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3rd Trip in 2020 MGM Grand 11/22-11/25

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by YoungGun, Nov 26, 2020.

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  1. YoungGun

    YoungGun VIP Whale

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    My Trip Report

    I completely procrastinated and didn’t write the trip reports I intended to for my two other trips this year. Forcing myself to get this one written while my turkey digests so I don’t end up not doing one again. Went with 3 friends. Some family was also there and I met up with them at a few points, although once the restrictions hit on Tuesday that became more difficult.

    Originally booked Park MGM, but got moved to MGM Grand due to Park MGM deciding to close their hotel midweek. Nomad was offered, but the rest of my group had already switched to MGM Grand so I asked to be put there as well. Also cancelled my reservation at Bavette’s since we had tickets to Fantasy that night and didn’t want to have to worry about driving to Park MGM and then Luxor. Kind of regret that since Bavette’s has a great reopening special going on.

    Sunday
    Checked into MGM Grand. Did online check in and found we had been upgraded to a strip view. Seems like only the upper floors of the hotel were being used since that was the only elevator bank that ever had a line. Security guy was there Sunday to enforce social distancing in the elevator, but the other nights there was no security guy although people generally followed the rules (at least going up; coming down was a different story).

    Had dinner at Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill. I’m generally a Puck fan, but this restaurant was never on my radar. I think the generic name had led me to believe that this wasn’t going to be one of his better efforts, but I was pleasantly surprised. The food was as good as one of his higher end restaurants and the service was the best we had the entire trip. The only negative is that they put the stadium gambling machines right next to the restaurant. The slot area around the restaurant is supposed to be non-smoking, but I’m not sure if that applies to the stadium gambling area. Lots of smoke drifted into the dining area. I would gladly eat there again, but would probably ask to be sat on the side furthest away from the casino.

    Played some slots and VP at MGM Grand after dinner. Went down pretty fast, but then hit 136 bonus games on China Mystery which brought me back to even with enough extra to pay for dinner. This ended up being the pattern this trip: lose big and then win enough to end up even.

    Went to Luxor to see Fantasy. Ended up being their second to last show since they were shut down again on Tuesday. They had only been reopened for about 2 weeks. I saw the show about 4-5 years ago and enjoyed it a lot. The show has changed a little; some for the better and some for the worse. Cast continues to be very talented and put on a good show. I’ve said many times that they could be fully clothed the entire show and I would still enjoy it. The comedian was replaced by a magician who was very good. I think only one dance number remained from the show I saw before. I was a little disappointed because the new dance numbers are basically just random dance numbers and most of the songs used were minor hits. The show I had seen years ago had more costumes, set pieces, props, recognizable songs, and each segment was themed to a specific Fantasy (cheerleaders, bondage, etc.). I’m probably over analyzing since I’m a theater geek; most guests probably are just happy to see pretty girls dancing topless. The audience was into it, although the emptiness of the theater due to social distancing (4 per row) made it hard to feel the energy. The constant attempts to get the audience to sing along to songs they had never heard also didn’t help. Not sure if the show has just changed since I last saw it or if they are still adjusting to being back after being dark for so many months and moving to a new theater. I would still recommend seeing it when it comes back.

    Ended the night with some late night dining at Ping Pang Pong. Great as usual.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2020
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  2. YoungGun

    YoungGun VIP Whale

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    Monday
    Got up before everyone else and went over to chat with my family members who were down the hall. Had plans to eat with my friends at DJT for lunch so just had banana for breakfast, but one member of our group overslept and we ended up having 3pm lunch. I got so hungry waiting that I went to Nathan’s in the MGM Grand food court to grab a hot dog. $12 for a hot dog and Diet Coke. I had put a $20 in a slot machine on the way to the food court and won $100 so I considered it a “free” hot dog. Did some shopping at Nectar and hit up the gift shop and Grand Sports shop for some Golden Knights and Aces stuff. One very minor complaint I have about Mlife is that some shops give you points on your purchases and some don’t, but you don’t really know which ones do unless you ask and some of the cashiers are straight up rude about it. Caesars properties at least train their employees to ask if you have a Caesars Rewards card or not.

