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Everything I Never Wanted to do in Vegas Family Trip Report

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by JFO, Sep 26, 2018.

  1. Multifarious5

    Multifarious5 VIP Whale

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    I love reading it, and you should get commissions from the LV pass for the stellar write-ups! Like others though, I am exhausted just from reading/living vicariously through you ...the live version must have left you wiped!

    Look forward to more, keep up the great work!
     
    I've decided I'll never be able to go to Vegas again, until I'm 92
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  2. JFO

    JFO Tourist

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    Oh my, now I am feeling ashamed.... Not that this should make it any better, but when we saw him, I wasn't even sure which one of the duo he even was! I doubt my wife did either, but she still immediately wanted a family picture with him.
     
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  3. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Yeah, I would go back there if I knew Siegfried was there. I appreciate the fact he occasionally shows up and interacts with the guests. His show with Roy was the very first show I saw in Vegas.



    Actually though, LV pass might regret that. I think they lost money on him. Haha
     
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  4. JFO

    JFO Tourist

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    Thanks!

    We have done city passes at numerous cities. The city pass for most US cities is something like a museum, a zoo, an aquarium, and maybe a bus tour, but it gives us something to do. New York also has a bunch of multi-attraction tickets. There were a bunch other LV options, Looking at our list: Las Vegas Sightseeing Pass, Las Vegas Power Pass, Las Vegas Go Card, Go Las Vegas Card, Las Vegas Explorer Pass, Las Vegas Reality Show VIP Tour, Las Vegas Bite Card, Las Vegas Meal Ticket. It was pretty exhausting just shopping all these options, deciding on one, and then putting together a "touring strategy" we could all agree on!

    But this was the only time I every tried to do any of this stuff in all my visits, and this seemed like a good way of doing them almost checklist style... And after it was all done it seemed like I finally had something to put in a TR....
     
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  5. JFO

    JFO Tourist

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    I received that as a very kind complement! Thank you!

    Since we got back, Las Vegas Pass has actually been sending me infrequent emails letting me know when they are having sales on the same pass, so I guess they aren't afraid to go after return business. I doubt they tracked (or even cared to track) how much we got off it. Its very difficult to do everything available on this pass (even with the 5-day), so it appears that is all part of their business strategy.

    But I would be very interested if anyone decided to get this pass (or a similar city pass) and made an aggressive touring adventure of it!
     
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  6. JFO

    JFO Tourist

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    Day 4 (3rd and Final day of LV Pass)

    Our first morning waking up at the Wynn. We filled our water bottles with the free ice at the ice machines and topped them off with what was left of our bottled waters. Grabbed our 7-11 plastic bag pastries, and headed down the elevator, through the casino, through the “esplanade”, out the door, over one pedestrian bridge over the strip to the fashion mall, and then over another pedestrian bridge over Spring Mountain road into the TI, then through the TI to Sirens cove where the tour buses pick up and drop off.

    Hoover Dam Half Day Tour: (Normally $60.00 per person, free on LV Pass, the pass does not cover the tour of the generator which is an extra $12/person which we prepaid when we made our reservation to be picked up here in advance.) The tour bus has pick up stops at the Excalibur, Bally’s, TI, Circus Circus, And Golden Nugget. We got to our TI stop 15 minutes early, but the tour bus was more than 30 minutes late, and we could see unrest from lots of the other tourists waiting for the same bus. After the tour bus made the last pickup at the Golden Nugget, it was completely full. On the ride, they played a video with some history of the Dam. We were first taken to the Arizona side of the Dam for views of the Dam and Lake Meade. Then we were taken to the visitor center where just about everyone on the tour bus had prepaid for the generator tour. This tour discussed how the Dam was built, how it supplies drinking water and power to 5 states, and how it prevents farms from getting flooded. The tour also discussed lives lost constructing the dam and environmental changes and concerns created by the dam. After the tour, the bus took us to the Pat Tillman memorial bridge for more views and photos. We had been told the tour should get us back to Vegas around noon, but we didn’t get back until after 2pm.

