Las Vegas Trip Report

December 20-25, 1998

Day Six - December 25, 1998


We got up fairly early and I had a craving for another bagel with cream cheese. Dan had bought some apple juice on Wednesday that I wanted to finish before the ride home and a big sesame bagel would be perfect. I sent Dan off to find one in the coffee place or at Toscano's Deli. Guess what? The Rio has bagels 364 days a year, but Christmas is not one of them. They used to make them on site, but now have a service. Oh well.

Dan brought up a blueberry crumble thing for him and a fruit tart for me. It was yummy, but the crust was too hard to cut with the plastic fork, so I mostly ate the middle part.

We packed up and called for Bell Service to take our four biggest bags (3 bags and the cooler actually) down. They arrived after just a couple of minutes and we were off. Dan headed for the parking garage to get the car and I went to the Play Rio Slot Club center to check on our points. We had about 3000 points, not enough for a discount on the already low room rate, but enough for a couple shirts and a hat. We already have enough Rio shirts so I decided to leave them for our next trip.

Next stop was the front desk to checkout. Checking the TV listing earlier I noted that they had already taken off the buffet for two, the ticket for the parade and $10 off of our tab at the Voodoo Café as that was part of our package deal. I didn't have to wait in any line and charged the $238 to my Visa Las Vegas card. I walked out front just as Dan was pulling up in my car. The bellman immediately brought out our bags, we loaded up and hit the road.

We went to the Texaco across the street to get gas. I was only down about a half a tank and sure enough, we filled up for $5.00. We hopped right onto the freeway and said "Goodbye, Las Vegas!" for another trip.

Dan had only one requirement for this trip. He wanted to ride the Desperado at Primm on our way home. He'd been pestering me about it since our first trip to Las Vegas in October of 1995. This trip he was dead set on going.

We stopped in Primm, but didn't see the coaster going. I was more worried than Dan, but we went inside to find out the scoop. We found parking pretty close to the front entrance. It was still bitterly cold outside, so we buttoned up our jackets even for the short walk.

Once inside, I was surprised by the appearance of the place. Dan says that it reminds him of Knott's Berry Farm in Southern California, but having never been there, I can't confirm. It does, however, remind me of a place called Frontierland (or something similar) that used to exist in South San Jose when I was a kid. I expect they're pretty close to the same thing.

Apparently we were in Buffalo Bill's which is done up in a Wild West theme. The casino is clean and the place seemed nice, although the clientele was a bit different from that of the Bellagio and the Rio. There were kids everywhere at 11am, no doubt about that, but this place seemed to cater more to them.

We stopped for a potty stop in the arcade's bathroom and I had to cover my ears to walk through the place. The arcade games were turned up much too loud.

After our stop, we discovered the rides opened at 11am on Friday. Dan bought a ticket for Desperado ($5) while I waited inside and watched the log flume ride. Dan came back what seemed to be quite a while later (apparently they can't run the roller coaster with less than 12 people and there were 11 on the train and 2 people who insisted on waiting for the last car... whatever!). He really enjoyed the ride and I pointed out the flume ride.


*** Dan Writes *** The last time I drove though Primm on the way to Las Vegas, Utah and beyond, the Desperado was still under construction – yet is still dwarfed the hotel it was built around. This time I would be back to ride it.

The level of décor in Buffalo Bill’s Casino surprised me. The concessions on the casino walls looked like storefronts of a western town, and there were plenty of lassos, chaps, and faux cactus. It reminded me of the western "Wild West" area of Knott’s Berry Farm, a wannabe Disneyland in Orange County California.

Naturally, you have to walk through the entire casino to get to the Desperado boarding area. It was 11 am Christmas morning, and there were few riders. They won’t run the ride with fewer than 12 riders, so I had to wait a few minutes for a few more people to get on. Then we rolled out toward the initial big climb.

Take a look at the picture on the Web site – the first hill goes up past the top of the hotel – then drops steeply in such a way that you can’t see the track in front. GREAT! The second drop was also pretty good.

