Photo Of The Day: The ‘Real’ Bellagio

jrodmanjr, Flickr

We’re not talking about the one in Las Vegas. Today’s featured photo is again sourced from our Gadling Flickr Pool. Flickr Pool member jrodmanjr claims the center of Lake Como, Italy may be “the only place where the tourists outnumber the locals.”

We’d love to feature your photos and videos on Gadling, so please add them to our Flickr Pool (with Creative Commons licensing!), tag @GadlingTravel on Instagram or email us at OfTheDay@gadling.com.

Photo Of The Day: Contemplating Lake Como In Italy


In northern Italy, the Alps meet Lake Como at the comune of Bellagio to form some of the most beautiful vistas in Europe. Not only has the region provided inspiration for the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas, but it is unequivocally gorgeous. Instagram user Jason Rodman absolutely captured the best thing to do at locations such as this, just sitting alone with your thoughts.

If you have a great travel photo, share it with us and it could be featured as our Photo of the Day! You can do so either by tagging your Instagram photos with #Gadling and mentioning us @GadlingTravel, like Jason did, or by submitting it to our Gadling Flickr Pool.

[Photo Credit: Instagram user jrodmanjr]

Bellagio hotel cancels $25,000 casino chip

bellagioIn a move that might even make Danny Ocean rethink his plans, the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas just announced it would cancel its $25,000 casino chips in an effort to thwart thieves who hit the casino a few weeks ago.

Associated Press reports the luxury Las Vegas casino and hotel is canceling the high-roller chip to send a message to thieves: the chips are worthless if they aren’t redeemed by April 22. Apparently, a man in a jumpsuit stole $1.5 million in chips from the casino and made off on his motorcycle two weeks ago. AP reports the majority of the stolen money was in the form of $25,000 chips.

The hotel also advises guests who might have $25,000 chips lying around to cash them in now, before the chips are out of commission.

We’re just wondering: If you had a $25,000 chip from the Bellagio, would you have it just lying around in your coin jar?

‘World of Color’ steps up Disney’s nighttime spectacular game

Disney’s theme park shows are often over-hyped and underwhelming (remember Cinderellabration?), but at Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim, the amusement titan recently premiered a new show that really does step up the stakes.

World of Color could be described as “The Bellagio Fountain on Peyote”: The lagoon in front of the Mickey’s Fun Wheel was rebuilt to accommodate nearly 1,200 moveable and synchronized jets, which volley water between 30 and 200 feet high while ever-changing LED lights saturate them with vibrant hues. Meanwhile, as a crisp new sound system rocks the park, classic Disney clips (what else?) are projected onto 19,000 square feet of “water screens.” And of course, some climatic streams of fire. If the 20-ish minute show can’t hold your attention, you may have other problems.

“World of Color” could be described as “The Bellagio Fountain on Peyote.”

Although it’s hard to describe, the nightly event is undoubtedly spectacular, absorbing, and as colorful as advertised, although contrary to the P.R., it isn’t as gawp-inducing as the fearsome fire-winged dragons of BraviSEAMo, which ends a long run this fall at Tokyo DisneySea in Japan.

But World of Color‘s premise, novel for a theme park, may provide the biggest entertainment payoff of any of Disney’s current Stateside night spectaculars, and from an industry standpoint, it gives California Adventure a much-needed after-sunset show to complement the fireworks and Fantasmic!, often held simultaneously at Disneyland across the plaza. That solves an infrastructure problem for the previously under-developed California Adventure, but for now, while the show is new and at its most popular, it also creates new ones for guests.

%Gallery-98676%Nabbing a spot in the very front section of the lagoonside amphitheatre is imperative, because the further back you are (and the VIP section is all the way in the back), the less you will see of the splashes of underwater color that accompany every giant spray. In the back, your field of vision can absorb the big pictures, but in the front, you’ll most feel the mist and the thunder.

Disney fans’ curiosity is so high, and demand so strong, that securing a viewing spot requires guests to register early in the day and obtain a Fastpass. Once that’s in hand, they must queue starting in early evening to get into their designated section. Then they have to wait for the show itself. The whole process can chew up a few hours. Meanwhile, the attractions around the lagoon are closed during the shows. That puts some of the park’s best sights out of commission at dusk: Toy Story Mania, the California Screamin’ and Mulholland Madness coasters, that ferris wheel, and the other upgraded carnival-style diversions.

It’s tempting to think of everything Disney does as being part of some grand design, and if you subscribe to that cynical (but possibly realistic) perspective, then you might suspect the hassle of seeing the new show, and the early closure of some marquee rides, is part of a fiendish plan to force guests to spend hours of their touring days in the pursuit of a decent viewing spot. After all, if you don’t see all of California Adventure in one day, you have to spend the money to return.

