MGM Resorts International
Monday, April 4, 2016 | 2 a.m.
MGM Resorts International’s new dining and entertainment district, the Park, opens today, injecting a swath of nature into the built-up landscape of the Las Vegas Strip.
The $100 million district between New York-New York and Monte Carlo, both of which are owned by MGM Resorts, represents a major step in an ongoing evolution in the resort corridor. Like Caesars Entertainment’s Linq Promenade before it, the Park is a large outdoor space that has very little to do with gambling (aside from the casinos on either side, of course).
Also similar to the Linq, the Park extends from Las Vegas Boulevard to a major attraction — except it’s not a big observation wheel. Rather, it’s the 20,000-seat T-Mobile Arena, a joint venture between MGM Resorts and AEG that debuts later in the week.
But with its particular emphasis on nature, art and public space, the Park is not a direct copy of anything on the Strip. In that way, it could significantly alter the Strip’s vibe moving forward — especially if the arena one day hosts a major league hockey team.
That said, here are answers to five key questions as the Park opens.
When can I go?
Public access starts at 4 p.m., according to the company. MGM executives and others will be on site earlier in the day for grand opening proceedings.
Note that today’s opening is only limited to the Park — that is, the arena won’t be open to the public until Wednesday night. The area also will eventually be home to another venue: the 5,000-seat theater MGM plans to open at Monte Carlo.
What will I be able to do?
This being Las Vegas, no Strip attraction would be complete without plenty of opportunities for tourists to spend lots of money eating and drinking, and this development is no exception. It boasts a range of restaurants and bars, including the Shake Shack that has been operating since January 2015 in front of New York-New York. Other options will include California Pizza Kitchen, Beer Garden, the Japanese restaurant Sake Rok and the waffle restaurant Bruxie.
But MGM also is serious about making the Park a sort of public gathering place, too. A company statement once described it as “an authentic oasis offering opportunities to experience Las Vegas outdoors and at one’s leisure.” To that end, the Park will also include outdoor seating, water features and more.
What can I see?
MGM officials included trees, stonework and other natural elements in the Park to be reflective of the desert environment that surrounds the Las Vegas area. More than 200 mature, Southwest-appropriate trees were selected so that the Park would look fully grown on its first day. “Water walls” are supposed to evoke Nevada desert springs, and more than 1,000 tons of meta-quartzite stones have been worked into the attraction's landscape to give it an authentic desert feel, according to MGM.
Scattered among the nature are 16 so-called shade structures that will reach as high as 75 feet, the company says. The structures, were designed both to provide shade and be an artistic feature. More than 1,200 “carefully designed perforations” on each structure’s crown will create “delicate patterns” on the grounds below, MGM said in a news release. Then, during the nighttime, the lighted structures will “emit an intense glow, creating a magical light effect.”
“This Park is unlike any other, because it is a park for Las Vegas to celebrate Las Vegas and to celebrate the great desert that we live in,” MGM CEO Jim Murren said in a video promoting the development.
What shouldn't I see?
Although the Park will be a public place where live entertainment will occur, the busker-type movie characters, showgirls, performers and others who are fixtures of Strip sidewalks shouldn’t be there. MGM told the Las Vegas Sun that the area would feature “professional performers hired by the Park,” but that “street performers will not be permitted” since it’s privately owned.
What's the parking situation?
Sometime in the not-too-distant future, guests of MGM properties will not be able to park there without paying. But for now, the situation is a little more nuanced since the company has not said exactly when it will roll out paid parking across the Strip.
From 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. when there are events at the T-Mobile Arena, patrons will have to pay for “reserved event parking” at garages at New York-New York and Monte Carlo as well as the Aria Event Parking Garage. (Hotel guests can still use them for free). It’ll cost $10 in advance and $20 on the day of the event, with valet available at New York-New York and Monte Carlo for $30, according to MGM Resorts.