Las Vegas Sun

September 20, 2019

Currently: 82° — Complete forecast

$15 Million Circus Circus Opens Tonight

Circus Circus, the world’s largest combined casino and amusement center, opens to the public at 10 o’clock tonight following several hours of ceremonial hoopla and star-studded glitter.

Located across the Strip from the Riviera Hotel, Circus Circus is built like a giant circus big-top 90 feet tall. It is fronted by an acre of water fountains shooting colored plumes four stories high.

The casino is slightly longer than a football field and furnished with 19 blackjack tables, eight craps tables, two roulette tables and 686 slot machines.

Like a big top, the huge casino will have numerous circus acts performing around the cavernous room, trapeze and high wire acts performing over the heads of gamblers and bevies of showgirls dancing and singing throughout the casino as well as in each of the 14 bars and restaurants in the building.

These include a rathskeller-type German beer hall where patrons can drink and eat their limit for $1, a Coney Island snack train featuring the delights of hot dogs, salami and pastrami, and Little Italy, geared to deliver five million pizzas a year.

Jay Sarno, who three years ago conceived Caesars Palace, and also dreamed up Circus Circus, will preside over gala ribbon cutting ceremonies at 6 p.m. City, county, state and federal officials, as well as movie and TV stars and a host of reporters and photographers from major newspapers and magazines around the nation are expected for the event.

The ribbon, a 90-foot-long, two-foot canary yellow streamer, will extend from the roof of the building to the ground. It will be cut with giant shears wielded by Sarno, his co-entrepreneurs and Jud D. McIntosh and Stanley Mallin, U.S. Sens. Alan Bible and Howard Cannon, and Las Vegas Mayor Oran K. Gragson.

To point up the zany aspects of Circus Circus, Henderson Justice of the Peace Delwin Potter will marry a local couple 400 feet above the building on a platform suspended from a hover helicopter about an hour before the 6 p.m. ribbon cutting.

The mid-air wedding will be heralded by a four-man skydiving performance.

At 7 p.m. the new casino will host a private invitational preview opening for some 1,500 local dignitaries and VIPs. To signal its start, Sarno will turn on the four-story water foundations and release 5,000 ballons into the sky.

Built at a cost of $15 million, Circus Circus is headed by Sarno as president with a 25 percent investment, and McIntosh also a Caesars Palace investor with a 22 1⁄2 percent. Nine additional investors also have holdings in Caesars Palace.

George Deverell, former casino executive at Caesars Palace, was named recently as casino manager of Circus Circus.

In addition to eye-popping entertainment at every turn in the building, a western frontier music and dance revue, titled “The Piece-Full Palace,” will perform twice nightly in the Circus Circus Hippodome Theatre.

Produced and directed by Jerry Schaffer, “The Piece-Full Palace” features music and lyrics to 15 songs by famed show business personality Steve Allen.

Setting for the show is Las Vegas when it was a one-year-old settlement in 1868. At that time, it was called Fort Baker.

Guests at Circus Circus will also find its 1,000 employees in colorfully costumed circus uniforms.