page contents
Only a hour flight away from Las Vegas we visit frequently, sometimes once a month. I'll be sharing our trip reports, tips on making the most of your stay in Vegas, reviews of restaurants and shows we have seen, along with my thoughts related to our favorite place to get away from it all.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lions, Fountains and Woo, oh my! March 2010

Lion Cub Interaction at MGM Grand with newborn cub Blackjack!

This trip was one of those where you don’t know if you are lucky or not. Starting out from home with a new driver instead of one of our usual drivers from the limo service we use and this one had a large Cadillac Escalade SUV and obviously thought he was a powerhouse as he had a very Kamikaze style of driving which I found scary. At San Jose our plane was delayed 20 minutes, which wasn’t exactly bad luck but unusual as the late night flights usually leave on time. The airport was also very crowded for this time of night.

We arrived safely, luggage came out fairly quickly and our cab driver decided not to long haul us so I gave him a hefty tip as a reward.

Checking in at the Palazzo didn’t go very well, as all they claimed to have left at midnight was a room for the disabled and I knew from other people's trip reports we didn’t want that, however having no choice we took it with the promise that tomorrow they would give us the usual suite with the view of Treasure Island.

Dropping off our luggage and not bothering to unpack much since we would be moving the next day, a quick glance around the room and bath verified we didn’t want this room more then one night. The closet for example had the rod and hangers low to the ground so our clothes would have been dragging on the floor if we hung them up. There was only one sink in the bath and it had a strange spray attachment that didn’t work very well. There wasn’t a tub and the shower had a curtain and of course no steps so the water would go out onto the floor. There was no vanity like the other suites have either, instead just the mirror, so I assume you could roll a wheelchair up close to put your make up on. The view outside the room was of parking.

Randy’s offer this time was $500 free play and $100 food credit. We went down to the player’s card desk and got the free play put on and then went over to the original Goldfish machines which are close by. I put a $20 in the machine and didn’t download the free play correctly so we just started playing that, and were fortunate enough to start out the trip with a few good bonuses and the $20 became over $300.00. 

We then tried the $5 WOF but it didn’t like us and we quickly lost a hundred on it. During this trip we continued to try $5 WOF and Pinball on and off and never did get a spin on either machine.

We decided to walk over to the Venetian to get a couple waters from the Gold Lounge and on our way noticed a Monopoly Jackpot Station. We’ve never been lucky on any Monopoly slot but I had recently read on the Player’s Forum (run by WMS) that a member there was winning some big jackpots on this slot at his local casino so we decided to give Jackpot Station a try. For once a Monopoly Slot came through as we hit a couple bonuses for a total of $300.00. We’re now $500.00 ahead and having touched our slot credits so we’re feeling good about our gambling luck so far. Photo below is of one of the bonuses.

Having gotten a drink at the Gold Lounge and also some cheese, rolls and fruit, we hit the floor again at Venetian. 

Gold Lounge at Venetian

We quickly found the new Drew Carey, Price is Right slot, but couldn’t hit a bonus on it and quickly lost a hundred.

We wandered over to video Mega Bucks which is currently a bit over 10 million and had some wins on that for about $150 but played it down to $75.00.

We tried a few more machines at Venetian like the 4 screen Wolf Run, Sex in the City and Stonehenge but were either losing a bit on them or breaking even so we walked back to Palazzo.

By the way the whole trip both the Venetian and Palazzo were very crowded, reminded me of a couple years ago.

At Palazzo we found the original Wizard of Oz slot free and even though it’s usually the Venetian WOZ that gives us a bit of money we played for a while and hit this Glinda.

We also played some Wolf Run that evening but again just enough wins to break even or lose a little, no big hits.

We also found Monopoly’s new slot Advance to Boardwalk but we didn’t get any good bonuses on it so we lost.

We went up to the room about 4am or so, and at that time was about $200 ahead and hadn’t used our slot credits yet.

I woke up about 10am, got ready, convinced Randy to wake up and get moving because this was the day we were going to do our lion cub interaction at MGM Grand. Unfortunately due to the changing of the suite, this ended up being postponed to Saturday.  I started calling at 11am regarding room change and they told me it was not cleaned yet, but they would call when it was and we could get our keys changed and move our luggage.
Earlier I had gone down a few minutes ahead of Randy as he was still getting dressed and found a Helen of Troy machine which is a IGT slot and instead of needing 3 bonus symbols it will hit on 2, not that it comes any faster due to that. I did get lucky and hit a bonus on it. 
After my Helen of Troy bonus Randy made it down and we hit a few slots.

