Las Vegas: Family Values

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Las Vegas pays off with deep discounts and a jackpot of age-appropriate action.

Certainly its “Sin City” pseudonym may deter your family clients from leaving Las Vegas high on their travel bucket list. But with all the deep discounts floating around these days, they may want to reconsider.

It’s no secret that the gaming destination avoids targeting the family niche. But that’s not to say kids are strictly an afterthought. After all, many parents love chasing lady luck. And even high rollers with strollers enjoy traveling as one big happy brood. So rest assured that when your clients tow their toddlers, tweens and teens to Vegas, it’s a safe bet they’ll find ample age-appropriate diversions.

A major player for families seeking Vegas value, the 3,991-room Excalibur continues to captivate kids with its slew of medieval bells and whistles. No doubt the largest castle on U.S. soil, the gleaming behemoth has recently completed floor-to-ceiling renovations to its aptly named Widescreen Rooms. Sporting a modernized take on its classic theme, accommodations shine with new furnishings, 42-inch flat-screen TVs, Internet access, pillowtop mattresses and granite bath fixtures.

The pool grounds have also been spruced up, adding 30,000 sq. ft. of space surrounded by lush tropical landscaping. Two distinct sections cover all the bases, with sedate space for adults and a family-oriented area complete with water slide.

While parents can act their age at the Royal Treatment Spa and adult-oriented shows like “Thunder From Down Under,” it’s clear that the younger set rules within Excalibur’s walls as well. Pacifying with a bounty of carnival-style and arcade games, Fantasy Faire Midway is highlighted by Magic Motion Rides that pummel the senses with 4-D special effects. Kids can chase an elusive pickle in “SpongeBob SquarePants 4-D,” horseback ride in Corkscrew Hill or dive headfirst into the Extreme Log Ride. Tickets range from $9.95 for one experience to $11.95 for all three.

“Our Fantasy Faire Midway is ideal for families because it appeals to all ages,” notes Lynn Holt, v.p. of sales, marketing and entertainment. “They can participate in wholesome, affordable games of friendly competition—with great prizes going to the winners.”

Recreating King Arthur’s fanciful feasts and valor contests, Excalibur’s Tournament of Kings is one of Vegas’ last dinner shows. “It tells a classic story of good versus evil in an exciting, interactive way,” says Holt. “Performers are top-notch. They joust, tumble and perform amazing stunts throughout the show.”

Aside from interfacing with the cast, audiences delve into a hearty 3-course feast served utensil-free to reflect the era’s spirit. Two evening shows are held nightly except Tuesday, with tickets from $54.95. The property has also added a $25 all-day buffet with unlimited grazing to enhance its value proposition.

Beefed up with top non-gaming activities at several of its MGM Mirage sister properties, Excalibur’s Family Package delivers a 20 percent discount for the Luxor’s “BODIES… The Exhibition” and “Titanic: The Artifacts Exhibition,” buy one/get the second admission half-off to Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef Aquarium, and 2-for-1 admissions for Excalibur’s Fantasy Faire Midway, Tournament of Kings and Magic Motion Rides. Through March 31, 2010, nightly package rates are from $56 per room for families of up to four.

good clean fun Obviously, Excalibur amuses with ample on-site recreation. But Egypt, ancient Rome and Paris lie just beyond the mote and drawbridge. Those on the go should start by taking the skywalk to Luxor and Mandalay Bay.

Housing more than 1,200 species of marine life, Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef Aquarium demands discovery in touch pool and walk-through tunnel exhibits exploding with nautical marvels. Admission is $16.95 for adults, $10.95 for children 5-12, and complimentary for children 4 and under.

The Luxor presents a pair of educational exhibits that makes learning fun—even for parents. While “BODIES…” exposes human complexities in 13 whole-body specimens, “Titanic” unfolds with its own chilling drama via artifacts recovered from the 1912 voyage. Admission is $31 and $27, respectively, for adults, and $23 and $20 for children 4-12.

Other family-friendly highlights stringing along the Strip include Madame Tussaud’s Interactive Wax Experience, Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage, The Auto Collections at Imperial Palace and “CSI: The Experience,” an interactive exhibit that’s set to open at MGM Grand.