    Drove over to Trump to eat at DJT. It was my first time at Trump and it looked like a nice hotel. All the staff we encountered were professional and courteous. Still don’t think I’d ever stay there due to their lack of gaming. I was kind of expecting the place to be crawling with Trump fans, but it was mostly families. Maybe the lack of gaming on site is a selling point for some families with young children. DJT no longer uses their restaurant space and now uses a part of the lobby as their dining room. I heard this happened before dining restrictions so I’m not sure why the change was made. The restaurant took up over half the lobby. We were dining at an off hour so the restaurant front of house was being run by two people: our server-host-busser-runner and the bartender. When it got a little busier a manager came in and sat people, but the one server continued to run his own food and clean his own tables. The food was very good and very reasonably priced for Las Vegas. I would go as far to say that it is a bit of a hidden gem. I would return, but probably not until they go back to their regular menu. The current limit menu is very small and basic, but everything we had was very well prepared and tasty. Went to the gift shop hoping to find some kitschy souvenirs, but everything was kind of boring. Ended up getting a $12 deck of Trump playing cards for a coworker.

    The America! Store in MGM Grand had more of what I was probably looking for, but since it is located in the walkway between the lobby and parking garage I was either in a rush when I walked past it or it was closed. Funny enough all the Trump stuff was on clearance in the back and a bunch of Joe Biden stuff was in the front of the store.

    After lunch we went to the South Premium Outlets. I used to only go to the North Premium Outlets, but the South Outlets have grown on me. North still has the better variety, but South has added plenty of new stores and unless I’m looking for Ted Baker or North Face, South has more than enough stores for me. That fact that most of it is indoors is also a plus.

    Did the Shanghai’d escape room at Escapeology on Maryland Parkway. Was supposed to do Under Pressure, but I booked the wrong date. Under Pressure was already booked that night so they offered to let us do Shanghai’d. We ended up keeping our Under Pressure for Tuesday since they said it was their best room. They let us do Shanghai’d for a reduced price. It ended up being a fun room and a little more difficult than anticipated. It is rated 7/10 in difficulty. Escapeology is a franchise with locations around the world. Their rooms are well done, but are fairly standard. They don’t have the live actors or highly detailed sets of something like the Saw escape room, but sometimes you just don’t want that. I would recommend them for a fun hour with your friends, but go to Saw if you want the unique, only in Vegas experience. I will warn you that a lot of the puzzles in Saw were broken when we went 2 years ago. Hopefully they fixed them now.

    Went to check out Circa after Escapeology. Impressive place. Had dinner at 8 East and ordered probably 1/3 of the menu. Had heard that the portions are small and meant to be shared which was true except for the brisket fried rice which was a huge portion that we couldn’t finish. I ended up giving the leftovers to my relatives so they could try 8 East and they loved it even as leftovers. I was a fan of Dan Coughlin’s food at Le Thai and he has definitely continued the quality at 8 East. This is the one place everyone was raving about the whole trip and will probably end up being a must visit every trip. It was also the last place we ate at before dining restrictions kicked in at midnight.

    Played a little at Circa. Continued the lose big then win it all back streak. 11pm on a Monday the lowest table minimums were $15. We will see if I get any offers once their hotel opens. Did notice the crowd was slightly younger at Circa than the rest of downtown. We will see if it stays that way. In my personal experience with my mid to late 30s friends, downtown is good for guy trips, but the girlfriends and wives get bored pretty fast downtown.
     
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  3. kkinwi

    kkinwi VIP Whale

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    Nice going on the gambling....even is a win for me!
     
    LAUGHLIN
  4. YoungGun

    YoungGun VIP Whale

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    Tuesday
    We started the day with brunch at Wicked Spoon. While it was good as usual, many items we had enjoyed in the past and are still advertised on their website were not available. What was there was still very good and the service is still table service restaurant quality, but missing so many items was a little disappointing.

    We decided to check out Park MGM after brunch. It was eerily empty since the hotel was closed. Eataly was open and had probably a dozen people in it. It was nice having the casino basically to ourselves and everyone agreed that we would try to stay there again in the future since we enjoyed the smoke free environment. Had an uneventful VP session.

    We left Park MGM to take an archery lesson at Impact Archery. I had wanted to try archery for awhile and I saw their Groupon special while buying the Groupon for the escape room so I went for it. Archery was quite fun.

    We had about an hour to kill before doing our escape room (the one I booked the wrong date for) so we went back to Park MGM. Had a down session and had to leave for the escape room.

    Went back to the Escapeology Maryland Parkway location (their other Las Vegas location is in Town Center; we did not visit that location this trip). Under Pressure was rated a 9/10 in difficulty, but we finished it faster and felt it was easier than the 7/10 room we had done the day before. Perhaps we had been rusty the day before since we had done an escape room for months due to many of them being closed for health and safety reasons. Had a great time still and will probably try out more of their rooms next trip.

