Vegas4Visitors.com Weekly Column by Rick Garman

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Each week you can come here to get the latest news, the juiciest gossip, and the best reviews for the most fabulous city in the world, Las Vegas. Hey... it says "fabulous" right on the welcome sign!

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The Countdown: Top 10 Vegas News Stories of the Week

10. Mini Resort Fee Update

Just a couple of weeks ago I had a resort fee update in my Weekly Column where I found that Paris and Planet Hollywood had both raised their resort fees to $22. I predicted that Harrah's and Flamingo would not be far behind and half of that predication has come true - Harrah's has raised their fee from $18 per night to $22 per night. I can pretty much guarantee that the Flamingo (currently at $20) will be next and The Linq (also $20) will come along shortly thereafter. So far $25 is still the most anyone is charging but someone is going to go higher than that at some point soon, I think. See all of the major hotels' resort fees.

9. Sydney After Dark Opens... Then Closes

The hunky lads of Thunder from Down Under were getting some female companionship in the form of Sydney After Dark, a peekaboo revue of Australia lasses, that was playing in previews at Planet Hollywood. The official opening was supposed to be this past weekend but it was suddenly cancelled and the show has closed. According to reports, ticket sales were "disappointing" and the show is currently looking for a new venue. Read more about Thunder From Down Under.

8. Incredible Hulk Smashes Into Madame Tussaud's

Madame Tussaud's Las Vegas at The Ventian has debuted their biggest wax figure yet, a 15-foot-tall version of The Hulk from Marvel's Avengers series. The figure was created by 15 artists and took three months to build, taking up about five times as much material as a normal-sized figure does. It's part of the Marvel Super Heroes 4-D Experience at the attraction that features other Marvel figures and an interactive movie experience. Read more about Madame Tussaud's.

7. Cirque's King of Pop Birthday Celebration

Cirque du Soleil will be celebrating the King of Pop's birthday on Friday, August 29th with a daylong event in the Michael Jackson ONE theater at Mandalay Bay. Buy your tickets for that night's show using a special code at Cirque du Soleil website and you'll get access to special meet & greets with surprise guests from the Michael Jackson estate and the show's creators, a book signing, a screening of a documentary, a gift bag, and more. Read the review of Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil.

6. Nevada Ready to Party Like its 1864

While you're in Vegas partying for Halloween this October 31st, take a moment to nod to the fact that the state turns 150 years old that day. To celebrate there are a bunch of events around Nevada for the next several months from parades and exhibitions to gala balls and big concerts. There is a show planned for September 22nd at the Smith Center with big name acts including Jerry Lewis, Penn & Teller, Cirque du Soleil, and more. Browse all of the events on the Nevada150.org website.

5. Shopping Plaza Planned for "Pawn Stars" Store

Take a drive down Las Vegas Boulevard between The Strip and Downtown and you'll see a bunch of pawn shops, but only one of them usually has a line out front to get in. That's the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, made famous by the reality show "Pawn Stars." People line up sometimes a hundred deep just to get inside and now the owner, Rick Harrison, wants to give them something to do while they wait. He is planning on building a small shopping plaza next door that will feature a couple of dozen shops and dining outlets. If approved by the city council in September, the plaza could open by sometime next year. Read the review of the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop.

4. Bellagio Robbed; Idiotic Robber Caught

The Bellagio was robbed a couple of weeks ago at gunpoint and the gunman made off with more than $40,000 in the brazen heist. Authorities promised that they would work overtime to find the man but it turns out they didn't have to work that hard. Police caught him after he blew through more than $10,000 on a Forum Shops shopping spree, paid a tourist to rent him a suite at the Hard Rock, bought a bunch of drugs, and hired a bunch of prostitutes. How dumb was this guy? The four "professional ladies" left the room carrying stacks of cash with "Bellagio Count Team" wrappers on them. Police also confiscated the weapon - a BB gun. Read more about Bellagio.

