Saturday, July 10, 2010

Stranded in the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas

That would be my nephew Joey looking forlornly out at the Las Vegas strip from the top of the Stratosphere Tower on a trip to Vegas late in the last century.

Why was Joey forlorn. Well, it was well in to hour 2 of being stuck high above Las Vegas.

The ride to the top of the Stratosphere Tower is in a double decker elevator. It is a bumpy ride. As we neared the top I could hear siren-like noises. We got out of the elevator to learn that the Stratosphere Tower had lost power.

I don't know how the elevators made it to the top without power, there must have been an emergency back up. But, til power was restored no elevators was returning to ground level.

At that point in time on the top of the Stratosphere Tower there was a roller coaster called the High Roller. The riders who were on the High Roller were stuck. Out in the extremely hot sun.

In 2005 there were a couple incidents where guests were left hanging far above the Las Vegas Strip for well over an hour when the Insanity ride shut down. Insanity dangles you over the edge of the tower then spins you at about 40 miles per hour. Some of those stranded were not happy with the compensation offered. A free pass to the ride for a year.

After about an hour of me and the nephews being stranded at the top of the Stratosphere Tower I stared making a bit of a fuss. I thought we should be giving free refreshments. Due to it being so hot with not air-conditioning and it being well over 100 degrees. A call was made, the libations were released.

Then I fussed that I wanted our elevator ride ticket refunded. I don't remember if that happened then or when we finally got to the ground. I do remember when we got to the ground we were greeted by a Stratosphere Tower executive, all apologetic. I told him we were starving and asked if we could get comped for a buffet. The guy quickly wrote something on a piece of paper and handed it to me. So, me and the nephews had ourselves a free buffet. But, the Stratosphere still made money off us, due to the nephews using me as their legal age conduit to play Keno.

At 1,149 feet the Stratosphere Tower is the tallest observation tower in the United States, only the CN Tower is taller in the Western Hemisphere. It is located at the far north end of the Las Vegas Strip and is the only one of the major strip casinos to actually be within the City of Las Vegas. The Stratosphere Tower is about 2 miles from downtown Las Vegas and The Fremont Experience.

It took a long time to build the Stratosphere Tower. I remember seeing it in a construction stalled state on several Vegas visits. And then on a Thanksgiving trip to Vegas in 1996 I was pleased to see the tower completed.

When rides started getting added to the top, well I found that bizarre. A few years ago a flight from Seattle routing through Vegas on the way to Dallas, at midnight, went directly over the Stratosphere Tower. It was a very startling thing to see. The original intention had been to make the Stratosphere Tower the world's tallest, but interference concerns over McCarran International Airport and incoming and outgoing flights caused the tower to shrink.

In addition to the already mentioned Insanity ride, there is the Big Shot, it being the highest ride in the world. Riders get shot straight that pointy spire at the top of the tower, and then dropped down.

X-Scream is a straight piece of track that pivots, sort of like the see-sawing of a teeter-totter. You sit in an open car that rocks from one end of the track to the other, taking you right to the edge of the tower's top.

SkyJump Las Vegas is the newest Stratosphere Tower attraction, and one I find the most bizarre. It is like a controlled bungee jump. You are stuck in a special suit, given instructions and then something called a controlled decelerator guides your fall to the ground. You jump off a little platform, go in to a fast free fall, with guide wires keeping you from banging the tower. Then, as the ground quickly approaches the fall is slowed down and you come in for a controlled landing.

Now, there have been 5 suicide jumps from the top since the Stratosphere Tower opened. I would think it must be a bit unsettling to some unsuspecting tourists to be driving down the Las Vegas Strip for the first time to see people jumping off the Stratosphere Tower.

I have not had the pleasure of experiencing any of the Stratosphere attractions, besides the elevator, due to that no electricity problem on my one and only visit. I did get to walk outside at the top and see the riders stranded on the High Roller roller coaster.

Links to other bloggings about Las Vegas...

Staying at the Las Vegas KOA, 6 Motel, Excalibur, Luxor, Treasure Island & New York New York

Thinking About a Roadtrip to Las Vegas

My nephews took me to Las Vegas

Las Vegas Fremont Street Experience with American Pie

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