Chapter 4: Honorable Mention
With the WWF Hotel & Casino, Titanic Resort and Xanadu, we've really only scratched the surface.
The history of Las Vegas is filled with dozens of other concepts for resorts & casinos that, for one reason or another, never managed to make their way past the drawing board stage. Maybe they were too expensive, too eccentric, or just simply a terrible idea.
In the early 1990's, actor Max Baer Jr, best known for playing the part of Jethro Bodine on the hit show, "The Beverly Hillbillies" bought the licensing rights for show from CBS Studios. First, he launched a line of Beverly Hillbillies Slot Machines. Then, thinking bigger, he hatched plans for a Beverly Hillbillies-themed resort. The project ran into several legal roadblocks and was suspended.
Developers made an attempt to bring an "Addams Family"-themed resort to the Las Vegas Strip. Other than a few pieces of concept art, not much was ever revealed about the "creepy, kooky and altogether spooky" hotel & casino. However, in the year 2000, Addams Family slot machines began arriving in casinos and they became the first gaming devices to be restricted under Nevada's then-new "No Slots For Tots" rule. This regulation was intended to ban slot machines based on material intended for children. Under the rule, the machines had to be placed far away from areas that might be frequented by kids such as entrances or all-ages attractions like movie theaters & arcades.
Motorcycle fanatics might remember the Harley Davidson Cafe located just south of Planet Hollywood with its massive Harley blasting out of the front of the building towards the Vegas Strip. But at one time, the famed bike manufacturer had intentions for a full-on Harley Davidson Hotel & Casino. Planned for a location just off the strip, next to the Palms, the Harley Davidson Hotel & Casino would have featured a giant casino and a pair of hotel towers designed to look like chrome exhaust pipes reaching into the sky.
Given Vegas's reputation as "Sin City" a Playboy Hotel would have made perfect sense. Plans were hatched to bring the famous bunny brand to the strip by building a hotel & casino on the site where the Cosmopolitan Hotel & Casino currently sits. And although he never got the resort treatment, Hugh Hefner did eventually open the Playboy Club on the 52nd floor of the Fantasy Tower at the Palms in 2006. It shut down in 2012.
Las Vegas was almost home to City By The Bay, a San Francisco-themed resort & casino that was to be built on the site of the New Frontier - directly across Las Vegas Boulevard from the Wynn. The original plan would have included small scale versions of Chinatown, Fishermans Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge. Those plans changed & the project became Montreux, a Swiss-themed resort & casino that would feature a giant observation wheel and play host to a second Montreux Jazz Festival annually. Intended as an upscale resort, designed to compete with the likes of Mirage, Paris and Mandalay Bay the project failed to raise funding and the lot currently sits vacant.
London, Las Vegas was a concept so nice they tried it twice.
The resort would have included replicas of London landmarks & attractions including London Bridge, Picadilly Square, Harrod's Department Store and Big Ben. First time around, developers planned to build on the site of the former El Rancho Hotel. Those plans failed and that site is currently the home of the now-defunct Fontainebleau/Drew Hotel.
Their second attempt was on property across Las Vegas Boulevard, east of Mandalay Bay. That project got a little further along in that they actually began construction on the SkyVue Super Wheel, which was to be a part of the London Resort.
(You can learn more about both the Fontainebleau/Drew and the SkyVue Super Wheel in Volume 1 of Sin City Stories)
Several Las Vegas developers had plans to take visitors to faraway places, out of this world...
The Moon Resort & Casino was proposed in 2002 as a 10,000-room, 5-star, 5-diamond luxury resort taking up 250 acres of land. It was to feature a replica of the lunar surface where guests to drive Moon Rover vehicles as a moon-themed decor, pools, spas, restaurants and shopping. Estimated cost of construction would have been in the $5 Billion range.
And although it wasn't planned as a hotel, casino or resort, this one definitely deserves a mention...
In the early 1990's, downtown Las Vegas was struggling to attract visitors, losing out to the massive new mega-resorts and attractions opening up on the strip. So, a group of Las Vegas business owners put out the call for ideas for a large-scale attraction to bring tourists back downtown.
Enter Gary Goddard, Hollywood producer, director and co-founder of Landmark Entertainment, a production company known for creating theme park attractions & live entertainment productions around the world.
Goddard came up with the idea of building a full-scale version of of Star Trek's famous Starship, the USS Enterprise.
Plans for activities on board the ship included live Star Trek shows, a full walking tour of the ship, multiple restaurants & bars and much more.
Engineering reports were completed to ensure construction was feasible and the ship - including the large saucer-shaped upper-disc portion - could withstand the high winds that Las Vegas often sees.
Goddard and his team managed to secure the rights to Star Trek from Paramount Entertainment, with one caveat:
Final approval on the project would come directly from the studio.
The group of downtown hotel & casino owners involved in the project gave their blessing, approving the budget (believed to be around $150 Million) and the Mayor of Las Vegas signed off on the deal as well. As far as Goddard knew, it was a done deal.
It all came down to the final meeting with Paramount and it was during that meeting that studio boss, Stanley Jaffe said "No".
Jaffe's concern was that if the project was a flop, the Enterprise would be in downtown Las Vegas forever, a "looming monument to his big mistake." The project was officially dead and in its place, downtown Las Vegas constructed the Fremont Street Experience with its domed Viva Vision Canopy.
However, Goddard did eventually get to bring Star Trek to Las Vegas as in 1998 he opened "Star Trek: The Experience" at the Las Vegas Hilton. The fully-immersive attraction included being beamed aboard the Enterprise, a simulated shuttlecraft ride, new footage of the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation shot exclusively for the attraction, Quark's Bar and a Museum of Space Exploration.
That attraction shut its doors in 2008.