While we lost on Star Trek and Goldfish this morning we did hit a small progressive on Fireball. Up until my $800 win on Fireball last month, Randy didn’t like that slot, now he will occasionally suggest we play it when walking by one. 

We had breakfast at Grand Lux, with Randy getting his usual egg sandwich and me the shrimp and chicken Manhattan salad that I like.

After breakfast our plan had been to go to MGM Grand to do the lion cub interaction but since they still hadn’t called to tell us our room was ready we started to play Glitz. Glitz for us is a hard machine to get a bonus on so we were happy when we hit one. Two minutes later our mood turned a bit sour when the bonus didn’t pay one cent. 

After Glitz and swearing off any more WMS money burst machines for this trip, we tried $5 WOF and Pinball again with no luck at all. Moving on to I Dream Of Jennie, my husband hit this small bonus. 

We continue to play several slots and either broke even or had small losses. We found 2 Monopoly Jackpot Station machines in front of the host desk at Palazzo and had this small bonus wheel on one of them. I really find the party train bonus on this machine fun, with picking various passengers to get 3X, 10X, wild symbols among other choices. 

Around 2pm, still not having had a call from them, I walk over to registration see lines a mile long and decided to go boldly into the VIP lounge. The VIP lounge was not busy, no line at all, so they decided to check on the room for me. Turns out that the room had been ready for a hour even though we didn’t receive a call, so they gave us new card keys and we could go move our luggage. Imagine our surprise upon returning to our original suite to discover everything gone, so assuming it had been moved to new room we went there and sure enough luggage was in place. I’m really glad that before we left the room that morning we had completely packed up and I had removed our cash from the safe. Our new view of TI.

After the room change we walked back and forth between Palazzo and Venetian playing slots with Randy’s slot credits until we had used them up and now were only about $100 ahead.

Around 5pm we walked to the Harrah’s monorail station and bought 24 hour passes that would also still be good when we went on Saturday to visit the lion cubs. 

Arriving at MGM Grand, we walked past the Sony 3D store/exhibit and went in and tried out the new TV and glasses. We were actually impressed with the quality of the picture and perhaps years from now when they have come down in price and there’s more shows offered in 3D we will think about buying one.

There was a long line to pick up our tickets for KA that evening, so Randy managed to lose about $50 while I waited in line for our tickets.

Since we had about a hour before dinner at Michael Mina’s Nobhill restaurant we found a Wolf Run and hit for about $200 on it.

I then convinced Randy that we should played the 4 game Cleopatra which he isn’t fond of and we hit a bonus and the small $100 progressive on it. 

Walking away from that I spotted Amazing Race which hadn’t done one thing for me last trip at Mandalay Bay other then to take a quick $100 from me, but what the heck, MGM is being good to us for the first time, we like the TV show so we go for it. We hit the bonus which was exciting, but unfortunately didn’t pay much. I can see how Amazing Race would be great if all of them are being played at the same time as when one person hits a bonus, all the other players also go into the bonus round. Since all get money and you aren’t in competition like the new Star Wars Slot this really is a community game where you are rooting for each other.

On our way to the restaurant we spotted a Alfred Hitchcock slot and started playing it. I used to love these slots but the last couple trips they haven’t hit for me. Well the one at MGM started to hit and we got 3 nice bonuses and were now ahead about $600.00


Dinner at Nobhill Tavern was very enjoyable. Toward the front of the restaurant there are about 4 glass enclosed booths before you get to the main dining room and per my reservation request they gave us one.

We decided to go with the Pre-fix dinner and Sommelier wine pairing.
$49 Per Person

For The Table

  • Classic Cheese Fondue
  • San Francisco Sourdough


Choice of one:

  • Market Salad
    Roasted Baby Beets, Goat Cheese
    Toasted Walnuts, Citrus Vinaigrette
  • Chilled English Pea Soup
    Whipped Crème Fraiche, Mint

Main Course

Choice of one:

  • Braised Beef Short Rib
    Parsnip Purée, Glazed Mirepoix
  • Atlantic Salmon
    White & Green Asparagus
    Wild Mushrooms


Choice of one:

  • Bread Pudding
  • Cheesecake
Sommelier Wine Pairing - $35 Per Person
One glass of wine with each course. 
The meal starts with cheese fondue and sourdough bread, and was delicious.
 This was the first wine served with the fondue and bread basket.

