The Stratosphere ~2009-’15

My beautiful picture
My beautiful picture

The Stratosphere ~2009-’15

At my previous travel blog website, several articles about Las Vegas were published. The articles were still popular before being transferred to the new Wild West Destinations Website, but the only problem is Las Vegas evolves so rapidly, that published material about Sin City destinations quickly becomes outdated. Since I periodically update photo material in such a case, the best strategy is to attach a time period stamp to old articles about places that tend to rapidly change. Casinos do upgrade, rebrand and adapt entirely new themes quite often in here in the entertainment capitol of the world, so date archiving the material will help to prevent the viewers from being misinformed. As the archived material about Las Vegas matures with age, it becomes a study of the past that attracts Vegas nostalgia fans, so the time stamps will help them to find memories of places they fondly remember.

Speaking of how changes in Las Vegas can rapidly outdate old published material, the Stratosphere Hotel Casino Resort is currently rebranding as “The Strat!” The Strat resort is being updated with room renovations, trendy dining themes and a much improved hotel front desk system. The old Strat has been around for a while and the new improved version will certainly attract more visitors to the north end of the Las Vegas Strip!

The Stratosphere Casino Resort is located where Main Street merges with the Las Vegas Strip just north of Sahara.  A visitor to town simply needs no directions to find this destination, because the Stratosphere is the tallest observation tower in America.  The 1,149 foot tall observation tower can literally be seen from anywhere in the Las Vegas Valley.

The Stratosphere Hotel Casino Resort opened in the mid 1990’s.  The Stratosphere has nearly always been marketed as a casual fun resort that appeals to working class visitors and conventioneers.   This casino resort is at the north end of the Vegas Strip and it is close to the downtown Fremont Street entertainment district.  The Las Vegas Arts District is next door and the Las Vegas Convention Center is only a few blocks away.  The old classic Vegas style little motels and wedding chapels in Skin City are within walking distance and there are plenty of multi cultural restaurants in this area.

The main attraction and star of the show is the Stratosphere Tower.  A trip to the top only takes a few seconds in the high speed elevator.  There are a few decks at the top of the tower.  One deck offers a glassed-in observation deck with a fantastic 360º view of the city. 

On the second deck there is a fine dining restaurant that offers a great view of the Las Vegas Valley from every table.  There also is a very nice cocktail lounge called Air Bar with live entertainment on this deck.  The Air Bar actually is the highest lounge in Las Vegas!  For those who need something to steady the nerves before proceeding to the open air top deck that touches the clouds, I highly suggest getting primed before doing so.  The Expresso Martini at the Air Bar really has a way of providing the willpower to get on one of the thrill rides on the top deck!   

Stepping out of the elevator onto the top deck on the Stratosphere Tower feels like stepping onto the wing of an airliner a thousand feet above ground.  The first reaction is to grab onto something and hang on for dear life.  Those who are scared of heights really do not want to look down at the ground, because the distance is so great that it is easy to become dizzy and faint. 

After the initial shock of standing in the clouds subsides, the awesome view of the city takes over.  Every scenic sight in the entire valley can be viewed from the top of the tower.  The view of the neon lights on the Vegas Strip from the tower at night are spectacular to see!

There are several hair raising thrill rides on top of the Stratosphere Tower.  In my opinion, the “Insanity” thrill ride is the best by far!  If you happen to have a weak stomach, then it may be best to skip the Insanity ride, just for the sake of the innocent bystanders that are looking up from the ground which is 1,149 feet below!  The Insanity is like a circus ride called the spider, which spins fast enough for the centrifugal force to keep a passenger glued to the seat as the seat slowly rises till the passenger is forced to look straight down at the ground below. The result is a panic filled adrenaline filled head rush that caused the buttocks to clench onto the seat for dear life! I have ridden the Insanity thrill ride at the top of the tower once in the past and all that I heard from my pal sitting next to me was loud screams about how we were going to die for 5 solid minutes!  The Insanity thrill ride is the ultimate white knuckled adrenaline rush! 

When the Insanity ride is over, stepping back onto the solid tower is the best feeling ever!  This thrill ride is so insanely intense, that all fear of heights is forgotten.  Looking straight down from the tower is easy after riding Insanity, because nothing is scarier than this amazing high altitude thrill ride!

The newest thrilling experience on the Stratosphere Tower is the Sky Jump.  Sky Jump is a tethered free fall jump from the top of the tower to ground level.  For those who always wanted to jump off the Empire State Building, this is even better, because the Stratosphere is even taller! 

The Sky Jump cable tether line allows harnessed jumpers to dive off the top of the tower and free-fall over 900 feet at 32 feet per second!  It is a long way down and one simply cannot help but to pray that nothing fails!  Fortunately the tethered line slows jumpers down to a safe touch down landing speed about 30 feet from the ground.  Jumping from over 100 stories up is an adrenaline rush that simply cannot be beat!

The Stratosphere does have a unique nostalgic diner on site that has red vinyl booths, chrome furnishings, a soda fountain counter, classic prefab stainless steel diner design and a 1950’s rock & roll theme.  Roxy’s Diner is like a dream come true for fans of 1950s rock ‘n’ roll! Roxy’s has a singing waitstaff that performs 1950s style rock & roll music. The talented singing waitstaff do get the customers involved in the action, so if you are into 50’s music, then Roxy’s Diner is the place to be!

The menu at Roxy’s features all of the popular food that was served at diners in the 1950s.  Diners and burger stands were a way of life back then and this still is a popular lifestyle in this current day and age.  Roxy’s Diner has the perfect atmosphere for enjoying the classic all American meal that consists of a burger, fries and a shake!  To many folks, this is fine dining at its best! The old fashioned Banana Split at Roxy’s is a showstopper too!

During a visit, I was sat at a table near the big screen television that was the size of a wall.  The movie that was playing on the big screen was “Viva Las Vegas!” starring Elvis Presley and Ann Margaret. This movie is still fun to watch because it is from the legendary early days of this city.  

The photos from this article range from 2009 during the Great Recession to 2015 when the local economy started to rebound. Along with the improved economy, the Stratosphere has now rebranded as The Strat, so more improvements to this landmark resort will surely be made in the future. One thing that is for sure after all the changes are made, the Strat will still be the tallest observation tower in the west!


Author: wildwestdestinations

I worked as a chef in remote resorts and National Parks, which provided the time to explore western travel destinations. I have a BA Degree in Culinary Management with high honors and currently I am working on a Masters Degree in Adult Education. My food and travel blog writing began as a means to generate income during college and now photo journalism has become my lifestyle.

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