[Although I am posting this in 2013, this trip report was written in real time back in November of 2005.]
So, shortly after booking my December trip to Las Vegas, I read that the Westward Ho would be closing their doors on November 17. I wanted to go, but I didn’t think it was a good idea to have two trips so close together. I’d have to fund this trip with my December Vegas funds and I didn’t really want to do that. Of course, I didn’t abandon the thought. I checked my Harrahs offers and found I had two free nights at the Rio. Well that was it, I was going to Las Vegas to say goodbye to the Ho!
Thursday, November 16, 2005 – Day One of Four
I left work at 5:00 and took the air train to JFK. I wouldn’t do this if I had luggage with me. Most subway stops in NYC (including the ones at my home and my job) don’t have escalators. But since I just had a small bag, it was okay.
JetBlue flight departing at 7:15pm. Or it was supposed to be. We boarded and the doors were shut the door at 7:10. At 8:00 we got an announcement that it would be another 45 minutes. I hate that. I also couldn’t get my two favorite channels (Travel Channel and VH1 Classic). That sucked too.
After sitting on the plane for about seven hours, we’re in Las Vegas!
I took a shuttle to the Rio. I have two nights comped here. I’m supposed to have a premium “suite” with strip view, but I don’t. No complaints though as it’s free. I get room 471 in the Ipanema tower. The bed was so comfortable. I love the Rio rooms.
I walked over to the Gold Coast and play a bit. Do the typical win/lose/win again/lose again thing. Back to the Rio where I do the same. I found some new IGT penny games and played for a while. Finally it’s 3:30 am and I’ve been up 25 hours. Time for bed.
Friday – November 17, 2005 – Day Two of Four
I ended up sleeping until 11:00. Exhausted. I go downstairs and lose some money on my way to the buffet. The smoking section was closed for construction. Eat and take the shuttle to Harrahs. From there, I walked over to Wynn and get my name on my card since I am still holding onto a blank one I was given when they first opened. Lose some money here. Then continue to Westward Ho to be there when it closes.
The Ho is supposed to close at 5:00. I got there at 3:30 and found out it’s closing at 4:30. The deli was closed at 3:00. Good thing I had no intentions of ever having a Ho Dog.
As I walked up, the Ho Dog sign on the side of the building was being painted over.
The gift shop was completely empty and closed. All the signs were dark.
I got on line for a margarita. The man in front of me told me that when him and his wife got married, they stayed at the Ho. He was really going to miss it.
I started playing and soon after, there were announcements advising everyone to cash out now. We were repeatedly reminded that they were closing. If you waited until the last minute to cash out, and you needed a hopper fill, you would have to wait a long time because they anticipated a LOT of people would all need hopper fills at the same time. As machines were being abandoned, employees began taping over the bill acceptors.
There were also announcements that the Westward Ho came in dancing, and we would be dancing on out at 4:30. Employees were giving out party hats and party favors that all said “Happy New Year” on them. I’m guessing they’ve been in storage since New Year ’s Eve last year.
I cashed out at 4:15 and went around taking pictures. They had a big display of past mailings and pictures of jackpot winners.
At 4:30, they had a marching band start going through the casino. With everyone “dancing on out of the Ho”. It was like a parade and went around the casino a few times before heading out the back door.
At the reception desk by the back door, the employees were all waving good bye and saying “thank you!” as we all “danced on out the Ho”. It was depressing as fuck.
We go outside and the band plays “When the Saints Go Marching In” a few times while everyone was still dancing on out.
[Note the nearly completed Hilton Grand in the background]:
Then the Westward Ho’s Elvis impersonator exits. Elvis has left the building – the Westward Ho is officially closed.
The last hotel guests:
I walked back out front and took pictures of the darkened signs:
They had the whole front closed off by barriers that said “closed” on them.
Bye bye Westward Ho…..I’ll miss you.
I crossed the street to the Riviera. I don’t know why. I don’t like this place too much. I’ve done okay in their casino a few times, but I don’t see the point in playing there. I don’t like the hotel rooms and I never want to stay there ever again. So playing there, when I could be racking up points somewhere else, is dumb. But I am dumb so I lost a bunch of money there.
I decide to get out of there and that’s when I have my revelation. With the Westward Ho gone, I have no reason to venture north strip anymore. I don’t like the Riviera, I can’t even bear the thought of walking into the Circus Circus (more because of haunting memories of the grown adult blowing snot rockets in the bathroom, than the kids running rampant), the Stratosphere is inconvenient, as are both the Hilton and Sahara. They have you walking past pretty much nothing to get there. And while the monorail argument could come into place here, I will counter with “Why am I going to pay $6 round trip to go to a casino that has no appeal, when I could save my $6 and stay where I’m already at?”. I just really have no reason to go north of Wynn any longer. Of course, I am typing this knowing I am booked at Stratosphere and Circus Circus in December. But perhaps this will be my last time venturing further than Wynn on the strip.
We shall see.
While waiting for the light to cross to the Riviera, there was a family waiting next to me with two kids. One of the kids started touching the porn advertisements on the pole. The father reprimanded him. The other kid said “I am overwhelmed at the lack of things for kids to do in Las Vegas”. The light changed and people started walking so I didn’t hear the parents’ response. But I wish I had heard the justification of why they dragged their kids to a place where one was “overwhelmed” at how there was NOTHING for her to do there.
I walked back to Harrahs and shuttled over to the Rio. Dropped off my Westward Ho casino cups, walked to the Gold Coast and shuttled to the Orleans. The shuttle driver seemed as if he wasn’t going to let me on without a room key. But eventually he did. I can’t tell if this is a prelude for what’s to come or not. They do now have signs on the bus that say they are for hotel guests only. This used to be the policy solely for the Suncoast casino.
