In the running for the cheesiest resort on the Strip, the medieval-themed, castle-shaped Excalibur aims for all age groups with a melange of beer pong, inexpensive buffets, jousting, and a Fun Dungeon. Filled with over-the-top goofiness and family-friendly touches, it makes few gestures toward high-end luxury, instead offering decent accommodations and lots of disposable fun.
Yet the Disneyfied-playland feel is somewhat offset by lobby banners advertising "Thunder From Down Under," a show featuring bare-chested Australian studs, and the "Party Pit," which has blackjack tables flanked by bikini-clad pole dancers. That's about as risqué Excalibur gets.
As the castle motif might indicate, Excalibur has its sights set on families. Children hustle around the casino floor and the mezzanine-level food court. At the pool, parents tend to their water-wing-clad children in the shallow end, and kids flock to the waterslide. For all the parenting going on, a healthy contingent of young adults populate the Excalibur too. In the elevator, I encountered a group of young women meeting up for a night on the town, and the pool was dotted with ladies in bikinis sipping tropical drinks. The hotel caters to both crowds with money-saving promotions.
The architecture is themed to the max, but don't expect Renaissance Fair-level costuming. The staff dresses in sports coats and ties, not medieval garb. Only once in my two-night stay did I encounter two women decked out in "damsel" outfits.
Located at the south end of the Strip, Excalibur is a five-minute walk from several big-name casinos, including the Luxor and New York New York.
Most Las Vegas visitors want to explore all of the big properties along the densely packed 3.5-mile-long stretch of hotel-casinos known as the Strip, and the Excalibur, at the southern end, offers easy access to many of them. An indoor walkway and a tram connect guests to the pyramid-shaped Luxor, whose enormous atrium houses a variety of solid restaurants. Across Tropicana Avenue, New York New York boasts its own roller coaster, and the MGM Grand has an enormous casino.
Cabs are easy to find at virtually any time of day or night. A generally less expensive option is the Deuce, a double-decker bus that runs up and down the strip 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and costs $3 to ride. There's also a monorail system, which stops at Bally's, Caesars Palace, Harrah's, the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Hilton, and the Sahara. A single-ride ticket is $5; a one-day pass is $13. If you're traveling along the Strip with at least one other person, a cab is often the least expensive option.
Virtually every hotel on the Las Vegas Strip is a 10- to 15-minute cab ride from McCarran International Airport; the ride typically costs about $15.
Fitness center is well-maintainted, and has a view of the pool outside. If looking at the hard bodies outside isn't motivation enough, several of the seven TVs are tuned to ESPN.
At the hotel's Castle Walk retail center, guests can pick up cheap trinkets at souvenir shops, boutiques, and kids' stores. For higher-end shopping, head to the Shops at Mandalay Bay, reachable via the Luxor next door.
24-hour business center
As with all MGM resorts, guests have access to the private Shadow Creek Golf Course, about a 20-minute drive from the Strip. The greens are only open to resort guests, and MGM offers a personal limo from the Strip and caddie service.
Families and the occasional group of 20-something vacationers lounge around Excalibur's four pools. One features a wide, shin-deep ledge where parents splash about with toddlers, while couples flirt on nearby deck chairs. They also offer full-service poolside dining. High-energy youngsters take full advantage of the waterslide at another pool.
The hotel also devotes one pool to adults only. Don't let that designation fool you. It's not a topless pool, and it isn't meaningfully walled off from young children. But the hotel expanded the adults only area, adding a fire pit and new cabanas, and doubling the size of the pool.
Cabanas are available for rent and include 42-inch plasma screens, fridges with water and fruit juice, a pool raft, towel service, and a ceiling fan.
The vast 100,000-square-foot casino, typical for the Strip, has all the usual games. One disappointment: The poker tables lack live dealers.
The casino at the Excalibur has rows upon rows of slots, from penny machines to $100 games. Live games include blackjack, craps, roulette, Pai Gow poker, and mini-baccarat. A sports book was installed in the spring of 2008. Live entertainment includes Party Pit pole dancers and "Strip Poker."
With a Fun Dungeon filled with rides and children's games, a kid-friendly medieval dinner show, and an extensive arcade, the Excalibur is as amenable to families as sinful Vegas gets.
Excalibur makes a good case that even a hotel with an enormous casino, sexy shows, beer pong, and pole dancers can deliver wholesome fun that's appropriate for young kids. Parents capable of explaining away the Party Pit and Thunder From Down Under posters can reap the benefits of vacationing in a giant castle with interior battlements and suits of armor. The Tournament of Kings jousting dinner show ("Eat with your fingers!"), and the Fantasy Faire arcade offer kids plenty of diversions to choose from.
Poolside, eight cabanas are designated for those traveling with children
, and the waterslide is popular.
The hotel doesn't offer a kids' club or babysitting service. Cribs, however, are available on request.