Las Vegas

The One Tourist Attraction in Vegas I’ll Never Understand

Last weekend I watched tourists pay $16 a person to be escorted in a gondola up and down a canal…by an opera singer. This might have been something I would’ve considered doing if:

1. We’d been in Venice

2. The ‘canal’ hadn’t resembled one of those lazy river rides at Wet n’ Wild

As it were, we were in the middle of the desert, in front of the Venetian Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. And the gondola ride involved a 10 minute paddle in circles around a turquoise-colored swimming pool.

More surprising than the fact that this ride existed to begin with was the fact that people (all adults!) were actually waiting in line to ride it.

Try though I do, I just don’t understand people like this. What sort of conversation had to transpire to lead to the decision to pay a $1.50 a minute for a ride in a concrete lagoon with a view of a traffic jam?

Maybe something like this:

Wife: “Oooh! Look honey, it’s a gondola! How romantic!”

Husband: “But sweetie, paying 32 dollars for a ten minute ride is a bit pricey, don’t you think? I could row you around our swimming pool back home for free and you’d get the same effect.”

Wife: (pouting) “But he’s singing in Italian! Can you sing Italian?”

Never mind that the gondola (driver? captain?) with the fake Italian accent is probably an actor from Cincinnati and the closest he’s been to Italy is the Olive Garden, this Vegas version of Venice is far superior. I mean, not only does the canal smell better, it’s also cleaned once a day with a pool vacuum.

Which is good to know if you should say, find yourself falling overboard. And apparently this happens from time to time, judging from the two lifeguards employed to stand watch on either side of the canal.

Yep, lifeguards. With rubber lifesaving tubes and a first aid kit and everything.

I guess you just never know when a rogue wave will hit the canal and capsize the gondola. The clear pool water is four feet deep, which is certainly deep enough for someone to panic and forget how to stand.

Another reason why the Vegas version is better is because the gondola driver speaks English. He may pretend otherwise, but if you should find yourself panicking half way through your ten minute ride (“This is a little out of my comfort zone! I mean, where is this gondola even going?”) the driver will understand you when you shout: “Pull over!”

When I worked at Disney World I would see this sort of thing all the time. Not only were there fake canals, but entire fake countries as well. In the park Epcot, Disney brought you an entire fake world, populated with miniature replicas of cleaner, safer versions of Morocco, France and Mexico.

“I saved up my whole life to come here.” You don’t know how many times guests would tell me this. And with such escatic looks on their faces, too. The sad part is, that for the money they spent on their trip to Florida to take photo in front of a fake Eiffel tower, they could have flown to Paris to photograph the real thing.

But the hassle of traveling the world isn’t worth it when Disney and Vegas can just bring the world to you. And a shiner, pre-packaged version, too. A version where every gift shop takes American money and every restaurant menu offers Mac n’ Cheese and PB&J.

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8 thoughts on “The One Tourist Attraction in Vegas I’ll Never Understand

  1. When my friends and I arrived in Venice, the "boat busses" were on strike, so we had to take a boat taxi from the train station to our hotel. The price? 60 euros. Yes, euros! And it wasn't even a romantic gondola with an accordion player perched on the back; it was a noisy engine-powered machine piloted by some surly guy.

    Having said that, I loved Venice. I was there either during or just after their canival festival, and scored some great masks.

    I haven't yet experienced the glory of Vegas. I'll have to check it out sometime.

  2. Really? I don't remember it costing that much but I never rode one in a water taxi in Venice. That's craaazy.

  3. I so want to go to Thailand! My cousins are going there next month to go on a four month bike tour. If I had more money I would def go.

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