Some of us remember that bygone era when Las Vegas invested hundreds of millions of dollars to attract, well, just about anyone and everyone, including families traveling with children.
Those days produced quite a few major attractions, many of which have forever disappeared like Wet ‘n Wild, a huge water park right on the Las Vegas Strip sandwiched between the Sahara hotel and the long gone El Rancho hotel. But more than a few of are still alive and well including the Adventuredome at Circus-Circus, the Excalibur and even the Manhattan Express at New York-New York hotel.
Fast forward to the early 1990s and the LVCVA (Las Vegas Conventions and Visitors Authority) pressed ahead with a new strategy, one that would reinforce Las Vegas as an adult destination while simultaneously discouraging families from visiting the city. Their marketing strategy and ad campaigns turned out to be a huge hit producing the now famous motto “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” and reducing the number of families traveling to the Las Vegas.
In the early 2000s approximately 11% of adults visiting Las Vegas were accompanied by under 21s. By 2011, that percentage had fallen to 7%, a massive decline in visiting children.
The world-wide recession of 2008 negatively impacted Las Vegas tourism in a big way; not only did the number of visitors to Sin City fall dramatically but so did most of the other vital tourism statistics such as average number of nights stayed, hotel average room rates, and more.
In order to stimulate tourism demand Las Vegas seems to have repealed its ban on families. The Mandalay Bay has been advertising its Shark Reef attraction as a ‘family-friendly’ activity. Countless Las Vegas hotels are now offering family/child-friendly amenities for guests including kids’ welcome packs at check in (at the Four Seasons Las Vegas), the Westin Hotel, Casino & Spa now features a Westin Kids Club, more and more arcades are popping up, and a number of other Las Vegas hotels offer child care for hotel guests.
No doubt Las Vegas will always primarily be an adult playground, but even Las Vegas is now acknowledging that there room for family fun too.