show, and since the lines for the show get insanely long at showtime, we decide to pick up tickets first. A short cable-operated tram connects The Mirage to TI. Simply go outside the lobby then take a left (north) for about 50 paces. Misters keep people in line cool while they wait. After a short walk, we arrive at the Mystere ticket booth and pick up our tickets, Section 205, row LL, seats 1-6. For a seating chart, visit the Mystere site then click Seating Chart for a pop-up.

    Tip: Take the tram from The Mirage to Treasure Island to get to Mystere.

    Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum

    We enter the Venetian and the kids love the faux blue sky, sparkling jewelry shops, and gondola singers echoing through the halls. We all try gelato for the first time and the Watermelon was amazing. We wander outside and take the escalator to Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, located right next to the big tower. Once again, it's TripCase to the rescue with a neatly organized confirmation number for our tickets. We wander in and start taking pictures with celebrities. The museum is nicely decorated with different themes and music. I felt like some cross between a paparazzi and a VIP in the vibe of this place. I finally got to thank Leonardo DiCaprio in person for his performances. I think he was distracted by something. The tour was worth the money as-is, yet I was surprised that a "4D Theater" was waiting for us at the end. It was totally optional, but we stepped in line. After about five minutes, we follow the line into a ten-row theater. A guy in a lab coat hands us 3D glasses. There's a lingering haze in the air and a peppery smell. Once everyone is settled, another scientist welcomes us and explains that "4D" is more than 3D. I did yoga, science man. I am ready! I won't give anything away, but there are surprises during the show which will make you jump in your seat. I loved it.

    Tip: It's okay to bring drinks into the wax museum. Also, do the 4D theater unless you are prone to seizures or cannot get even a little wet!

    Dal Toro Car Museum

    Our 15-year-old is nearing driving age, so I thought it'd be cool to get him close to some sports cars. The plan is to visit the Dal Toro Car Museum. What wasn't on the plan was getting completely lost trying to find it. This car museum is actually inside of the Dal Toro Restaurant, located a down-escalator ride from the main lobby. You enter the restaurant, walk through it, then present your tickets, and check out the cars downstairs. The museum was kind of small for the price -- one room with maybe 15 cars -- but he loved it. There was a black Ferrari whose tires were warm to the touch. Somebody must have paid the $249 to drive it recently! On my next trip, I will drive her. For just another few hundred thousand, I can return it whenever I want! If the boys weren't there to enjoy the cars, I would have skipped this museum and tried the free one at the LINQ, but since they were happy it was a win.

    The Mirage Swimming Pool

    I'm a moderately active guy. I'll bike 100 miles in a week one week then order pizza all week the next. It's easy to forget that you can easily walk six miles on the Strip! People started to feel tired of walking, so we decided to visit the pool. The pool and central location is why I chose The Mirage. I wanted something accessible for the kids activity-wise yet in the thick of Vegas energy. On this Saturday afternoon, the pool is busy, though more full of sunbathers than swimmers. We put all of our stuff on one chair. My phone was there so I kept checking on it, although nothing happened. I really, really enjoyed pulling the kiddos through the waterfalls! Two hours went by like nothing, and I'm really pleased with the pool. I'm curious how Mandalay Bay compares?

    It's late afternoon but there are still a few hours to kill before Mystere. Some of the group grabs a nap. I hang out with the lady by the pool and sip a few drinks while we plan the next day. I tell you what, the trip feels great. I feel like a million bucks just because things went to plan, that everyone got to see something they liked, and that everyone's happy. Or maybe it's the mimosas.

    Tip: If you plan to swim, just bring your room key to the pool. Leave the phone and wallet behind.

    Mystere by Cirque du Soleil

    Just like the morning, the crew is slow to wake up. To be utterly honest, this group is not my family, but we're like family, and I enjoy taking them on trips. They're somewhat poor and sometimes can't even sleep on beds. So, these hotel beds are a luxury I suppose is easy to take for granted. So, the fact they're so hard to wake up is a good thing because they're resting well. After about twenty minutes, they all finally wake up. Diana (11) asks: "do we have to dress up?" and we decide to go more casual. Just like this morning, we take the tram outside the Mirage lobby over to Treasure Island, and join the massive line waiting for Mystere.