    Palace Station Disaster: So after only 7-11 bag pastries for breakfast, and the Hoover Dam tour getting us back late, we were getting a bit of hungry. Our plan was to have the Palace Station Buffet for lunch, just on the other side of I-15, where both LVA and ACG had 2-for-1 coupons. So, from the tour bus drop-off, it was through the TI, out to the pedestrian bridge to the fashion mall, over the next pedestrian bridge to the Wynn, through the esplanade (stores again open and still mostly empty), through the Wynn casino, and out to the parking garage to our rental car. Then we drive across the strip, across I-15, to the Palace Station garage with free parking, walk through the Palace Station casino, and we find out then the buffet is under renovation and closed to the public. OK, dad really stepped in it not anticipating this.

    High priority on our list was the National Atomic Testing museum which would close at 5 PM. But we were hungry. We decided to go straight to the museum, and then if we can’t find anything with our coupons, just eat at fast food or find some local place nearby. We called Westgate on the way, and their buffet was also closed to the public also.

    National Atomic Testing Museum: (normally $22 per person, free on LV pass), This museum tells the story of America’s nuclear weapons testing program at the Nevada Test Site. The museum showcases some very rare artifacts relating to the nation’s atomic testing program, a large nuclear reactor that was used in the development of the nuclear rocket, the first air-to-air missile, personal atomic weapons that were developed to use in place of conventional weapons, and lots of short movies and fun facts.

    The family enjoyed this stop a lot, while I tried to piece together a backup plan to get us fed and make the most out of the last day of our last day on the LV pass. I rescheduled our last escape room reservation to a later time with no issues. There was absolutely no way we had time to go Downtown, Henderson, or any of those remote I-515 casinos to eat and catch up. The staff at the museum was actually extremely helpful and friendly, recommending local places, as well as reviewing our coupons and lists, and they helped us find and recommend something we thought would work very well:

    Silverton Hotel and Casino: Only about 12 minutes south on I-15 with no traffic, this was actually a pretty nice looking off strip property. We had 2-for-1 buffet coupons from both ACG and LVA, and on our way to the players club, we actually found very nice lounges with no gambling, no bars, and no smoking, where our kids could hang out without any trouble. My wife and I both signed up as new members, but I wish only one of us signed us because the new member promotions were very generous and included a 50% off food coupon that would cover all 4 of our buffets with just one sign up.

    Silverton Seasons Buffet: At $15 each and the 50% off coupon from the players club for a single new player, we were able to feed all of us for $30+tip. We all felt this buffet easily ranked up there with the Palms AYCE and the better buffets in LV.

    Silverton Casino: With a comfortable lounge the family could hang out in, we had about 30 minutes to kill before we needed to leave for the escape room reservation, and the family was OK with me trying to get some points on the new player promotion. The casino had lots of 8/5 BP, 9/7 DB, and 15/9 DW44. Reaching 1000 points would earn a $25 cash play bonus for new players, which was my goal. I did reach 1000 points in about 30 minutes, but I could only figure out how to claim the $10 bonus from the first 500 points. I ran out of time to mess with it, so I took my promo, cashed my tickets, and ran to pick up the family. While we like this hotel and casino, the only thing that we found really creepy was that from the players club, if you earn enough points, they have a prize where they allow you to swim with a woman dressed as a mermaid. But seriously, we thought this was a nice place.

    Xterious Escape / Casino's Dark 11: (Normally $30 per person, free on LV pass.) A short 10-minute drive back north on I-15 got us back to the south side of the strip where the Xterious is. This escape room was back to a Las Vegas theme, where props included a blackjack table, a slot machine, dice, and a Las Vegas map. Our first two escape rooms were rated at advanced, while this one was rated as intermediate, and we were able to solve a lot of this on our own, but still with a few hints we weren't shy about taking. We told them after we were done we really enjoyed these escape rooms and would enjoy doing the others if we ever returned, but $120 for a family of 4 is a lot of money. They mentioned we should check groupon online for frequent promos. A very nice staff.

