History of the MGM Grand
Opened as the Marina in 1975
Opened as MGM Grand December 18, 1993
The Marina Hotel and Casino opened in 1975, at 3805 Las Vegas Boulevard.
The resort held the Port of Call Restaurant. The decor was authentic
seafaring with colorful nautical trappings. The casino held four poker
tables, and a sports and racing book.
In 1980, Kirk Kerkorian's dream, the MGM Grand (now Bally's LV), became a tragedy. Even
though the MGMs interior was rebuilt safer, Kerkorian knew that his dream
would always be associated with death and tragedy.
He proceeded to buy the Marina in 1989, and changed its name to the MGM
Marina. Seeing the Marina as a stable, solidly built resort, he decided
not to destroy the resort but to build around it, making the Marina a part
of his dream. The 100 acre Tropicana Country Club was also bought. On
November 30, 1990, the Marina was closed and on October 7, 1991, ground
breaking occurred to recreate Kerkorian's The City of Entertainment. A
total of 1,500 workers put in 12,000 man hours per day with construction
costs averaging $1 million each day.
On February 23, 1993, MGM celebrated a "topping off" ceremony with the
placement of the last panel of emerald green glass hoisted onto one of the
30-story hotel towers. A total of 5,005 green balloons were released, each
containing a gift certificate valid for one complimentary stay in one of
On December 18, 1993, the $1 billion, 5,005 room dream became a reality
making the MGM the largest hotel in the United States. The MGM Grand
approximately 112 acres, with 171,500 square feet of casino (larger than
Yankee Stadium's field), eight restaurants, five lounges and bars, 23
retail shops, and 158,000 square feet of meeting space.
When entering the resort, guests were greeted by the characters from
the Wizard of Oz on the yellow brick road. Looking up at the ceiling one
could see the silhouette of the Wicked Witch of West flying, and various
jack-in-the-boxes on top of some of the slot machines would have munchkins
The Emerald City Casino was a seven-story replica of the City of Oz,
complete with The Wizard's Secret, a multi-media magic show. This casino
was the largest of the four MGM Grand gaming areas with the Flying Monkey
Bar contained inside. The Hollywood Casino contained bright lights &
footlights, marquees, and celebrity look-alikes. One could have a drink in
the Center Stage Lounge. The Monte Carlo Casino contained Baccarat with
traditional table games with the Betty Boop Bar contained inside.
The Sports Casino contained horse-racing, race cars, baseball, football,
and basketball. This sports book utilized state-of-the art equipment
specially designed for the MGM. Its bar was the Turf Club Lounge.
All rooms contained color cable TVs with remote and in-room movies, AM/FM
stereo clock radio, baths with marble tub and shower, and a choice of king
or two queen size beds. The rooms contained lavish thick carpets,
bedding, and drapes.
Restaurants included Haagen Daz' Ice Cream Shoppe; Oz Buffet Studio Cafe
Coffee Shop, which was opened 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; Coyote Cafe
for Santa Fe-style cooking; Wolfgang Puck Cafe for gourmet pizza &
California cuisine; Sir Reginald's Steakhouse, Leonard's for Italian food;
Dragon Court for Cantonese and Schezuan food; and Ocean Grill & The Cracked
Crab for seafood. The One Liners Food Court contained Mama Ilardo's
Pizzeria, Hamada Orient Express, McDonald's, Nathan's and Taco Bell.
Parking was accessed underneath the five-story domed porte cochere accessed
on Tropicana Avenue. There was valet parking for 1,200 cars and
self-parking for 4,800 vehicles. The video wall in the guest registration
lobby featured 60 TV monitors screening original entertainment videos.
Stores included MGM Grand Adventure Store, Emerald City Gift Shop, MGM
Grand & Co., Grand Spirits Liquor Shop, Front Page Newsstand, Marshall
Rousso Collection, and Kenneth J. Lane.
The Grand Spa featured six Jacuzzi spas, steam and sauna, personal
trainers, and pro shop. The resort held four tennis courts, all lit for
night play. The Grand Oasis pool area was 144,000 square feet with a sandy
beach entry, luxury cabanas, and the Sand Bar snack bar.