I had the beet salad with goat cheese and walnuts which was excellent.

Randy had the chilled English pea soup.

We both ordered the Atlantic Salmon with Asparagus and Mushrooms and it was delectable.

We both ordered the cheesecake but Randy forgot to ask what kind it was. While it was amazing and I love it, it had a very light goat cheese in it, and since Randy hates goat cheese he didn’t enjoy it.

While I was tweeting about my meal at Nobhill Tavern I was surprised to receive an email that said Nobhill was now following me on Twitter. They must have a program or person who does searches on their name and they found me that way. I’m glad I only had good things to say about them, so that we left alive and happy!

After dinner it was time for KA. This was the second time we’ve seen it and we enjoyed it as much as the first time. The way the stage goes from flat to tilted to completely vertical is amazing and it’s one Cirque show that does have a obvious story line in my opinion.

After KA we spotted a Kitty Glitter and hit a bonus on it so we were again $700 ahead as we caught the monorail back to Harrah’s and walked over to Venetian.

We stop during our walk through Venetian to play a variety of slots, but nothing was hitting for us and we were only about $300.00 ahead at this time so decided to walk back to Palazzo for hopefully better luck.

Returning to Palazzo we held our own and finished up for the evening on Goldfish. We had a lot of fun with Goldfish, hit some nice bonuses and went to bed still winners.
Saturday I was awake at 9:30am, determine to get to those lion cubs shortly after they open at 11am. Randy did his usual slow to get up routine, but we were out the door by 10:30am. We made a quick stop at the Gold Lounge at Venetian for coffee, pastries and fruit and then walked to the Monorail. Photo below is actually from previous day for cheese and sodas.
We arrived at the MGM Grand Lion habitat around 11:20 and there’s already a line of about 50 or so people waiting to have their photo taken with a lion cub. I had Randy stand in line while I did what they told me in the email and went and found a employee who was directing the line further up and told them we had been in contact about a lion cub interaction. The employee took us out of line to another area where 2 other lion cubs were in a glassed in enclosure and had us sign in.

There were no liability forms to sign but they did tell us they had cameras on us for liability issues but unfortunately you can’t buy a DVD of that. They also had us clean our hands with sanitizer before entering the room with the trainer and one of the cubs. The charge was $200 cash and we were told we would get 3 minutes each with the cub while the other one took photos and movies. We actually ended up getting 10 minutes for the $200, as they let us have a few minutes after the timer went off, which was nice of them.
Originally we were told we would be with the little girl cub and would be bottle feeding her, but it turned out she wasn’t ready to eat so we had Blackjack a cute male who was 28 days old. Blackjack had just eaten and was sleepy and basically let you pet him where ever you wanted. 

When we first went in we were introduced to one of the trainers and she has you sit on the floor with your back against the glass wall. They require you to put a towel on your lap and then they place the lion cub on your lap. While you pet and examine the cub, they tell you about him and the others. Everyone is very friendly and loves their jobs.

After we reluctantly finished our session with Blackjack it was all we could do not to go back later and have another session feeding the female cub. If we had been a couple thousand ahead on the trip it would likely have been a done deal. As it is, we both want to return and do this again when they have more newborn cubs in the future. For now my husband is talking about us getting another Siamese and naming it Blackjack, but since we already have 3 cats, I’m resisting that until our 16 year old domestic short hair Tuxedo kitty dies of old age.

Before we left MGM Grand we went back to Kitty Glitter and the Hitchcock slots but this afternoon they didn’t like us so we starting a losing streak.

We took the monorail back to Harrah’s gushing all the way about how much we enjoyed that experience, big cat lovers that we are, we walked back to Palazzo where we ate lunch at Dos Caminos. Dos Caminos is right off the casino floor not far from the cashier cage and this was our first time eating there.