    We asked the kids if they wanted to do either Titanic Exhibition or NYNY rollercoaster, and they declined. My wife asked why they wouldn’t want to do Titanic Exhibition, and they said it sounded too scary. It turns out they were confusing “Exhibition” with “Expedition”, and they thought this attraction had something to do with being put in a shaking sinking ship, the ship cracking, and then getting pulled into icy cold water. That would actually sound like a pretty cool attraction, but we assured them this was NOT an “Expedition” but just a museum, and they agreed to go:

    Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition: (Normally $35 per person, free on LV pass) Short side note, I actually get free parking at MGM resorts with my Hilton Credit card that I have kept several years. The card has a moderate annual fee of $75, but that is easily recovered by the annual free hotel night the card comes with, and the card has an automatic status that transfers to MLife Pearl which has free MGM parking as long as I keep the card. This was the first time on the trip we actually used the free MGM parking. Even with free parking, the parking gates in and out of the garages are a total nuisance. We parked in the Luxor garage, and entered the big pyramid from the back. At the ticket box, they tell us all 4 of our passes are failing. I immediately ask for a manager and call the LV Pass number, but the LV pass offices were closed. My wife backed away like she didn’t know me, because she knew I was about to throw a big one. The manager comes over, and suddenly our passes work when they get scanned another time, and we get our entry tickets with just a short delay and no additional conflict, and I settle down. Entering the attraction, we each got a “boarding pass” with the name and background of an actual Titanic passenger. The museum had real artifacts brought up from the sunken ship, re-creations of rooms and decks from the ship, stories of the ship and how it sunk, a man-made iceberg we could touch that illustrated the temperature of the salt water (which felt nice after a day of Vegas heat.) Towards the end, we all thought “the big piece” was quite breathtaking. In the final room, there was a big wall with a list of survivors and casualties. All of our assigned boarding pass names were survivors; my daughter was quite excited and let out an “I Lived!”

    “Bodies: The Exhibition” is another LV pass freebie was adjacent to Titanic exhibit, but LV Pass requires these be done on separate days. But just like the Bally’s Bodies museum, the family wasn’t interested in seeing preserved dead people. I am not sure the difference between these two exhibits.

    When we got in the car, we asked if anyone wanted to go to the NYNY roller-coaster (on the opposite side of the Excalibur from Luxor where we also had free parking), they all declined, so we were complete with the LV Pass.

    Final Thoughts on LV Pass:

    I calculate we got around $1800 in “normal price value” for our 4 passes that costed around $700. Between LVA, ACG, and Groupon, many of these attractions have discounts up to 50%, but even if we could find 50% discounts on every attraction we had done, we still came out ahead.

    Directly on our touring path, there was a lot of attractions that were just too much for our family, including NYNY Rollercoaster, Rio Kiss Mini Golf, Rio Voodoo Zipline, Hollywood Car Museum, Bally’s Real Bodies, and Luxor: Bodies the Exhibition. There was also the 8:40 PM show downtown at the D (Defending the Caveman), a comedy about relationships that we would have loved to see but it would have been too much driving back and forth. Another attraction on the pass that we heard very good reviews of was the “Spring Preserves Las Vegas”, but this was a long shot for us to make. The pass also had “Las Vegas Monorail 1-Day Pass”, “Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour” but we had our own transportation. The pass had a 90-minute Lake Meade Cruise, but no transportation to get there. If we wanted to go to Henderson, we could have done the “Cowabunga Bay Water Park”, “Ethel M Chocolates”, and the “Lion Habitat Ranch” where the retired MGM Grand lions are now, but we didn’t have time for a Henderson trip. Then scattered around the city outside the strip and downtown, there was “Gene Wood's Go Kart Racing”, “Las Vegas Mini Grand Prix”, “Sky Zone Trampoline Park”, and “Shalimar Wedding Chapel Experience.” The pass had adult only attractions the kids couldn’t go to, “Erotic Heritage Museum”, “Banger Brewery Tour”, “Rockstar Pool Party”, and “Vegas Rockstar Tour” as well as some ticket discounts for adult shows.

    Before this trip, the only other Las Vegas attraction I ever remember going to was back in the late 90s, “The Star Trek Experience” at the former Las Vegas Hilton (which is now the Westgate) which was one of Las Vegas’s staple attractions at the time. I can still remember the restaurant at the end, where Klingons would visit the tables (like a Disney character meal), and then right outside the attraction, there would be a casino war table pit, where trek-heads coming out of the attraction would very happily piss away their money pretending they were Klingons at that horrible carnival game.

