In November 2012, the Fremont Street Experience announced plans for a new attraction that would “change the Downtown skyline.”
At a press conference on the First Street Stage, Mayor Carolyn Goodman, LVCVA President Rossi Ralenkotter and Fremont Street Experience President Jeff Victor unveiled a 6-foot model of SlotZilla, the epic, 100-plus-foot-tall zipline that promised to become an “iconic landmark” and bring 100 new jobs to Downtown.
The little tower looked kinda cute that day, clocking in at the height of your average Danish dude and flanked by a pair of colorful showgirls that were echoed in its design. Thirteen months later and almost complete, however, SlotZilla has indeed altered the Downtown skyline—and, perhaps more dramatically, the neighborhood’s sightlines, too.
The view down the Fremont Street Experience from Fremont East was once one of my Downtown favorites—kitsch, history and humanity all jostled together in a pulsing mix of light and sound. Some nights it beckoned, others it repelled, but it always felt like the ultimate visual representation of Las Vegas—overwhelming and slightly sketchy, but essentially beautiful.
Now that SlotZilla has risen just outside Neonopolis on the Fremont Street Experience, that view is no more. The area once known as Glitter Gulch and the lighted canopy above it are blocked completely by the giant ride’s metal frame. Conversely, from the Experience, SlotZilla blocks out the bars and shops of Fremont East, offering no hint of the development behind its bulk.
When the zipline finally opens, likely sometime early next year, it will no doubt bring new visitors to Downtown and to the Fremont Street Experience over which it sails. I hope they realize that the street doesn’t end with SlotZilla’s imposing frame—even if they can’t see the many reasons to venture beyond it.