Circus Circus Las Vegas

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Circus Circus Las Vegas
Circus Circus logo.png
Las Vegas Circus Circus P4220697.jpg
Circus Circus Las Vegas in 2018
Location Winchester, Nevada, U.S.
Address 2880 South Las Vegas Boulevard
Opening dateOctober 18, 1968; 51 years ago (1968-10-18)
No. of rooms3,773
Total gaming space123,928 sq ft (11,513.3 m2)
Permanent showsCircus acts
Signature attractionsAdventuredome
Carnival Midway
Splash Zone
Slots-A-Fun Casino
Notable restaurantsBlue Iguana Mexican Express
Circus Buffet
Auntie Anne's
Krispy Kreme
The Steakhouse[1]
Vince Neil's Eat - Drink - Party
Westside Deli
OwnerPhil Ruffin
ArchitectRissman and Rissman Associates
Worth Group
Renovated in1972, 1975–76, 1980, 1986, 1993, 1996, 2000, 2009, 2014
Coordinates36°08′13″N 115°09′48″W / 36.13694°N 115.16333°W / 36.13694; -115.16333Coordinates: 36°08′13″N 115°09′48″W / 36.13694°N 115.16333°W / 36.13694; -115.16333

Circus Circus Las Vegas is a hotel and casino located on the Las Vegas Strip in Winchester, Nevada. It is owned and operated by Phil Ruffin. Circus Circus features circus acts and carnival games at the Carnival Midway. It has 123,928 square feet (11,513.3 m2) of casino space.[2]

Circus Circus is the largest permanent big top in the world. The Lucky The Clown marquee at the entrance was provided by Young Electric Sign Company and was constructed in 1976.[3]

Previous owners of Circus Circus Las Vegas were Jay Sarno and Stanley Mallin (1968–1974), Mandalay Resort Group (formerly known as Circus Circus Enterprises) (1974–2005), and MGM Resorts International (formerly known as MGM Mirage) (2005-2019).


Circus Circus Las Vegas in 2006
Circus Circus Las Vegas at night in 2008

Circus Circus was opened on October 18, 1968,[4] by Jay Sarno and Stanley Mallin. Architects Rissman and Rissman Associates designed a giant circus tent shaped main structure, which was built by R.C. Johnson Construction of Las Vegas.[citation needed] Circus Circus was the first family oriented casino in Las Vegas. Gambling was located on the first floor, while the second floor contained games for children.[4]

At its opening, the $15 million facility only included a casino. The lack of a hotel resulted in financial problems, as the casino was not able to attract high rollers. Sarno obtained a $23 million loan from the Teamsters Pension Fund to construct a hotel. As part of the arrangement, the Chicago Outfit's enforcer, Anthony Spilotro (under the name of Tony Stuart) was granted a gift shop concession in the hotel. In addition to a government investigation into the organized-crime connections, Sarno and Mallin were also being investigated for tax code violations. The casino's financial problems also continued and Sarno, along with his partner Stanley Mallin, decided to sell out.[5]

In 1974, ownership changed with the sale of the casino to William Bennett and William Pennington for $25 million, becoming the first property of what would become Circus Circus Enterprises (later known as Mandalay Resort Group). The facility was expanded with hotel tower additions in 1972, 1975, 1980, 1986, and 1996.[6] Aside from three hotel towers, the resort also includes five motel structures.[7] By 1984, an RV park had been added to Circus Circus, which was one of the most successful casinos in the state.[8]

MGM Mirage (later MGM Resorts International) purchased the resort in 2005. There were plans to renovate and expand Circus Circus, but such plans were canceled due to the financial impact of the Great Recession.[1] The hotel rooms were eventually renovated in 2014.[7] Out of 10 resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, Circus Circus was MGM's most popular property among Hispanic tourists.[1] In 2017, a $9 million expansion took place on the pool area. Fifty years after its opening, Circus Circus remained popular among families, although the aging facility was in need of renovations, including new carpeting and exterior paint. At the time, the resort had the only RV park on the Las Vegas Strip, taking up 10 acres with enough space for 170 vehicles.[7]

