Stratosphere Las Vegas
Learn more about Stratosphere Las Vegas
|Number of rooms||2,444|
|Gaming space||80,000 ft² (7,432 m²)|
|Permanent show(s)||American Superstars|
|Signature attraction(s)||The Big Shot|
Insanity the Ride
|Notable restaurant(s)||Top of the World|
Triple Crown Deli
|Owner||American Casino & Entertainment Properties|
|Date opened||April 30, 1996|
|Major renovation(s)||2003 (second hotel tower)|
|Previous name(s)||Vegas World Casino|
|Casino website||Stratosphere Las Vegas|
The Stratosphere Las Vegas is a hotel and casino located on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, owned by American Casino & Entertainment Properties which is a wholly owned subsidiary of American Real Estate Partners. The hotel offers 2,444 rooms and an 80,000 square foot (7,000 m²) casino. The Stratosphere tower is the tallest observation tower in the United States.
The Stratosphere is the northernmost of the major Strip casinos and the only one actually in the City of Las Vegas, as the rest of the strip south of Sahara Avenue is in the suburb of Paradise. Following its completion in 1996 it was initially less popular than first envisioned due to its location on the extreme north end of the strip, far away from the most popular hotel casinos. But its low room prices and unique offerings eventually ensured its success. While many tourists consider its location to be inconvenient, others feel the location is an advantage since it is equidistant between the more popular strip casinos and the downtown area (which includes the Fremont Street Experience).
In the early 1990s, The Stratosphere was conceived by Bob Stupak to replace his Vegas World casino. At the conception of the project, one of the planned rides was to be a giant ape that would carry riders up and down one of the tower's columns.
In 1995 Grand Casinos was brought on as an equity partner for the still privately funded project under construction.
While construction was still progressing, the Stratosphere Corporation was formed as a public company with shares being offered to the public.
The Stratosphere opened on April 30, 1996. Shortly after opening, the Stratosphere Corporation was forced to file for bankruptcy. This caused construction on the second tower to stop with only a few stories partially built and allowed Carl Icahn to gain control through one of his companies by buying a majority of the outstanding bonds.
A major addition was completed in June 2001 for $65 million that included finishing the 1000-room second hotel tower.
In the early 2000s, the company attempted to get approval for a roller coaster that would run from several hundred feet up the tower and, in the last proposal, across Las Vegas Boulevard. Part of that last proposal included an entry monument on the ride over Las Vegas Boulevard welcoming people to the City of Las Vegas. The City Council did not approve the project due to objections from the neighbors over possible noise from the enclosed cars on the proposed ride. This ride was intended as a replacement for the never built ape ride.
It is most notable for its tower, which at 1,149 ft (350 m) is not only the tallest structure in Las Vegas, but also the second-tallest free-standing structure in the United States west of the Mississippi River, after the Kennecott Smokestack near Tooele, Utah.
- The Big Shot at 1,081 feet (329 m) is the highest thrill ride in the world;
- Insanity the Ride, opened in 2005, at 900 feet (274 m) is the second highest thrill ride in the world, it dangles riders over the edge of the tower and then spins in a circular pattern at approximately forty miles per hour. Since its public opening, the ride has stopped twice with passengers onboard (upwards of an hour each time), due to high winds that trigger a "safety mechanism" which shuts down the machine immediately without bringing the passengers back to the loading dock. The hotel is currently being sued by the first set of passengers who were trapped on the ride dangling over the edge.
- XSCREAM at 866 feet (264 m) is the third highest thrill ride in the world. This ride also "drops" people over the edge, and has also stopped while people were on it, though it is not clear what triggered this ride's failure.
- The High Roller at 909 feet (277 m) was the second highest ride in the world and the highest roller coaster. It was closed on December 30, 2005 and dismantled to make space for a new attraction.
A newer feature of the Stratosphere is the live webcam. Here, visitors can be viewed online through several cameras stationed on the observation deck, called "Tower Cams". Images taken from these webcams can be seen at http://www.stratospherehotel.com.
Casinos in less popular locations generally offer better gambling values than the better-located strip casinos in an effort to lure customers through their doors, and the Stratosphere is no exception. The Stratosphere offers slot machines with a 98% payback, video poker machines with paytables over 100%, and single-zero roulette -- all of which are extremely rare at Vegas strip casinos. The Stratosphere also offered $3 blackjack (the typical minimum at strip casinos is $10), but increased the minimum to $5 around 2004.
Stratosphere has inherited some unusual variations on casino games from its Vegas World predecessor, such as "crapless craps" and "double-exposure blackjack", which came with a number of twists. For example, the variation on blackjack involved the dealers showing both of their cards, which appeared to greatly favor the player. However the rules also were changed that the house wins in the event of a push, which meant that statistically the game favored the casino more than in normal blackjack.
The hotel frequently offers rooms for as little as $36.99 per night. The rooms are advertised at "$29.99" but there is a mandatory $7/night "resort fee". The hotel claims that the resort fee grants the guest free tickets to the afternoon show, 2-for-1 tickets to other shows, and access to the pool, fitness room, and laundry facility, but since all guests must pay the resort fee and all guests receive these benefits it is questionable whether those benefits really derive from the mandatory resort fee.
- John L. Smith, No Limit: the Rise and Fall of Bob Stupak and Las Vegas' Stratosphere Tower (Huntington Press, 1997) ISBN 0-929712-18-8
 External links
- Stratosphere Las Vegas homepage
- Las Vegas Leisure Guide page on the Stratosphere, with construction details
- More details about the Tower
- Insanity the Ride
- Satellite shot
|Las Vegas Strip|