Editor's note: This is the 7th part of a series looking back at the park. Don't miss Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.
Now that we've taken a look at all the themed areas, rides, and attractions that MGM Grand Adventures had to offer, we'll wrap up with the sad fate of the theme park.
When the park was under construction the operators actually planned to have to limit the number of admission tickets to around 10,000 per day to maximize guest experience. They also planned on adding new attractions every year or two. Neither of these plans really materialized; attendance was never the home run they expected, and while rides were added, they were hardly the big themed attractions that were planned.
One of the first reactions to the less-than-stellar attendance was to have Holiday events. Both Halloween and Christmas themed celebrations were held.
Scream Park ran for a few years in the late '90s as an extra ticket attraction. Several haunted walk-through mazes were built, and special scary live entertainment was featured as well.
Christmas saw Holiday Wonderland held, featuring facades decorated in lights, an ice skating rink, and of course and area to visit Mr. Claus himself. Roaming carolers and other holiday themed entertainment rounded out the celebration.
While these events were mildly successful, the progress of the park wasn't enough to save it from being reduced in size sometime in 1996 in order to accommodate a $60 million conference center and a 6.6 acre Shangri-La pool and spa complex. The reduction resulted in the removal of the Backlot River Tour, Deep Earth Exploration, the indoor version of Lightning Bolt, and the Haunted Mine after only two and a half years of operation.
In an effort to improve the smaller operation, park managers wanted to expand the park's ride offerings to attract new customers. Las Vegas has always been "bigger is better," and that was probably the mentality for Sky Screamer, which opened in 1996 as the world's tallest Sky Coaster.
By 1997 the park had added several other carnival style rides to its midways as well. They had three rides from Chance Morgan: a Ferris Wheel, Zipper, and Chaos. Above is an advertisement for the Century Wheel, which was placed along the New Orleans Street.
The Chaos ride was plunked into the Salem Waterfront area. To its credit the Chaos attractions were brand new at the time, and it did attract a bit of attention for the park. While I do remember seeing the Zipper while at the park I cannot remember where it was located. I suspect the three rides were leased from Chance, as they didn't last very long at the park.
Even with the additional rides, MGM had bigger plans for the land that the park sat on, and by the year 2000 was publicly admitting they were seeking other uses for the area. In the aerial above you can see what was left of the park as it stood once it closed. While the carnival rides are all gone you can get a good feel for what was left at the park in its final years.
The park was at 19 acres in summer 2000, down from 40 when it first opened. That summer hotel officials said that nothing regarding the park's fate was final, but by October of that year the park's rides were listed for sale through Performance Rides International for $2.75 million. Sky Screamer was listed separately, for $800k.
Even with the rides listed the park's closure wasn't yet official, as hotel operators were looking to see if anyone had interest in picking up the rides. If purchased, they would have been removed by January of 2001.
I'm assuming no great bids came in, since MGM Grand Adventures became "The Park at MGM Grand" in 2001, a space closed to the public and only used for group business and special events. Sky Screamer, Lightning Bolt, and the Bumper Cars, along with the theaters, were available to groups.
Above is an aerial view of the property the park sat on. The bottom left is the entrance from the hotel proper, and into the large pool area. Fun fact - the lazy river is named Backlot River - a throwback to the Backlot River Tour, perhaps? The lower right is the large convention center. The upper left is the now completed and opened Signature towers. And the upper right is what's left of the park.
You can see how MGM Grand Adventures is now just a ghost of Las Vegas' mid-1990's quest to please families.
I'm not sure of the fate of the children's rides that the park had, and Chance probably took back the flat rides long before the park closed for good. Sky Screamer has been listed for sale for ages now, though I haven't seen it turn up anywhere.
The Haunted Mine, Deep Earth, and Backlot Tour were all scrapped as far as I know. Lightning Bolt, Over The Edge, and Canyon River Rapids were actively listed for sale for several years after the park closed. The coaster, bumper cars, and log flume almost received a second lease on life when a developer tried to build a small theme park at Granite Park in Fresno, CA. While the rides were moved on-site, the planned park failed and they've since disappeared. All three are currently listed for sale again on Rides4U.
If you guys are still reading this - well thanks. I know my quest to document the history of MGM Grand Adventures ended up a lot... longer than I expected, but hopefully it was worth it!
Finally if you're reading this, even if it's years later than when I wrote it, and have some photos, video, brochures, or anything else you'd like to share of the park - by all means, please e-mail me! I'd like to update these pieces with new information, photos, and more as I obtain it.