flight: usairways non-stop from philly, on time departure(07:00) early arrival (09:15) to avoid lines at flight check in i would highly recommend checking in online before you even leave for the airport(most airlines offer this, you can usually check-in 24 hours prior to departure, and print your boarding pass at home) i never check bags so i'm not sure what the proceedure is for that. mccarren airport is one of the nicest, modernized airports in the country, and for all of us evil smokers it is also one of the few that you can still smoke in(a welcome ammenity after a 4.5 to 5 hour flight)
transportation:i took a shuttle ($9.50 round trip) to the hotel, however a cab is like $15.00-$20.00, for $38.00 you can travel in style(and feed your ego) with a stretch limo from las vegas limo corp. this is how i will travel in vegas from now on(if you're going to vegas you might as well treat yourself to the entire vegas expirence)
hotel:this is where it went downhill, i go to atlantic city numerous times every year, every casino i have ever stayed at has either a 15:00 or 16:00 check-in policy; however even if i arrive at 09:00 i have NEVER been told that i must wait till the afternoon to check in, not so at circus circus (a mandalay group property) i get there at 09:40 and i'm told that there is no early check-in unless you are a recognized (fully comped) VIP, well since this is my first trip to vegas i have no history with mandalay at all (here again any other casino really rolls out the red carpet for new patrons, in hopes to win your business) so for the next 4.5 hours i'm carrying my luggage up and down the strip sightseeing (you definitely want comfortable shoes!!!!!) then i finally check in, i made the ultra large mistake of booking a manor room, when you're standing on the strip looking at circus and you see the high tower hotel connected to the casino that says circus circus, well, that's not the manor, no the manor is a little farther away(go out to the parking garage, go about half a block to the end of the garage, cross the street, walk up the block, go past the pool, cross another street and you'll see what looks like a three story apartment complex, that's the manor, oh if you made it to the RV park you went too far) the room was about average but i've never heard of requesting a smoking room and not getting it(the other way around i've heard of) since this is part of the circus circus property they can call it a casino resort, however it is just an overpriced motel6(except at motel6 you get hbo) they have an in-room safe(a key operated lock box that you have to pay a quarter every time you want to lock it) the toilet had great water pressure(so much that every time you flushed it, it would splash out on to the bathroom floor)
gambling: just because vegas has a bigger budget for their tourism bureau doesn't mean that vegas is better than other gambling towns, i was always under the impression that vegas is on the cutting edge of the gaming industry not so in my opinion, vegas is nice but don't be fooled if you're an A.C. regular don't be surprised if you can't find your usual games, even at properties owned by the same company that owns your A.C. casino( i went to every park place/caesars ent. property in vegas and could not find a single four card poker table, this really surprised me) also the casino floors are bigger but most of them just use this floor space to put more slots in, there substantially less table games on the casino floors in most of the vegas casinos that i went in, i stuck to mostly premium casinos (park place, mandalay group, wynn's places) some people avoid these places because they are too expensive but the cheapest minimums that you'll find in A.C. at any time are $5.00(most of the year $10.00) and that's what the higher end places are in vegas so if you're used to it, it really doesn't seem too expensive, one nice thing about vegas rules compared to jersey is if you're playing a $5.00 minimum and they raise the table stakes, they will grandfather you in and allow you to play at the minimum that you were for as long as you keep playing at that table.
food: i only ate at circus, the pink pony cafe and the circus buffet, i think the food was relly good and so was the service, the prices were not bad at all(again cheaper than what i pay in A.C.) a lot of people complain about the cafes and buffets being bland and plain, but this is how i eat, so it works out good for anyone who doesn't really care for all the bells and whistles and would just rather fill up on meat and potatos, i mean if you want a gourmet meal then go pay for it but don't expect duck al'orange for ten bucks.
overview: my hotel problems aside i will definitely be returning to vegas, and would recommend you go there also, but i would stay away from circus circus, also it's location is not the greatest, only the sahara and stratosphere are further up the strip than circus, all the good gaming action is down the strip pretty far as are all the touristy things like the volcano @ the mirage, the fountain show at bellagio, and the pirate show at treasure island.