The 30,000 square foot Oz Midway and Video Arcade was located next to the
The Youth Center was given to Director Mike Messner who helped create the
Youth Hotel previously at the Las Vegas Hilton. The Youth Center had
$30,000 of renovations before the center could be licensed by the county as
an accommodation facility. The original designers failed to include two
exits for each room, a handicapped accessible toilet, no water fountains
and other things necessary to secure licensing.
The Adventures Theme was advertised almost as a separate entity from the
resort. The park sat on 33 acres of land with 8 themed areas leading to 7
action rides and attractions, 4 theatres with 4 shows, 9 food and beverage
outlets, and 12 retail shops. The themed areas were called Casablanca
Plaza, New York Street, Asian Village, French Street, Salem Waterfront,
Tumbleweed Gulch, New Orleans Square, and Olde England Street.
On December 31, 1993, Barbra Streisand christened the opening of the 16,325
seat Garden Arena with her first concert in more than 20 years.
In mid June of 1995, the monorail from MGM to Bally's was opened to the
public. The coming out party for the monorail on behalf of Bally's
consisted of showgirls and guys from Jubilee helping the groups to the
monorail. Characters from the Wizard of Oz greeted the groups on the MGM side.
In 1995, EFX was shown at the resort starring Michael Crawford of Phantom
of the Opera fame. The part was originally offered to Rick Springfield but
In November of 1996, David Cassidy took Michael Crawford's place in
EFX. The part was again offered to Rick Springfield but Springfield stated
the timing wasn't right.
On February 15, 1998, the MGM opened its Studio 54 with a private
performance by Elton John, drawing dozens of celebrities. This event
raised more than $1 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
The 22,000 square foot nightclub features state-of-the-art sound, video and
lighting, as well as DJs playing dance music including hits from the disco
era. The three story studio includes three dance floors and four bars, an
exclusive private area for invited guests and several semi-private
lounges. Each dance floor features its own lighting and sound system and
decor that recalls the "behind the scenes" look of sound studios.
The resort also contains the Entertainment Dome with high energy bands that
In April of 1998, the MGM opened its $100 million, 380,000 square foot
state-of-the-art Conference Center showcasing its tri-level facility with
indoor and outdoor meeting space. This area includes two giant ballrooms
and nearly 50,000 square feet of pre-function space with views of the Grand
Pool & Spa complex. The Center features up to 60 meeting rooms for 20 to
6,000 people, as well as two separate loading docks for easy and accessible
move-in. The total meeting space, including the existing ballroom in the
hotel and in the Conference Center is 275,000 net square feet.
As of August 2001, MGM Grand sits on approximately 114 acres and offered the following
rooms: Deluxe Rooms - Grand Tower; Players Suites; Spa Suites; Vista
Suites; Lobby Suites; Glamour; Patio Suites; Vista Parlor Suites; and
Grand Class 29th Floor.
The MGM contains restaurants including Dragon Court; Emeril Lagasse's New
Orleans Fish House; Gatsby's; The Hollywood Brown Derby; MGM Grand Buffet;
Neyla, A Mediterranean Grill; Ricardo's Mexican Restaurant; Stage Deli;
Studio Cafe; The Rainforest Cafe; Wolfgang Puck Cafe; Mark Miller's Coyota
Cafe, Grill Room, Grand Wok and Sushi Bar, Farmer's Market, and Cabana Grill.
The MGM includes the 650 seat Hollywood and the 450 seat Center Stage Lounge.
The MGM was also the first resort on the Strip to have an outdoor seasonal
amusement park called Grand Adventures. The park featured rides such as
Skyscreamer; Lightning Bolt; Les Bumper Boats; Over the Edge; Grand
Canyon Rapids; Parisian Taxis Bumper; and Pedalin' Paddleboats.
The Show Place Junction was an outdoor stage hosting high energy shows, and
the Star Steppin' Stage featured soulful sounds.
