Vegas implosions

We've compiled a list of the most significant implosions of the recent past and the stories surrounding them.

New Frontier implosion

When: Hotel closed midnight, July 15, 2007. Imploded Nov. 13, 2007.
Replaced by: Multi-billion-dollar Plaza-branded resort, opening date not yet announced

With thundering crash, the New Frontier came down on Nov. 13, 2007, closing the door on the second oldest hotel on the Las Vegas Strip.

While the New Frontier never had the romantic Rat Pack era associations that other imploded hotels (Sands, Dunes) had, it did have its share of historic Vegas moments. This was the hotel that Elvis Presley made his Vegas debut at in 1956. (Presley received a cool reception and was panned by Vegas entertainment critics.) The New Frontier was also the starting place for Vegas headliners, Siegfried & Roy. The hotel was, until its implosion, the last operating hotel that was once owned by Howard Hughes and was also the site of one of the longest-running labor strikes in U.S. history (six years and four months).

Plans for The New Frontier land are currently on hold.

Read more about the New Frontier's implosion in the Las Vegas Sun.

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Stardust implosion

When:Hotel closed Oct. 31, 2006. Imploded March 13, 2007.
Replaced by: Echelon Place, currently on hold
With its explosive implosion on March 13, 2007, the final chapter of the iconic Stardust resort was written.

Boyd Gaming closed the doors on the 48-year-old casino and hotel Nov. 1, 2006 in anticipation of the implosion that cleared the way for Echelon Place, Boyd's planned complex of resort hotels and convention facilities.

The implosion of the Stardust was one of the more emotional for locals and long-time visitors alike. Its colorful past, most notably its mob ties, was a major source for the movie "Casino." Though there have been a number of significant implosions over the last decade, the Stardust's erasure was the largest since the Sands disappeared into a cloud of dust in 1996.

Read more about the Stardust's implosion in the Las Vegas Sun.

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Boardwalk implosion

When: May 9, 2006
Replaced by: MGM Mirage CityCenter project (under construction)
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It would be an understatement to say that the Boardwalk hotel was an anomaly on the south end of the Strip. Its faux-Ferris wheel façade, replete with dummy passengers, was looking more than just out-of-place surrounded by such newer neighbors as the MGM Grand, New York-New York and Monte Carlo resorts. So when MGM Grand acquired it in 2000, its death certificate was effectively signed.

The aging and inefficient Boardwalk provided more entertainment value in its explosion than perhaps at any point during its operation. At least its clearing was not in vain. Its footprint is a key part of MGM Mirage's $7 billion CityCenter project, a mixed-use resort and entertainment complex combining gaming, shopping, state-of-the-art architecture, upscale hotels and hi-rise condominiums.

Read more about the Boardwalk's implosion in the Las Vegas Sun.

Boardwalk Las Vegas implosion

 

Bourbon Street

When: February 14, 2006
Replaced by: Nothing at this time (property owned by Harrah's).
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The Shendandoah, as it was first known, opened in 1980 with several owners including Wayne Newton. After just four years, the property filed for bankruptcy. This without the casino ever opening.

In 1985 a Canadian based company would become the first foreign company to obtain a license to operate a casino in Nevada as they reopened the property with the New Orleans theme of Bourbon Street.

In March 2005, Harrah's purchased the property and several surrounding properties to acquire an 8 acre land parcel just off the strip and adjacent to the Las Vegas Monorail. The casino was closed in October of 2005 with demolition work beginning on the property the following January.

Bourbon Street Las Vegas implosion

 

Castaways

When: January 11, 2006
Replaced by: Nothing at this time (property owned by Station Casinos).
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The property originally opened as the Showboat in 1954, taking advantage of a Mississippi riverboat theme. Originally built by the ownership of the Desert Inn, the Showboat received numerous upgrades over the years, including bowling lanes in 1959 and several hotel towers that eventually amounted to 500 rooms. The bowling center became so popular that it grew to 106 lanes in the 1980s and held a number of professional televised events. The sports pavilion also achieved notoriety by showcasing boxing, wrestling and roller derby.

