Looking for the hottest action in Las Vegas? Instead of checking out the casinos, more visitors may now be looking to the sky, where new thrill rides and attractions are generating big buzz.
"If you look at the economy here since the Great Recession, there's been a bit of a move away from gaming," said Stephen Brown, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. "We're not seeing a lot of new rooms and resorts being added; it's more about attractions and entertainment spaces."
Consider the latest addition to the mix, the VooDoo zip line, which opened at the Rio Las Vegas last week. Sitting in a pair of side-by-side chairs, riders take off from the 50th floor of the resort's Masquerade Tower, 490 feet off the ground, and hit speeds of up to 33 mph before landing on the roof of the Ipanema Tower, one-third of a mile and a minute and 10 seconds away.
The ride is actually the second zip line to open in Vegas in recent months and comes on the heels of SlotZilla, a quartet of zip lines that debuted downtown in late April. Embarking from a 12-story "slot machine," riders zip beneath the Fremont Street Experience's video canopy to a platform 850 feet away. An even higher line that will have riders flying twice as far in a horizontal "Superman" position is expected to open soon.
"They aren't going to be terrifying," said casino consultant Randy Fine of the Fine Point Group. "You won't have to have an iron heart to ride them."
Terrifying or not, the high-flying rides join other recent additions to Las Vegas, including the High Roller observation wheel and the El Loco roller coaster that opened at Circus Circus in February. While hardcore adrenaline junkies may yawn, such projects are increasingly seen as a way to appeal to a broader range of visitors.