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Gaming Guru

Tim O'Reiley

Plans for Strip zip lines move closer to approval

18 April 2012

LAS VEGAS -- The Clark County Planning Commission approved plans on Tuesday evening for the Strip's next high-flying attraction, a set of zip lines running between the Luxor and Excalibur hotels.

Although MGM Resorts International, the owner of both Strip resorts, has described the idea as tentative, project consultant Greg Borgel said it was "not a hypothetical." Ziptrek Ecotours of Whistler, British Columbia, which would oversee construction and operation, "has been chomping on the bit to get going. They have been wondering what is taking so long," Borgel said.

The sticking point was that the zip lines, ¾-inch thick cables to which people clip themselves and ride downhill, also required the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration because of its proximity to McCarran International Airport. The county would not move before the FAA action.

Not surprisingly, considering that the zip lines are lower then surrounding buildings, the agency found no navigation hazard when it issued its OK on April 6. One of the lines would pass 22 feet over Excalibur's helicopter pad, but MGM has started decommissioning it.

Barring an unexpected appeal, the county's approval becomes final today and the FAA's on May 16.

Drawings show the zip lines would start on the north side of the Luxor pyramid and run between its two rectangular towers to a newly constructed landing platform on the roof of the Excalibur's south tower. That line would span 950 feet and drop about 110 feet from the 339-foot starting point.

Zippers then would climb an adjacent Excalibur tower and glide to a new opening on the north side of Luxor's east tower, covering 340 feet and a drop of 20 feet.

For the last leg, zippers would start on a new platform on the east tower's east side, then go 1,440 feet -- more than a quarter mile -- for a final landing on the roof of the tram station at the southwest corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue. That segment would descend 117 feet.

A separate line would run from one of the turrets at Excalibur's Strip-facing entrance to a platform 500 feet away and 30 feet lower.

According to a project outline by Ziptrek, guides would chaperone guests through the entire course and deliver talks at several junctures over two hours. The subjects were not detailed except to "teach sustainability and four conditions which must exist in a sustainable society. Like a show, but educational, participatory and outdoors."

Ziptrek has made its name by stringing zip lines in natural environments, including forested mountains in Canada and New Zealand, but has ventured into civilization with temporary models such as at the Super Bowl Village in Indianapolis this year. On its website, it shows harnesses that let people ride upside down as well as the conventional way.