Sunday, October 14, 2012

From The Vault: MGM Grand Adventures 1993 - Part 2

Last week we started to take a look at some of the treasures that can be found in a 1993 commemorative book, published for the opening of the greater MGM Grand resort in Las Vegas.  Check out Part 1 if you missed it.  As stated in that piece, none of these images are mine and are being shown here for a unique look back at the park.

Duell Corporation was tasked with designing MGM Grand Adventures, and this concept art is from them.  I've never seen this one before now, and I have to say that I like it an awful lot.  It definitely looks like a final version as it is pretty much just how the park was built.  As described by Duell,

The MGM Grand Hotel and Theme Park is a totally original family theme park combining the MGM backlot with the best in entertainment, from sensory experiences to avant-garde rides and theatrical productions.  Twenty thousand square meters of gaming and indoor entertainment and twelve hectares of outdoor theme park make it one of the largest in the world.

A sure highlight of the theme park was its large stunt show, aptly titled Dueling Pirates.  The show was created by Bridgewater Performance Corporation, a company that produced more than 75 live action stunt and high dive shows at theme parks and entertainment centers around the world.  It wasn't until the company became involved that the show was expanded and enlarged into a "bigger and more spectacular event."  The company included a great synopsis of the show - and while I don't want to keep quoting everything this one's worth it.

Breakaway masts, exploding towers, automated sharks and spectacular stunts highlight the action as Jake, the first mate, and his good 'ole bad guy Pirates' mutiny!  They want to keep the Princess to themselves.  This Pirate themed live action adventure promises to entertain all members of the family.  The action takes place aboard a beautifully built pirate ship docked in the 950 seat outdoor Pirate's Cove Theater.  

Defying all odds, the Captain leads the battle to free the Princess.  Meshak, the Cabin Boy, fights desperately to help the mighty Captain, but he just can't seem to stay out of trouble.  His comedic shortfalls, high falls, and pratfalls will keep the audience laughing while they cheer the brave Captain onward!  With swashbucking swordplay, hand to hand combat, stunts and comedic excellence, the fighting builds to an explosive finale!  The Princess will be saved and no obstacle is too large or too explosive for the Captain to overcome!

One of the major designers for the theme park's many shops, eateries, and other buildings was Paul Steelman Ltd, the main project architect and interior designer.  The company's extensive casino experience made it a natural choice for the adjacent them park.  Above are two of the designs for interiors of shops at the theme park, the Backstage Shop and the retail area at the Casablanca themed entrance area.

The company hasn't strayed too far from theme parks since MGM Grand Adventures, they're actually the designers for the current renovation of Steel Pier in Atlantic City.

Proving that "the environment is the essence of the continuity for the entire visitor experience in the park," the facades that were built to mask show buildings at MGM Grand Adventures were key.  Several companies came together to accomplish this, including Forrec Construction, Keenan, Hopkins, Schmidt & Stowell Contractors, and Brown & Root Building Company.

The companies used 2,300 working drawings for the structures, many photos of which are featured above.  While the themed areas of the park were very tiny, they each excelled in their representation of their respective lands.

The above photos of the Haunted Mine Ride are awesome because it is nearly impossible to locate any of them on the web.  Technifex Inc was the producer and designer of the ride, which had a short life at the park (well, the whole park had a short life, but this was even shorter).

The result of more than two years of design and construction work, the Haunted Mine Ride gave "MGM Grand guests a chance to be a part of a truly haunting show."  The photos show off the projection of the trapped Native America spirit that has deer antlers, a rotten skeleton corpse, one heck of a nasty looking grinder, and some magical indoor water falls.  I love it!

Here is one more glimpse into the Haunted Mine Ride, a large set created by Lexington Scenery and Props.  The company worked on both the  Haunted Mine Ride and Deep Earth Exploration along with AVG and Technifex.  Lexington also worked with R&R Creative Amusement Designs on the themed facades for the Backlot River Tour and Grand Canyon Rapids.

Speaking of R&R Creative Amusement Designs, they're our friends here at NPN.  We did an interview with them last year about their extensive work at MGM Grand Adventures, if you missed that (for shame) check it out.

From concept to reality, R&R brought both Grand Canyon Rapids and the Backlot River Tour to life.  They also worked on the set design and scripts for the Wizard of Oz themed characters, created by Sally Corp, that were located inside the casino.

Grand Canyon Rapids featured over 50 life sized characters and props, all created by Garner Holt Productions.  A highlight is seen above, the ride's massive steam powered pumping machine, which was a main photo spot for the adventure.  Other special effects used in the ride included water effects, fiber optics, explosions, smoke, and sophisticated audio and motion control systems.  More about the ride from the company.

The Grand Canyon Rapids attraction required a diverse range of special effects and props.  Most of the animated figures are "outdoor" figures that required special construction to withstand any weather conditions.  The operational systems in the ride consist of the latest technology in CD quality digital audio systems, computerized animation controls, and high pressure mist fog.

Based on a 1870s wilderness/western theme, the Grand Canyon Rapids "wilderness" contains several wild animal characters, including a mother black bear with her cub and a snarling timber wolf.  In the Flash Flood Gulch, entertaining characters such as the waking hotel cowboy and the town blacksmith are befuddled by the town's sudden water level.  The bank scene features historically accurate costumed figures in a "shoot-out" robbery attempt.  The outlaw cowboys are built with special "crouching" mechanisms that enable them to doge the marshal's shots.  A water cannon effect indicates where the outlaw's "shotgun" blast has hit the water near the guest's raft.

In the Silver City mining operations, prospector "Dynamite Sam" threatens guests to keep away from his claim, and makes his point with explosive results!  In addition to animatronic figures, other effects such as the water barrel, floating wagon, ore cars, spurting barrels, leaking bucket and igniting dynamite kegs add to the realism and entertainment value of the ride.

Phew, that was a massive quote but there was such detail involved, I had to include it!

One last goodie, not directly about the theme park.  The MGM Grand project included a $15 million monorail that connected the property wit Bally's.  The mile stretch took about three and a half minutes to complete, and was privately funded.  Using two monorail trains, each consisting of six, 25 passenger cars, the monorail was expected to carry 25,000 people per day.  The monorail eventually became the first portion of the expanded Las Vegas Monorail.

As always, if you have any photos or other memorabilia from MGM Grand Adventures, feel free to contact me!


Kevin Ruud said...

Not to be picky, but some of the pictures you have labeled as the haunted mine were actually the Journey to the center of the earth ride.