A ride on the Manhattan Express

Las Vegas

I would never have thought that I would like Las Vegas so much. Not only is the city really clean by American standards, it also has a really pleasant nightlife. Although everything here actually takes place in the big casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, there is an amazing variety on offer – although I really wonder who would want to get a tattoo in a glass tattoo parlour late at night or why a studio where everything is visible from the outside would be a good idea. Basically, the high alcohol level of the tourists here in the city explains everything, but a visit to the city is downright smooth – and even the drunken Americans on the monorail are surprisingly entertaining as soon as they catch sight of the MGM Sphere for the first time.

New York, New York

The main reason for my visit to the Las Vegas Strip is the Hotel New York, New York; an MGM Casino Resort around which the Manhattan Express, aka the Big Apple Coaster, winds. I really like the interior of the casino itself and I highly recommend a visit to Hershey Chocolate World.

Big Apple Coaster

The Big Apple Coaster is considered one of the worst rollercoasters in the world, although many tourists wouldn’t even call it that. The location of the ride is good, so a train leaves the station every few minutes, despite a ticket price of 25 dollars for a single ride.

At the beginning of the ride, we first take a leisurely ride past the ride’s maintenance hall before reaching the roller coaster’s lift hill after a short bend. This takes us to a height of around 62 metres. Once at the top, the path leads us along a short straight section before we enter the first drop. On this, however, we don’t go all the way down to the ground, but only to the same height as the neighbouring multi-storey car park. After a short climb with the best view of the neighbouring Excalibur Casino Resort, the path leads us through a long bend before we move on to the second and significantly larger drop. While the ride has so far been more like a hyper coaster with its long and large descents, the ride changes significantly after the next ascent – because now a very compact looping coaster follows, which dominates the roof of the casino building. After another curve at a lofty height, we gain enough momentum on the subsequent descent to ride the looping ride with gusto. This is followed by a rather interesting incline, which initially puts us upside down before we transition into a dive loop after a while. After a short bend in the valley, we then shoot up a larger incline, whereupon a block brake awaits us. Unfortunately, the ride up to this point was anything but pleasant thanks to the existing comfort collars – rather hard rubber bars that are designed to loosely simulate the impression of shoulder bars – as I, at least, kept bumping my head on them. However, the track itself was relatively smooth.

The second part of the ride begins with a turning curve before we continue to ride over a series of airtime hills, which are interrupted by more turns and a rather intense helix. The ride on this section is surprisingly good and really entertaining thanks to the numerous airtime moments. Unfortunately, this section of the ride is over quite quickly and the overall impression is rather mixed, as the Big Apple Coaster is basically a really, really good ride, but unfortunately you are downright beaten up on the roller coaster by the “comfort collars” of the trains. I don’t know what Premier Rides was thinking here and I’m not sure why every park in America wants to have these strange rubber belts. Sure, these trains as a whole may be better than the previous Premier Rides trains, but neither of them can match the original hardware from Japan. Togo roller coasters are generally really fine roller coasters with great ride characteristics; only here in America they unfortunately use the wrong trains, which makes the ride lose some of its appeal.

The Strat

The Strat is the former Strastophere, a large casino resort at the end of the Las Vegas Strip, which is best known for the Stratosphere Tower – now just The Tower. At the top of the tower is a collection of thrill rides, the most famous of which is no longer in operation. What remains is the ride on the oversized seesaw X-Scream, as well as a ride on the S&S drop tower Big Shot – provided it’s not too windy.

Pictures Las Vegas

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Exploring the Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

The drive from Bishop to Las Vegas is straightforward for most of the way, with a challenging climb at the start. Once you reach the outskirts of Nevada’s largest city, the drive becomes increasingly exciting. Suddenly you are on a four-lane motorway through a surprisingly tidy city. As I had some time before checking into my room at the Best Western Plus Henderson Hotel, I first drove to the Hoover Dam.

After the obligatory gun check at the Hoover Dam gate, I drove to the Boulder Dam Bridge parking lot, from where you can reach the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge over the Colorado River. Not only is it a short walk to Arizona, but you also get a great view of the Hoover Dam.

I parked the rental car in the car park next to the visitor centre. A flight of stairs took me down to the Visitor Centre where, on the advice of a good friend, I booked the Guided Dam Tour, which took me not only to the massive Nevada Powerhouse inside the dam, but also down one of the inspection tunnels. All in all, a visit to this concrete giant was more than worthwhile. The museum in the upper part of the visitor centre is also very informative and well worth a visit.

Back in Las Vegas, I immediately checked into the hotel where I was to spend the next two nights. The hotel was very decent and, for me as a single traveller, had a big advantage over the big resorts on the Strip, at least in terms of price. After a short drive I reached the Las Vegas Strip where I started the evening at the New York, New York Resort and Casino.

Pictures Hoover Dam


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