SlotZilla has opened and the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas will never be the same.
It’s a 12-story slot machine in the middle of the street. You can’t exactly miss it.
Las Vegas Weekly has referred to it as the Berlin Wall of Fremont Street, dividing the old-school casinos of the Fremont Street Experience and the hipper bar scene on Fremont Street East.
I’ve been impartially observing the construction and eagerly awaiting a chance to ride since experiencing the former zip line from Flightlinez last year. It’s been a major topic of conversation at work and at home. Even my neighbors can’t wait to ride.
And we’re not alone. Since opening over the weekend, SlotZilla employees say they have seen a steady stream of interested riders. The first couple days were sold out.
There’s just something wholly satisfying about zipping through the air past neon signs and classic hotels under the world’s largest canopy, while giving air-fives to the pedestrians below.
The ride was originally set to open in the summer of 2013. Instead it opened in Spring 2014.
So was it worth the wait?
Well, to be fair, I should first put things into perspective. Only part of the attraction has opened, the zip line, which is 77 feet high and 850 feet long. Still to come is a zoom line that’s 114 feet high and launches riders in a horizontal position, as if they are Superman, flying 1,700 feet — the entire length of the Fremont Street canopy – at speeds faster than 35 miles per hour.
Having zipped Fremont Street before, the ride for me wasn’t entirely unique. But there were some definite differences.
For one, the overall experience was streamlined. I was able to book a ride time online and check in pretty seamlessly in the retail shop, located to the right of the ride when facing SlotZilla.
From there, I walked outside and entered the second story loading area via stairs. I was weighed (riders must weight between 60 and 300 pounds) and strapped in my harness rather smoothly. My personal items were zipped into a bag that was easily attached to my harness. The ride attendants were super informative, very friendly and clearly well trained.
Next, I rode an elevator up to the zip line platform. Previously, riders entered the Flightlinez zip line via the elevators that are part of a nearby permanent parking structure. But SlotZilla comes equipped with its own cage-like, open air elevators.
Watching pedestrians and the Denny’s below shrinking as we lifted higher and higher definitely stirred up some butterflies that I didn’t experience with the former zip line.
On the launch platform, I noticed another difference.
Ride attendants help attach four riders to the four separate zip lines, in front of a gate. The previous zip line didn’t have a gate and felt a lot more guerrilla.
Once the gate opens, riders walk down a short set of stairs until they are dangling in the air above a platform.
Not realizing I wasn’t actually going anywhere until the ride operators manually launched me, the initial impact of losing contact with the ground below was the scariest part for me. I even emitted a tiny little yelp — and instantly felt silly when I realized I was just dangling in one place above a platform.
Upon release, I zipped pretty flawlessly through the air and underneath the Viva Vision canopy. At one point, I found myself chanting “SlotZilla!” at the top of my lungs and even made eye-contact with curious tourists standing on the second story balcony at the top of the outdoor D hotel escalator.
It didn’t feel like I was moving that fast, but I definitely felt the impact when the braking system slowed me down toward the end.
Unlike the previous zip line, riders are slowed enough to land on their own on the platform. Previously, the ride attendees essentially caught you … and that was just awkward for everyone.
Once you’re unhooked from your harness and retrieve your personal items from your bag, you’re free to go.
The overall experience from check-in to dismount took about 20 minutes. I had a fun time and definitely experienced an adrenaline rush.
But I think the real test will come when the horizontal zoom line opens. I just wish they would let me wear a cape.
SlotZilla is open Sundays through Thursdays from noon to midnight, and Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 2 a.m. Flights are $20 for the zip line and will be $30 for the zoom line (opening later this spring).