Family US Holiday – Day 3 – “O” My, Cirque is Certainly Amazing…

…although Popovich could probably pop off somewhere else and it wouldn’t be a loss. But I’m getting ahead of myself there.

The morning started with the kids keen to go swimming again. We’d told them that they weren’t allowed to ask about it before 9am and that they needed to be walking back in the room no later than 11am so we could get ready to catch the noon shuttle down to New York New York.

We had decided the night before that to save on leg power, we’d walk through the MGM Grand to the monorail, catch the monorail down to Paris and then walk through Paris and next door to Planet Hollywood. However, as we crossed the bridge between New York New York and MGM Grand, we saw how close M&Ms World looked and changed our route to include that.

M&Ms World is four levels of building, devoted to one of America’s favourite candy covered chocolates. The ground floor is more classic souvenirs such as magnets and postcards, while level one was more like what we were after; a chocolate bar allowing you to pick and choose the colours of your own M&Ms and a good selection of clothing. We ended up getting different coloured shirts for the kids and me, although Glenda couldn’t find one that was both in her style and in her size.

Level three is full of M&Ms themed movie spoofs such as The M-pire Strikes Back. Posters, figurines and other stuff to see. We didn’t venture up to level four, but apparently it’s a movie-ride thing that promotes M&Ms even more.

The kids after a fruitful experience at M&Ms World 

Since we’d detoured, it made sense to simply keep walking up the strip to Planet Hollywood. We stopped at McDonalds on the way as well as one of the multitude of souvenir stores in an attempt to minimise our exposure to the heat of the glaring sun. Eventually we made it to Miracle Mile Shops which is the retail mall part of Planet Hollywood. Yes, it’s called Miracle Mile because it’s a mile long (or rather, a mile around).

Given that the Popovich Comedy Pet Theater has been running for a few years now and add to that how they entered America’s Got Talent and made it to the semi-finals, you might think that this is a very swish, professional show. Nothing could be further than the truth. This was the most amateurish show I’ve ever had to pay for. Fortunately we didn’t pay full price or I would have been completely pissed about it. Even for half price I felt like I’d been ripped off (especially once we discovered that the hotel we were staying at had tickets for the show even cheaper!).

Half the show didn’t include animals (which Jacob very quickly pointed out) and was pretty average – I counted at least six drops in the various juggling acts and the energy shown by most of the entertainers was quite low. The animals themselves were OK but definitely fit in with the "don’t work with animals" motto of most Hollywood producers. The good thing about the show is knowing that the animals are all taken from Animal Rescue Shelters and knowing that their alternative future would probably be quite short and definitely no more enjoyable than what they have in the show. I have to applaud Popovich for this, but nothing else. At least the kids enjoyed it – mostly.

Next up was dinner at the restaurant that the Half-Tix place sold us. Pampas Brazilian Steakhouse Restaurant turned out to be a bit classy, and most definitely not aimed at kids. There was no kids menu and the menu choices other than the main buffet were limited. In the end, the kids had fries and water – gotta get them eating some healthier options!

However, for Glenda – and particularly for me – the restaurant was excellent. There was a buffet serving traditional Brazilian vegetable, rice and bread dishes that all tasted pretty good. For meat, what happened was you turn a button over to the "Yes, Please" green side and waiters would come up to your table with a skewer of meat, offering you their selection. Each waiter carried a different type of meat, supposedly 12 in all although we could only count 7 or so. Still, each one was melt in your mouth divine, and some had some great marinades and spices. Glenda’s favourite was the roast ham and fresh warm pineapple, mine was the roast lamb and accompanying dark mint sauce.

After the amateurish disaster of Popovich, Glenda and I were relieved to find that Cirque du Soleil "O" was even better than Ka was the other night. It was a more traditional Cirque production, with lots of individual peripheral action going on during and between the main acts. It meant that no matter where you looked, there was something going on.

Synchronised swimming at its most magical

 The show is based around a huge pool that has some amazing engineering supporting it. They can quickly raise and lower a platform that covers the entire stage. It’s in segments which can be operated independently of each other, meaning that the environment that the performers were in changed from minute to minute (and often a lot quicker than that). One moment, the front half of the stage would be ankle deep with dancers cavorting around, splashing water up and around, while the other half was dry, with a guy reading a newspaper set alight with flame; the next, the front half would be solid ground, and the back half deep enough that a boat could float right through it.

Some absolutely incredible high-diving, trapeze and ring and ribbon acts were performed up above the water, while synchronised swimming, clowning and the main story theme played out below. It was a real contrast watching this show with the one that immediately preceded it. At one point, one of the trapeze swingers missed his grip and fell into the water below. Without missing another beat, he swam to the edge and lay on the ground, acting as if it was meant all along, while the rest of the troupe regrouped and swung on.

Ashleigh loved every minute of it; Jacob was up to his usual little tricks but generally enjoyed it too. It was definitely worth going to and I really wish I could have a more permanent record of it. Unfortunately, none of the Las Vegas Cirque shows have DVDs (except Ka’s behind the scenes one).

One special surprise I had kept in store for Ashleigh was the Bellagio Fountains. We found a decent vantage point and lined up with the hundreds of others waiting for the show to start. We waited about 15 minutes and then got ready as the fountain jet pipes emerged out of the water. Then they disappeared! And then an announcement was made that due to high winds the show wasn’t going to be on.

Vainly waiting for the fountain

Ashleigh had a bit of a spit because she was tired and hot and had waited around but then we just got on with it, walking back to New York New York. We took a couple of photos along the way – this one of the Bellagio is around where we were – the fountain show would have been amazing.

The Bellagio

At some point around Planet Hollywood we realised that if we hurried we’d get the 10.20 shuttle back home so we did. The kids put in superkid performances to get there – Jacob’s legs were jelly before we’d got there but he kept on going, I was very proud of his effort. And yes, we did manage to make it – just. We sat down for about a minute before the shuttle turned up.

Hotel Paris on the dash back to New York New York

Tomorrow is a rest day back at the hotel, so probably no blog entry. See you on Monday (US time). 

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