Friday, May 14, 2010

Las Vegas, still accessible after all these years

You'd think more towns would want to be like Las Vegas. For decades Vegas has cornered the market on accessible travel because they know better. Design for everyone, and everyone will come, with their money. Why any tourism center would exclude any particular niche simply by not catering to their needs is beyond us, and beyond Vegas as well.

The City of Sin doesn't brag about its access openly, and in truth, some of its city recreation funding has recently been cut, so where golfing used to be a widely accessible option for recreation in town, this is unfortunately no longer the case. We spent weeks trying to figure out why their many accessible golf carts could only be used at municipal courses, and apparently the budget also affected customer relations on the subject. Long story short, we brought clubs for nothing.

But there are plenty of other accessible features of Las Vegas to highlight, and as always, we should start with the strip, which is constantly rejuvenated and therefore always expanding on its access thanks to the ADA.

The Wynn chain of hotels offers the Surehands lifts systems in several of the rooms at each hotel (Bellagio, Encore, MGM, Mirage, Treasure Island, and Wynn), making independence a reality. But if you don't need the lift system, all of the hotels in Veags, even the older ones, are accessible and most have some great accessibility features like roll-in showers.

We stayed at the Cancun Resort about 2 miles south of the strip for some peace and pool lounging, and were pleased to find a roll-in shower with a folding bench, ramps to all areas, accessible hot tubs, bars, and even an elevator to the top floor of waterslide, housed in an Aztec ruin at the pool.

In addition to finding accessible lodging bountiful, Vegas touts that every restaurant is accessible, and we found the shows, sites, transportation and side trips to be as well.

We squeezed in a show at KA, a unique Cirque du Soleil show at the MGM, one of the more memorable and unique venues we've seen, grand enough to make its way into a Top 5 Accessible Venues article to come in the near future. The best feature at this venue are the plush office-chair seat on wheels in the center-of-the-house ADA section, that slide out for easy transfer or to make room for your own chair, which just adds to the magic of this amazingly acrobatic show on the spinning, tilting, smoking stage.

We explored several other theaters at the main casino resorts along the strip, and where there were stairs, there was always an elevator, and in some cases, even an escalator.

At the the top of the Paris's Eiffel Tower is an accessible restaurant with amazing views of the city.

If you're into amusement rides, Las Vegas has plenty of them. The Manhattan Express at the New York New York, the five rides at the Adventuredome at the Circus Circus, and the three rides at the Stratosphere Hotel are all accessible, however some of them do have specific requirements such as at the NYNY riders need at least one lower limb to engage the safety bar over the lap, and must be able to sit up on their own to engage the upper shoulder straps. But all of them have elevators, ramps, or level entries to their rides.

If walking the length of the strip, or even part of its ever-expanding length, is a barrier for you, renting scooters is a recommendation as there are many companies in Las Vegas to look to. Scootaround is one of our favorites for their excelling customer service and reliability, but there are nine other companies offering rentals in town as well.

All in all we've found Las Vegas quite welcoming, whether you're there to win some money or just take in the shows, Vegas is still accessible after all these year.

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