I played a bit around the Orleans. I kept losing at video poker so I turned to penny slots. On my last $5, I won $100 on a Mermaids machine. Yay! I go outside and wait forever for the shuttle back to the Gold Coast. Eventually I got tired of waiting and went back in and lost my newly won $100 over a few hours of playing all the new penny slots over by the reception area. I ended up cabbing back to the Rio, in a cab covered in Avenue Q Astroturf. Very fuzzy cab.
Saturday, November 18, 2005 – Day Three of Four
Up around 7:00 am. Go to the Rio buffet and lose some more money on my way back. I hung around the room a bit before checking out. I took a cab to the Bellagio and got some pictures of the Autumn Conservatory Display.
Afterwards, I walked over to the Aladdin. They have a $5 free slot play coupon in Showbiz Magazine ($5 totally free, not “play XXX and get $5 free”). I used mine on a Laverne and Shirley slot and win $70. After cashing out, I took a bus downtown.
For those of you who don’t know, they now have double decker buses going downtown. They are called “The Deuce”. They seem a lot more popular than the buses were before. It’s more like a tourist attraction than a means of transportation. Or at least, that was my opinion. The bus crawled. It took over an hour to get downtown, mostly because of all the people getting on asking 23943298742389 questions. This is where I got my idea that these people were all first time riders, riding for the attraction.
We get downtown and I head to the Four Queens. All of my stays here have been in the north tower, so I ask for south tower. I think this may be the first time I’ve ever made a room request other than ‘smoking please’. I won’t be doing that again.
I get room 1843. Decent room, I think it’s a bit bigger than the rooms I had in the north tower. But I think those rooms were king rooms and this was two queens so who knows.
I drop my stuff off and go to Binions for a burger. I’m down a bit and rather than go to the cash machine, I decide to nap. I started to set the alarm and then had the thought that I have not gone to sleep without the alarm set in so many months. Weekends included. So I decide to just sleep forever.
Forever turned out to be until the Fremont Street Experience started. Eighteen floors up, loud as hell. I never heard it in the north tower. So north tower from now on it is!
Up and out I go. I stop at Starbucks and then hit the Plaza for nickel video poker. I ended up playing for a long time. When I come back in December, I’ll be spending a lot of time here. Made my way back to the Four Queens and played some penny video poker before bed. I hit four queens four times (at the Four Queens). Yay! Time to head back to the room.
I went to bed and about ten minutes later (2:30 am), I hear a door slam. Loud. Oh look. The people next to me are loud. Well I shouldn’t say “people”. I could only hear one of them ranting and raving. A woman. Who won’t shut up. Ever. She is SO LOUD I feel like she is in the room with me. Whoever she is with, has pissed her off by picking his/her nose at the dinner table. This goes on FOREVER. I can clearly hear every word she is saying. At 2:30 am. This went on until FOUR AM. All I could think was that this was MY fault because I requested to be in this tower. Finally she shuts the fuck up and I go to sleep.
Sunday, November 19, 2005 – Day Four of Four
As always, last day = up at the crack of dawn to get in every last minute. I’m up at 6:00 am and head downstairs. I take advantage of the house phones by the elevator (both on the 18th floor, and then again in the casino lobby) to dial room # 1841 to wake up that loud woman who kept me up the night before. Neener neener neener.
Breakfast was the Golden Nugget buffet, followed by iced coffee at Starbucks. I’m ready to play, let’s go back to the Four Queens! While playing, some man came up and tried to sell his glasses to the woman next to me. She wasn’t interested. Then he started talking to me. What’s my name, where am I from, etc. I shooed him away with my hand and away he went.
Walked over to the El Cortez and started playing nickel video poker. I kept getting four of a kinds. Maximum coin was only 5 coins so for a quarter a hand, I was doing pretty good.
Lunch was at Careful Kittys Café at the El Cortez, paid for with a comp. The food had no flavor, which I guess is better than bad food.
After eating, I went back to my machine and someone was on it. Get off my machine! She finally did and I went back. I played for so long that my fingers were starting to cramp. They really hurt. This has never happened to me before.
Something else that has never happened to me before – I FINALLY saw one a crazy person at the El Cortez! I must have been there about 25 times so far and this was my first time actually seeing one. This woman was on a machine near my machine. She put her ticket in the machine and instantly hit “cash out”. So the ticket is there and the machine is beeping for her to take her ticket. Except she never does so it just keeps beeping. Finally someone can no longer stand the beeping sound, so he goes and shosw her that she needs to remove the ticket to stop the beeping. The crazy woman takes the ticket she puts it back in and hits cash out again and does not take the ticket again. The machine is beeping like crazy. She starts hitting every button and yelling about how the machine is broken. Someone tries to help her (again) and she starts screaming and calling him a thief for trying to steal her ticket. She sat there with the machine beeping for what felt like an hour. Everyone was annoyed. No one was going to help her after she flipped out about the last Helpy Helpteron being a thief. Ugh – that stupid beeping sound. She was talking to herself and drinking an empty beer and spitting all over the floor. Finally an attendant came over to “fix” her machine and showed her the ticket. She thanks him. He walks away. She puts it back in and hits cash out. Beep beep beep beep beep. That was it, I had enough. I cash out and leave.
Sadly, I only had a couple of hours left before I need to be at the airport. I thought I was going to take the bus there. After about 90 minutes, we had only reached the Bellagio. I got out, watched a fountain show and then caught a cab the rest of the way.
Flight home, uneventful.
And in 25 days, I shall return for my “real” trip.