In 2019, MGM Resorts International sold Circus Circus to Phil Ruffin, owner of the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino, for $825 million.[9] The sale included the adjacent Slots-A-Fun Casino.[10] Ruffin plans to have a 2,000-seat theater built in front of Circus Circus at a cost of $11 million. The theater would blend in with the property's facade. Ruffin intends to keep the resort's Adventuredome amusement park.[11] Ruffin also plans to turn the property's RV park into a swimming pool complex with a wave machine, sand beaches and a lazy river ride.[10][11]

Design and features[edit]


The hotel rooms are located in several buildings including:

  • The West Tower
  • The Casino Tower
  • The Skyrise Tower
  • Circus Circus Manor Motor Lodge
  • RV Park[12]

Amenities and entertainment[edit]

Russian trapeze artistes performing their act at Circus Circus in March 2005

Circus Circus offers:

In popular culture[edit]

Film history[edit]

Lucky The Clown sign in 2007
Lucky The Clown sign at night in 2008

The hotel's famous midway was featured in the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever.

In his journalistic novel of the early 1970s, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson wrote, "The Circus-Circus is what the whole hep world would be doing Saturday night if the Nazis had won the war. This is the sixth Reich. The ground floor is full of gambling tables, like all the other casinos . . . but the place is about four stories high, in the style of a circus tent, and all manner of strange County-Fair/Polish Carnival madness is going on up in this space." When the Thompson work was adapted to film in 1998, the fictional "Bazooko Circus" was a thinly veiled stand-in for the world-famed resort, which had refused permission for the filmmakers to shoot on their property.

The Adventuredome Theme Park and the Canyon Blaster roller coaster were featured in the 1999 movie Baby Geniuses. The theme park was known as Joyworld in the movie.

Characters in 1977's post-apocalyptic Damnation Alley seek out at the abandoned Circus Circus to play.

In Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Austin and Vanessa sneak into the Circus Circus.

In the 1992 movie Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, the oversized child Adam is shown laughing and smiling at the Lucky the Clown pylon.

The Midway was featured in the 1978 film Corvette Summer, when Mark Hamill was being lured into a scam by a "salesman".

In the game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Circus Circus is featured as The Clown's Pocket.

A recreation of the hotel called "Ringmaster" can be found in the 2014 racing video game The Crew, near the northern end of the strip.

In the TV series Vega$, private detective Dan Tanna (Robert Urich) lived in a converted warehouse next to Circus Circus, and was often shown driving past the resort in his classic Ford Thunderbird.


  1. ^ a b c Stutz, Howard (June 10, 2015). "Circus Circus is MGM's 'most popular property' among Hispanics". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
  2. ^ "Listing of Financial Statements Square Footage". Nevada Gaming Control Board. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  3. ^ "Neon Survey: Circus Circus". 2010-04-05. Retrieved 2012-04-08.
  4. ^ a b Winston, Frank (October 19, 1968). "Circus Sets Record At LV Opening". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
  5. ^ Super Casino by Pete Earley; Bantam Books 2000 ISBN 0-553-09502-1
  6. ^ "Las Vegas History - Circus Circus". Retrieved 2012-04-08.
  7. ^ a b c Prince, Todd (August 19, 2018). "Circus Circus on Las Vegas Strip still makes money after 50 years". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
  8. ^ "Circus Circus caters to campers, children". Daily Breeze. April 29, 1984. Retrieved June 30, 2020 – via NewsLibrary.
  9. ^ Schulz, Bailey (December 20, 2019). "MGM Resorts completes $825M sale of Circus Circus to Ruffin". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2019-12-20.
  10. ^ a b "New Circus Circus owner plans sandy pool complex, theater for Cirque show". VegasInc. December 19, 2019. Retrieved December 26, 2019.
  11. ^ a b Velotta, Richard N. (December 4, 2019). "TI owner Phil Ruffin talks more Circus Circus plans". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  12. ^ "Hotel".

External links[edit]