Attraction Rides in Vegas (a.k.a. Hell) – Adventures at 900 Feet

It’s not that they made me nauseous. Some do, but that’s not the problem with the attraction rides topping the Stratosphere in Las Vegas.

And it’s not that I’m not normally a thrill ride seeker, even though I probably haven’t been on one in 10+ years before last December.

It’s the fact that I nearly lost my mind in the Stratosphere Tower. Seriously, the three attraction rides atop that particular Vegas landmark are from hell.

Attraction Rides at Stratosphere

Insanity by Michael180, Wikimedia Commons.

Well ok, maybe you can consider one of them somewhat tame, if you’re not too squeamish about heights. We saved that one for last, and it turned out to be ok despite the fact that we were cranked out over 60 feet from the safety of the ledge, tilted in our chairs so that we were facing down on the Strip from 900 feet above, and spun around pretty fast.

Thankfully, no need to vomit.  And after a minute or two, it was almost fun.

That particular thrill is called Insanity – The Ride, and yeah, it was pretty insane considering all of the above factors. But to get the most bang for your thrill-seeking buck, I recommend you do Insanity first, BEFORE you lose your mind on the other rides, and are rendered mentally numb.

Big Shot is the ride that gave me heart palpitations. I didn’t really enjoy being launched 160 feet up in the air like a roman candle. I had visions of not stopping, and hurtling down 160 feet, plus the total length of the Strat, to be smashed into a million itty bitty pieces on the pavement below.

What’s the newest attraction in Vegas? Stupid Tourist Smoothie, running in chunky rivulets into the gutters. Live on Channel 7.

Yeah, it scared me. Particularly those few seconds of lag time at the top when you don’t know when you’ll be shot down again. Or back up. Nice mind game, thrill ride designers! I recommend making this thrill second of the three attraction rides on the Stratosphere.

Save X-Scream for last. This is the one that made me lose my mind. You’ll be harnessed into your seat, a coaster-like compartment hugging a rail. The rail lifts above the platform, you’re tilted down, and then mercilessly shot over the edge of the Tower.

Thrill Rides at Stratosphere

X-Scream by Michael 180, Wikimedia Commons.

Again, visions of not being able to stop.  And more seconds of lag time to ponder stupid fate.

The Stratosphere website compares this thrill ride to a teeter-totter, but the description couldn’t possibly be any further from the truth. It absolutely SUCKED, and I’m never going anywhere near another ride like that again.

What makes this ride so much scarier than other attraction rides or hare-brained thrills I’ve ever ridden or participated in? I suspect it’s the tilting at some unknown speed not listed on the Strat’s website. Whatever the case, it was time to get off the Tower and have a cocktail…

Tip #1: You’ll be asked to stow away purses, hats, etc. in compartments before boarding these ride attractions, for very good reason. It’s all kept safe but if you’re worried about that sort of thing, have a friend who’s not riding hold your stuff.

Tip#2: The 20-somethings on the rides with us could not get enough…they laughed joyously every time I had to re-swallow my heart. I wanted to cut their legs off. But there ARE some crazy people in the world who will love these rides. Maybe you’re one of them?

Thrill Rides Death Grip

My white-knuckled X-Scream reaction...

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The Road to Vegas Begins With Peggy Sue’s Diner

Frank Sinatra Lives!

Frank Sinatra impersonator at THEhotel.

I have a love-hate relationship with Vegas. As far as weekend escapes go, Sin City provides all you can stand for great food and entertainment. But beyond those things, I especially like it when east coast family and friends come to visit .  . . it’s kind of fun then to watch the looks on people’s faces when they first experience:

  • The scratchy neon blanket of lights smothering the Strip,
  • The sheer numbers of people walking around zombie-like in the face-melting heat, and
  • Those annoying card flickers, handing out pictures of women who promise to be at your door within 20 minutes, no matter who you are, or where you came from.

I’m sure I had the same blank stare of disbelief the first time I visited Las Vegas. But like most Southern Californians my disbelief quickly turned to disdain and finally, a strange kind of acceptance.

Sin City definitely has some fun aspects to make up for the downsides if you don’t go in the height of summer to get pummeled by the 120-degree temperatures, though. It’s all a matter of finding your balance and choosing the best times for your visit.

So last December I planned a trip back to Las Vegas with a certain amount of trepidation and misgiving. But it seemed like an ideal way to entertain a visitor, and besides, we had a mission in mind: to ride the thrill rides topping the Stratosphere.

But before we get to that crazy, misguided portion of our jaunt, let’s take a little detour via the Mojave Desert along the historic Route 66.  Believe it or not, there’s a lot to see:

World's Largest Thermometer in Baker, CA

This monument to heat measurement is right next to a Bob's Big Boy--not nearly as much fun as Peggy Sue's!

  • The World’s Largest Thermometer in Baker, California
  • Calico, an old silver-mining ghost town
  • Peggy Sue’s Diner

My friend and I stopped at two out of three (we’re saving Calico for another day). And let me just say that Peggy Sue’s just might be one of the highlights of the four hour drive between the City of Angels and the City of Sin.

Why?

Deep-fried pickles for a start. They’re crispy, tart, and loaded with fat and salt. Who can ask for more?

Aside from the old-fashioned comfort food menu though, there’s also a lot of Hollywood memorabilia decorating the place, and a little “Dinersaur” park in the back, giving Vegas-bound drivers an opportunity to stretch their legs.

Peggy Sue's Diner on Route 66You just can’t get that kind of opportunity at any old gas station in Death Valley.

Sure, it’s all pretty cheesy and not for everyone. But it’s a FUN kind of cheesy, and definitely a must see. Diners stuck in the 50s aren’t all that easy to find, after all.

Peggy Sue’s Diner is located in Yermo, CA. You’ll need to take the Ghost Town Road exit from Interstate 15: http://www.peggysuesdiner.com/.

In my next blog I’ll fill you in on how we discovered the world’s largest underpants!