New Attractions in Vegas Get Tourists High — Literally

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If you want to see the hot new trend in Las Vegas attractions, look up. Plans are in the works for sky-high roller coasters, observation wheels, and zip lines to provide new thrills far above the Strip.

Like gamblers eager to jump onto a “hot” craps table, Las Vegas casino owners and promoters insist on being part of the latest, most-hyped action in town. What this means is that when an idea catches fire in Sin City, there are sure to be not only imitators, but competitors intent on wooing tourists away with something that’s similar and yet bigger, better, more exciting, more brag-worthy.

For example, a barrage of shooting ranges have opened on or near the Strip that entice tourists to try their hands firing automatic weapons or perhaps opt for a real-life “shotgun wedding” ceremony. And there are also reportedly at least three gigantic water parks that are planned or just recently opened in the Vegas area.

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Lately, promoters seem to be hooked on the idea that tourists in Sin City want to get high—as in physically high in the air, far above the glittering lights of the Strip. This spring, a company appropriately named U.S. Thrill Rides LLC submitted plans to build a 650-foot-tall rollercoaster, dubbed the Polercoaster, that would curl up, down, and around an observation tower that wil. possibly be built atop the Tropicana hotel and casino. TheCoasterCritic.com says the new ride in Vegas would be the world’s tallest rollercoaster, a title currently held by Six Flags Great Adventure’s Kingda Ka, which is a mere 456 feet tall.

The Polercoaster is so tall that planners must assess potential hazards the ride poses to airplanes flying in and out of McCarren International Airport, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Even so, the coaster wouldn’t be the tallest structure in Vegas. The Stratosphere tower, which boasts a revolving restaurant, lookout areas, and various thrill rides, is over 1,000 feet high.

In other altitude-related attraction news, a pair of ziplines is expected to launch in the coming weeks. The Voodoo Zip Line, a two-seater ride that zips at 33 mph from the top of the Rio’s 50-story Masquerade tower to the top of the Rio’s Ipanema tower, is supposed to open later this summer. Also expected to open soon is Slotzilla, a $11.5 million ride in the Fremont Street area that begins atop a 12-story platform that looks like a giant slot machine and zips riders over the crowds of pedestrians below. In recent months, MGM Resorts has also discussed the possibility of a zipline between two casinos it operates on the Strip, the Luxor and the Excalibur.

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Finally, tourists in Vegas will also soon be able to enjoy a more laid-back bird’s eye view of the Strip, via not one but two 500-foot-high observation wheels. The 550-foot-tall High Roller, which will be 107 feet larger than the London Eye observation wheel, is the signature attraction of the Linq, a $550 million outdoor retail, dining, and entertainment center expected to open later this year near the Flamingo. And across the street from Mandalay Bay, plans are underway to build a 500-foot-tall wheel called Skyvue, which will feature a 100,000 square feet of a circular hi-def LED screen that’s being bragged about as the “largest outdoor advertising LED screen in the world.”

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