Why the Adventuredome still matters

This theme park fan has a soft spot for the indoor ride emporium

Canyon Blaster tip: sit in the last car.
Photo: Leila Navidi

It’s easy for a thrill-ride enthusiast to write off Circus Circus’ glass big top.

As amusement parks go, Adventuredome is small and limited—a 4.2-acre, Tetris-like arrangement of mostly preschool-appropriate diversions and glorified carnival rides. Its thrillingest option is Sling Shot, which is like the Stratosphere’s Big Shot but less than half the size. And its native roller coaster, Canyon Blaster, is 150 times shorter than the headache it typically causes. It’s any wonder I go.

But I do, and will again. I’m a sucker for amusement parks. I like being amused and watching others be amused, too. At Adventuredome, I can watch kids scream in delight on the Sling Shot-like Frog Hopper, and it melts the frost from my cold, near-dead heart. I can laugh at rotten teenagers chest-puffing their way onto a ride only to succumb to terror once in motion.

I will still risk the potential Canyon Blaster headache (tip: sit in the last car) to enjoy the indoor novelty of somersaulting on rails, a sensation that made my best friend black out when we first rode it.

I will one day experience the SpongeBob SquarePants short flick at the 4D FX Theater (read: seats vibrate, fans blow, ceiling drips), even though the Dora the Explorer equivalent, like the coaster nearby, brought on the cranial throb. (Disclosure: I’m almost twice as old as Adventuredome.)

I will also continue to frequent Fright Dome, the Las Vegas version of what used to be called Knott’s Scary Farm, and gleefully drag new victim pals into its minefield of homicidal jolts.

I will miss the Rim Runner, though I won’t miss careening down the 40-foot fall and forgetting to close my mouth upon splashdown—which won’t actually get you wet, I always told my guests, untruthfully. I will gladly welcome its replacement ride, El Loco, the new mini-but-mighty coaster that will introduce local thrillseekers to the joy of drops greater than 90 degrees.

And I may honor the glassy big top on its 20th birthday weekend, when it will reduce prices of all-day ride passes to $20 for those 48 inches and taller August 23 to 25, and to the 1993 price of $13 on August 22 for a Throwback Thursday promotion. Because you can always go back, even if your equilibrium can’t.

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