3. White Castle Headed To Vegas

Fans of White Castle hamburgers have a reason to rejoice with the announcement that the company's first Las Vegas outlet will be opening at Casino Royale sometime next year. The popular burger joint has stores on the east coast and Midwest but this will be their first west of the Missouri River. It's part of a major redo of part of the Casino Royale's footprint, which will include a new Walgreen's and a revamped version of the Denny's that used to be there complete with a second floor dining patio overlooking The Strip. Casino Royale is located between The Venetian and Harrah's.

2. Vegas Nocturne Producers Sue Cosmo Over Closure

A few weeks ago The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas announced that it would be closing Vegas Nocturne, the show that was integrated into their deliriously entertaining Rose.Rabbit.Lie restaurant and bar. Now Spiegelworld, the company behind the show, is suing the hotel saying they failed to pay out agreed upon severance packages and are refusing to return costumes and props. The hotel has "vigorously" denied the accusations. I'm still annoyed about this show closing so I'm taking their side. Read more about The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

1. SlotZilla Zoomline Almost Ready

The traditional seated "Zipline" at SlotZilla has been open for several months now, wowing tourists with its views of the neon as they soar above Downtown's Fremont Street Experience from 77 feet up at its peak. Now, the more extreme "Zoomline" is almost ready to really provide some even bigger thrills. Testing is nearing completion on the four lines that will send riders face down, "flying" super hero style, from 114 feet high more than 1,750 feet down the length of Glitter Gulch at speeds up of up to 40 miles per hour. There is no specific opening date yet but I'm hearing any day now. Read the review of SlotZilla.

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New Mega Resort for Former Frontier Site

It is said that you can always judge the economic health of Las Vegas by the number of announcements of big land sales and proposed megaresorts on the Las Vegas Strip. If that is in fact the case, then Sin City's economy must be in great shape considering all of the planned developments including a new one just announced for the former site of the Frontier.

Australian billionaire James Packer has teamed up with former Wynn Resorts president Andrew Pascal to purchase the land across the street from Wynn Las Vegas for $280 million. Although details of the hotel-casino they plan to build there have not been made public, they are saying that construction will begin in 2015 and should be complete by 2018.

Packer's Crown Resorts manages casinos in Australia, Macau, and London but this is not his first attempt to crack the Vegas market. Several years ago he tried to buy Cannery Resorts but that deal fell apart when the recession hit. He also had a 20% stake in the partially built Fontainebleau, the $4 billion hotel-casino that sank into bankruptcy and was abandoned leaving a massive but empty 60 story building on The Strip just north of The Riviera.

The land Packer has bought totals 35 acres just north of the Fashion Show Mall and in front of Trump International. It was the site of one of the longest-running casinos in Vegas history, the Frontier, which opened in 1942 as the second major resort on The Strip.

It was purchased for $1.2 billion in 2007 by El Ad, an Israeli company that planned to build a $5 billion casino resort version of New York's famed Plaza hotel (which they also owned). The Frontier was torn down and imploded that year but then the economy collapsed and the land has remained empty ever since.

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Arena and Resort Proposed for The Strip

Take the first paragraph of the story above, copy and paste it here, and then change the last sentence to read "...a new one just announced for the former site of Wet 'n' Wild."

The plot of land just south of the upcoming SLS Hotel (formerly The Sahara) is the target for All Net Resort, a non-gaming facility that will feature a 22,000 seat arena with a retractable roof as its focal point. The $1.3 billion project was approved in theory by the Clark County Commission and aims to have a groundbreaking in October.

Although the complex will not have a casino, it will have a 500-room all-suite hotel in a 44-story tower plus a 300,000 square-foot outdoor shopping complex with stores, restaurants, entertainment facilities, and 16 screen movie theater.

The project is the brainchild of former NBA player Jackie Robinson, who says he has raised the initial round of funding to build the resort and has lenders lined up for the rest. Robinson played for the Seattle SuperSonics, the Chicago Bulls, and the Detroit Pistons and envisions a world-class arena for year-round events including a possible NBA expansion. The fact that the resort won't have a casino is something that could make that possible since the league has always been skittish about being associated with gambling.