Shops included MGM Grand & Co., Lion Habitat Retail Shop, Emerald City Gift
Shop, Marshall Rousso Peruzzi, Bernini, Sunglass Shop, The Rainforest Cafe
retail outlet, El Portal Luggage, Houdini Magic, Kenneth Jay Lane, Las
Vegas Harley Davidson, Welcome to Las Vegas, Photo Magic and Roaring Spirits.
The casino included approximately 3,700 gaming machines, approximately 165
gaming tables, Poker room, Keno, and a 227 square foot a race and sports
book with twelve 50" TVs, which features two separate rooms complimented by
private tables with its own 13" TV, desk lamp, and laptop computer hookups.
In 1999, the MGM Grand completed its latest set of renovations totalling
$575 million, including the replacement of the golden Leo entranceway with
a 50-ton gold statue of Leo.
In February of 1999, the 5,000 square foot Forever Grand Wedding Chapel
consisting of two elegantly decorated chapels was opened.
On May 15, 1999, The Mansion opened. The Mansion has a
Tuscan-Mediterranean influence and themed after a 200 year old Italian
villa, featuring 29 private villas ranging from 2,400 square feet to 12,000
The Grand Pool is a 6.6 acre featuring five separate pools, three large
whirlpools, lush tropical landscaping, bridges, fountains and waterfalls
with a combined swimming space of more than 27,000 square feet including a
gently flowing river pool, which is the city's longest ride of its kind at
1,000 feet long. The 147,000 square foot of sunbathing space can
accommodate 2,500 sunbathers. The Grand Pool area also has private
cabanas, cocktail service and a poolside restaurant the Cabana Grille.
The Spa Complex is 30,000 square feet area featuring saunas, steam rooms,
whirlpools, relaxation lounges, more than 30 treatment rooms and two 1,100
square foot private VIP Spa Suites. The fitness center showcases
state-of-the-art virtual reality climbers and bikes, treadmills,
cross-trainers, free-weights and computerized circuit-training equipment.
On July 1, 1999 the $9 million, 5,345 square foot Lion Habitat opened with
a variety of lions including Goldie Metro, and Baby Lion, a direct
descendent of MGM Studios' famous signature marquee lion, Metro. Guests
can be encircled in a 3,000 square foot queuing area surrounded by lions at
any time via a see-through, walk-way tunnel that runs through the Habitat,
allowing lions to prowl above and below. At any given time there may be up
to five lions in the habitat.
On January 15, 1999, the $45 million EFX premiered with its new star Tommy
Tune. Once again, the part was offered to Rick Springfield but Springfield
said the timing wasn't right.
One of the unique forms of entertainment is for couples getting
married. In addition to the standard, themed weddings on the 250 foot
SkyScreamer, in Studio 54, and at EFX are also offered.
On March 6, 2000, it was announced that Mirage Resorts has been sold to
Kirk Kerkorian/MGM Grand for $4.4 billion in cash. The assets range from
Mirage's $1.60 billion Bellagio resort to
the MGM Grand, the national's largest hotel. MGM also assumed $2 billion
in Mirage debt.
The MGM Grand Hotel-Casino planned to open "Mansion Casino," a new
8,000-square-foot high-end gaming area, by Memorial Day weekend.
On April 26, 2000, MGM celebrated the grand opening of the company's new
satellite registration/hotel check-in center at the McCarran International
Airport. This is the first of its kind opened by a hotel company at any
United States airport.
On January 30, 2001, EFX replaced Tommy Tune with Rick
Springfield. Springfield signed a one year contract for the show.
In February, 2001, Grand Adventures closed down and was renamed The Park at
MGM Grand, which will be available only for group business and specials
events with 50 or more people.
On August 1, 2001, Springfield suffered a broken arm when he fell while
performing in EFX. In one of the last scenes of the second show,
Springfield was on a 20-foot high beam that lowered him to the stage when
he fell 10 to 15 feet as the audience watched. Understudy Sal Salangsang
filled in for Springfield for the rest of the week.
More detailed information can be found at www.lvstriphistory.com