During the crisis, I decided to go back in time and tell stories about my Las Vegas adventures during my 10 years here. This is the first part of the series.
In February 2015, Riviera announced that its doors would close forever on May 4. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority purchased it to expand the Las Vegas Convention Center. It bragged at the time that it would have frontage on the Strip, something the group felt was important. However, that Strip frontage is currently for sale, which is an entirely different story.
I will write later about Riviera’s last days. For now, I will tell the story about our liquidation sale adventures. It is still my favorite memory of living in Las Vegas.
Riviera Pinball Hall of Fame
My daughter and I would occasionally play at the Pinball Hall of Fame at Riviera. There were two games there not available at the main location by UNLV.
She was sad to hear Riviera was closing. We played a few times towards the end until the pinball machines were pulled a few days before the entire property shuttered. She went with me for many of my Riviera adventures during the liquidation sale.
Here is a before and after picture of my daughter’s favorite game spot at the Riviera Pinball Hall of Fame:
Scenes from a horror movie
Most of the property was open for touring during the sale with little in the way of security. This included sections previously walled off after the casino floor contracted and a restaurant closed a few years before.
I went through many offices, the old front desk, security’s holding room, kitchens, fitness rooms and back stages of shows. The cage was the only area that was signed as off-limits, though I did get kicked out of a storage area behind the old front desk that had an exterior door to the pool.
Security told me I would be banned if they caught me in back areas again. I ignored the demand and never got caught again.
There was something creepy about walking around the Riviera during the liquidation sale. Carts with its last weekend of room service still sat in hallways, items seemingly broken by buyers littered hallways, and offices and security areas were a mess due to people rifling through documents. It was surreal to see scenes from the movie Casino deserted or picked apart.
The Mediterranean Tower had a fitness center at the top of the south end. There seemed to have been a putting green on a balcony up there. It overlooked the pool that was never used due to its leaking into the casino.
‘Casino’ movie set discovered on top floor of Monaco Tower
Two scenes from Casino that come to mind are where Sam and Nicky meet in a Riviera suite and the ballroom where Sam marries Ginger. These are pictured below.
The suite was two stories. It had a wet bar and gathering space on the first floor with a bedroom upstairs. The view was a corner one with the Strip one direction and the other of the Las Vegas Hilton and convention center. There were several other suites on the same floor with a similar two-story floor plan with some minor differences and typically older furnishings.
Table games were for sale
There were many table games for sale at Riviera. The slots were not sold to the public. These were purchased by Derek Stevens. Many of the games were placed in his two downtown Las Vegas casinos.
Other points of interest
The Mediterranean Tower was home to several offices and some older suites. Most of the furnishings were junk but this suite stood out as interesting. I believe it was room 901. The bed was marked as not for sale.
Hallways were apocalyptic. These was a common sight.
There was also the Monte Carlo Tower. Some of these rooms were in decent shape. One is in the first picture. We bought a dresser and two end tables from one. The other pictures are from the Monaco Tower rooms, which were mostly destroyed before we got to them.
We wandered backstage in the Starlite Showroom and the comedy club. These areas were torn apart. The Starlite Showroom dressing room had a going away message taped to the wall.
What we bought
We spent about $1,000 at the Riviera liquidation sale. My favorite purchases were the box office signs from two shows and the Pinball Hall of fame. The show signs were at the box office window on the casino floor. The Pinball Hall of Fame sign was at the bottom of the escalators at the small parking area under the casino.
We also bought a few other cardboard signs and three pieces of furniture from a suite that looked like it had never been used except for what seemed like a few scratches from luggage wheels.
The LA Comedy Club at The Strat is the the successor of the Riviera Comedy Club. It has many of the former Riviera furnishings and fixtures, as well as some former club employees and comedians. The Riviera Comedy Club sign we bought is on loan to our friends there. You can see it on the wall. It is on the other side of the storage room doors from the VIP booths. It is usually lit before shows.