    I'm not easily impressed. I usually start yawning uncontrollably during conversations not because people are boring, but I'm used to thinking a lot and being somewhat spun-up. I'd never forgive myself for revealing the show, but I must say that the show was jaw-droppingly amazing from start to finish! The theater is divided into three sections front-to-back. As others here have reported, there really isn't a bad seat in the place. We sat near the rear of the theater and I was really happy with the view. In fact, viewers near the front would actually miss some activities which would have happened behind them. The "cheap seats" are just fine.

    Tip: Mystere Theater is divided into three sections. Sit in the front for a chance to be a part of the show; sit in the middle section for a chance to be a part of the pre-show, and sit in the third section for a good view of all of the action.

    Mirage Room Service

    At the end of the show, we decide to return to the room and get fully caught up on sleep to have a bigger day tomorrow. For the second time, I'm too tired to gamble. It's nearing midnight, and us boys watch the volcano show from our room, and we decide to call room service for some food. I call the lady and tell her to get some RS as well if anyone wants. The bellhop tells us that the kitchen is pretty slammed and that it'll be about an hour-and-a-half. I could sleep now but order it anyway. We watch TV until the food arrives, a club sandwich with french fries, and a couple of beers. It was delicious.

    Day 3: Monday Cravings, Luxor Museums, Excalibur Fun Dungeon, and the Trip Home

    I planned day 3 to be more open so we'd have room for spontaneous things. We all slept like royalty on vacation, a luxurious nine hours (is that even legal in Vegas?). We all liked Cravings so much the night before that we decided to do it again. It was Monday, so unfortunately the mimosas were suddenly $10 each! However, there was free champagne. I grab a bottle (I probably should have waited) and pour us several glasses. The kids go nuts once again, making pancakes that looked like ice cream sundaes. I keep the bacon guy busy. Cravings is definitely part of my Mirage-based trips now. Spendy somewhat yet delicious.

    Las Vegas Monorail

    The myVegas app offered cheap monorail tickets (7000 LP each) and we cashed in. The lady at the counter wrote the confirmation numbers down by hand, and two weeks later myVegas doesn't show the rewards as redeemed. (Hmmm.) We get six $2 waters (unf) and ride the monorail all the way to MGM Grand. I'm unfamiliar with MGM, so we walk more than we probably needed to getting to the Strip and over to the Excalibur/Luxor tram. The monorail itself was just fine. We have a Lightrail system at home in Denver which is just as smooth and comfortable.

    Tip: The Excalibur "L2" tram goes past the Luxor. Take it, then take the "L1" back to the Luxor.

    Bodies & Titanic Exhibits @ the Luxor

    We checked out the Bodies and Titanic exhibits which are located side-by-side at the Luxor. Since we were just at the buffet, we decide to hold off a bit on Bodies. The Titanic exhibit was really interesting! You get a ticket representing one of the passengers. You don't know if they died or not until the end of the exhibit. There is a wonderful replica of the Grand Staircase, where you can get a picture, and a frosty replica of an iceberg, and a simulated deck of the Titanic so you can envision gazing out at the black starlit sea on that frosty night. I was particularly moved by the "Saafeldt Vials," bottles of perfume which were recovered from the ship intact. To see why, hear the story of the vials from the guy who processed these artifacts
    (I've reached out to him on Facebook and he's a great guy.)

    Slice of Vegas

    After the exhibits, it's time to eat. What's that? You're not hungry? LOL! Like that matters. Come on in. Near the Luxor is Slice of Vegas, which offers quite a bit more than pizza. I enjoyed the casual atmosphere, strong drinks, and variety of Italian dishes. We're not a particularly fancy group, so we're more comfy in these kids of places. It's fun to dress up, just not all the time for us. Our server was friendly and joked around with us, and kept our drinks full.

