Stratosphere Las Vegas in Las Vegas
Stratosphere Las Vegas is a tower, hotel, and casino located on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. Its tower is also the tallest observation tower, and the 5th-tallest structure, in the United States, as well as being the tallest structure in Las Vegas.
It is owned by Whitehall Street Real Estate Funds, an affiliate of Goldman, Sachs & Co who purchased American Casino & Entertainment Properties which includes the Stratosphere along with three other properties. The sale closed on February 21, 2008 for . The property's signature attraction is the 1149 ft Stratosphere Tower, the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States, and the second tallest in the Western Hemisphere, surpassed only by the CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario. The hotel is a separate building with 24 stories, 2,427 rooms and an 80000 sqft casino.
The Stratosphere is the northernmost of the major Strip casinos and the only one actually in the City of Las Vegas, as the rest of the Strip south of Sahara Avenue is in the unincorporated townships of Paradise and Winchester. Note, however, that the Nevada Gaming Control Board does not include the Stratosphere in its definition of the Strip, instead grouping it with Downtown Las Vegas casinos.
In the early 1990s, The Stratosphere was conceived by Bob Stupak as an addition to his Vegas World casino. At the conception of the project, one of the planned rides was to be a giant ape that would carry riders up and down one of the tower's columns. The original plans envisioned the Stratosphere exceeding the height of the CN Tower at 1815 ft, making it the world's tallest freestanding structure at that time. However, due to possible interference with nearby McCarran International Airport, and any possible flights that come through Las Vegas, the Tower's proposed height shrank multiple times until its current height of 1149 ft.
On August 29, 1993, the Tower caught fire while still under construction. No one was injured, but the fire forced repairs and rebuilding that led to numerous delays in the construction of the Tower.
In 1995, Grand Casinos was brought on as an equity partner for the still privately funded project under construction. While construction was still progressing, the Stratosphere Corporation was formed as a public company with shares being offered to the public.
The Stratosphere opened on April 30, 1996. Shortly after opening, the Stratosphere Corporation was forced to file bankruptcy. This caused construction on the second tower to stop, with only a few stories partially built, and it allowed Carl Icahn to gain control through one of his companies by buying a majority of the outstanding bonds.
A major addition was completed in June 2001 for $1 billion that included finishing the 1000-room second hotel tower.
In the early 2000s, the company attempted to get approval for a roller coaster that would run from several hundred feet up the tower and, in the last proposal, across Las Vegas Boulevard. Part of that last proposal included an entry monument on the ride over Las Vegas Boulevard welcoming people to the City of Las Vegas. The Las Vegas City Council did not approve the project due to objections from the neighbors over possible noise from the enclosed cars on the proposed ride.
In January 2010, American Casino & Entertainment Properties announced a new thrill ride for the top of the tower: SkyJump, a controlled descent, Bungee jumping-like ride that will allow riders to plummet 855 ft attached to a high speed, descent wire. It opened on April 20, 2010.
Radio stations KOAS 105.7 (FM) and KVGS 107.9 (FM) have on-channel FM boosters broadcasting from an antenna at the top of the tower's structure. Licensed as KOAS-FM1 and KVGS-FM1, they are the only radio stations with transmitters at the tower. However, the signals being transmitted from this structure are relatively low-power and only cover the immediate Las Vegas area on a "fill in" or "booster" basis. Both of these stations have their main transmitter sites located elsewhere, and those transmitter sites are what give these stations more wide spread, regional coverage.
The top of the tower has two observation decks, a restaurant known as "Top of the World" (revolving restaurant), and four thrill rides:
- Big Shot at 1081 ft is the highest thrill ride in the world.
- Insanity, opened in 2005, at 900 ft is the second highest thrill ride in the world; it dangles riders over the edge of the tower and then spins in a circular pattern at approximately forty miles per hour.
- SkyJump Las Vegas, a controlled descent, Bungee jumping-like ride that will allow riders to plummet 855 ft attached to a high speed, descent wire. SkyJump opened on April 20, 2010.
- X-Scream at 866 ft is the third highest thrill ride in the world.
- The High Roller at 909 ft was the second highest ride in the world and the highest roller coaster. It was closed on December 30, 2005 and dismantled to make space for a new attraction.
Stratosphere Tower Shops
The Tower Shops is a mall on the second level that connects the casino to the entrance to the tower.
Some of the casino games include slot machines, video poker and European roulette. The Stratosphere has inherited some unusual variations on casino games from its Vegas World predecessor, such as "crapless craps". The 80000 sqft casino includes approximately 50 table games, 1,500 slot and video poker machines, a poker room, and a race and sports book.
In two separate incidents in 2005, riders were left dangling several hundred feet above the Las Vegas Strip for nearly an hour and a half when one of the thrill rides (Insanity) shut down. The ride didn't malfunction, but was programmed to cease operation if a fault or problem is detected by the ride's control system.[source for second incident?]
Since its opening in 1996, five people have jumped to their deaths from the top of the tower.
In popular culture
The Stratosphere is featured in the 2005 movie Domino.
- List of towers
- List of tallest freestanding structures in the world
- Stratosphere Las Vegas homepage
- Las Vegas Leisure Guide page on the Stratosphere, with construction details
- Satellite shot
- Stratosphere Las Vegas at The Las Vegas Review-Journal