May 17, 2006

Vegas--Woo Hoo!

We're back from Vegas and we had a fabulous time! We stayed at Mandalay Bay, a fabulous MGM-owned hotel at the very South end of the strip. This is definitely my favorite hotel that we've stayed at by far. It's got a fabulous set of pools. There are 2 regular pools, then a large wave pool and a "lazy river" that's a river-type pool with a current that pushes you along. The idea is that you'll glide along on inner tubes (which can be rented for only $20!) but we just swam it and that was a lot of fun too. The wave pool wasn't as cool as it could've been. The waves were pretty spaced out--I'm assuming because they were pretty powerful. Of course one hit right as we were getting in and I was taken by surprise and totally wiped out and was carried away on my butt. It was hilarious. I tried body surfing only to find that it rubs you along the bottom of the pool which doesn't hurt, but does snag up the front of your bathing suit--my brand-new suit too! That kinda ruined it for me.

Anyway they have changed the slot machines so that they no longer take coins. That's a bummer because the fun of the slot machine before was the tactile and audio experience of putting the coin in the machine, pulling the lever, and cashing out when the coins hit the tray. Instead it's all done with tickets now. You insert your money and play off of your credits, and when you win (notice I said "when"--heh) and you cash out, it prints out a ticket for you. The ticket has a bar code and you can either stick that in another machine or just go to the cash machine and it will cash it out for you.

I was very bummed upon our arrival at my complete inability to find my favorite machine--what we call the "Pig-Pig" machine. Its actual name was the Big Bang Piggy Bankin' Game. What made Pig-Pig so fun was the bonus video feature (I really like machines with a bonus feature of some kind). The Pig-Pig game had piggies on the screen and if you lined up 3 pigs in a row you got to play the piggy game, which afforded you extra coins. The best part of the Pig-Pig game though, was when you didn't win at the slot portion, the pigs on the screen would laugh at you and mock you. It was brilliant. Alas, all of the Pig-Pig games are gone. They were always hard to find but Mandalay Bay had an island of Pig-Pig machines. Not anymore.

However, we did discover something else. The advantage of these ticket systems I was talking about above is the return of the penny slot! Yes, you may have thought that the penny slot was dead since they were very, very hard to find, but now they're everywhere! Now that you don't have to deal with actual pennies. And this brings me to my new favorite game: The Star Wars Penny Slot!

Man, I LOVE this game! And it's only a penny!

Here's how it works. On the screen there is 3 rows of lines and 5 columns of pictures. This is all digital, by the way. No actual rolling parts. Okay, so you can play up to 30 "lines" which means different winning combinations. Obviously a straight line from left to right is a winner. Then there are diagonal lines and lines with interconnect--if you pick 30 you get everything on the screen. I like to play with 5 lines. Then you can wager as many credits (coins) as you want--1 per line, 2 per line, etc. I wagered 1 per line with 5 lines for a total of a 5 cent bet at each spin.

You spin and try to match up the symbols, like any other slot. When you match 3 or more, you're a winner. If you match characters (Luke, Leia, Han, etc.) it plays a very short video of them. But there's more! There's the Darth Vader/Obi-Wan Kenobi game. If you get Darth and Obi-Wan, you pick one (by touching the screen) to win and they have a light saber fight. If the one you picked wins, you get big bonus coins. If you lose, you get some consolation coins. And the best part is the Death Star bonus. Notice the globe thing on the picture at the top of the machine. That's the Death Star. When you match 3 Death Star symbols on the slot portion you get to play the Death Star game, where the Death Star spins and lands on numbers indicating how many extra coins you've won. The Death Star game is definitely the funnest part, even though you can win more on straight-up matches in the slot portion, as I found out when I matched 5 Chewbaccas and won 1,000 coins. Dude! 1,000! That's $10 on a penny slot! I was pretty excited about that.

I think the very best thing about Star Wars though is the fact that it's only a penny, or if you played like I did, a 5 cent machine. You get all of the fun and excitement of playing the slot machine with extra bonus games, but don't have to invest any real money. You can throw in 5 bucks and play for an hour. It's great! Hooray for Star Wars!

Aside from playing Star Wars and swimming, we also did a lot of eating and we saw a show. We ate at the House of Blues which has really good food. Which makes it a total mystery why our House of Blues, the one in Downtown Disney just a few miles from our house, has really bad food. Bottom line: House of Blues Vegas = yum. House of Blues Anaheim = not so much.

We did share one really nice dinner at Shintaro in the Bellagio hotel. Wow, was this good. We did not get to sit at a Teppanyaki table (which I thought we would, but oh well) but the food was absolutely outstanding. I highly recommend Shintaro.

After our nice dinner we saw Avenue Q. It's a Broadway show unfortunately adapted for Vegas. By "adapted" I mean that apparently Vegas audiences only want to watch shows that are 90 minutes long so the original Avenue Q was cut down to fit that time frame. Oh well. Anyway, Avenue Q is a parody of Sesame Street--it's a Sesame Street for adults. Featuring songs like "What Do You Do With a BA in English," "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist," and "The Internet is for Porn," the acting is done by puppets with very obvious actors holding them. It's absolutely hilarious, especially if you're a child who grew up on Sesame Street. I highly recommend Avenue Q as well.

So in a nutshell, that was our trip to Vegas. It was very nice to get away and have a good time. I highly recommend that.

Posted by Shelby at May 17, 2006 11:09 AM
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