Sunday, October 7, 2012

From The Vault: MGM Grand Adventures 1993

Promotional artwork for the MGM Grand.
When the MGM Grand opened in 1993, it was a big deal.  Like a really big deal.  Opened as "the grandest, largest hotel in the world," the resort was a billion dollar project, with inflation that's about $1.5 billion today, so not exactly a small undertaking.

As we well know the development included a theme park - MGM Grand Adventures - which long time readers will know holds a special place in my heart, and I've written about it extensively.  As a result of all that research and writing, I got my hands on a commemorative book that was published when the resort opened, and it is filled with some great facts and photos.  It's been sitting on my shelf for some time now, but the Vault seems like a great place to share some of its wealth.

Needless to say none of these photos are mine, and I'm publishing them so that others can relive a bit of the park's memory.

MGM Grand Adventures was designed by Duell Corporation, the company who has created many of the world's most popular theme parks.  Above is a shot of the park under construction, with several rides already enclosed and other sections much further behind.  Paul Steelman Limited worked in conjunction with Duell as the park's architect and interior designer.

The concept art for the park was tediously turned into 2,300 working drawings in order to bring it to life, then workers turned those drawings into 130,000 square feet of reality.  The themed areas were based off of the streets of the Old West, New York, New Orleans, Europe, Casablanca, Asia and Mexico.

Make sure to click through on this image to see more of the detail of the 33 acre park under construction.  In the lower corner is the foundation work for Over The Edge, the park's flume ride.  The park's river rapids ride (far right) and movie based jungle boat ride (far left) are still channels being dug in the ground.  You can also clearly see the support structures for all the themed facades that were eventually put up to hide the show buildings.

Concrete can be pretty darn boring, unless it is being used to create a new theme park, that is.  Contractors used the substance for many structures in MGM Grand Adventures, such as the above Cotton Blossom Bridge.  You can also see the boat itself being constructed just behind the bridge in the above photo.

More on the park's concrete:  "Billed as the size of the original Disneyland, the Theme Park area presented a whole new set of construction challenges.  Approximately 3,500 cubic yards of concrete was poured for the Backlot River Tour, Cotton Blossom Bridge, Over the Edge flume ride, and Grand Canyon Rapids.  In addition, numerous building foundations, walkways, and subterranean maintenance pits were also constructed." 

See, concrete may not be that exciting, but you wouldn't have much of a theme park without it!

Theme Parks need trees, and considering that Las Vegas is in the desert, the park needed to have them transplanted.  Trees Company was responsible for moving some 600 trees from the former Tropicana golf course, located across the street from the site.  Trees ranging in size from 10 to 60 feet were removed, box planted, and kept healthy until the theme park was ready for them.  Some of the trees stayed in boxes as big as 16 feet wide for over two years until the site was ready!

I've got more, but that will have to wait for the next Vault!