When parents bring the whole family to Las Vegas these days, the kids really don’t realize just how lucky they have it. Today, most of the bigger hotels do their best to offer a multitude of activities that the whole family can enjoy. Excalibur entertains with jousting matches, Treasure Island provides a spectacular pirates show, and New York, New York offers a thrilling roller coaster. There are ride simulators, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, and a place where you can drink Coca-Cola from around the world, or purchase just about anything M&M’s-related that your heart desires. And, as any kid who visited Vegas in decades past can readily attest, it wasn’t always that way.
The family-friendly trend really began in 1976, when Circus Circus opened on the strip, offering an enormous big top, filled with clowns, acrobats and wild animals – not to mention, enough carnival games to rival any State Fair. But prior to Circus Circus, kids were lucky if any hotel even made a halfhearted attempt at a video game arcade. No simulator rides, no shark tanks, just a couple of stores and a Pong game. And don’t think you were going to step foot anywhere near all that excitement in the casino, unless you cared to receive a stern reprimand from hotel security. And yet, although Vegas clearly showed little love for the kiddies, an untold number of parents still dragged their offspring along on their trips to Sin City.
Is this the Vegas you remember as a child? Were you held captive in a hotel room, while the likes of Dean Martin and Wayne Newton entertained your parents? Were you pumping quarters into Pong and Breakout machines and eating 25-cent hot dogs? If you were dragged to Vegas as a kid, tell us how you occupied your time, and what you remember most in our comments section, as we remember this adult world that many of us inexplicably found ourselves visiting in our childhood.