History of the Aladdin
Opened as English Tallyho Motel 1962
Opened as Aladdin April 1, 1966
Imploded on April 27, 1998
Re-Opened as Aladdin August 18, 2000
Re-Opened as Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on April 17, 2007
From the beginning, this property seemed to be doomed for failure. This
property at times was called "The Vegas Jinx".
In 1962, inventor of the game Yahtzee, Edwin Lowe, opened the $12 million,
450 room, English Tallyho Motel aimed to prove that a resort motel without
a casino could be successful. Tudor style, it had leaded windows, gables,
and half-timbering. It contained 32 villas, a par 54 nine-hole golf course
which some regarded as the most challenging in the West, four swimming
pools and six specialty restaurants. The resort closed in October of 1963.
In 1964, the motel became the King's Crown Tallyho Inn and failed after six
months when it was denied a gaming license.
In 1966, Milton Prell purchased the resort for $16 million. Another $3
million on renovations was spent, including a new 500 seat "Bagdad Theater"
showroom. Prell swapped the English imagery for an Arabian Nights theme,
but kept the original Tudor room wings.
A serrated canopy and a $750,000 15-story aladdin's lamp sign were added.
The 335 room Aladdin opened on midnight, April 1, 1966, with a black tie
affair. Flower petals poured from the ceiling and onto guests as they
entered the hall. One guest was composer-pianist Warren Richards. The
opening entertainment included comedian Jackie Mason, the "Jet Set Revue,"
a musical review that showcased The Three Cheers and the Petite Rockette
Dancers in the Bagdad Theatre.
Prell introduced an innovative main-showroom policy by offering three
completely different shows twice nightly with no cover or minimum charges.
The Aladdin contained a golf course, 9 hole par 3.
On May 1, 1967, the Aladdin became important to rock n' roll history when
it was the host of the wedding of Elvis and Priscilla Presley, before 100
friends and an armada of writers and photographers.
In 1969, wealthy Detroit widow Mae George purchased 24% of the
resort. George was questioned by the Nevada Gaming Control Board because
her business adviser was her late husband's foster brother, James Tamer,
the Aladdin's entertainment director who later was placed in Nevada's Black
Book. Four mobsters who had bilked the hotel of $250,000 received prison
terms. Later it came to light that Detroit bail bondsman Charles Goldfarb
and James Tamer were running the resort on behalf of Detroit and St. Louis
mob interests. A grand jury was convened and a two-year investigation began.
In August of 1969, the Aladdin just completed a $750,000 face life
including renovations to the Sinbad Lounge which became enclosed and
leveled above the casino floor with Arabic motif.
Also in 1969, Parvin Dohrmann Corporation took over the Aladdin and in
1972, using the name Recrion Corporation, sold it to veteran casino
executive Sam Diamond, St. Louis politician Peter Webbe, Sorkis Webbe, and
Richard Daly for the price of just $5 million. Under the Webbes, a $60
million facelift was conducted including the addition of a 19-story tower,
and the new 7,500 seat Performing Arts Center replacing the golf course,
which was $4 million over budget.
The Aladdin stated that the new tower was 29 floors. It was actually a
19-story structure, but the owners, fond of the idea of 29 stories, started
numbering the floors at 11.
A $250,000 porte cochere continued the tower's arabesques. The Aladdin
also added a new $300,000 140-foot blockbuster sign with little neon, huge
attraction panels and none of the arabesque of the Aladdin's original sign.
The Aladdin had a grand re-opening in 1976 with singer Neil Diamond being
paid $750,000 for two shows.
In August, 1979, James Abraham, Charles Goldfarb, Tamer, and Edward Monazym
were convicted by a Detroit Federal Jury of conspiring to allow hidden
owners to exert control over the resort. The Nevada Gaming Commission then
closed the hotel but U.S. District Judge Harry Claiborne opened it three
hours later warning he had "special powers" as a federal judge. Aladdin
attorney/owner Sorkis Webbe was indicted in connection with a $1 million
kickback scheme during an expansion project at the hotel.
