Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Look Back at MGM Grand Adventures Part 2

Editor's note: This is the 2nd part in a series, if you missed Part 1, check that out here!

Next up in our look back at the MGM Grand Adventures Theme Park: New York Street!

A fun forced perspective photo spot for guests © Mike Brister

New York Street greeted guests after they passed through the park's Casablanca entrance Plaza area. Probably one of the largest sections of the park, New York Street featured a selection of shops as well as a food location, a large theatre and one ride.

© Mark de Jong

The New York Street area was a nice welcome to the park.  Most of MGM Grand Adventure's themed areas had pretty sharp transitions between sections, but New York extended far enough that it felt more cohesive.

© Mark de Jong

This was also a popular area for live entertainment acts to pop up and entertain the crowds.  Above we see a group getting ready to performs on the streetscape.

© Mike Brister

I really like the above photo, as it really helps portray that MGM Grand Adventures had a lot of thought go into creating the correct themed atmosphere for each area. The center of this walkway featured a parked trolly, which doubled as a snack stand. The area also contained the Backstage Collectibles and Harry's China Shop retail locations.

From this vantage point we're looking back toward the park entrance - the building in the back housed the Central Park Wedding Chapel where brides and grooms could tie the knot. The buildings on the left were mostly just facades, and the right was the King Looey Theatre.

© Mike Brister

Speaking of the King Looey Theatre - here's it's entrance marquee. The 650 seat theatre originally featured "Reachin' for Gold," an ice skating and gymnastics extravaganza, and I believe King Looey himself made an appearance. At some point (I think when the park first opened) it also showed "The Cartoon Show," described as a blend of cartoon animation and a live musical review.

It was renamed Manhattan Theatre by 1995, when it was showing a Peking Circus act. When I visited in 1997 it wasn't being used for anything, sadly, and I was there in the middle of the summer!

© Mike Brister

The back section of New York Street had this replication of an elevated train station at 6th Avenue, though it was just for decoration. It also served as a theme barrier between the start of the Olde England Street area directly behind it.

© Mike Brister

Lightning Bolt was New York Street's big ride. The story of the ride moving around the park ended up being much bigger than the coaster itself, but we'll get to that. Above we see the entrance to the enclosed coaster experience on the right side of the photo.

Lightning Bolt was MGM Grand Adventures' only roller coaster, really for the entire existence of the park. When it first opened the ride took guests on a speeding adventure through outer space. The ride featured projections and other props done up in black light paint along the track to create the effects of such space features as a meteor shower, gas nebulas, a Black Hole, and "altered space," though that last one is a little vague.

When riders were done with their outer space adventure (meaning they hit the ride's brake run) they passed a black light model of the Vegas Strip to signify that they were once again landing on Earth. The actual coaster was designed by Intamin, and featured a 49 ft. lift and 1,100 ft. of track. If you were to superimpose the original layout of the ride on the building it was in, it'd look a lot like this:

As you can see it wasn't the biggest coaster around, but it served its purpose for the first few years the park was open. It was later moved to a new home in the park, and expanded greatly, but we'll cover that in another section.

To finish off New York Street here's a Kodak advertisement that was in a MGM Grand souvenir book I got at the hotel. King Looey proudly poses for a photo with some young fans. You can also get a nice view of the faux elevated train station in the background of the photo.

Continue on to part 3 of this series.