When the ride slows down, the ride’s designer kept it fun by putting a couple of negative-G crests ant the top of hills. This is when you feel like you will fly out of your seat. Then there are curves over the parking lot -- not as good as the New York-New York’s Manhattan Express, which hangs you over the busy intersection of Tropicana and Las Vegas, but is, was still a thrill nevertheless. When other coasters get boring, Desperado dives into a tunnel, still fast enough to create the illusion of two inches of clearance between he top of the tunnel and your head.

The only negative I have is that the rides exit through the video arcade, which was loud enough to make Jimi Hendrix grimace and cover his ears. Many of the riders may be too young for slot machines, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to squeeze every last quarter from them.

If you like thrill rides, take the 45-minute drive to Primm, but if you have to choose between Desperado and Big Shot atop Stratosphere, go for Big Shot. The brief moment of floating from your seat 1,000 feet above the Strip is still the biggest rush for the buck in Vegas. ***

I convinced Dan to buy us a pair of tickets ($4 each) for the log ride. When you get into the log, they give you guns and you shoot at targets throughout. Some targets are just spots on the walls or on trees; some are on bottles or tombstones or on bad guys who do things when you shoot them. For instance, one guy's hat blew up into the air, etc.

The ride goes outside and does a little splash, but we didn't get too wet. I was concerned about it as it was so cold, but it wasn't bad. You wind around outside for a little while, then come back into the casino area. As we were coming back inside, Dan shot at some bad guy with a gun who promptly turned around as a 1/4 inch in diameter stream of water came out of his gun and sprayed us! We were soaked and screaming like crazy people. It was all in good fun, even though we were now cold and wet. We proceeded to be afraid to shoot any more of the targets, so instead we shot people trying to get to the restaurants and playing at slot machines. Much more interesting… and safer!

Pulling back into the "station" I informed everyone, "Do not shoot the man with the gun!" as I dripped out of the boat. The ride operator laughed and said, "he got you, huh?" Duh! (Drip… drip…) We checked our scores. Dan got 6200 points and I had 6900 points. YAY! Deadeye Sonya strikes again!

We rushed back to the car and got on the road for a long ride home. There wasn't anything too eventful. We listened to some stories on tape from Stephen King's Night Shift (The Raft and Mrs. Todd's Shortcut) as well as Jurassic Park.

I was able to drive almost all the way to the junction of I-5 and 152, but had to stop at the rest area and switch drivers. I was falling asleep at the wheel. Not a good idea!

Dan drove the rest of the way home and we actually managed to unpack the car and turn on the heater before collapsing on the couch from exhaustion!

All in all, it was another nice trip. Certainly the prices were right! We managed to do the entire trip for under $350 and brought home our gambling budget in cash, even with tips for valets, cocktail waitresses, bellmen, as well as ride, movie and snack expenses.

I was prepared for it to be cold in Las Vegas, but I was not prepared for it to be in the 20's and 30's at night and only getting into the 40's and 50's during the day. I liked having my own car there, but didn't enjoy the 9-hour drive to make sure it got there with me! I'm not sure I'll drive again.

I was really impressed with Sam's Town and am sure that another stay is in my future. I wasn't impressed with Bellagio or the Rio although the couch was enough to insure that Dan will insist on going back.

I had a good time and had plenty of time to relax and gamble. We are usually scrambling to fit in everything on our short 2-3 day trips. There were some regrets. Again we didn't make it to the Coke Museum. I also had planned on visiting Opportunity Village and Ethel M's Cactus Garden to see Xmas Decorations. Dan had wanted to do some more visiting of casinos we haven't been into as much (Desert Inn, Bally's, Flamingo, etc.), but we just never got it done. It seems like every trip ends with us wishing we had time to do just a few more things. I guess that's what keeps us coming back twice a year! Hmmm... I should see what kind of room rates I can get for the spring. When is the new LVA coupon book coming out?