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Stratosphere Las Vegas

Updated on August 26, 2017

The Las Vegas strip

The Las Vegas strip, December 2007
The Las Vegas strip, December 2007 | Source

Stratosphere Las Vegas is one of the most easily recognizable landmarks on the Las Vegas strip. As you can see in the photo above, Mandalay Bay and Delano (formerly THEhotel) are the southernmost resorts on the strip (which officially ends at Sunset Rd.) while the Stratosphere tower is the northernmost; although it's three or four blocks past the "official" north end of the strip, Sahara Ave. You can also see the downtown Fremont Street area slightly behind and to the right of the Stratosphere.

Stratosphere Las Vegas

Stratosphere Las Vegas
Stratosphere Las Vegas

Stratosphere was originally Bob Stupak's Vegas World, which I recall visiting at least twice during the early to mid 1990s. It had sort of a cartoonish science fictiony / astronomy theme and overall was fairly dark and gloomy. The casino was totally remodeled and the famous 1,149 foot tower was built during the mid 1990s and opened in April 1996. The tower itself is the theme of the property, and the 80,000 square foot casino is now bright and cheerful as well as a bit more relaxed and calm than the typical strip casino.

Stratosphere observation deck

Stratosphere Las Vegas observation deck
Stratosphere Las Vegas observation deck

The main attraction at Stratosphere is their observation deck and thrill rides at the top of the tower. You can buy a ticket to ride up the 109 stories for about $15 (instead of taking the stairs for free) (I'm joking about that). During busy seasons they offer a line pass for about $10 extra. If there's a long line you might wait an hour before getting on one of the elevators. Everyone also has to pass through an airport style metal detector before going up. I think it's worth $10 to avoid standing on line for an hour.

View from the Stratosphere

View from the Stratosphere observation deck
View from the Stratosphere observation deck

Wikipedia points out that five people have suicide jumped off the top of the Stratosphere (they cite the news articles as evidence.) The indoor observation deck which runs a complete 360 degrees around the tower is fully enclosed so there is no need to worry about falling off. The small outdoor observation deck (which is closed during foul weather) also has a tall fence to prevent accidents. If you choose to go on the thrill rides, however, the fear factor is increased.

Stratosphere observation deck

Stratosphere's outdoor observation deck and one of the thrill rides
Stratosphere's outdoor observation deck and one of the thrill rides

The thrill ride pictured above is sort of a roller coaster car that shoots you out over the edge of the tower (X Scream) to make you feel as if you're falling off, before stopping and pulling back. Another ride (Insanity) kind of dangles and swings you over the pavement below, while the third ride (Big Shot) bounces up and down inside the "needle" at the top of the tower. I've never gone on any of these rides and probably never will. I do like going up there to shoot photos, however.

There used to be a roller coaster on top of the Stratosphere but it's gone now.

View of the strip, March 2006

The Las Vegas strip as seen from the Stratosphere observation deck in March 2006. Stardust and Frontier have been demolished since then, and Encore at Wynn has been constructed next to Wynn.
The Las Vegas strip as seen from the Stratosphere observation deck in March 2006. Stardust and Frontier have been demolished since then, and Encore at Wynn has been constructed next to Wynn.

A certain percentage of visitors to Las Vegas insist on staying close to "center strip" every time they visit. Being the very last resort on the north end of the Las Vegas strip places Stratosphere at a disadvantage... they can never earn the business of that group of tourists. Therefore, rates are a bargain. You can get a large luxury suite with a strip view for about the same price as a small basic room at the popular center strip properties like Paris, Mirage, and Caesars Palace.

If you like the favorable odds at the downtown casinos, Stratosphere is a good choice which places you right in the middle between the glamorous center strip and Fremont Street. It's about two miles either way. I recommend renting a car if you're staying at the Stratosphere, however, since it's in an urban area where you'll definitely run into panhandlers and other assorted characters. The heavy traffic along Las Vegas Blvd. prevents the walk from being dangerous but it can be uncomfortable to people who are not used to urban living. If you do elect to walk from Stratosphere, stay on Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Blvd. Don't walk down any quiet side streets by yourself. This advice applies to any big city, not just Las Vegas. I walked around the area behind Stratosphere one time (Meadows Village aka Naked City) just to see what it was like. It is a rough neighborhood.

Meadows Village - March 2005

Sightseeing in Meadows Village, Las Vegas
Sightseeing in Meadows Village, Las Vegas

Meadows Village - March 2005

Sightseeing in Meadows Village, Las Vegas
Sightseeing in Meadows Village, Las Vegas

Stratosphere at sunset

Stratosphere at sunset, December 2007
Stratosphere at sunset, December 2007

Comments

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    Dragonflylove 

    7 years ago

    They removed the roller coaster permanently a few years ago because it was not as popular as they anticipated, and felt the space was better used with two new attractions....one being an arm type ride that dangles you over the side and spins....the second being a train type ride that sends you over the side and stops the cart at the very last second.

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    movers vancouver 

    7 years ago

    After just coming back from Vegas, I can confirm that the roller coaster on top of the stratosphere has been removed. I'm not sure where they moved it to or why.

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