I’ve been in Vegas for more than eight years, slowing down each time I drove by the giant golden gates on Sunset Road, hoping for a glimpse of the man, the myth, the legend. Luckily, my peeping Tom tendencies will finally go unpunished because Wayne Newton decided to open his home to the world. So I bought a ticket.
Common sense told me it was going to be staggering. You don’t take the time to name your house and protect it with miles of concrete walls if it’s a doublewide in the dirt. Ammiright? And just as I suspected, Casa de Shenandoah did not disappoint. The mansion sits on 52 acres of artesian wells and is just about the closest thing you can get to a real desert oasis. While I didn’t see any camels, there are tons of horses and exotic animals to see with wild peacocks roaming the property.
I’ll admit, I didn’t know much about Mr. Las Vegas before I moved here, but after the 15 minute documentary I watched at the theater across the street, I quickly realized I’d never be cool enough for someone to name an airport terminal after me. And unlike Mr. Newton, I certainly can’t play 13 instruments, let alone only by ear. Legendary names in entertainment history like Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Jack Benny and Jackie Gleason all had a hand in shooting him to stardom, and you can see all the mementos in the museum on the property.
Notes from presidents, personalized gifts from music demi-gods, movie memorabilia, childhood costumes and personal antiques fill the halls of the museum. As if his talent wasn’t enough, he’s also a pilot and dedicated a wing of the museum to his love and support of the U.S. military throughout the years. You can even go inside his private jet, the Wayniac Express. Just kidding, that’s not what it’s really called but the dude retired one of his planes so his fans could tour the inside of it – who cares what it’s called? P.S. Most red-blooded humans won’t ever see the inside of a private jet so take advantage of it.
Last but not least, the museum is home to the Newt’s luxury car collection. Eleven, to be exact, and they’re all backed up to cherry-paneled garage doors so he can take them for a spin whenever it tickles his fancy. Many of them are of the Rolls Royce variety with 24-carat gold Spirits of Ecstasy (that’s the hood ornament for all you non-moguls). Can we collectively say “baller status?” The great thing about the museum is that you don’t have to spend hours reading the descriptions of the artifacts; Mr. Las Vegas himself recorded video descriptions throughout the exhibits to tell the stories behind everything you see.
Now it’s on to the rest of the property. Have you ever seen a horse swim? Me neither. I walked down to the stables in time for the Arabian showcase but totally missed seeing the horses swim. I had to leave to see the rest of the property before it closed, but the pictures I’ve seen are hilarious so don’t miss it. Here’s a fun fact, Wayne Newton started raising horses because he wanted one as a kid but couldn’t afford it (grab the tissues because the waterworks should start right about now).
Aside from the beautiful horses that surround you as you walk through a paradise in the middle of Sin City, you’ll also see Wayne’s faminals (family + animals = see what I did there?). He’s an avid animal lover and has a variety of birds, penguins, itty bitty baby wallabies that were just born, and the star of the show – Boo. Boo is a Capuchin monkey who goes everywhere with the Newtons and has no clue he’s the family pet. He’s also quite the camera hog so make sure you get a selfie with him.
Remember the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? That’s kinda what the mansion looks like from the outside. But I don’t remember Uncle Phil having a mini Bellagio fountain that is perfectly synchronized to his music. From the inside, it’s all Mr. Las Vegas. I don’t want to spoil the surprises but make sure you ask about the secret passageways while you’re strolling through the palace that was featured on MTV Cribs. Photo opp: The ceilings are mirrored in the bathrooms, which can only mean Wayne has one helluva sense of humor. Don’t tell anybody we told you, but this will make for hilarious selfies.
You can choose from whichever tour package suits your stalker level – I mean interest level- but all tickets include a documentary film in the Shenandoah Theater, access to Wayne Newton’s private jet, luxury car collection, exotic animal exhibit and a showcase of his champion Arabian horses. Other packages include a tour of the mansion itself to see a Baccarat Crystal billiard table, hand-carved Carpathian Elm ceilings, a private art collection featuring Van Gogh and Renoir paintings, and Louis XV antique furniture.
There’s also an elusive “Mr. Las Vegas Experience” that we can only hope includes a bowl of fettuccini Alfredo and a lock of Wayne’s jet-black hair. That’s right peeps, “Vegas Vacation” was really filmed on the property. Unfortunately, the gift shop doesn’t sell locks of Wayne’s hair…not that I checked or anything.
But this is fun: Mrs. Wayne Newton, Kathleen is the buyer for the gift shop/boutique. She’s stocked it with merchandise the Newtons use in all their homes, from candles and dish soap to custom glassware and luxurious robes. Don’t worry, you can still get a “Wayniac” T-shirt and key chain if that’s more your style. But there are really beautiful, unique items too. If you’re a card-carrying Wayniac, animal enthusiast, music lover or just plain tired of trying to peek over his 10-foot wall, Casa de Shenandoah has a little something for everyone. I personally recommend it and hope it stays just the way it is for-eh-vurr.