Las Vegas Sun

November 20, 2018

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MGM converts theme park to group-rental operation

The MGM Grand Adventures' days are over as one of the Las Vegas Strip's few amusement parks open to the public.

Grand Adventures, renamed "The Park at MGM Grand," will be available only for group business and special events with 50 or more people. General admission tickets will no longer be available.

Three rides will be retained by the park in its new capacity -- the 220-foot high "Sky-Screamer" swing, the "Lightning Bolt" roller coaster and the Parisian Taxi bumper car ride. Also retained will be the park's 950-seat amphitheater, formerly used for a pirate show, and its two, 700-seat theaters, often used to shoot television shows.

"All other rides either have been or will be liquidated," MGM Grand spokeswoman Shelley Mansholt said Tuesday.

Tickets for the Sky-Screamer had been sold separately from theme park admission; however, this ride will no longer be available to the general public, Mansholt said.

Other features of the new park include "team building sites" aimed at corporate business, including rock-climbing walls and obstacle courses.

The park last closed in September. Traditionally, it began operations in April and ran through the summer; in its new capacity, the park will operate year-round. It typically employed about 100 high school and college students during the summer months.

Since the park hadn't opened for the summer, no layoffs occurred, Mansholt said; year-round employees of the park were transferred to other positions at the MGM Grand.

This will be the first year since the MGM Grand opened in 1993 that the park has been closed to the general public. When the MGM Grand opened, the park was 40 acres; it has been reduced to 19 acres since then. Its primary competitor was Circus Circus' "Adventuredome," an indoor amusement park. The park also faced competition from rides operated by other hotel-casinos, including the "Big Shot" and roller coaster atop the Stratosphere tower and a roller coaster operated by sister property New York-New York.

The park's future came into doubt shortly after MGM Grand Inc. acquired Mirage Resorts Inc. last summer, and company officials said they wanted to maximize their returns on the land occupied by the park. Last July, MGM MIRAGE President Jim Murren said the park was "under review," and Chairman Terry Lanni said "if something comes along (for a new use of the park), we'd certainly consider it." It became even clearer that the park's days could be numbered when MGM Grand put the park's rides up for sale in October.

That set off a storm of speculation on what MGM MIRAGE might do with the park. One possibility often mentioned was that the land would be used for an expansion of the successful MGM Grand Convention Center.

Jim Murren, president and chief financial officer of MGM MIRAGE, said the company is continuing to explore "the highest and best use (for the theme park land) on a long-term basis."

"You have to keep your options open, and this is a way to generate income while we keep our options open," Murren said.

Options for the land include the development of luxury condominiums, timeshares, entertainment complexes or more casino and hotel space, Murren said.

"Eighteen point eight acres on the corner of Harmon and Koval ... become an extremely strategic piece," Murren said. "People are coming out of the woodwork to talk to us."