Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Las Vegas has always billed itself as a playground, but its emphasis on being one for both kids and adults appears to be dwindling. Many of the family-friendly attractions that peppered the city during the 1990s have vanished, doomed to exist only in photos and memories. Here are a few of them.
Speed at the Sahara
Speed, the short, swirling, double-loop roller coaster, closed in May 2011 along with the shuttered hotel. The ride that ran partially through the hotel’s interior and shot out to the building exterior along Las Vegas Boulevard would accelerate to 70 mph.
MGM Grand Adventures Theme Park
MGM Grand Adventures Theme Park opened in December 1993 behind the MGM Grand Hotel to provide entertainment for children who were too young to gamble. Nine themed street scenes welcomed guests entering the 33-acre playground. New York Street was an authentic-looking Brooklyn neighborhood from the early 20th century. Other themed areas included Casablanca Plaza, Asian Village, French Street, Salem Waterfront, Tumbleweed Gulch, Rio Grande Cantina, New Orleans and Olde England Street. Intertwined throughout the park were 12 major attractions — seven rides and five theater shows — and two dozen stores, ranging from souvenir craft shops to restaurants. The facility closed to the public in September 2000 and served as a rental facility for corporate functions. The park’s final closure took place in 2002 when MGM Mirage announced a high-rise luxury condominium and hotel complex would replace the theme park area.
Treasure Island's Pirate Battle
Treasure Island was built in 1993 by Steve Wynn, with its signature public pirate show on a replica ship on Las Vegas Boulevard.
In May 2000, MGM acquired Mirage Resorts from Wynn. The deal included Treasure Island. A few years later, the gaming giant transformed the property into something sexier and changed its child-friendly pirate battle into a tale of seduction renamed “Sirens at TI.”
Wet ‘n Wild
Wet ‘n Wild water park served as an oasis for children on the north of the Strip for nearly 20 years before its closure in 2004. During its last four years of operation, the theme park had sold to five different companies, then announced it would close to make way for redevelopment. The now-defunct Fontainebleau Resort was built on the site.
Games Of The Gods Arcade at Luxor
Luxor Las Vegas housed a high-tech entertainment center with a huge selection of arcade games like a virtual roller coaster, a motion-based Indy 500 simulator and Xtreme Powerboat. The arcade closed in 2007 when the resort shed its family-friendly roots and Egyptian theme to lure a hip, young-adult crowd.
MGM Grand Lion Habitat
The one-of-a-kind, $9 million glass-enclosure habitat had offered visitors a chance to see African lions play, groom and sleep. The 20 lion residents lived on an 8.5-acre ranch 12 miles outside of Las Vegas but were rotated into the exhibit alone or in pairs for several hours for guests' enjoyment.
The big cats were reportedly descendants of Leo the lion, the most recent mascot used by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios. The lion has been a part of MGM for decades, but the free attraction closed Jan. 31.
On the Strip inside the Showcase mall, GameWorks has offered state-of-the-art games, the world’s tallest climbing wall and attractions for the entire family. Featuring 200-plus interactive games, the facility was a joint venture of Sega Enterprises and Universal Studios. GameWorks plans to close its Strip location while it looks for a venue elsewhere in the valley, where it can cater to locals instead of tourists.