After MGM Mirage purchased additional plots of land bordering Circus Circus in recent years, many in town muttered that it must be just a matter of time before Lucky the Laughing Clown is asked to fold up his Big Top and beat it. After all, he's been luring tourists into this garish casino for nearly 40 years, a lifetime by Vegas standards, and not much has changed. Sure, MGM Mirage could ask performers from Cirque du Soleil to perform on the stage above the casino, and the carnie-style midway could be transformed into a futuristic arcade. But then there's a risk that the place would end up unrecognisable from its famous turn in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and who wants that?
After several expansions, there are now 3,773 spartan rooms, mainly decorated with soft-blue carpeting, pastel bedspreads and upholstery, and dark wood furniture. The West Tower is the newest (built in 1997); the cheapest (and oldest) rooms are in the motel-like Manor section. Ask for a south-facing room in the Skyrise Tower for the best view of the Strip. Other amenities include pools and the 399-space Circusland RV Park.
Eating & drinking
The Steak House is a surprisingly high-quality dining room, while Mexitalia Xpress serves both Italian and Mexican. Little-known fact: when Comedy Central wanted Chef from the animated series South Park to have worked in a Vegas buffet, they chose the super-cheap, super-mediocre Circus Buffet, famous for feeding up to 10,000 hungry souls a day.
Circus Circus never had a showroom; it no longer even has the G-string clad pony girls, who used to ride plastic ponies on a ceiling-hung track, tossing balloons at the kiddies. But the midway and circus acts remain: acrobats, trapeze artists and magicians perform every half-hour (11am-midnight). The 23 rides and attractions at the Adventuredome include Nickelodeon's Spongebob SquarePants 4-D thrill ride, a rollercoaster, a carousel and bumper cars.
Connected by walkways and a monorail, each of the three casinos offers the same gaming options. The race book is located near the back of the resort, in the Skyways Tower area. A five-dollar bill is enough to get you started at most tables; it might take all day to find someone risking more than $10. You'll probably want to hide out in the casino; the rest of this place is a pre-pubescent madhouse.