Las Vegas’ Mirage Resort to close after 34-year run. Volcano to go dormant

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Once hailed as “Las Vegas’ first 21 Century resort,” The Mirage Hotel & Casino confirmed Wednesday that its iconic volcano outside of its front entrance is going dormant less than a quarter of a century into the new millennium.

Owner Hard Rock International announced the hotel will cease operations on July 17, with bookings being accepted until July 14. The iconic resort — sporting a jungle-fantasy theme —was perhaps best known for its exploding 54-foot man-made volcano, magicians Siegfried and Roy, and its white tigers and dolphins.

“We’d like to thank the Las Vegas community and team members for warmly welcoming Hard Rock after enjoying 34 years at The Mirage,” said Jim Allen, Chairman of Hard Rock International in a statement.

The resort is expected to be redeveloped into the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and Guitar Hotel Las Vegas, with the volcano giving way to a nearly 700-foot guitar-shaped hotel. The project is expected to open in spring 2027. A similar 638-room hotel stands in Hollywood, Fla.

The Associated Press reported that more than 3,000 employees will be laid off. Hard Rock acknowledged it would pay roughly $80 million in severance packages for union and nonunion labor.

The Culinary and Bartenders Union accounts for about 1,700 Mirage workers. It announced Wednesday that its workers have two options.

The first was a severance package of $2,000 for every year of service plus six months of pension and health benefits. The second option gives employees a lesser, undisclosed amount while maintaining seniority rights for the duration of the property’s closure along with 36 months of recall rights for jobs at the new hotel.

“Culinary Union members at The Mirage have a strong union contract, ensuring that workers are protected, even as the property closes its doors entirely for three years from July 2024 – May 2027,” said Ted Pappageorge, Culinary Union secretary-treasurer, in a statement Wednesday.

The new hotel is projected to employ nearly 7,000 employees, according to Hard Rock management, while 2,500 construction jobs are expected during the rebuilding process.

Hard Rock said that all reservations beyond July 14 would be canceled and that guests should contact the guest services department or booking agency for a refund.

The Mirage’s closure is the second on the strip this year.

In April, the 66-year-old Tropicana closed its doors to make way for a 30,000-seat stadium that is expected to serve as the home of the Oakland A’s.

The Mirage’s opening by casino tycoon Stephen A. Wynn in 1989 was hailed as the ushering of a new era of resorts. It was the first strip hotel to open since the MGM Grand in 1973.

Wynn shelled out $600 million, then the most expensive casino project, for the sprawling 103-acre property.

The Mirage was the first fully integrated hotel, according to Alan Feldman, a Distinguished Fellow at UNLV’s International Gaming Institute.

Integration meant operating and treating all facets of the resort, including casino, food and beverage, retail, entertainment and convention space, with equal importance, according to Feldman, who rose to become an executive with the Mirage and stayed from 1989 to 2019.

Feldman said hotel owners previously cared first about the casino and “everything else was last.”

“They gave away entertainment, food and rooms as long as someone came and played,” said Feldman. “The Mirage was the first to believe you could actually make money in these areas if you invested enough.”

Its glistening 30-story white-and-gold towers were said to make neighboring Caesars Palace look “retiring by comparison.” Traffic occasionally backed up on the strip as engineers tested gas-flared flames 40 feet into the air every few minutes.

“People just got out of the cars and went over to see what was going on,” one limousine driver said at the time.

The hotel included a 20,000-gallon fish tank at its reception desk and 3,049 rooms.

Its animals — and its white tiger habitat — brought the resort fame and infamy, including in 2003 when a tiger critically injured magician Roy Horn.

The Mirage’s opening kicked off a resort building and remodeling spree that included the debut of the Circus Circus’ Excalibur in June 1990, the $250-million renovation of Caesars Palace and the opening of Treasure Island in 1994.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.