    My two biggest complaints about the LV pass are (1) the 3 times we showed up at attractions and a computer glitch would show one or more of our passes inactive; this is a disaster because time is so limited on a family tour. And (2) the lack of downtown attractions, as there is plenty of activities to do downtown (museums, tons of shows, their zipline, their own escape rooms, with everything walking distance.) A multi-attraction downtown pass would be something I might consider another time if I ever come with our family. But to make the most of this pass as it is, it is going to take advance planning, advanced reservations, and almost certainly a rental car.

    Ok, so back to the trip report….

    --

    We return to our Wynn room. The kids start playing with the free decks of cards the Silverton gave us when we signed up as new players. Everyone, except me is ready to crash. I make one last trip to the casino level to scout the different games at the two casinos, as tomorrow the family will find things to do while I play hoping to find out if this comp was a teaser or not. I thought I was only down there for about 30 minutes, but when I got back up, they were all crashed.

    End of Day 4

    I still have a few more days to report, thanks for reading, and thanks for all the kind feedback so far! And please if anyone has any questions or comments, please let me know. Thanks!!!
     
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  7. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Well done on the pass! But the pass not registering right several times is a bummer. I wonder if it's a common problem with them. I think most of the forum here hasn't bought one because that pass takes up a lot of gambling/drinking time. ;)
     
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  8. azlefty

    azlefty High-Roller

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    Wow, you are my hero for attempting to use 2 for 1 buffet coupons with your kids, and bonus for doing a casino gambling coupon run with them in tow. I have never been able to use the free buffet coupons for kids, and in fact they sometimes cost more than adults because they wouldn't be given the players club discount.

    Did you get to the pinball museum? That's always a winner with our kids.
     
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  9. bshowell

    bshowell VIP Whale

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    Oh wow. You covered a LOT. And only in 4 days?! WITH children? And you even got some gambling time in. I'm impressed!
     
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  10. JFO

    JFO Tourist

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    Apparently it is. It happened to us 3 times (Stratosphere Observation Deck, Paris Eiffel Tower, Luxor Titanic), and in each time the front-line ticket cashier told me it is not infrequent. And in every case they didn't have any power of discretion, even though we would have a printout of an email with 4 bar codes, 3 bar codes would work and the 4th would show expired. We were an obvious "mom, dad, son, and daughter" family and none of these attractions would have been worth the hassle of scamming a 4th bar code in a printout. They might have needed the 4th bar code to get paid, but they shouldn't be holding people up on a computer glitch.

    The phone agents at Vegas Pass (when we could reach them) would tell us the ticket agents were scanning the passes wrong, maybe too fast, with a first scan validating the entry and the 2nd scan making it void or something technical. The long waits to get through to agents suggest there could be a lot of people calling in. But it shouldn't be our job to learn how this stuff works. I really do hate calling for managers anywhere (its EXTREMELY rare for me anywhere), and it really embarrasses my wife, but we only have so much energy in a day, and these hold ups were absurd. After we learned the system from the first glitch, I wasn't shy at all about calling managers right away from that point on, and had the Vegas Pass number on speed dial, and there was some improvement.

    Yeah, I am completely with you! If this wasn't a family summer vacation, this would have been the vegas trip from hell for a solo trip...
     
  11. JFO

    JFO Tourist

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    Thanks!!!! :) But really? :blah: If a coupon was printed in error, then sure, I can accept the coupon being rejected. But as consumers we drive to an establishment, find a parking spot, walk through their casino, find their buffet, wait in line, and when we finally get to the register, the cashier makes her own interpretation of the coupon to help her bottom line.. This is when my consumer advocate caveman instincts come out... The front of the coupon says "Buy one buffet and get the second buffet free" and on the back of the coupon it says "must be 21 years of age." But it doesn't say anywhere or implied the recipient of the "get one free" needs to be 21 also! When does a casino give a non-gambling promotion that can be used by multiple people (room, food, entertainment, etc), and then tell you the non-gambling comp can only be shared with people 21 and over and not even your own family?

