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New Casino Owner Closes Beloved Las Vegas Strip Attraction

TheStreet 11/23/2022 Daniel Kline

The closure may be the first of many as a huge Strip resort/casino changes hands.

When a major property changes hands on the Las Vegas Strip, the new owner usually wants to put its stamp on the property. 

That doesn't always happen quickly. Bally's (BALY) - Get Free Report, for example, has closed on its purchase of Tropicana, and aside from some signage changes to denote the new owner's loyalty program, almost nothing has changed.

That's not to say the new owner does not have big plans for the property, but it's taking as long as a few years to decide what to do with the legendary, but out-of-date, property. 

Those changes could involve a facelift and a name change, or they could mean razing the property to build a new resort, or even replacing the resort with a baseball stadium should the Oakland Athletics decide to make the move to Las Vegas.

A similar lack of change has happened at Cosmopolitan, which was recently taken over by MGM Resorts International (MGM) - Get Free Report. The new owner has swapped in its loyalty/casino rewards program, but aside from that, not much else has changed. And in this case, with Cosmopolitan being a newer property, not much is expected to change.

That's not, however, the case at Mirage, which MGM is about to sell to Hard Rock International. The deal is expected to close shortly, and the first big change of many has already happened.

Image source: MGM Resorts International. © Provided by TheStreet Image source: MGM Resorts International.

Mirage Closes a Major Attraction

When Hard Rock made the deal with MGM to acquire Mirage, the company made clear that big changes were coming to the property. 

What was unclear at the time was how quickly those changes would be made because the deal enabled the new owner to use the Mirage name for as long as three years. And while the property taking on the Hard Rock name may take time, the about-to-be new owner has already made its mark.

MGM and Hard Rock made a joint statement saying that the Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat -- a longstanding, well-loved attraction at Mirage -- will be closing permanently.

“Hard Rock’s leadership team has spent several months considering options and discussing the facility openly with your leadership teams at both The Mirage and MGM Resorts,” the dual-company letter read. 

“As Hard Rock has thought about its vision for The Mirage post-close, the team has determined that the best course of action is to wind down and, eventually, permanently close the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat prior to the commencement of construction of the Guitar Hotel and other planned transformational redevelopments of The Mirage.”

The dolphin habitat had been closed recently due to multiple dolphin deaths at the attraction. It was the last remaining public-facing use of the Siegfried and Roy brand in Las Vegas. It served as the home for the popular duo's famed white tigers as well as bottlenose dolphins, white lions, and leopards.

More Big Changes Are Coming to Mirage

While the loss of the Secret Garden is sad, it was somewhat expected. Hard Rock has not shared a lot of details on its plans, but the Guitar Hotel has to go somewhere, and that construction is expected to mean the loss of an even bigger Las Vegas Strip icon, the Mirage Volcano.

That free attraction is widely expected to close, but the new owner has not given a timeline for the closure.

In addition, Hard Rock is not expected to keep the popular Cirque du Soleil show "Beatles Love" after the property rebrands. That show, however, has some more time -- its members received contracts through 2023. 

And while a show like "Beatles Love" seems to fit Hard Rock's music-centric brand, it seems unlikely to be part of the new property, according to Casino.org.

“'Beatles Love' will be out before the resort reopens, since the Hard Rock no longer plans to use the theater for a resident show," the website reported.

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