Stratosphere – History

History

In the early 1990s, The Stratosphere was conceived by Bob Stupak as an addition to his Vegas World casino. At the conception of the project, one of the planned rides was to be a giant ape that would carry riders up and down one of the tower’s columns. The original plans envisioned the Stratosphere exceeding the height of the CN Tower at 1,815 ft (553 m), making it the world’s tallest freestanding structure at that time. However, due to possible interference with nearby McCarran International Airport, and any possible flights that come through Las Vegas, the Tower’s proposed height shrank multiple times until its current height of 1,149 ft (350 m).

On August 29, 1993, the Tower caught fire while still under construction. No one was injured, but the fire forced repairs and rebuilding that led to numerous delays in the construction of the Tower.

In 1995, Grand Casinos was brought on as an equity partner for the still privately funded project under construction. While construction was still progressing, the Stratosphere Corporation was formed as a public company with shares being offered to the public.

The Stratosphere opened on April 30, 1996. Shortly after opening, the Stratosphere Corporation was forced to file bankruptcy. This caused construction on the second tower to stop, with only a few stories partially built, and it allowed Carl Icahn to gain control through one of his companies by buying a majority of the outstanding bonds.

A major addition was completed in June 2001 for $1 billion that included finishing the 1000-room second hotel tower.

In the early 2000s, the company attempted to get approval for a roller coaster that would run from several hundred feet up the tower and, in the last proposal, across Las Vegas Boulevard. Part of that last proposal included an entry monument on the ride over Las Vegas Boulevard welcoming people to the City of Las Vegas. The Las Vegas City Council did not approve the project due to objections from the neighbors over possible noise from the enclosed cars on the proposed ride.

In January 2010, American Casino & Entertainment Properties announced a new thrill ride for the top of the tower: SkyJump, a controlled descent, Bungee jumping-like ride that will allow riders to plummet 855 feet (261 m) attached to a high speed, descent wire. It opened on April 20, 2010.

The High Roller at 909 ft (277 m) was the second highest ride in the world and the highest roller coaster. The ride opened on April 29, 1996. The High Roller sat high on top of the tower’s observation pod and its track wound around the central mast. Due to these design limitations, the High Roller was neither a fast nor intense ride experience; the height alone was the primary thrill element. It was closed on December 30, 2005, and dismantled. The ride was in need of a refurbishing that would cost over $500,000 dollars and was the least popular of the Stratosphere rides, leading to the decision to remove it.

Gaming

Some of the casino games include slot machines, video poker and European roulette. The Stratosphere has inherited some unusual variations on casino games from its Vegas World predecessor, such as “crapless craps”. The 80,000-square-foot (7,400 m2) casino includes approximately 50 table games, 1,500 slot and video poker machines, a poker room, and a race and sports book.

Controversies

In two separate incidents in 2005, riders were left dangling several hundred feet above the Las Vegas Strip for nearly an hour and a half when one of the thrill rides (Insanity) shut down. The ride didn’t malfunction, but was programmed to cease operation if a fault or problem is detected by the ride’s control system.

Since its opening in 1996, five people have jumped to their deaths from the top of the tower.

 

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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article “Stratosphere Las Vegas”, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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