Harrah's Entertainment bought the property in 1998 and opened other Showboat properties in Atlantic City, New Orleans, Illinois and Australia. Harrah's only ran the casino for two years before selling it to a group of investors. It was after this sale that the Showboat was renamed the Castaways and rebranded in a tropical island feel. Three years later the property was in bankruptcy, finally closing in January 2004.

Station Casinos bought the site late in 2004.

Castaways Las Vegas implosion

 

Desert Inn implosion

When: Oct. 23, 2001
Replaced by:Wynn Las Vegas
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The implosion of the Desert Inn might be somewhat of an anomaly. The famous resort was purchased in 2000 by visionary developer Steve Wynn, who closed it several months later with plans to build a mega-resort. But the D.I. - as referred to affectionately by locals - was not aging, in disrepair or suffering great losses.

Opening as Wilbur Clark's Desert Inn in 1950, the D.I. was the fifth resort to appear on what would become the Las Vegas Strip. The popular resort - which featured an 18-hole golf course and a showroom that hosted the biggest names in entertainment, including Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Tina Turner and more - was purchased by billionaire Howard Hughes in 1967 after the hotel's management unsuccessfully tried to eject him from their penthouse suites.

It changed owners throughout the next 30 years, but in 1997, the D.I. underwent major renovations, giving it a completely fresh, upscale appearance more in line with the cosmopolitan direction of newer mega-resorts. Nonetheless, Wynn had a vision and that vision required the leveling of the resort's Augusta Tower in 2001. The remaining smaller towers of the D.I. were used as offices for Wynn Resorts and housed Wynn's art collection before finally being imploded with little fanfare on an early autumn morning in 2004.

Wynn Las Vegas, a $2.7 billion mega-resort centered around a gleaming, amber, 60-story tower, opened on April 28, 2005. The footprint of the towers from the second implosion yielded Encore, an adjacent resort, which opened in late 2008.

Read more about the Desert Inn's implosion in the Las Vegas Sun.

Desert Inn Las Vegas implosion

 

El Rancho implosion

When: Oct. 3, 2000
Replaced by: Fontainebleau Las Vegas (under construction).
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Though it cribbed its name from the first major hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, the El Rancho hotel and casino just couldn't find its place in an ever-changing Vegas. It started life as the Thunderbird in 1948 (not to be confused with the hotel of the same name a mile north on the Strip), was sold and renamed as the Silverbird in 1976, and then in 1982, former Aladdin owner Ed Torres re-imagined the property as the Western-themed El Rancho.

The property enjoyed a successful re-opening, but never really caught on. After 10 years of financial struggles, Torres shut down the El Rancho, and it sat empty, like a towering ghost town, for eight years before its 13-story tower was imploded by new owners Turnberry Associates, who wanted to ensure a clear view for owners of their adjacent hi-rise condominium project, Turnberry Place.

Read more about the El Rancho's implosion in the Las Vegas Sun.

El Rancho Las Vegas implosion

 

Aladdin implosion

When: April 27, 1998
Replaced by:Aladdin
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The Aladdin hotel and casino may be the most perplexing of Vegas' infamous implosions, even more so than the replacing of the unique Landmark casino with a parking lot. Instead of simply remodeling or upgrading facilities in waves, the Aladdin started over completely.

Itself a reinvention of a property formerly known as King's Resort (and before that, the Tally-Ho), the Aladdin opened in 1966, eventually encompassing 36 acres, with a 17-story tower, 1,100 rooms and a checkered past full of financial troubles, legal problems and mob involvement. Not even Wayne Newton's early-1980s co-ownership could fully save this seemingly-cursed resort.

The only part of the resort to remain standing after the implosion was the Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts, which became a centerpiece of the new Aladdin that opened in August 2000, a $1.4 billion, "1001 Arabian Nights"-themed resort featuring 2,600 rooms, Desert Passage, a 500,000-square-foot shopping center, a 100,000-square-foot casino, 21 restaurants and 75,000 square feet of meeting rooms.