By 1980 there was a price war with Wayne Newton, along with partner Ed
Torres buying the property for $85 million, over Johnny Carson's
bids. Newton and Torres had personality and ego conflicts from the
beginning. The resort's entertainment policy shifted from "big-name stars"
to stage shows. Newton said he wasn't in favor of the change. Torres
bought out Newton in 1982, but found himself fighting off banks and unions
as creditors. A year after the breakup, Torres was trying to negotiate
with Newton, this time to sell the resort back to Newton. In February
1984, Aladdin went into Chapter 11, $3.5 million in debt after a Teamsters
Pension Fund forced the foreclosure. Newton had failed to show he had the
finances to buy the property and the deal was dead.
Charges of mob infiltration and skimming closed the Aladdin from January
1986 to April 1, 1987.
Ginji Yasuda, a Japanese businessman bought the property in early 1987 for
$54 million. The casino was closed while Yasuda applied for his gaming
license and a massive year-long refurbishing began. State gamers granted
Yasuda a two-year conditional license. He was the first foreign resident to
obtain such a license and quickly became a hero to some individuals. It is
reported that Yasuda spent $20 million in remodeling the resort.
During the casino's one year closure, he kept 80 employees on the payroll
and lost as much as $850,000 a month. Yasuda was living beyond the
Aladdin's income. He kept one of five elevator shafts roped off for
himself while guests were waiting long periods of time for elevators. He
would stay up late at night in the penthouse watching hotel monitors,
placing slot machines in neat, orderly lines with no carousels. The Aladdin
has no excitement.
Rumors were that Yasuda used the corporation's $25 million jet to fly his
wife to New York on afternoon shopping excursions. Vendors began wanting
their payment in cash. Hospitals refused to be providers for the Aladdin
employees. It was reported that Yasuda borrowed $6 million from Japanese
organized crime interests to keep the Aladdin afloat against the Internal
Revenue Service who wanted to seize the hotel.
In August 1989, Yasuda refused to reveal the source of his loans to the
Nevada Gaming Commission which cost him his license. Four days later the
Aladdin was again filing for bankruptcy. Yasuda died of cancer in December,
Aladdin was instead put into the hands of a series of careful managers
approved by the bankruptcy courts.
The occupancy rate of the Aladdin was 94% to 97%, but "Lately it seems
people have been using us as a bedroom and spending their days elsewhere."
In 1991, United States Bankruptcy Judge Linda Riegle granted Bell Atlantic
Tricon the deed, saving the closure of the resort and 1,300 jobs. Valley
Bank was calling in a $2 million loan.
In 1992, possession of the Aladdin was turned over to casino executive Joe
Burt on a 12-year lease, ending three years of bankruptcy court control.
Although Burt orchestrated a $15 million renovation, people were still
using the Aladdin for a bed and not much more. What was once one of the
largest casinos in the state was a tired old relic next to the shine and
glitz of the new resorts such as The Mirage and Excalibur. Even the
Performing Arts center was outdated.
The Aladdin gained the interest of the public by having big name
entertainment such as Bon Jovi, Jefferson Starship, Heart, Stone Temple
Pilots, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers play there, as well as good musicals
such as Country Tonite. Burt was credited as a strong operator who had
turned the Aladdin into what looked like it was going to be a financial
Just when Burt was beginning to see his dream of the rebirth of the Aladdin
making a strong come-back, he was killed in a motorcycle accident in July
of 1993, in Arizona.
In 1994, New York real estate developer Jack Sommer and his Sigman Sommer
Family Trust, through their company, Aladdin Gaming LLC, took over the
resort for $80 million. A spokesman was quoted as stating that the resort
will not be demolished.
In 1997, the Aladdin announced that the present hotel will be demolished
and a new $1.2 billion hotel and gaming complex will be built on its 35
acres of land, opening in the spring of 2000.
On November 25, 1997, the Aladdin closed its doors forever. The Aladdin
was imploded at 7:30pm, on April 27, 1998.