    Fun Dungeon Madness

    Inside of the Excalibur is the Fun Dungeon, an arcade which rivals outfits like Dave & Busters back home. There are carnival-style games, ticket-dispensing games, and video games. We have one hour before we have to make our limo ride to the airport, so I shove $20 in each of the kids hands and tell them to hurry up and spend it. We try each of the carnival games and win a few small Minions, and somehow the kids manage to rack up seven thousand(ish) tickets. It's a long line to collect prizes, but we make it and collect candy, a coloring book, and knick-knacks. I was hoping to try and break my 3rd place all-time record for Guitar Hero on Expert, but they seemed to have removed the game (?).

    With twenty minutes to spare, we hop into two cabs, take the back roads back to the Mirage and wait for the limo ride back.

    Presidential Limo to Airport

    Although our check-out was at 2PM, the Mirage was happy to store our bags (i.e. tip the bellhop!) until 6PM. We make it to the lobby with twenty minutes to spare. We grab our bags, and I go to pick up two last drinks. And there... is Video Poker. I quickly slip in $20 and play a mad dash of poker. Go for a straight and hit it! I'm up a whopping high-rollering $1.25! I look over my shoulder and the poor kids got kicked out of the bar area. I cash out, cash in, and we wait in front of the lobby. A stretch Escalade pulls up. We had been upgraded, free of charge.

    Our driver is friendly, fun, and offers to grab a picture of us. We hop in, and... oops, it's just sparkling cider. I guess i forgot to ask for champagne and drinks for the trip back. Still, we enjoy the leather seats and our ride back. It's all ending too early, to be honest. But we're also satisfied. Our driver drops us off at the Frontier area, hands the ladies red roses as the stepped out (which totally made the 14-year-old's day), and we made our way to the gate.

    Pros: No real hang-ups other than things beyond our control (flight delays), and it was a great first trip with plenty of activities for the kids.
    Cons: No time to gamble; the limo will give you apple cider if you have kids unless you specify otherwise.

    Thanks for reading! Hopefully there's another trip to report in six months! In the meantime? Cheers to your future luck, my friends.

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 19, 2014
  2. HotDamn

    HotDamn Tourist

    Jan 31, 2014
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Very nice trip report. Sounds like you guys has a blast!
  3. steveky

    steveky Tourist

    Jul 27, 2014
    Hobart, Tasmania
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Beautiful TR, and good on you for showing everyone a great time. And you finished up... what's not to like about that. Don't spend the profits all at once!
  4. KyleB

    KyleB Low-Roller

    Oct 8, 2012
    Los Angeles, prev. FL
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Great report with a lot of great info!
  5. kevstf

    kevstf Low-Roller

    Mar 13, 2014
    Almere, Holland
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thanks for the great TR!
  6. NCISfan

    NCISfan Low-Roller

    Nov 28, 2009
    Longview, Washington
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Great trip report, thanks.
    Super Bowl Weekend
  7. Hershey

    Hershey Tourist

    Aug 2, 2014
    St. Augustine, FL
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    The name of that place is just too funny. :wink2:

    Great report!
  8. bshowell

    bshowell VIP Whale

    Oct 3, 2004
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    This was a great TR. So awesome you can take the kids and show them a fun time!
  9. chonglosaxon

    chonglosaxon MIA

    Dec 20, 2013
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Great trip report. Looks like you are a gringo with the Latina Fever, lol. Me too!

    Great looking family, it looks like everyone had a great time and there is plenty of stuff to do next time for everyone. Here's a tip for next time, tire the kids out during the day with pool and outdoor activities and after dinner, this will give you more time to spend with the wife in the Casino gambling together or just having drinks, dancing, whatever. Great report.
  10. gotavegasjones

    gotavegasjones VIP Whale

    Jan 16, 2004
    South Texas
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thanks for writing and posting your TR. Seems as though the whole crew had a fine time. Good for y'all.

    later, GVJ
  11. Worldbefree

    Worldbefree Tourist

    Jul 28, 2013
    Trips to Las Vegas:
  12. sporty8705

    sporty8705 VIP Whale

    Mar 9, 2007
    Riverside County
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    That is super awesome that you paid and took 5 other people that are not YOUR real family on a vacation and paid for it all.
    From a fellow single mom, that is so awesome
  13. touche22

    touche22 Low-Roller

    Mar 2, 2014
    Ontario, Canada
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Awesome man. Just great stuff
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