The Circus Circus Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is one of, if not THE, most affordable lodging option directly on the Strip. And by “affordable,” I mean flat-out cheap. (You can still occasionally see room rates listed on places like Hotels.com and Expedia under $30. In fact a recent sale on their Facebook page had rooms at just $24 per night!)
Be warned though, in terms of class and wow factor, this resort is far from its hay day, back when an actual James Bond movie was filed at the resort, “Diamonds are Forever” back in 1971.
The address for Circus Circus is 2880 South Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, Nevada, 89109. It’s easily found when driving on the strip, thanks to its huge, iconic smiling clown sign.
It’s one of the oldest hotels on the Strip, having been built in 1968. In fact, there are only 4 other Strip hotels older than Circus Circus: the Flamingo, the Riviera across the street, the Tropicana, and Caesars Palace, which opened in August of 1966, and which is considered just a teeny-weeny more luxurious than Circus Circus.
The casino actually opened on October 18, 1968, and was built by Jay Sarno, who also built Caesars Palace.
Interestingly enough, when the place opened, it didn’t even have a hotel – just a casino.
Later they would add the hotel, designing it in keeping with the circus theme. With its carnival games and big-top architectural style, Circus Circus quickly became a one-of-kind resort and experience. While it may seem sort of cheesy and dated now, the Circus Circus of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s was stunningly unique, with a theme that stood out from the more traditional Rivieras, and Desert Inns of the time.
Along with many other casinos of the 1960’s and 70’s, Circus Circus had some mob ties. Tony “the ant” Spilotro, operated the gift shop at Circus Circus during the early 1970’s. Spilotro was the inspiration behind the character Nicky Santoro in the classic movie, “Casino.” Nicky, of course, was played brilliantly by Joe Pesci.
The casino has approximately 126,000 feet of gambling space and is one of the last places on the strip to still offer $5 blackjack tables.
It’s north Strip location makes it a fairly long haul to the exciting center-strip properties like the Bellagio, or Caesars, yet it offers a convenient home base for those of you planning to spend a lot of time exploring the Encore, Wynn, Palazzo, Venetian and/or the Fashion Show Mall.
Next door to Circus Circus is a fun, little old school joint called Slots-A-Fun. It used to be famous for their 99 cent half pound hot dog, which I should NOT have tried hung-over. But that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Anyway, the corporate bastards at MGM Entertainment (they own both Slots-A-Fun and Circus Circus) are rebranding it now, and have consequently removed some of its charm – which I believe is MGM policy. No longer do they have the craps table almost on the Strip sidewalk. In fact, they’ve even removed table games. What they have now are some pool tables and (in a blatant rip-off of the now-closed O’Sheas), beer-pong tables.
I can’t say much about this because I’ve never been inside the actual park. I’m a gambling degenerate, and I can go on rides anywhere. I can’t get a 32 ounce beer in a football mug anywhere, or stay up till 4 a.m. playing craps anywhere.
All I know is that the Aventuredome indoor park at Circus Circus may be the only thing keeping it alive. The popular park has 25 attractions, including roller coasters, spinning things, inverting things, and a Dora the Explorer 4-D movie, which I will probably have to take my daughter to the next time we’re in Las Vegas.
A sometimes even scarier ride called “Holy Matrimony” be found inside the resorts own wedding chapel. It’s called, Chapel of the Fountains, and Circus Circus calls “the first and longest running hotel chapel in Las Vegas.”
The restaurants in Circus are not anything to write home about. There’s a buffet that while inexpensive, many consider to be the worst in town. The Steakhouse, (that’s its name) does get good reviews.
Circus Circus’ poker room is small, non-descript room near the front entrance. It has about ten rooms or so, (never crowded), and is strictly low stakes. We’re talking $3/$6 limit hold’em, maybe $4/8 limit, and $1/$2 No-Limit Texas Hold’em.
The poker room opens at 10 am most days, and there’s a $60 buy-in tournament every day at 3:30 p.m.
What time do the circus acts start at Circus Circus?
The resorts high-wire and other circus acts start just a little after 11 am every day, and run every half hour or so until midnight.
One interesting tidbit about Circus Circus: they still have some of the old coin in, coin out machines, for those of you (like me), who miss the old “CLANG CLANG CLANG” sound of a nice jackpot.
Formerly a larger KOA campground, the RV Park at Circus Circus now is a scaled back 170 space version, but complete with its own swimming pool, hot tub, laundry facilities and gift shop. The RV park is situated to north of the resort.
It’s the best option for RV’ers who want close, easy access to excitement of the Strip. The Circus Circus RV park is the only RV park on the Las Vegas Strip.
(Go here to see how many casinos are on the Las Vegas Strip.)
While one can never know what the suits at MGM Entertainment have planned for the acreage that Circus Circus and Slots-A-Fun sit upon, the resort (if it survives), will see a future in which it finds itself in the direct heart of the North strip action.
Between the newer SLS Hotel and Casino (a remodel of the old Sahara), unfinished resorts like the Fontainebleau, and soon-to-be built casino/hotels like Resorts World and the Alon, Circus Circus has the potential to be a convenient, affordable options right in the center of the action, similar to what Harrah’s is now for the center-Strip.
I say “potential” because the reviews of Circus Circus on places like “Yelp” are nothing short of brutal. Most of the complaints center on outdated rooms, the smell of weed everywhere, and a low rent clientele and a general overall dirty, run-down feel.