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Mob Attraction and Mob Museum both worth experiencing

The Mob Attraction and the Mob Museum are not one and the same. But tourists and locals, even the Las Vegas news media, don’t seem to know that.

The Mob Attraction at the Tropicana is, in my humble opinion, more kid-friendly and less gruesome, more the warm and fuzzy side of mob life.

The Mob Museum downtown is more museumlike, taking a broader look at mob connections across the country and including more of the law enforcement angle.

Both have fans and detractors.

The museum opened with hoopla Feb. 14. Since then, I’ve heard from people who loved it and others who didn’t.

I took a second look Thursday at the Mob Attraction (formerly the Mob Experience when it opened a year ago) to see what changes had taken place since coming out of bankruptcy.

Mainly, the technology had improved and was working. Actor James Caan was the featured guide, combining tough guy with funny guy in his video presentations. But basically it was the same as last year, except somewhat shorter.

The interactive portion — about 35 minutes of wandering through a Disneyland-style portrayal of back alleys, a cop shop and the backrooms of a casino — still was the most fun.

The collections of mob paraphernalia including rare home movies of Bugsy Siegel in a pool with his kids, of Meyer Lansky’s pajamas and Tony Spilotro’s religious materials, were much the same as when I visited last May.

This time, the most interesting aspect for me was the documentary about the making of the movie “The Godfather.” I could have stayed for the whole 45 minutes if the benches had backs. The tales of the challenges the filmmakers had with the Italian-American Civil Rights League combined the reality of the mob with the fantasy of Hollywood and how they intertwined in New York’s Little Italy.

Remember the flap when the league insisted that the word “mafia” be cut from the script? The producers, knowing it was only said once, readily complied, making it seem they blinked first.

Which would I recommend?

If kids are involved, the Mob Attraction trumps the Mob Museum (aka the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement).

Spence Johnston, director of public relations for the Mob Attraction, said his children 11 and 8 love it. The actors play to kids in a different way than they do with adults.

If you’re looking for the big picture, go to the downtown museum, but kids are going to see more gore than a parent might want.

The cost comparison: I paid $25 to see the Trop attraction and $10 to see the downtown museum, both locals’ rates.

Before you meet someone at one of these joints, make sure you know which is which.

In the winter, Channel 3 showed up at the Trop for a news conference which was supposed to be at the Mob Museum at 300 Stewart Ave.

On the downtown museum’s opening day, Channel 8 was running pictures of the Trop attraction.

Also, reviews on TripAdvisor don’t seem to distinguish one from the other, Johnston said.

One couple told me they “loved it” and it was worth the cost. Others said the same.

A Massachusetts man thought the cost should be more like $12 or $13. Had he been to the Mob Museum? “There’s another one?” he said with surprise.

Las Vegas tries to cover bases for all types. But these are two distinct operations, and tourists are the ones who, by their ticket purchases, will decide which one survives, or if there’s a need for both, or a need for neither.

The Mob Attraction averages 300 to 350 people a day, Johnston said.

The Mob Museum won’t disclose admission numbers except in an annual report, so it’s impossible to tell if it’s on track to hit a goal of 300,000 customers. Or not.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Email her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call her at (702) 383-0275. She also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/Morrison.

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