Dos Caminos has a good size bar and dining area. We were seated at a comfortable table and they brought us chips and 3 different types of salsas. I neglected to get a photo of the salsas which were great, because they were gone and in our tummies before I thought of it.

Randy ordered the breakfast quesadillas. Have I mentioned that Randy doesn’t like onions? Well, he hates them and you would think after 50 years he would learn to ask if something has onions in it but he didn’t and these quesadillas had more onions in them then bacon, so he spent a hour taking onions out of them. 

I ordered the Mexican Chicken Cobb salad and it was very good. It had plenty of chorizo sausage in it besides chicken so I gave that to Randy since he was struggling with his quesadillas.

After lunch it was just one big losing streak, we lost on Goldfish, Wolf Run, Wheel of Fortune, Pinball, numerous other slots and needless to say we were no longer ahead.

We went back to the room to change for our dinner with RJ and Marty at Encore’s, Sinatra restaurant and then walked over thinking perhaps our luck would change at Wynncore. It didn’t. However, we did have a enjoyable 2 hours with RJ and Marty at Sinatra where we were seated near a window that looked out over a garden.

Marty had heard about a bourbon drink called a Sinatra Slammer which had blackberries in it, so we both got that and enjoyed them so much we got another. RJ had gone to a wine tasting event earlier in the day so she ended up just ordering a glass of wine and Randy had a scotch.

RJ, Marty and Randy all had the Caesar Salad, while I did my usual thing of ordering the Sinatra’s version of a beet and cheese salad.

Both Randy and I had the special for the day which was wild Salmon and it was great with a crispy skin.

RJ had Polo Masala which she enjoyed. Marty had Lasagna Bolognese. Marty’s lasagna looked and smelled wonderful, but he told RJ’s the one she makes is better. That still means the Sinatra lasagna is good, it’s just RJ is a marvelous cook.

For dessert the men ordered cappuccino’s. While RJ ordered this tasty chocolate dessert.

I ordered a light as air chocolate mousse with crunchy top and fruit, delish! Looking at it now I see it was suppose to look like one of the hats Sinatra wore, guess I couldn't expect to recognize that at the time after 2 bourbon slammers!

After we finished dinner and saw RJ and Marty off to Garth Brooks which they later told us was wonderful and funny, we donated a couple more hundred before we got a clue no win at Wynn for us.

Wynn and Encore by the way had casinos that were not very busy, but back at Palazzo and Venetian they were super busy with most of the tables and slots filled! Looking for a machine that we like that didn’t already have someone on it was a challenge but when we went to Venetian we noticed the Dukes of Hazard machine was free and we proceeded to get a lot of play out of that slot for about 90 minutes and make back about $200.

Right behind where we were playing Dukes was the Jackpot Station slot we had already had some luck on so we jumped on it when it became free and hit one of the community chance bonuses right away where we had 4 of them and the wild symbols on the last reel. Randy selected a chest and picked correct and got the wild with the result of a $693.00 win which would end up being the highest pay out we received this trip.

After that we tried a few more slots with various degrees of luck, and ended up going to bed a little bit ahead again.
Sunday we woke around 9:30am to get ready for our brunch at Bellagio’s Jasmine restaurant. Since we were in a hurry we took a cab and arrived 15 minutes early and were 3rd in line for our reservation at 11am.  A full review and photo of this Brunch is on the blog under restaurant reviews.

After waddling out of the brunch a bit tipsy but happy we walked through the Spring theme of the Bellagio conservatory. While not thrilled with the huge ant, I did like the display of watering cans and the smell of the flowers was heavenly.

We took the tram to Monte Carlo and then entered Aria from there, as that is shorter then getting off at Crystals, though it takes you in the back entrance to the casino. We were there so Randy could play the new Airplane slot. Unfortunately I didn’t know there were now a ton of Airplane slots in Aria and took him first to the loser I played last time with the same result of over a hundred went in and nothing came out.

