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Look back: The Mirage opens on Nov. 22, 1989 — PHOTOS

Updated November 22, 2022 - 3:04 pm

The Mirage will switch ownership from MGM Resorts International to Hard Rock International at the end of the year, and eventually the casino will undergo and brand change, but its volcanic legacy is one Las Vegas won’t soon forget.

(And, by the way, the volcano is not expected to close under new management, according to MGM Resorts.)

When The Mirage opened on Nov. 22, 1989, the focus was not on gaming or hotel suites. Instead, it was on the property’s other features like its Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, which closed on Tuesday permanently after three dolphins died this year.

But before the resort opened, it needed a name.

Steve Wynn consulted fourth-graders at Vegas Verde Elementary School to help come up with the resort’s name. He then bought the name Mirage from two motels in the Las Vegas Valley.

Construction took two years to complete, and on its first weekend open, the hotel-casino saw about 750,000 guests visit. Crowds got so large, restrictions had to be put in place.

The completion and opening of the hotel-casino is considered the start of Las Vegas’ mega-resort boom, inspiring developers to top The Mirage’s rare white tigers and volcano show. The opening of the Luxor and MGM Grand in 1993 and Bellagio in 1998 followed in The Mirage’s footsteps — with each resort trying to outdo the last.

Siegfried and Roy’s show was synonymous with The Mirage. Running from 1990 until 2003 after Roy Horn’s tiger attack, the show was fundamental to the resort’s development. Wynn had promised the duo that he would build a 1,500-seat showroom for the two, along with giving them a $50 million multiyear contract.

The show ran with a cast and crew of 267 people and cost $30 million to produce — an expensive price tag for its time.

Roy Horn died in 2020 from COVID-19 complications, and Siegfried Fischbacher died in 2021 from pancreatic cancer.

The Mirage is expected to keep its brand until at least 2025, when Hard Rock plans to work on a property expansion.

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