    That said, we were on a tight touring plan, and weren't going to get put off track over $6. Before BConned 2.0, this may have been my only negative with a BConn casino, and maybe my only negative experience ever with a BConn employee.

    We didn't have any problems with using any other casino non-gambling coupons with our kids, and we used a lot. Have there really been other rejections for using non-gambling coupons with kids?

    No, but I just pulled them up on the internet, and found that was a free attraction and not too far from the strip either. When we reviewed the lists of top free things to do in Vegas I don't remember seeing this place at all. Thanks for the heads up! That looks like it would have made a great stop for our family on one of the other days!
     
  12. gambler

    gambler VIP Whale

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    Wow, I wish I knew about this Vegas Pass when we went with our kids (about the same age as yours). This sounds like a dream trip to Vegas for kids. You must have done a lot of family planning before this trip started and it shows in the results. You did it right!!

    I'm loving your report and all the detail. It's great you were able to use so many coupons to keep it affordable for a family.

    Looking forward to the rest!
     
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  13. Valgal

    Valgal VIP Whale

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    Thanks for your TR. We may take our 11 yo grandson next year. I know we will be really changing things up if we do that. You have given me some ideas.
     
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  14. azlefty

    azlefty High-Roller

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    This has been my experience consistently. Stations seem to be more laid back about letting the kids eat at the boarding pass rate.
    There is a semi- workaround for those of us who pay our own freight: Boyd casino hotels often run promos for rooms that include buffet or restaurant credit. I try to book these. Then I can apply the coupon to my wife and the room's food credit to the kids, and they are fine with that.

    I suppose it's free to be in the building, but the pinball machines take quarters. But a $20 lasts my family about an hour, a slow burn for Vegas.
    Pretty amazing collection dating back almost a century and nearly all in working order. It's a good place to hang out before you leave town, because it's 5 minutes from the airport. However they are planning to move to the strip sometime in the mnex year or so. I hope it doesn't bankrupt them.
     
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  15. gr8whitenorth

    gr8whitenorth Tourist

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    Fantastic TR! Very complete information on each attraction etc. How much planning did you put into this trip? Your daily itinerary seems quite packed. Definitely a unique TR for sure. Well done.
     
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  16. JFO

    JFO Tourist

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    Thanks! Well, the wife and children all had electronic devices and didn't seem to mind. The wife does a lot of facebook. The daughter was taking pictures with her phone and texting all her friends. The boy plays his video games and watches his youtube videos....
     
  17. JFO

    JFO Tourist

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    Yeah, we did a LOT of iterations of reviewing all of the city pass options, family discussions of which attractions they wanted to go to, which ones they didn't want to go to, and which ones we could leave to deciding on while we were there. Then I would work on a touring strategy to hit those attractions, that considered where we were staying, where there was free parking, and where we had coupons. We could have hit a lot more attractions on the pass, but our family just isn't "touring commando" enough. I still reported the stuff on our path we could have hit, and I thought we hit enough spots that this trip was worth a TR...
     
  18. JFO

    JFO Tourist

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    Glad it helped!
    Just about everything we did on the pass was 11 yo appropriate.
    If you do make a grand tour of lots of attractions, please let us know how it goes!
     
  19. JFO

    JFO Tourist

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    I find that so hard to believe! While this was our first ever trip to Vegas with kids, over the week we did a bunch of coupons with our kids as beneficiaries, and this was the only rejection! I guess we could also have bought the 4 buffet tickets with just my wife and myself at the cashier, and then called the kids over when the hostess was ready to seat us. I wouldn't feel the first bit guilty about that, but we shouldn't have to do that. In my upcoming trips when I go without kids, I will ask the other buffet cashiers. I see a lot of Stations in my future!!!

    Yeah, I also have uneasy feelings about a vintage pinball arcade lasting on the strip, unless it is somehow subsidized by the mega-resorts...
     
  20. JFO

    JFO Tourist

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    A LOT!!!
    (check a couple posts up from this if you haven't already...)

    Planning was extremely important, because there was too many potential pitfalls if we arrived in Vegas and I just wandered off and did the things I like to do... :beer::drunk: