America's Sin City reinvents itself as a family resort.
The slot machines spew quarters reassuringly, but across the lobby, a 20-foot barge is making its way through artificial mists into what appears to be an Egyptian tomb. The Luxor, a large glass pyramid with a miniature river running through it, is one of four new mega-resorts that cater to families. Meanwhile, the initial Vegas family resort and parent to the Luxor, Circus Circus, recently built a $90 million theme park. The '90s are here; it's makeover time in Sin City.
In just the past 10 years, the budget-boosting magic of legalized gambling has swept across the country, revitalizing ailing post-industrial cities and bringing untold wealth to once obscure Indian reservations. To compete, Las Vegas is turning itself into a kind of Disney World Mark II. From the Camelot-themed Excalibur to MGM's 33-acre amusement park, to Treasure Island's reenactments of naval duels with full-sized replicas of pirate ships, the new hotels offer Disneyesque fun while still providing the adult games that Las Vegas is known for.
Las Vegas's biggest payoff for families is the price. That's because the hotels still make most of their money through gambling. Some shows are expensive, but lodging and food are cheap--all the better to lure parents to the gambling table.
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