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Saturday, May 4, 2024

Sore Feet and Huge Grins

Day 3 Thu. Dec. 4, 1997

Had a bagel from our cheap bastards supply in the room and bought a latte. A little 25 cent VP with coffee and then on to Excalibur, MGM Grand (signed up for slot club - played a bit to break in the card).

The Harley-Davidson cafe closed in 2016 and was replaced with Tex Mex & Tequila.

Took the monorail to Ballys (signed up there) and on to Caesar's Palace.

BTW there is a lone 9/6 quarter VP machine right in the front of Flamingo, right across from the front walkway to Caesars. A little losing quarter VP in Caesars and then we went through the Forum shops.

We took a wrong turn down toward the FAO Schwartz store - if you go down there there is no way out. You have to back track all the way back to the atrium where the Bacchus animatronic show (now being repaired) is and take the other wing toward Planet Hollywood and out.

On to Mirage where we dabbled a bit. I love the atrium there with its waterfall, mist, trees, and tropical vegetation. If you pause on the wooden walkway by the waterfall, it is a nice rest from the buzz of the casinos.

At Treasure Island, we found the holy grail - the 1 to 100 coin $1 full pay Bonus VP machines with correct pay (800) on the Royal at any level of play. We would be seeing a lot of these machines!

We joined the slot club. You have to generate 150 points to get any rebates or comps. It takes $15 per point and you have to play dollars or higher. But these 1-100 machines make this a more reasonable proposition.

We played for 2 hours and were down $60, playing $1 at a time. Karen hit 4 of a kind ($25) and soon hit another. We were back in business. Then I was dealt 4 9s. Karen hit her *third* four of a kind. Big grins all around.

Ate the buffet for lunch, took a break and circulated the Casino for a while, then back at it. We lost quite a bit and in the end got 150 points. But it was costly, as our luck had run out.

The slot club gave us $15 cash back (you get $1 for every 10 points), set us up to get Casino room rates in future ($49/$79) and promised a comped meal in future.

We set out on the long trip back to Luxor the way we had come.

Outside Mirage, just past the volcano I saw a rat run across the sidewalk and into the vegetation towards the strip. A bit unsettling! (I later told the information girl about it. "Do you know where to find rats at Mirage?" "No, sir" "I do!" "EWWWWW!!!" She got on the phone to security and they were out there with flashlights looking for them!)

Back at Luxor, ate at the Pyramid Cafe. We always get great service and great food there. Karen had their fab club sandwich (featuring about 12 heart clogging pieces of bacon, and about 1/2 pound of turkey). I had the unreal grilled chicken breast sandwich. Highly recommended.

A bit of nickel VP, and lost about $20 at quarter VP. I decided to try the $5.00 VP machine with only one coin in. (I know, don't play less than full coin in - I decided to risk it, figuring a royal for $1250 would be just fine). On the first hand I got 3 nines, and second hand another 3 of a kind. Then a dud hand, then a flush! Then a pair. I quit having doubled my $35.00 'high risk' stake. Would the high roller streak continue? Read on!

We retired with sore feet, legs, lungs, eyes, and huge grins.

In 1995, a monorail service was built running between the MGM Grand and Bally's (now the Horseshoe, once, the MGM Grand - if that makes any sense). I think the monorail infrastructure was absorbed into today's expanded monorail system.
And I do remember seeing a piece of monorail or tram track ending at either Excalibur or in front of Luxor. I think they had planned an expansion but it was never built. Also thinking maybe the bit of track was removed when the Luxor towers were added.
Here's a bit of an aerial view from 1995 that shows some track. Perhaps this is what I recall.

Luxor had an arena in the basement where they had or planned to have camel races. I think it was along the same lines as the Tournament of Kings at Excalibur where you watch horses, guys in suits, and eat chicken.

This arena, I believe, became what is now the buffet at Luxor.

The original buffet was on the attractions level, called the Manhattan Buffet. The level was design to be the modern era vs. ancient Egypt and included mockups of a New York skyline. If you looked closely, you could spot an ersatz King Kong climbing the Empire State building.

The first time we ever visited Luxor, we ate our first meal at the Nile Deli, which sat along the water for the Nile River ride. The Deli is not in its original place, I don't think. We rode this a few times, just for fun. The idea originally was that the barges would transport you to you room elevator after check in. The 'river' circumnavigated the whole casino. It was a relaxing diversion, and as I recall, there was an attendant on the barge pointing things out as you went.

Back to the Manhattan Buffet - it was where the food court is now. Unfortunately, somebody committed suicide by jumping off an inner balcony and landing face first on the salad bar. I don't think anyone else was injured, but that was the end of the buffet in that location. Sadly, there have been a number of repeat performances at Luxor.

As you'll see in future trip installments, we often used the monorail as part of the trek to Treasure Island. We'd walk through Excalibur, cross over to MGM, and walk to the back and grab the monorail. We'd play a bit in each casino as we went. At Bally's, we'd pick a side of the strip and continue to T.I. The whole trek took a couple of hours and we'd repeat it on the way back to Luxor.

The little bridge at Mirage is still there but they gutted out all the greenery and whatnot that made it secluded and beautiful. So many of the special things in Vegas get taken out for some reason I never understand. And each casino had various free shows or attractions, like the animatronic Bacchus show in the Forum shops, or the thunderstorm that used to happen there, Lions on display at MGM, Caesar and Cleopatra in costume marching through Caesars... you'd make a trip to each casino just to see whatever cool and free things they had going on, and pick up any giveaways there might be - and there were lots.

Treasure Island had a bank of video poker machines that you could play from 1 to 100 dollars a hand. They took bills and coins, and paid out in coins. (I think the machines themselves, reconfigured, are still there, by the elevators.)

A typical video poker machine pays 250 coins for a Royal Flush with 1 coin played, and 500 coins for 2  coins played. Only when you play the maximum 5 coins do you get the full payout on the Royal - 4000 coins.

But these machines paid 800 coins for a Royal with 1 coin played. And 1600 for 2 coins played. And so on, up to 100 coins played. So they were full pay at any number of coins played. Fantastic!

The way we played these was we'd take turns. And after every win, we'd cash out the coins, and build stacks of them on top of the machine. It took forever and was one of the most fun things we'd ever do in Vegas. If you got up 20 or 30 coins, you might take a big chance and play 2 or even 3 coins for one hand. Scary! Those were the days...

I remember one night we ended up playing these horoscope themed nickel slots at the front of Mirage to the left of the entry. We decided to walk back to Luxor. Obviously it was painful enough that I remember it. But it was fun, we were young(er) and it's a fond memory.

Pyramid Cafe as it appeared in 2002.


    1. Yeah you ate chicken Medieval style with your fingers while the knights and horses ran around in the dirt in front of you 😜😱🀣

      "Luxor had an arena in the basement where they had or planned to have camel races. I think it was along the same lines as the Tournament of Kings at Excalibur where you watch horses, guys in suits, and eat chicken."

    2. Ah, what great memories... many a time did I look at that exact Keno board board while enjoying a handwritten comp meal from the Pit boss at the Craps Tables! Love the old pictures - keep 'em coming!

      1. I miss giant Keno boards in restaurants!! The Manhatten buffet …. That is a blast from the past🀘🀘. Only rode the Nile Ride once … definitely a relaxing experience.
        This trip report is hitting all the old school feels πŸ€˜πŸ˜ŽπŸ’œ


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