Circus Circus

Posted: February 26, 2024
Category: places


The Circus Circus Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is a one-stop shop for all kinds of wonders. Often expanded, rarely renovated, this bizarre resort definitely stands out on the Strip. It's a unique sensory experience.

Circus Circus entrance

Circus extravaganza

Curious facts from Wikipedia1, newspaper articles2 3 and online archives4 start to give an idea of how bizarre this place is.

The casino opened in 1968, and hotel space was built iteratively over the following decades, along with various entertainment facilities. The circus has always been the central theme, attracting families with children and creating a brand quite unique in Las Vegas.

Circus Circus in 1970, AI-generated

This AI-generated rendering of Circus Circus feels as much like a fever dream as the real thing.

In its glory years, Circus Circus offered numerous entertainment stunts. Those included circus acts above the casino floor, performed by renowned trapezists and world-famous circus professionals. Pink-painted elephants could be ridden, while a bigger elephant named Tanya was roaming in the premises, pulling slot machine arms. There are reports of trained monkeys celebrating gamblers' winnings. Jugglers welcoming guests. A slide between the 2 main floors. Many topless shows – one of them named "Hot Pants Sexplosion".

Other forgotten artifacts from the old days include, among others, illuminated water fountains and a carousel near the entrance, and a monorail tram, the Circus Sky Shuttle, driverless and connecting the main casino to the motel. The rails are still present today, albeit unused since 2000.

Modern testimony

Naturally, I didn't experience any of that. I can only imagine it after reading a lot about those times. Nonetheless, exploring today's Circus Circus, with its uniquely preserved atmosphere, and its odd mix of old artifacts and somewhat more modern features, is certainly an experience.

Your chance to explore Circus Circus! Click on the highlighted areas to learn more.

The dashed area is the main casino. Excluding hotel towers, parkings and other mysteries, it's spread over two floors, connected in the strangest ways. It is quite a maze, and I can guarantee that if you try to reach a certain place, you'll get confused by the odd layout and elevator situation, or the many distractions on your way. And remember, the place is not designed to let visitors leave too easily.

Liminal vibes

Being a place of all extremes, Circus Circus can be packed during peak hours: long check-in queues, children running everywhere, cha-ching of the slot machines left and right.

At other times though, some parts of the casino are weirdly liminal. There's something truly unique about roaming through what feels like a deserted Las Vegas museum.

Take for example the Adventuredome, the indoor amusement park. It had everything I expected from a place full of roller coasters5 and games, except the people.

Adventuredome restaurant

Adventuredome Adventuredome
That's me, solo-riding the self-proclaimed "world's largest indoor double-loop, double-corkscrew coaster".

Finally, my favorite: did you spot Slots-A-Fun on the map above? This adjacent casino belongs to Circus Circus and is rumored to be the smallest on the Strip.


When I visited, the bar and the souvenir shop were closed. The few remaining slot machines were certainly working though, trying to attract some lost souls. It was a surreal experience to be the only person there. In its own way, this deserted casino has quite some charm.

'til next time

I live on a different continent, but if I ever return to Las Vegas, I'll be looking forward to seeing what's new (and old) in Circus Circus. If you're visiting the city, don't dismiss it.

Circus Circus hallway