Flying into Las Vegas, the sensory overload of dazzling neon lights was my signal that I arrived to the world’s ultimate playground and a prelude to a high-flying ride I was preparing to take. The 8-mile (13-kilometre) stretch, where scantily clad women adorned with large feather headdresses or boa constrictors around their necks share the streets with throngs of visitors sipping cocktails can be a bit intimidating at first. In such environments you might seek out familiar sights to give you a sense of comfort. For me, a Canadian, the recognizable FlyOver sign was a beacon amid the Vegas neon.
The newest attraction on the Strip is a made-in-Canada production that has nothing to do with casino life and yet is all about escape. With motion seats, mists of simulated rain, and scents of nature, FlyOver Las Vegas takes you on an immersive journey over the American West.
FlyOver made its North American debut in 2013 in Vancouver, British Columbia, where it still has daily showings of its Canadian-focused thrill ride. With FlyOver Vegas, the attraction by Alberta-based Pursuit Collection brings the innovative, cinematic touch to one of the United States’ leading destinations. The experience takes place in one of two theatres located in a large building next to the Hard Rock Cafe. Pre-show entertainment and a full-service bar help warm you up for the ride. The impressive drink list includes the Sin City Cocktail, a refreshing concoction featuring Empress 1908 gin — an ode to the most famous hotel in the B.C. capital of Victoria.
Shot by award-winning director Dave Mossop of B.C.-based Sherpas Cinema, FlyOver Vegas film is entitled, The Real Wild West. To capture the bird’s-eye views, a helicopter was rigged with a specially developed nose-mounted camera and spent more than 150 hours above 10 Western states to capture jaw-dropping footage of iconic natural wonders like Zion and Arch National Parks, Lake Tahoe, the Vegas Strip, the Grand Canyon, and more. Jack Kenn, general manager of FlyOver in Las Vegas, explained that the film’s dome experience, with its seamless circular screen and high-resolution projection system, includes the best cinematic technology available anywhere.
After a brief and interesting film into the history of the wild west, I was ushered to my seat and advised to buckle in my seat belt, which resembles a roller-coaster harness. The staff was also diligent about maintaining social distance. The lights went down for an instant and when they came back on, we were off, flying over Utah’s iconic Moab rock formations. As a rush of icy wind hit my face, I could feel midst from the clouds we passed through and smell scents of the virtual environments we flew passed. It truly felt like flying.
I was moving, rolling, coasting, and soaring above and amid stunning landscapes — over a herd of wild stallions running in Yellowstone National Park, atop Oregon’s Cascade Volcanic Arc with a solar eclipse in view, above San Francisco’s exhilarating surf waves, and into the belly of the Grand Canyon. As the 4D ride came to an end, I knew my bucket list of places to visit had just grown.
“The amount of talent that went into creating FlyOver is astounding and we are proud to have this original flight ride attraction here on the Las Vegas Strip,” Kenn said. “From the moment guests enter FlyOver’s intricate lobby to the second they exit to Las Vegas Boulevard, visitors will see the American West in a way they never have before.”
Pursuit certainly didn’t cut corners with this massive production. The original score is composed by Grammy-nominated Tom Holkenborg, whose most recent works include the soundtracks for Terminator: Dark Fate and Justice League.
FlyOver Vegas proves again that you don’t need to come to the desert town to play slot machines and poker. It’s a vibrant town that is a fit for those looking for high-octane entertainment, cuisine, and nightlife. Following the thrill ride, I explored the mammoth hotels. Is there anywhere else in the world where you can spend an entire day visiting hotels? I don’t know of any.
Where to Stay in Las Vegas
If you only have a couple of days in Vegas, here are three noteworthy hotels:
Bellagio Hotel & Casino: When the Bellagio opened in 1998, it was touted as the most expensive hotel ever built — to the tune of $1.6 billion. What attracts tourists and celebrities from around the globe are the exclusive Fountains of Bellagio, one of the most famous spots on the glitzy Strip. With its opulent rooms and breathtaking shows, the Bellagio epitomizes splendor.
New York, New York: The bright lights of the big city meet the even brighter lights of Sin City at this Big Apple-themed hotel. If you can’t get to the real Big Apple, no worries. There’s a replica of the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge, or if you prefer something a little more intense, you can always ride the hotel’s very own roller-coaster.
Caesar’s Palace: This palatial icon redefines extravagance. As you enter, Roman sculptures, large fountains, and trees lead you to the lobby. From there, you’re greeted with sumptuous marble columns and arches. You’ll also find the largest poker room in Vegas and, ladies, get this: There are 51 spas, including Roman and Laconium (dry sweat room) steam baths, and 35 massage studios.
Where to Dine on the Vegas Strip
Vegas is a foodie haven. Many top chefs have their own restaurants here, including: Guy Fieri, the eccentric Food Network TV chef; Wolfgang Puck, the prolific restaurateur with five Vegas restaurants; Thomas Keller, of the famed French Laundry; and tyrannical reality-TV star Gordon Ramsay. Although, I didn’t go to top chefs’ restaurants, I can assure you the eateries I dined at offered fabulous cuisine.
Javier’s at Aria: Packed rooms, along with dramatic décor elements, such as hundreds of rope strands forming an intricate canopy that spills from the ceiling to the floor like a beam of light and five Aztec chainsaw wood carvings depicting Mayan Creation myths, signals you are in for a culinary adventure. Distinguished by its authentic cooking techniques and fresh, high-quality ingredients, Javier’s regionally influenced Mexican-style fare is unrivalled. Simply put, the food was divine.
Primrose: No need to conduct an opinion poll … given the daily line-ups and its elegant Provencal-inspired décor, this is arguably one of the best breakfast spots on the Strip. P.S.: I’d venture to say its Italian coffee is some of the best in Vegas as well. Can I recommend the Mediterranean plate for breakfast? It is a devastatingly delicious combo of avocado, tomatoes, cucumber, yogurt, feta, lemon, hard-boiled egg, and olive oil.
La La Noodle: If you crave Pan-Asian cuisine, you’ll enjoy La La Noodle at the Park MGM. Its hand-pulled noodles are the star attraction, but they are so many mouth-watering dishes here. The walnut shrimp and sweet and the spicy seabass, both of which are the restaurant’s most popular dishes, bring together a fusion of flavors that will have you wanting more.
La Pasta & La Pasta in Eataly: Inside the Park MGM, you’ll discover the Italian food hall Eataly, where diners can wander and select from the six counters that make up Cucina del Mercato. Or book a table La Pizza & La Pasta, which serves some of the best Neapolitan pizzas ever. My choice was an insanely indulgent burrata cheese pizza — the cheese was flown in from Italy the day before.
MORE ABOUT FLYOVER VEGAS
Location: 3771 South Las Vegas Boulevard (see map below)
Cost: Adult tickets are $34 each; children’s tickets cost $24 each. Book online at FlyOverLasVegas.com.