    Drove to Snappy Burger for a simple dinner since we had a buffet earlier in the day. Snappy Burger is a drive thru only burger place owned by the guy behind Heart Attack Grill. After you get your food, you can park in their parking lot which has a small drive-in theater set up. I had read they show short films from local filmmakers, but when we were there they were showing Birdman. The food was really good and really cheap. They only have burgers, fries, bottled soda, and shaved ice. I had a double with fries and a Coke for about $8. They also sell comic books.

    Our next stop was TopGolf. We had not planned on going there, but after seeing all the advertisements at MGM Grand, we decided to give it a try. They charge $25 to make a reservation that puts you at the top of the waitlist when you arrive. You can do a walk up to save $25, but you may have to wait a long time for a bay. However, since TopGolf serves food they have to follow the new restrictions so they currently are not taking walk ups. Many parties were being turned away at the door. We managed to get right in and got our bay. We are all pretty new to golf (I last played over 20 years ago), but had a great time. We found the classic TopGolf game took too long for our party of 4 and switched to the Angry Birds game which went much faster.

    Decided to check out OYO after TopGolf. Some of our group are new to blackjack and wanted to try the $1 tables. I joined them for awhile and tried to teach them until some other guy joined in and played some of the worst blackjack I’ve ever seen. This guy hit 12 against a dealer 6 and then stood on 16 at least three times. I know mathematically his bad play didn't affect me, but I just couldn’t take it anymore and went to play some slots. Hit multiple bonuses on Britney Spears, but would always get the lowest instant and never once got a mini game or free spins. Ended up losing quite a bit more than I wanted to. Got some of it back playing blackjack against the virtual dealer. Wanted to play at the non-$1 tables but decided to wait until we got back to MGM Grand since at least I might get something comped for my play there.

    Eventually everyone got hungry again and we ended up going to Pho Kim Long for some late night pho. I’m not the biggest fan of pho or any soup noodles really, but occasionally I get a craving for it. Wasn’t really in the mood, but it was what everyone else wanted. They did not pick up their phone when we called so when we arrived they took our information down and asked us to wait in the car. Got a call less than 10 minutes later. They have a shockingly huge menu. I decided to try some shrimp and crab soup that I had never had before and it was pretty good. Tried some of my friend’s pho and it was really flavorful which I liked. Most of the pho I’ve had has a lighter taste that occasionally borders on bland. I’ve been told it just depends on what region of Vietnam the recipe is from. It is also probably Americanized since Americans prefer bolder flavors. With ramen, for example, most places in the US serve tonkatsu pork broth while in Japan more subtle salt or soy sauce based broth is common. Only annoying thing was they clearly forgot to make a drink one of us ordered and instead of taking it off the bill they insisted that they had already started making it and had a guy run into the back and appear a few minutes later with it after we had already finished our meal.

    After pho we headed back to MGM Grand. I knew it was my last night so I decided I would gamble for a few hours. I decided to start in the area where MGM keeps their old reel slots. Ended up hitting 5 bonuses within a few minutes and made back all my Park MGM and OYO losses. It just continued the pattern of me losing then winning it all back. I was never able to get ahead much though. With my losses restored and the bonuses no longer coming, I decide to call it a night after just about an hour.
     
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  5. Necrochaos

    Necrochaos VIP Whale

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    @YoungGun - What did you think of Shaghei and Under Pressure? We did them both at our local Escapology. Shanghei we escaped, but it wasn't our favorite room. Under Pressure is one of my worst escape room experiences. They were doing a shift change, they forgot about us in the room. After watiing for 10 minutes to get a clue via walkie-talkie, I left the room and went to the control room. They looked shocked and forgot we were there. Didn't give us extra time and we didn't make it to the last room. They walked us through it as quickly as possible and go us out. Contacted the owner and he gave us a free room.

    We did the Vegas themed room at the Escapology in Vegas. It was broken. We ended up in the next room too early because something was open that shouldn't have been opened. They were confused and stopped the clock and came in to figure it out. We escape, the room made no since because we did things out of order. Never been a fan of Escapology.

    I really enjoyed the Saw escape room last year. My wife wouldn't do it as she would be too scared. I did it with a group of bro college dudes. It was very fun.

    The OYO has Britney Spears? My wife will had to head over there. Never been inside but that is her favorite slot.
     
