MGM Grand

The MGM Grand, located on the Las Vegas Strip, was originally the largest hotel complex in the world when it opened in 1993. Today, it is still the largest single hotel in the U.S., with 6,852 rooms, but is now the 3rd-largest hotel complex in the world. The property includes outdoor pools, rivers, and waterfalls, as well as a convention center, a large arena, and a spa. It also houses numerous shops, restaurants, night clubs, and the largest casino in Vegas. It is linked by overhead pedestrian bridges to its neighboring casinos: the Tropicana and New York-New York.

When it first opened, the emerald-colored complex had an extensive Wizard of Oz theme, including the decorative use of memorabilia from the movie. After entering the casino, visitors would find themselves facing Emerald City, along with animatronic figures of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion (above). The attraction also featured an elaborate yellow brick road, complete with a cornfield, apple orchard, and haunted forest. However, when the hotel began an extensive refurbishment in 1996, the Oz Casino was the first to go and the Emerald City was completely demolished.

Originally, the main entrance was under the head of a giant version of the MGM logo, Leo the Lion (top), but this was changed to be more traditional entrance in 1998. However, in keeping with the MGM Lion theme, a large bronze statue of Leo was added above the entrance (below). It weighs 50 tons and is now the largest bronze statue in the U.S. The theme is now more of the Art Deco era of classic Hollywood.

When the MGM Grand first opened, the intention was also to make the Las Vegas Strip more family-friendly by providing an indoor theme park for those too young to wander around the casino. However, it performed poorly, and in 2002 it was announced that the park would be redeveloped as a luxury condominium and hotel complex. In 1995, the Las Vegas Monorail was built to connect the MGM Grand to Bally’s.

In popular culture, the MGM Grand was one of the casinos that was robbed in the 2001 film Ocean’s Eleven, and in the final scenes of Vegas Vacation, Clark Griswold and his family play a game of Keno alongside a character played by Sid Caesar. The MGM Grand is also home to the Cirque du Soleil production Kà, and there are nightly shows by the illusionist David Copperfield in his namesake theater.

  • Visited: 1995, 1997, 2000, 2015

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