As we walked through the casino toward the front we spotted the new Goldfish 3 slot, Race for the Gold. I was excited to try this one even though I dislike Goldfish 2. Unfortunately when I put my hundred in and hit max bet, I didn’t realize it was a 5 cent machine until I saw most of my hundred go away in one spin. Ouch! Why or why can’t I get lucky when I do something stupid like that? While there were 8 of these 5 cent Goldfish 3 slots, there was only 3 of us playing them at first. One couple who sat down next to us each put a dollar in the machine, and then spent 5 minutes discussing why it wouldn’t take their push for 30 credits. I guess it wasn’t very nice of me not to point out they were making the same mistake I had earlier, but at least not painfully, since they didn’t have enough credits in the slot to lose them, but I was still tipsy and it was sort of funny. During this time we hit a few bonuses which were fun but didn’t pay much.
Leaving Goldfish 3 to another trip we continued our walk to the front of Aria, only to discover 2 other banks of Goldfish 3 slots but these were penny ones and very crowded. It was at this point we noticed numerous Airplane slots and we gave it one more try hitting the bonus, selecting correctly to get the passenger bonus which is very funny if you actually get to play it, but of course we hit the collect button the 2ndpick, then didn't pick correctly to save the bonus and ended it for a big win of $6.00. 

Aria while we were there was quite busy, more active then I noticed Wynn or Encore being when we were there last evening. Deciding to call it quits with Aria for this trip we took the tram back to Bellagio and walked back to Venetian, stopping briefly for this photo in front of Caesar’s Palace.
 Back at Venetian and Palazzo our losing streak we started at Aria continues. To make it worse the casino is very busy and most of our favorite machines are taken so we go up to the room to take a break before dinner at Woo that evening.  

Leaving the room at 7pm for Woo, we come across a crowd in the hallway outside the elevators and there’s a young guy in a weiner suit with his friends. I pull out my iphone to take a photo to send to twitter of him and one of his buddies asks if I would like a photo with him which I decline as I start walking into the casino. Well, they start walking with me and talking to me and I’m halfway through the casino before I realize I seem to be with them and no husband in sight. Excusing myself I backtrack, find Randy back where I left him and laughing his head off.

It’s been about a year since we ate at Woo, but it’s just as pricey and good as I remember. We did have a $20 off coupon to use which the hotel as placed in the suites so we used that. We started out with a bottle of  Ty.Ku super premium junmai ginjo sake, which we like a lot.
Our first course if the chinese chicken salad which was excellent but wasn’t as good as the one on the Jasmine buffet earlier that day. At this point Randy starts going on about that salad and how he wishes I could get the recipe for it.
 Next we had the lobster tail with sweet chili sauce, which was good, but not as good as the next dish which was black cod miso.

At this point the sake is going to our heads but we aren’t deterred and order another bottle (they are actually half bottles) and they bring out our last course the lemon chicken which is very delicate and not sticky sweet like some we have had at Chinese restaurants.

After dinner we hit the casino again which is still really busy so busy that even though we stayed up until almost 3am, we never could get to the Goldfish slots again, they were always packed with people. 

There was a 4 screen lil lady bug machine at Palazzo that had 3 decent progressives that I kept thinking were due to hit so we would play that for a bit, but could never get a bonus game on it, even though we did get some hits for over $100. 

We played more Dukes of Hazard and got a lot of play, but never could hit a super big win. 
We tried to play Jackpot Station at Palazzo but it was busy and while we walked past it on our way to Wolf Run we saw a man hit the 5 community chests in a row, pick the wild card out of a chest and then hit for over $400.00 on a 60 cent bet! 

We had a few good runs with Wolf Run and Coyote Moon this night, enough that we basically ended up breaking even if you figure the free room and food into the equation. Certainly a more fun time this trip and less money loss then my losing trip with Mom last month. I also had a couple decent wins on WOZ before we retired, but forgot to take photos of them.

Monday we woke, packed, checked out and found that Randy had over 30k points for this visit so he’s renewed his gold status until the end of 2011. Cabbie took us for a ride on the strip for some reason instead of the back way so the fare to the airport was over $20, I was not thrilled, but should have said something when I saw what he was doing when pulling out of Palazzo. 

We had a good flight home, a fun time in Vegas like usual!  

April's trip report will feature the Mega Meet I attended with friends from the Blonde4ever Las Vegas message board.


  1. My favorite machine - Gold Fish!

    I'm so happy you posted a link to your blog! It's a different experience, to be sure - best of luck!

  2. Thanks Deann and thanks for adding me to your bloglist. I've also added your blog to my list of favorites!