Las Vegas has changed dramatically over the decades. Gone are free parking, breakfast specials and dinner shows. But new things keep the city a major destination for visitors, despite their questionable value.
Let’s look at some changes that represent present-day Las Vegas:
• Marquees are gone, but giant video screens give visitors more information than ever, as well as distracting drivers with bright lights and animation. What we lose in old fashioned charm, we make up for in fender benders.
• The Monorail, while a part of the new Las Vegas, still doesn’t get visitors to the airport, but there’s no graffiti and no violence (which is better than New York).
• Some of the things that have disappeared are now housed in museums. While we may not have neon, we have the Neon Museum. And while we may not have the mob, we have the Mob Museum (with new exhibits showing up with increased frequency at Lake Mead).
• The show in showgirls is gone, but the showgirls on Fremont Street are still working. Posing (for photos) is not the same as performing, but visitors are happy to pay for the feathered experience.
• Gone, for the most part, is elegance. Yes, we have high-end properties, but more coolers are being lugged by guests into their rooms.
• While we don’t have cheap buffets anymore, there are buffets for the higher-end all-you-can-eat bunch. For everyone else, thank goodness for those coolers.
• Comps are becoming less frequent. But if you pledge a marathon session to a slot or video poker machine, you may score a free drink. The resort fee should deflect your anger away from chasing comps.
• Instead of unique, boutique casinos that should dot the Strip, ubiquitous pharmacy chains give the once-exciting boulevard that mini-mall feel.
• And sure, we no longer have 99¢ shrimp cocktails, but we do have celebrity chefs. Who cares about bargains when you can hang with Gordon Ramsay?
Yes, it’s a mixed bag. But despite the changes in Las Vegas, there is one thing that has remained constant: You can still smoke in casinos.