  6. YoungGun

    YoungGun VIP Whale

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    What we didn’t like about Escapeology in general is that they have so many rooms so the gamemasters are monitoring multiple rooms. For both games, the person that came to get us was not our gamemaster. I assume our gamemaster was busy with another group so they sent whoever was available. This kind of takes away some of the fun of the post game debrief when you can ask how you did and ask for clarification of clues. There was a clue that went nowhere in Shanghai’d and we weren’t sure if we skipped something, but the person that got us out had no clue. The person that got us out of Under Pressure had to call the control room to ask for our time and still managed to put that we failed even though we escaped (the picture they sent us has a “you failed” graphic). While we were in Under Pressure we also got a clue meant for another room (guess they hit the wrong button) and when we did ask for a clue they gave us a clue for a puzzle we had already solved.

    I thought Shanghai’d was the better room. The puzzles all made sense, but it did depart from its theme towards the end. Under Pressure was better decorated and had a better variety of puzzles, but at least two of the puzzles had jumps in logic.

    Aside from that we thought the staff was great even if we did wish the gamemaster would have been the one to get us out. The rooms are pretty well done for a standard escape room and the price is decent with a Groupon. If you’re ever in Southern California, Back in Time is a small chain with about 3 locations that are pretty good. They’re standard escape room, but more high tech than Escapeology. I would warn that some of their more difficult rooms are very, very hard. The Basement in Sylmar, CA is Saw quality, but the fact that their rooms are only 45 minutes is kind of annoying and I think are an artificial way to increase difficulty.

    When we did Saw at least two rooms had broken equipment that prevented us from solving the puzzle which made the final puzzle more difficult. Without giving too much away, the laser was stuck in one room and we weren’t able to move it to the proper position and in another room we had the proper code but the door wouldn’t open.

    We chatted with the guy working at Escapeology about the different rooms in his location and at the Town Square location (which is where I assume you went as Maryland Parkway did not have the Vegas Hangover room). He recommended 7 Deadly Sins at Town Square and Mansion Murder which is at both locations. He said he thinks Vegas Hangover is just a bad room and didn’t recommend it. I’m tempted to do the Scooby Doo room just to see how it is.
     
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  7. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Nice stuff so far!
     
  8. Necrochaos

    Necrochaos VIP Whale

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    Agree with Escapology. We go there because it's the only place in our town. The other two local places shut down before COVID. Next closest place is 1 hour away. We wanted to check out 7 deady sins at town Square. We have done Mansion Murder. We didn't finish that one, but it was a good room.

    We've played some great rooms in SoCal. We did Mad Rapper in Feb and it's my favorite room of all time! The Secret at Whitmore Estate was also quite good.

    Houdini at 60Out was a lot of funas well.

    We did quite well at Escape Reality in Las Vegas. We had the top time in their Machina room (with just two of us) (under 30 minutes). We loved that room and their Down The Rabbit Hole (Alice in Wonderland theme was good as well)
     
  9. YoungGun

    YoungGun VIP Whale

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    Just looked up Mad Rapper. Definitely doing that one next!

    How does Escape Reality compare to Escapeology?
     
  10. rooster42000

    rooster42000 Brady, The Goat of all Goats. repeat LVI- #8

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    Great report .:peace:
     
  11. YoungGun

    YoungGun VIP Whale

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    Wednesday
    Our last day. We were booked until Thursday, but the plan was to Leave Wednesday after dinner.

    Started the day with brunch at Ping Pang Pong. This was our first time doing brunch as we had only been there for dinner before. Called for a reservation, but ran late so called back and ask them to move it back. Turns out whoever had picked up the phone never bothered writing down the original reservation so it was a good thing we called back. We were also surprised to find that the dim sum carts were out. Many of our local places have temporarily stopped serving dim sum out of carts. It was a pleasant surprise because dim sum is so much better with carts. It was good dim sum and many in our group liked that it was less oily than many other dim sum places. The one big drawback, and this was not their fault, was the limit of 4 per table. Dim sum, like tapas, is best enjoyed with a big group so that everyone gets to try different dishes. With smaller group, you fill up after just a few dishes and don’t get to try as big of a variety. Again, not their fault. Dim sum service can be really chaotic and I was happy to find that their service was as good as it is during dinner.

    Headed over to Caesars for a few hours as some in the group wanted to visit the Forum Shops and others, including myself, wanted to put a few points on our Caesars Rewards cards. Sat at the bar in the sportsbook and played some VP. Started out pretty good and switched to one of the more volatile games to see if I could hit a bonus before we left. Ended up losing my winnings and a chunk of my bankroll. Moved to an Aftershock machine, which is a game I used to love but haven’t seen around as much recently, and got two quick bonuses that recovered most of my losses.

    I had wanted to go back to Nectar to pick up something I saw the other day, but it looks like their Forum Shop location has closed. So I decided to walk across the street to their Linq Promenade location. Played a machine in the Flamingo that had been lucky on a past trip and got a bonus for a small win. Hit up Honolulu Cookie Company and Nectar for some shopping and then headed to Cromwell.

