Las Vegas

Las Vegas

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.

4 Responses to “Las Vegas”

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  1. soulblazer says:

    Yearly trips to the city of sin never included any of the bondage that seemed to accompany youngings of yesteryear.

    My father’s parents have lived in Las Vegas for over twenty years now and for ten of them, the family would make the drive to Barstow then to the city of neon lights. My grandfather spoiled us with trips to Luxor for the motion simulator or the Hilton’s gone-now Star Trek experience.

    Not always having to shell out gobs of cash, though at a discount for Nevada residency, we could be entertained by our grandmother’s stories. Then, when I was gifted with a SNES, it became as standard in my luggage as my underwear.

    Las Vegas will always be for adults but as it gears to take more money by targeting the young ones, let us remember a time when you only had to worry about one-armed bandits and not your child demanding to ride the roller coaster at New York, New York; again.

  2. AmandaByNight says:

    I grew up in Las Vegas, moving there in 1977 and staying until 1996. It was definitely an adult town in the old days, sans Circus Circus, which had those awesome circus acts! I remember passing by casinos with pictures of various dancers who were topless minus the pasties… I was slightly disheartened by its turn towards kid friendly things, probably because I was passed that age when it became the thing to do (The Excalibur didn’t show up until I was an adult so for most of my youth, Circus Circus was the only casino that catered to kids), but also because I liked the way it was. It was such a surreal place to grow up. I went to school with kids whose last names were Gambino, Valentine and Petraco! Wow. Mafia kids! :) Actually Anthony Spilatro’s kids went to my neighboring high school. As I said, surreal!

    I have not interest in going back to Vegas, but I am obsessed with collecting films shot there. I have everything from Corvette Summer to Las Vegas Bloodbath!

  3. Angela says:

    I remember Vegas back in the early 80’s when I moved there…it was weird living in this casino oasis, but I got used to it fairly quickly. As far as the casino floor, I never had security speak to me about being there. My mom would go play slots and I would be left to my own devices with a roll of quarters at the arcade…so many memories!!

  4. Gina says:

    We went there five times within a few years when it was trying to change its image to a family friendly resort. We stayed at the Excalibur, Luxor, Monte Carlo, Circus Circus, and Mandalay Bay. In a city of constant change where historical preservation doesn’t matter as much as change, I oddly found Elvis’ old song “Viva Las Vegas” to truly capture the city. You live life on a different level there.

    Now it’s changing again, with hotels with no fun, kitschy themes.

    I don’t gamble much. Maybe about $5 a day. I was more interested in the flight simulators.

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