Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Bellagio Christmas 2005

Last Saturday we thought that we would get into the ‘Christmas Spirit’ and go wander around a mall, and go see the Bellagio Christmas display.

The week before we hit the Meadow's Mall, which seems to be the standard type indoor shopping center as seen around the west coast. It’s rather good size, with two levels, one hundred and fifty or so small stores and six or seven big ‘anchor’ tenants. At the ends are Sears and Penny’s, with Dillard’s and Macy’s and a big food court in the middle. In the center courtyard is a play area for the kids.

Which was filled, probably watched by one parent while the other was doing Christmas shopping and filling up the trunk.

They had a nice area in front of Sears for Santa, where you could talk to him and of course buy a photo with him.

We did most of our shopping there. I got some neet new red sneakers (I’ll have to get a shot of those).

This past Saturday we decided to go to the Fashion Show Mall. This is right on the Strip, across from Wynn’s. It used to be a small place, but two years ago they doubled in size and added the fancy ‘cloud’ overhang out on the Strip side. This is a big silver flying saucer, visible for miles, on which they project images. There are a bunch of big stores and several hundred smaller ones. It caters more to the ‘high end’ shopper, with lots of jewelry stores, and Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom’s among the bigger places. They have some fancy decorations hanging around, big ornaments with feathered showgirls sitting or standing on them.

This one is down one of the smaller wings, it's not on the main mall. It is a convenient place for us to get to, right down Desert Inn, under the freeway and into the back entrance to the parking garage. It’s about three miles due east from our house. It is a good place to park when going to casinos on the Strip. We hit the Starbuck’s on the way through and wandered South on Las Vegas Boulevard. This takes us past the TI (Formerly known as Treasure Island), Mirage and Caesar’s Palace before the Bellagio, all on the west side of the street.

The TI used to be more of a kid’s oriented pirate themed place. There were skulls and pirate chests full of gold coins all over the place, with a big kid’s play area. Out front is a small lake with two big sailing ships, that nightly played out a battle between pirates and a British warship. I thing the British ship is the one that always sank in the end. Lots of ‘yo-ho-ho’s’ and waving of swords. Last year they, along with most of the other kid oriented places, switched back from kids to adults. The pirate battle became the ‘Sirens of TI’, with one ship filled with scantily clad (well, scantily clad for the rest of the country, almost covered for Vegas values) pirate maidens fighting a ship full of men. They run the show a half dozen times a night, but I haven’t been down to see it. When we are on the Strip at night it’s usually down the south end at the Luxor and MGM. So I don’t know which ship sinks at the end of the battle.

But here is a shot of the ships that you will not see if you come to Vegas to view the show:

The show is closed for December (opening back up on Christmas day) for work. All the water has been drained, and the ships are being painted. Interesting to see how a concrete ship is made to look like wood. This ship does not move, and you can see a deeper area out front, where the pirates ‘fall’ off the top rigging into the water. Usually there is only three feet of water around, but the deeper spot lets the pirates fall safely. The other ship comes from around the corner to battle this one:

You can see the rails it moves on, and the small stacks scattered around produce the explosions of cannon balls. It comes around above the water, and then ‘sinks’, and drops about six feet down to the level it is now. Since this one is black with the big bull head and horns, and the other white with pearls I am assuming the guys are on this one and the Sirens on the Pearl ship. So I am assuming the girls win all the battles, with the guys sinking.

Past the Mirage, with it’s big volcano out front (sorry, it only erupts at night – lots of flames) and into Caesar's Palace. This is the entrance to the shopping area:

Just opened after a major rebuild, they also added a lot of stores. No big anchor tenants, but lots of little places. Because it is off of the casino there are some expensive places, full of jewelry and stuff. No match to Wynn’s Ferrari dealership, but lots of things. There is also a Playboy store, full of feathery things and little articles.

This entrance is lower than the main casino floor, so there are circular escalators that take you up two levels. The only circular escalators that I have ever seen.

Next was the Bellagio. They too have big ornaments with showgirls on top.

These are also in their shopping area, which like Caesar’s is only one level. But it is much smaller, and only with fancy stores – Jimmy Chu shoes, Dior, Gucci, Prado and others.

Down past the main lobby with it’s ceiling of glass flowers to the conservatory. This is a big glass room that is filled with a seasonal display, changed four times a year. This year’s Christmas (sorry, Holiday) display is full of penguins and polar bears.

The polar bears are covered with white mums. The penguins are just covered in feathers. There are some big trees and the squirting fountains that I like.

Full of pointsettias and a big cranberry bog. I think the one two years ago was the best we’ve seen. That one was more of a winter scene, with snow falling from the ceiling and a frozen pond and stream.

Walking back we stopped on the bridge over Flamingo. This corner has Bally’s, the Flamingo, Bellagio and Caesar’s.

In the Vegas show they had on PBS recently this corner was discussed, at this one intersection are more hotel rooms than in all of San Francisco. You can't make it out too well, but just to the left of the 'Ballys' sign is a hugh poster of one of the showgirls from their event Jubilee taken from the rear. I wonder what that woman thinks, every time she looks up and sees her 'rear' view, in a thong and fishnets, up above? I'm not sure I would like my butt enlarged to twenty feet high out where millions of people see it every month. But then I'm not a showgirl. She's probably quite proud to be chosen for that poster. The front view is the basis for a big billboard that is all over town:

The Ballys sign underneath is actually one of those hugh TV screens, with images of the shows and events going on there. Oh, I see I also got one of our many many stretch limos down under the sign. I'll have to do a photo thing on the limos of Vegas.

We walked past one of the new double decker busses that now travel from downtown on the Strip:

Advertised as a ride that you can see everything from. Looks like there are nice views from the upper level.

Across from TI is the Venetian, on the corner across from Wynn’s and the Fashion Show. Right now this is listed in the top ten largest hotels in the world, I think around six or seven. They are in the process of building a new tower, with more shops below.

After construction it will move up to be the largest hotel in the world, rated by number of rooms. It will have over seven thousand hotel rooms. This will push the MGM Grand down to number two, but not change the number of hotels in Vegas in the top ten as it just slides up.

You can really see from this shot that it was cloudy in Vegas Sunday. The storm system that brought two and a half inches of rain to San Francisco in twenty four hours, and lots of snow in Tahoe and Denver, was far enough North to keep rain away, but the clouds were still here.

Back in the Fashion Show we did some shopping and had a late lunch at Nordstrom’s coffee shop. Good food, not very expensive. The main central feature in this mall is a runway that comes up in the center of the mall, upon which they have fashion shows every few hours. This week they are doing a Santa’s Walk as part of the show, with dancers and Santa.

Sorry Santa didn’t come out too well, the bright lights down there kind of overpowered everything else. I didn’t get a shot of the place Santa sits, but it is a lot smaller than the one at Meadow’s, just a big chair and some ornaments, with a camera. Not as many kids at this mall.

That was our short trip down the strip. We walked through TI, Caesar’s and Bellagio – three casinos are enough for one day. After all, we live here and can see the others at any time. We usually only hit three or four per trip, unless showing out of town guests around, then we just walk their feet off, which is usually only four or five places.

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