    It looks like many of the slots I used to like at Cromwell got moved into the high limits section. There was a guy playing on one of my favorites and social distancing meant I couldn’t sit next to him and play the other machine so I found something else on the main floor and played for awhile. Drink service was a little slow for a small casino that wasn’t particularly busy. Had a few small wins that made up for my remaining Caesars losses. Got a call from my friends that they were ready to leave so I cashed out and went back across the street.

    Saw some Hell’s Kitchen stuff in the gift shop I wanted to buy, but the line was long in the gift shop by the lobby so I put it back. Went to the gift shop at the entrance to the Forum Shops. They didn’t have any Hell’s Kitchen items, but I did buy some other items. Super friendly cashier who asked for my Caesars Rewards card. Met up with my friends and family and found out that someone had tried to steal my aunt’s purse. They grabbed it off the seat when she stood up to make a phone call. She chased them down and they pretended it was a mistake and gave it back.

    Dropped some of my family off at McCarran and then headed to North Las Vegas airport for a helicopter tour of the strip with 702 Helicopters. Riding a helicopter has been a bucket list item for me. We had originally booked this for our July trip, but all helicopter tour companies were closed at the time. Can’t recommend 702 enough. They fly smaller 4 person helicopters which means everybody gets a window seat. I think most companies flying out of McCarran fly 6 person helicopters which means two people end up with a middle seat. The tour is only about 10 minutes long but well worth it. The highlight is flying past the Stratosphere Skypod and being able to wave at the people on the observation deck.

    After that it was almost time to head home. We hadn’t made any dinner plans since we weren’t sure what we wanted. Some people wanted a nice meal as the last meal of the trip and others wanted something simple since we had a 4 hour drive ahead of us. Our options turned out to be limited as every place we called had no availability until later. The night before Thanksgiving should not have been that busy for dining, but the reduced capacity was obviously affecting availability. I suggested Flour and Barley at the Linq Promenade. I had watched a few YouTube videos about the best pizza on the strip and that place had ranked highly. I was so tempted to grab a slice when I was there earlier, but had been too full from Ping Pang Pong. We were able to get a reservation and headed over.

    Flour and Barley turned out to be the most affordable meal of the trip and also our least favorite. We got 3 pizzas and two sodas and the bill came out to a little over $60 for the 4 of us. Their pizzas have a very thin crust and is cooked until the crust is lightly charred. The amount of sauce used is very light which made for a somewhat dry tasting pizza. I can see how fans of thin and crispy pizzas would love this place, but those who like big, floppy New York style pizzas would be disappointed. We had two specialty pizzas recommended by the server and a cheese-less pizza since one of our group cannot have dairy. The most disappointing was the Vampire Slayer which was supposed to be a garlic pizza, but had little to no garlic taste. I think I would be willing to give them another shot in the future. I would probably stick with their most basic pizzas; people online rave about their pepperoni pizza. Their to go window does two slices and a soda for $11 which is cheap by Vegas standards so I would probably just do that next time. If I want dine in pizza, I’ll stick to Pizza Rock.

    Went back to MGM Grand to grab our stuff. I wanted to talk to the players club people to see if they could take some of the resort fees off our bill. Turns out the Mlife desk was already closed and it was only a little past 9pm. Went to the front desk and the clerk was able to take off the resort fee. For some reason she forgot to check me out, but I was able to check out online once I got home. While waiting for my friends to finish checking out, I gave into temptation and played a few minutes of slots. I probably ruined my daily average, but it was ok. Didn’t have time to lose too much before it was time to go.

    Overall, my daily coin in is probably way down this trip since I got into a pattern of heavy loss followed by quick recovery. I had huge swings, but relatively little play time. I was staying on an offer so I got all my nights comped and the resort fee taken off at the end. Might move to a Caesars property next trip if my Mlife offers aren’t as great. I’m the lowest tier at Caesars, but have a ton of free room offers thanks to my play at Harrahs SoCal. Also curious what my play at Circa and OYO will bring me.

    Thanks for reading and RIP Tony Hsieh.
     
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  12. Necrochaos

    Necrochaos VIP Whale

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    Thanks for the review on Flour and Barley. We looked at this for our trip next week. We will be skipping it. We like lots of sauce on our pizza. If they sauce litely, it's not for us. I also prefer those NY or Sicilian slices, not thin crispy pizza. I would have loved the Vampire Slayer as I'm a huge garlic person, but I won't be trying that either.

    Pizza Rock is still King!
     
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