Structural requirements dictated the implosion, but Aladdin executives made
the bold choice to honor the casino's heritage. The two resort towers that
extend from the building toward Las Vegas Boulevard were designed to
resemble the original Aladdin tower. Employees of the original Aladdin were
the first group invited to apply for jobs at the new resort.
The scheduled opening of the Aladdin was on August 17, 2000, at 6:00pm,
with fireworks at 10:00pm. Aladdin opened her $1.4 billion, 2,567
oversized room resort to the public at 11:00am, on August 18, 2000, 16
hours after the scheduled opening.
Even though the resort didn't open, the Desert Passage Mall opened at
7:00pm to crowds that numbered in the tens of thousands. I Dream of
Jeannie star Barbara Eden helped open the doors of the Desert Passage.
The scheduled opening was called off several minutes after midnight. This
left thousands of Aladdin visitors leaving in disappointment as well as
opening night hotel guests wondering where they'd spend the night. Many
high-rollers waited out on the sidewalks in front of the Aladdin for
hours. Most were unable to even get to their luggage, since the hotel had
been locked down for testing. Aladdin employees did their best to arrange
alternate accommodations for the guests with Paris and Bellagio, tempers
still ran high.
The cause for the 16 hour delay was Clark County Building Inspectors
requiring the resort to complete its fire safety testing. The testing was
complete, and the resort received its certificate to open at 7:45am on
August 18, 2000. Another delay was caused by last-minute repairs to the
casino surveillance system.
Also present on August 17, 2000, were 100 members of Culinary Local 226, as
well as an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 other workers who were marching on
Las Vegas Boulevard to protest the Aladdin opening without a union
contract. The protesters were looking for sympathy but created an
anti-union atmosphere when their bull horns drowning out the opening
festivities of the Desert Passage as well as Barbara Eden's speech.
The Aladdin offspring sits on 34 acres of land.
All of the Aladdin's private hotel areas, including guest rooms, the
health spa, and swimming pool, are accessible directly. Guests do not have
to pass through the casino to reach their rooms, or any other destination
within the resort. Two separate guest elevator banks are located on the
lobby level, one floor below the main casino level; 2,567 total rooms, all
within seven doors of an elevator for convenient access (rooms are 450
square feet and up); these include 1,878 standard rooms, 466 parlor rooms,
and 223 suites.
All guest rooms feature luxurious marble bathrooms, including separate
soaking tubs, separate showers and private water closets; two phone lines,
high-speed Internet access and cordless phones.
Two outdoor swimming pools are located six stories above Las Vegas Boulevard
The resort contains 1,001 Arabian Nights - an exotic main casino themed
after the tales of 1,001 Arabian Nights. It offers 100,000 square feet of
gaming amidst flying carpets, ebony horses and an ever-blooming "Enchanted
Garden" of lights. A unique stacked layout places the hotel lobby, casino
and restaurants on separate, easily accessible levels. Aladdin's
innovative design eliminates long walks in public areas. The casino
contains 2,800 slot machines, 87 table games, Keno, and Race & Sports Book.
The casino also contains the world's largest indoor light board which
creates a 130 foot "Enchanted Garden" with a constantly changing display of
vibrant blooming flowers, as well as a 36 foot magic lamp towering above
the casino floor. The talon and nest of a giant Roc Bird, taken from the
tales of Sinbad and the Sailor Giant winged horses from the Tale of the
Ebony Horse mark the entrance to the Aladdin Race & Sports Book.
Contained in the main casino area is the 35,000 square foot The London
Club. This area features an elegant 15,000 square foot main casino
offering 30 high-limit table games, including baccarat, roulette and
blackjack, 100 high-denomination slot machines, exclusive higher limit
gaming facilities, a private lobby and dedicated elevator service, a 120
seat five star restaurant offering a multi-ethnic menu and al fresco dining
on the Strip, and a multi-functional lounge and garden club, and private
reception room. Smaller gaming rooms are designed to recall the exclusive
"salle privees" found in Europe's most celebrated casinos.
There are more than 135 stores in the Aladdin's Desert Passage, which is
the 500,000 square foot shopping adventure that surrounds the resort.
