MGM Grand Adventures Theme Park
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Coordinates: MGM Grand Adventures Theme Park was a theme park adjacent to the MGM Grand hotel and casino in Paradise, Nevada, United States. Opened on December 18, 1993, it closed to the public on September 4, 2000.
The original plan for the theme park was to make it family-oriented by providing activities for children who were too young to gamble. The overall Wizard of Oz theming of the hotel and casino provided the motto to literally "follow the yellow brick road" from inside the hotel to the entrance to the theme park, which was built on the hotel's backlot. Opened on December 18, 1993, along with the rest of the complex, the then 33-acre (13.4 ha) MGM Grand Adventures Theme Park looked like a small-version of larger counterparts Disney's Hollywood Studios and Universal Studios, which utilized a movie studio-backlot theme. During a later expansion of the hotel's pool and convention facilities, the area of the park was reduced by 40% to an area of 18.8 acres (7.6 ha).
In September 2000, it was announced that the theme park would close in favor of condominiums and an expanded pool. For 2001, the theme park was renamed The Park at MGM Grand and served as a rental facility for corporate functions. The final event at the park was a Jimmy Buffett "Parrothead" private party on Memorial Day, 2002.
MGM Grand Adventures Theme Park was built around a movie studio theme and provided for somewhat of a Disney-type experience. It had several themed areas including Casablanca Plaza (Main Entrance), New York Street, Asian Village, French Street, Salem Waterfront, Tumbleweed Gulch (later renamed Goldrush Junction), New Orleans Street, and Olde England Street. The park's characters were mostly cartoon characters such as Betty Boop and King Looey.
There were ten major rides and attractions, eleven restaurants and fast food areas, and a dozen retail shops. The original attractions line-up included:
- Backlot River Tour - A mix between Disney's Jungle Cruise and Universal Studios Studio Tour, in which passengers embarked on a tour via a large boat that passed mock-ups of movie sets with special effects such as gun fire, rain, and water cannons. The queue was the longest in the park and featured additional information on special effects.
- Deep Earth Exploration - This ride opened shortly after the park due to technology challenges. It was the first attraction of its kind to incorporate a traditional 3-D movie dark ride with a motion simulator. Passengers boarded faux deep earth tunneling machines on a journey to the center of the earth, guided by an animatronic Robot Pilot (voiced by actor Matt Cates). The ride involved a number of stops where windows on the vehicle would open allowing the occupants to look out at special effects along the route.
- Lightning Bolt - An indoor, space-themed roller coaster designed by Intamin. It featured a 35-foot (11 m) tire drive lift with a top speed of 32 mph. The ending was promoted as a "fly-by" of the Las Vegas Strip, which was essentially a large model constructed on the floor next to the brake run. In the park's final years, the roller coaster was moved outdoors.
- The Haunted Mine - A traditional dark ride where passengers boarded ore cars on a trip into an abandoned mining operation.
- Grand Canyon Rapids - An Intamin white water rapids-type ride themed as a trip down the Colorado River with animatronic gold prospectors, geysers, and other special effects.
- Over the Edge - An Intamin log flume ride through an old sawmill with two drops of 30 ft (9.1 m) and 45 ft (14 m).
- Pirates' Cove - A 950-seat outdoor theater complete with a pirate ship and lagoon that were home to the "Dueling Pirates Stunt Spectacular".
- Magic Screen Theatre - Indoor theater that hosted a variety of shows including BMX Grind, a stunt show featuring BMX and in-Line skating. It opened with 2 shows; blacklight puppet show called Kaleidoscope and a live recreation of The Three Stooges.
- King Looey Theatre (later Manhattan Theatre) - Indoor theater that hosted a variety of shows, including an ice skating spectacle starring King Looey
- You're in the Movies (later Gold Rush Theatre) - Indoor theater that hosted a variety of shows.
Over the years, the park saw several changes. It opened with a rather steep, by 1993 standards, admission charge of $25 for adults that were not guests of the hotel. Over time this fee was reduced in order to better match the caliber of attractions in the park and to increase attendance. Whereas the park opened as a year round attraction, its last few years of operation saw the park open seasonally.
Promotions such as summer nighttime concerts and spring break events were done to draw more crowds with additional attractions such as bungee runs and bounce houses added for those events.
The most popular event ever to be held at the park was "Scream Park". This Halloween themed event ran for a few years during the month of October. This separate admission event included several haunted houses in and around the park's attractions. In fact a few of the park's attractions got in on the fun adding additional scares themselves including special shows created just for the event.
In a move to put some thrills in the park, in 1996, the park added Sky Screamer, a 250-foot-tall skycoaster (76 m). Riders were strapped into harnesses and lifted up a 225-foot (69 m) "launch tower" where they then pulled a ripcord setting into motion a free fall upwards of 70 mph (110 km/h). It was placed over a lagoon that had once been home to a large faux steamboat (a snack bar was its only resident). At the time, it was billed as the world's largest sky coaster. The result was a very tall structure that could be seen from anywhere in the park. At night, it was lighted in the same green color as the hotel tower providing an impressive visual.
Over time the line-up of attractions changed, especially with the expansion of the hotel's pool and convention facilities. These changes also meant the entrance to the park was drastically changed and now involved a lengthy walk from the hotel, making the park seem like a separate entity.
The 40% reduction in area of the park entailed the removal of the Backlot River Tour, Deep Earth Exploration, and Manhattan Theatre. Although unaffected by the layout change, The Haunted Mine was also closed.
The Lightning Bolt (which is now located at Granite Park) was relocated outdoors to a former special event space in the northwest corner of the park. The ride was later expanded by Arrow Dynamics to include a second 70-foot-tall lift (21 m) and an extended run over the Grand Canyon Rapids.
For a short while other smaller temporary flat-rides called the park home including a Chance Rides Zipper, Ferris Wheel, and Chaos. None of these attractions stayed very long but did help increase the attractions count.
Another addition to the park came in the form of "Kiddie Island." This was an island created in the lagoon near the base of Sky Screamer. It was home to a variety of small attractions such as a paddle boat river, Red Baron airplane ride, and Carousel.
- King Looey was the child friendly version of the Leo the Lion mascot. King Looey wore a black tuxedo with a red bow and a golden crown.