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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review: Las Vegas Explorer Pass from Smart Destinations

Don't you want to do more when you travel? Would you do more if it meant you wouldn't spend more? In fact, what if you could spend less? Smart Destinations wants you to get more out of your trips by giving you discounts on attractions. They just released their Las Vegas Explorer Pass, which gives you the choice of 3 or 5 attractions which can save you up to 55% off regular ticket prices. This isn't the first time I've used Go Cards to make my trip more affordable, and it won't be my last. You may remember when I used them in Los Angeles and I'll be using them again later this year when I head to Orlando.

Las Vegas Explorer Pass

When choosing whether or not to use a Go Card at my destination, I look at what's included and compare it to the things I planned to do on my trip and those I was hoping to do. Las Vegas is full of awesome things to do on and off the Strip that aren't typical of a traditional Sin City getaway, which means it's always fun to get to do those things. We had three days of sightseeing we could do before our friends showed up and our trip was all about NBA Summer League, so we were definitely into making those days count and doing things we hadn't done before.


Here are the 11 things you can choose from when using the Explorer Pass:
  • Madame Tussaud's
  • Big Bus Las Vegas Hop-On Hop-Off Day Tour (2 different routes)
  • V Theater (6 shows to choose from)
  • Meal at Planet Hollywood at the Forum Shops
  • High Roller at the Linq
  • CSI: The Experience
  • Stratosphere Observation Desk
  • The Mob Museum
  • Outdoor Gondola Ride at the Venetian
  • Rockstar VIP Club Tour
  • Rockstar Pool Tour
Those items in bold are those we did on our trip. Though we have been to Las Vegas a bunch of times, there are a lot of things we don't know about the city. Because of this, I love to jump on the Big Bus at destinations and learn about history and see other parts of the city that I probably wouldn't see otherwise. Las Vegas' Big Bus has two different routes. You can see stuff on The Strip or you can check out Downtown. Besides going to the Mob Museum two years ago and the Neon Museum last year, we've not actually been Downtown, so it was all pretty new to us. 


We were able to see the new Downtown Container Park, complete with giant fire-breathing praying mantis in front (that happens after dark), the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop from the show Pawn Stars, the chapel where Britney Spears got married, learned about the graffiti art program and also stopped off at the Golden Nugget. We walked through the Golden Nugget (which is beautiful after it's refurbishment) to Fremont Street. It's a lot different in the daytime than at nighttime, but it's fun to see it in the day and not have to force your way through the crazy crowds. 
This building is CRAZY

In order to get your Big Bus pass, you need to present your Explorer Passes to the Elite Tours office, which is across the street from Circus Circus (the map makes it look like it's in front of the Stratosphere, but it's a good mile or so away). Once you have your tickets, head across the street to get on a double-decker bus. If you want to take pictures, you'll want to be on the upper deck. The 4th, 5th and 6th rows from the front are the best, as you don't have the windshield in the way and the canopy doesn't get in your way either. You can get out at any of the bus's stops and also get back on there. 


Next up was the High Roller. We had toyed with the idea of doing this before, but the price seemed kind of high. With the Explorer Pass, there was no question that it would be on our list. The High Roller is the largest observation wheel in the world and is located behind The Linq hotel and casino. I was afraid that would make the view less awesome. I was wrong. Your ride takes 30 minutes and halfway through you reach 550 feet in the air. Though you have to do this during the day, I think you actually get a better view that way, because you can see the view behind you, too, which is not part of the Strip. 


The sky cabins are very large and offer you a 360-degree view. Throughout your trip, you get some great music, fun trivia and it's narrated by the hilarious Lucas Dick (son of comedian Andy Dick). It's like a party in the sky. We took pictures, watched the monitors, danced a little bit and laughed a lot. I'll tell you now, I was wrong. It's totally worth the admission fee (at least once) and the artwork in the building is phenomenal. I bought a great print and look forward to when they have more the choose from.



Do you love CSI? I do. I've been watching since it first started. I love to see how they catch the bad guys and figure out who they are. CSI: the experience is located at the MGM Grand, one of my favorite hotels in Vegas. Needless to say, I was excited to see if I could be a crime scene investigator. You aren't allowed to take any photos inside the experience (boo!) and you have to rely on your observational gifts to solve the crime. 

I have two criticisms of the experience: 1.) It's quite dark in the area where the initial crime scene is laid out, so it's a little difficult to see all the clues. 2.) After that, they mostly give you the answers, so you can't not solve the puzzle, making it not worth the full ticket price. Aside from that, it's pretty fun to work together or on your own to see if you are as smart as you think you are. You also learn a lot about how CSIs work and how much you need to really know to be one. There are three different crime scenes, so you can try more than one if you liked the first one.


Vegas is all about the shows and we've never gone without seeing at least one. I love that your Explorer Pass can get you into one of the most popular mid-range shows. Of the six available, we chose Zombie Burlesque. It's quite risque and not meant for children. It's an over 21 show, as there is nudity, swearing, sensuality and jello shots in the middle (I'm not even kidding). The show is playful and funny, while also being sexy and a little disturbing. After all, you're watching zombies undress and do a striptease. The theater is smallish, so all seats are great seats. V Theater is located in the Miracle Mile Shops of Planet Hollywood and has a plush seating area to hang out before the show starts. You can also grab a drink (alcoholic or not) from the bar. This show was really fun and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a unique show that doesn't cost a ton.



By now, you probably know that I have a love-hate relationship with Madame Tussaud's. I'm fascinated by the amount of work and detail that go into making the wax statues to make them look so lifelike. On the other hand, I'm terrified of the actual statues that look so lifelike. I'm convinced they are going to move, even if it's just their eyes. Yes, I've seen too many horror movies, but as you can see, that hasn't stopped me from going to satisfy my morbid curiousity. So far, no statues have moved, much to my relief, and I have been able to get my picture taken with a bunch of "celebrities". Madame Tussaud's is located at The Venetian and gives you a chance to see some other hotels on the Strip. You'll be thrilled by the statues of some of your favorite Vegas icons, like Elvis, the Rat Pack, Lady Gaga and those dudes from The Hangover movies.

Want to get your own Explorer Pass (or create your own Go Card) for your next trip to Vegas. Click here for more information. If you want to get a Go Card for any of the other destinations (Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Oahu, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington DC) click here to buy and for more info.

Your Go Cards are good for 30 days after you've first activated them (the first time you use them for an attraction) and are valid for one year after purchase. They make fantastic gifts and also save you so much on your trips, while allowing you to do the things you planned to do anyway, plus even more. Each card comes with a guide that includes info on all the activities included, addresses, phone numbers and a map. It's invaluable and fits right in your bag or pocket.

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Have you ever used Go Cards before? Where, or where would you like to go with Go Card?

Disclaimer: I was provided with Explorer Pass Go Cards from SmartDestinations for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.
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