Restaurants/Lounges include Anasazi, Ark Restaurant, Marche Concept, Beluga
Bar, Ben & Jerry's, BICE, Blue Note Jazz Club, Caffee Ferraro, Commanders
Palace, IBIZA, Josef's, Lombardi's with adjacent French Bistro, and Prana.
The resort's meeting and conference facilities are located on a floor
separate from the casino, with convenient direct access from the lobby or
guest floors. The facilities contain 75,000 square feet of flexible
meeting and pre-function space; a 37,000 square foot grand ballroom;
flexible seating at the adjoining Theater for the Performing Arts, for
assemblies of 2,500 to 7,000 people; two junior ballrooms; 18 separate
break-out rooms; a permanent registration area; a 24-hour business center
offering a complete range of business services; and a dedicated catering
kitchen to ensure top-quality food and beverage service.
The first celebrity to appear at the Aladdin's Performing Arts Center was
In December of 2000, Kote-Bellew, general contractor for the Theater for
the Performing Arts sued Aladdin alleging it defaulted on a $7.539 million
payment for the theater's renovation. Korte said it seeks an order to
foreclose on the hotel-casino and for proceeds of the foreclosure sale to
be applied to the debt. At least 240 liens have been filed by general
contractors and subcontractors against the Aladdin.
Also in December, the owner of the Denim-Denim Mens and Women's Casual Wear
and Melwanis stores at the Passage Mall sued seven contractors, alleging
they tried to coerce the retailer into paying for change orders that were
"excessive and unjustified" by foreclosing on its two stores. The mall is
owned by development giant TrizecHahn of Toronto. Clotheshorse Inc. leased
space for the two stores from its landlord, Aladdin Bazaar LLC.
Clotheshorse sued its general contractor, Camco alleging it "jeopardized"
the stores' opening on Aug. 17, 2000, when Camco "unreasonably delayed the
start of the project and mismanaged the project resulting in unreasonable
overtime charges and cost overruns." Camco allegedly charged Clotheshorse
for $240,000 in change orders after it paid Camco $264,041 for work done on
the Melwanis store and $190,839 for the Denim-Denim store. Camco failed to
ensure its subcontractors to complete work in a timely manner and to pay
them, which caused numerous liens to be filed against the two stores. The
defendants included Black Rock Inc., Paul S.J. Ogaz Inc., Western Tile &
Marble Contractors Inc., Jessco Electric Co. Inc., Western Fire &
Protection Co. and Great American Insurance Co.
Lastly in December, reports began circulating that Aladdin's owners' work
to regain its financial footing, that the resort could be prime for a
takeover, either through a sale or in bankruptcy court.
The Aladdin could be sold, but such a move would require an 80% vote of the
company's board. That would require both LCI and the Sommer Trust to go along.
Speculation about the Aladdin's future began in December 17, 2000, when
London Clubs International, owner of 40% of the Aladdin's stock, reported a
huge plunge in earnings and difficulties meeting the covenants of its
debt. LCI had originally intended to invest $50 million in the property,
but increased its stake to $200 million after the majority owner, the
Sommer Trust, failed to meet capital calls to cover increased construction
costs because of liquidity problems.
The increased income that was supposed to flow from this investment did
not materialize in recent months as the Aladdin struggled in its early
days. LCI then raised the possibility that it was interested in selling
part of its equity stake. British investors shaved off more than 40% of
LCI's share price, and the British press began speculating about LCI's future.
The casino was sold in bankruptcy on June 20, 2003 to a partnership of Planet Hollywood and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. The retail space formerly known as "The Desert Passage" was converted into the Hollywood-themed "Miracle Mile Shops."
After the casino was renovated, it was reopened as: "Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino" on April 17, 2007. The official grand opening of was the weekend of November 16, 2007.
On January 16, 2010, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide dropped their affiliation so Caesars could take over hotel operations. On February 18, 2010 The Nevada Gaming Commission gave Caesars the approval to take over the property. Caesars officially acquired the property on February 19, 2010. Caesars' Total Rewards program was phased into Planet Hollywood beginning in April 2010.
More detailed information can be found at www.lvstriphistory.com