It’s probably more likely that Disney, having not originally designed the theme park to accommodate this sort of extravaganza, is having trouble coping with the giant crowds that demand to see it during its maiden season.

If you can’t stomach the ordeal of jockeying for a position, you can see the show from a bird’s eye view if you’re staying in a park-facing room in the tower of Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. The lagoon is so close that the climactic inferno will illuminate your darkened room, and you’ll gain the best appreciation of the careful choreography of the many water jets, but you won’t be able to make out the projections on the water screen or hear the soundtrack clearly.

Las Vegas, off the beaten Strip

The Las Vegas Neon Museum doesn’t announce itself with flashy lights; you have to find it in less obvious ways. Take a $20 dollar cab ride up to northern edge of Sin City, past the baking asphalt parking lots erupting with weeds and stout pawn shops eager with WE BUY GOLD placards, to the nondescript building the museum calls home. That’s when you’ll see it. Across the street, shimmering in the desert heat like a mirage: a gigantic, rusty-metal pool player. In one hand a cue, cocked, ready to fire, the player’s torso twisted in contrapposto like a billiard-playing colossus. Near this metallic giant lay dozens of gorgeously decorated neon signs – Stardust, Golden Nugget, Silver Slipper – artwork from a bygone era of Vegas history, out of sight and out of mind. Las Vegas is not a city that honors its past. Yet somehow fragments remain, ready to reveal their secrets to visitors who venture beyond the town’s glittering Strip.

Vegas is town forever stuck in the present; a city that appears to have neither a past nor a future: it simply is. It’s a fact borne out by the city’s relentless reinvention, renovation and recreation. On the famous “Strip,” outdated hotels are leveled to make way for the newest mega-resort. Even finding a clock inside a casino is a challenge. All of this suggests a town that ignores the passing of time in exchange for the pleasures of an ephemeral present. Except not all of the Old Vegas has disappeared; it’s simply been shoved to the margins. Venture ten minutes from ageless Las Vegas Boulevard and a different Vegas emerges; a destination of Atomic Era drinking dens, whimsical pinball parlors and a museum harboring a gallery of neon masterpieces.

If you’ve ever wondered what exists in Vegas beyond Roman Strip Malls and Eiffel Tower knock-offs, it’s time to dig beneath the surface. Let’s tour Las Vegas, off the beaten Strip. Keep reading below for more.A Neon Graveyard
If it’s possible for an Inert Gas to symbolize the magnificent highs and tumbling lows of Vegas history, then Neon is it. This strange element has been fueling the glowing signage of Las Vegas ever since mobster Bugsy Siegel dared to imagine this fantasy desert town as the world’s foremost gambling mecca. Though the casinos of Bugsy’s day long-ago met the wrecking ball, some of their signage lives on at the Neon Museum in northern Las Vegas.

For $15, visitors can explore “canyons” stacked with old Vegas neon signage, and imagine for a moment what once was: a place that hummed with a fiery visual energy, full of wildly exotic genie lamps, cocksure cowboys and colorful flamingos erupting like fireworks in the dark. It might not look like the Louvre or The Met, but this is one of the world’s great repositories of art, strokes of neon artistry left to rust and bake in the relentless desert sun.

Drinking in the Past
The Atomic Liquor Store is more than a bar: it’s a temple to long-lost Americana. Reportedly the “oldest bar” in Vegas, this drinking den got its name from the 1950’s nuclear tests that took place only 60 or so miles from its front door. Swanky Vegas cocktail lounge this is not. In addition to its location deep in the heart of seedy Fremont Street, visitors will need to be buzzed in the locked front doors.

But fear not, this historical oddity is worth the trip. From the minute you catch a glimpse of the sturdy decades-old neon sign out front, greeting you like an old friend, to the inflation-proof $1 cans of Busch Beer and molding pool tables, you’ll feel as though you’ve traveled back in time. The bar’s ramshackle decor, killer jukebox stocked with plenty of Springsteen and Mellencamp and a rotating cast of local Sin City characters is guaranteed to provide a memorable night out.

Playing for Keeps
Games are the de facto language of gambling. In Las Vegas, wherever you move you’re sure to encounter these games, the constant gaze of a slot machine or the hypnotic spinning eye of a roulette wheel beckoning you to try your luck. But a very different type of game competes for your attention at the Las Vegas Pinball Hall of Fame. Except instead of one-armed bandits you’ll find 10,000 square feet of vintage pinball and arcade games from the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, waiting for you to give them a play.

Whether you’re a fan of Captain Fantastic or Guns ‘n Roses, Waterworld or Pac-man, there’s a childhood memory begging you to relive the past. Drop in a quarter, and a real-life time machine springs back to life. Bells clink. 8-bit explosions foam in your eardrums. A flickering orange glow of enjoyment fills your view. But too soon, your pinball disappears from view and the machine again falls silent; a teasing vision of a Vegas that once was, but is no more.