It could be argued that Las Vegas is one giant theme park.
There is no gate around the city of course. Nor is there one owner/operator controlling everything. But there are bright lights and whimsical architecture as well as wild shows and a festive atmosphere. And let's not forget the compelling themes including Egyptian pyramids, the decadent Roman Empire, the circus, and the canal city of Venice. Take that Epcot!
There are no cuddly costumed characters to meet and greet, but there are plenty of plumed, topless showgirls and hookers on the prowl. Amid all of the blinking slot machines and endless buffets, there are actual roller coasters and other rides to be found in Vegas. And despite its desert location, there are also water parks.
If Las Vegas is one giant theme park, it is one that is marketed primarily to adults. In the early 1990s, Sin City was trying to partially reinvent itself as a family-friendly destination. At that time, there were more theme parks and attractions along the Strip than can be found today. The effort largely failed. The park-like attractions that remain are largely geared to adults who live by the decidedly non-family-friendly creed, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." If you find yourself staying in Vegas, you'll find plenty happening.
The following theme parks, water parks, and attractions are arranged alphabetically:
The 5-acre park is located inside a pink-hued geodesic dome. Among its attractions are the Canyon Blaster and El Loco coasters, a 4-D theater, spinning thrill rides, laser tag, a carousel, and kiddie rides. There are also clown shows, midway games, and mini-golf.
The free fountain show in front of the Bellagio hotel and casino is stunning and was surely one of the inspirations for the World of Color show at Disney California Adventure.
The steel coaster that used to be known as the Manhattan Express snakes around the "Statue of Liberty" and other NYC landmarks in front of the New York-New York hotel and casino. This is not one of our favorite rides, as you can read in our scathing coaster review.
The rides at this casino on the outskirts of Vegas (on the California state line) include the Desperado, one of the early hypercoasters, a log flume, a motion simulator theater, and a freefall tower ride. Note that the casino sometimes closes the attractions for extended periods. Check to make sure they are open before you visit.
This large outdoor water park includes lots of slides and attractions, including the Rock-A-Hoola bowl ride, a launch capsule loop slide, a mini funnels ride, a family raft ride, a wave pool, and an enormous interactive water play structure.
At 550 feet tall, the High Roller is currently the world's biggest Ferris wheel. It is located at The Linq on the Strip. Other activities at The Linq include Fly Linq, a zipline that soars above the complex; VR Adventures, a virtual reality experience; and Brooklyn Bowl, which offers bowling and live shows. Kind Heaven, an interactive, multi-sensory attraction that is designed to transport visitors to Southeast Asia through technology, entertainment, music, and food is scheduled to open in 2020.
Unfortunately, Star Trek: The Experience, which was located at the Las Vegas Hilton) closed in 2008. You can read about the wonderful, but defunct attraction in our review.
Read about the unusual attractions at the top of the 900-foot tower including the Big Shot freefall ride, the spinning Insanity ride, the teeter-totter XScream ride, and the absolutely insane Sky Jump “controlled drop” from the top of the tower to the gorund.
Wet ’n’ Wild is a major outdoor park includes plenty of wild slides and unique attractions such as The Rattler, the first water ride of its kind in North America, the Canyon Cliffs speed slide, the Hoover Half Pipe, and Constrictor, which features one of the tallest and tightest banking turns of any water slide in the world.
The medium-sized outdoor waterpark includes a wave pool, speed slides, lazy river, family slides, Hurricane Cove kids area, and Scorpion half-pipe tube ride. Other attractions include bowling, go-karts, laser tag, mini-golf, an arcade, and billiards.