The hotel eventually went on to become Planet Hollywood, sans implosion.

Read more about the Aladdin's implosion in the Las Vegas Sun.

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Hacienda implosion

When: Dec. 31, 1996 - Jan. 1, 1997
Replaced by:Mandalay Bay
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Before the 40-year-old Hacienda was taken down on New Year's 1997, its planned replacement was a secret project known only as "Project Paradise." Nearly 10 years later, that South Strip property is home to one of Las Vegas' most successful resorts, Mandalay Bay, which also comprises THEhotel and a Four Seasons within its expansive acreage.

The Hacienda started as a 256-room motor lodge on the outskirts of town and grew to a 1,200-room resort. It was among the first properties to offer family-friendly recreation, including a miniature golf course and a go-kart track. In its later years, the resort succumbed to age and a loss in traffic to the new, gleaming mega-resorts popping up further north on the Strip.

Read more about the Hacienda's implosion in the Las Vegas Sun.

Hacienda Las Vegas implosion

 

Sands implosion

When: Nov. 26, 1996
Replaced by:Venetian
When you think of classic Las Vegas, it's possible you conjure the iconic image of "The Rat Pack" - Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop, Dean Martin and Peter Lawford - standing in front of the Sands marquee, the wide-open blue sky of Vegas spread out behind them. There's a good reason: The Sands' Copa Room was the birthplace of this creative collaboration in 1960.

Sadly, those glory days of the circular Sands hotel-casino were 30 years past when owner Sheldon Adelson imploded the 44-year-old resort in 1996 to clear space for the Venetian resort, the $1.8 billion hotel-casino which - with its reproduction of Venice's canals and streets - now occupies most of the former Sands' property. An adjacent Adelson property, The Palazzo, opened in 2007.

The Sands lives on, however, both visually in the original "Ocean's Eleven" film and on musical albums recorded live at the hotel by the likes of Sinatra, Davis, Jr. and others.

Read more about the Sands' implosion in the Las Vegas Sun.

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Landmark implosion

When: Nov. 7, 1995
Replaced by: Parking lot
Few things are more cinematic than Vegas hotel implosions, and the Landmark Hotel and Casino's explosive demolition will forever be immortalized as the Martian-destroyed Galaxy Hotel in Tim Burton's "Mars Attacks!"

Before being cleared away to accommodate 2,000 new parking spaces for the neighboring Las Vegas Convention Center, the Landmark - with its unique, flying saucer-shaped tower - lived up to its name. The futuristic-themed hotel, which opened Fourth of July weekend in 1969 with Danny Thomas playing the showroom, was built by Frank Carroll but purchased by eccentric developer Howard Hughes in 1968. In its heyday, the Landmark played host to other celebrities such as Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.

The hotel starred in a few other movies prior to its implosion, most notably "Diamonds Are Forever" and "Casino."

Read more about the Landmark's implosion in the Las Vegas Sun.

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Dunes implosion

When: Oct. 22, 1993
Replaced by:Bellagio
If there is such a thing as an "implosion craze" in Las Vegas, then the demolition of the Dunes was the hotel ending that started the trend. One of Vegas' most classic establishments, the Dunes opened in 1955, heralded by a 35-foot-tall sultan that straddled its main entrance. By the time of its closing in 1993, the sultan was long gone, as were the glory days of the Dunes, its significance dwindling as new mega-resorts like the Mirage and Treasure Island opened.

The implosion of the Dunes demarcated the end of an era as much as the opening of its replacement, the $1.6 billion Bellagio resort, at its time the world's costliest hotel. Bellagio opened with more than 3,000 rooms on an 11-acre site, featuring a 22-million-gallon lake, the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art and a spectacular Cirque du Soleil production show, "O."

Read more about the Dune's implosion in the Las Vegas Sun.

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