According to Robinson, work has already gotten underway on preparing the land for the project and if all goes according to plan it should open in 2017.

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Life is Beautiful Speaker Series Announced

The Life Is Beautiful Festival has already put together an impressive list of music and food stars from Kanye West and Lionel Richie to Cat Cora and Scott Conant. Last week they announced some of the line-up for their speaker series, which includes actress and filmmaker Ricki Lake, former Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman, Zappos.com founder Tony Hsieh, Chef Jose Andres, DJ David Aude, and more.

The Learning Program, as it is called, brings together dozens of people from a wide variety of different fields - business, art, medicine, science, and more - and gives them an opportunity to inspire audiences with lectures about their experiences in their areas of expertise.

Held inside the space of the former Western Hotel, which will be transformed into an interactive festival experience, a series of 90-minute sessions with an unorthodox combination of speakers will address a multitude of topics ranging from anti-bullying to tech industry disruption and finding your life's purpose.

In addition to the people listed above, other speakers will include Dr. Gabor Forgacs, a leader in bioengineering whose company is using 3-D printing technology to make human organs; Andrew Hessel, a microbiologist and cancer researcher; John Rennie, the host of Hacking the Planet on The Weather Channel; Mel and Patricia Ziegler who founded Banana Republic and The Republic of Tea; Isaiah Austin, a basketball player who had to drop out of the 2014 first round draft when he was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome; Amelia Rose Earhart, the youngest person to ever circumnavigate the globe in a single-engine airplane; Ed Gavagan, a sculptor and furniture designer; Sue Bryce, an Australian photographer; and more.

The Life is Beautiful Festival will be held October 24-26 in Downtown Las Vegas. Tickets are on sale now at LifeIsBeautiful.com.

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Experience the Best of Vegas Dining During Restaurant Week

The eighth annual Las Vegas Restaurant Week has lined up dozens of some of the city's biggest and best restaurants to offer a special meal for a good cause. It's a great way to experience some really fantastic food and make a difference at the same time.

From August 22-28, a number of Las Vegas restaurants will be serving special prix fixe menus, some with selected items from their regular menus and others with new items done just for this event. A portion of the proceeds from these meals goes to the Three Square Food Bank, an organization that provides meals to hungry people throughout southern Nevada. Since the event was founded, more than 2.5 million meals have been provided to those in need through the money raised.

This year's list of restaurant is impressive as are the menus they are offering.

For instance, Border Grill at Mandalay Bay is serving a dinner that comes with an appetizer choice of an avocado enchilada with tuna tartar, a goat cheese sope, or a pork belly posole; a main course of either tamarind grilled chicken, Mexican chioppino with shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, and chorizo, or a chile rubbed NY strip steak; plus a dessert of horchata panna cotta with tequila orange syrup. It costs $50.14.

Buddy V's at The Palazzo has a $30.14 dinner special with your choice of tomato and basil soup or a Caesar salad as a starter; a choice of spaghetti bolognese, grilled chicken, or a summer corn chopped salad for your entree; and Italian cookies with a chocolate toffee dipping sauce and lemon raspberry jam.

Gilley's at Treasure Island is doing a $20.14 lunch or dinner menu with your choice of soup, chili, or house salad for an appetizer and a choice of a BBQ pulled pork sandwich, chipotle chicken sandwich, or blackened catfish sandwich as your main course.

Over at Serendipity 3 at Caesars Palace, they have a breakfast menu at $20.14 including things like frozen hot chocolate cinnamon bun French toast or omelets and lunch or dinner menus for $30.14 with burgers and their famous mac and cheese. All come with a sample of their famous frozen hot chocolate dessert.

The Steakhouse at Circus Circus is serving a full feast for $50.14 including soup or salad, Filet Oscar with all the side dishes, and a choice of dessert.

Other restaurants that I have reviewed that are participating include:

You can get more information and a full list of the restaurants at helpoutdineoutlv.org.

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