The construction of billionaire Kirk Kerkorian’s mammoth family-oriented hotel, casino and theme park in Las Vegas, MGM Grand, is 75% completed and skedded to open in February 1994, six weeks ahead of its original target.The 112-acre game and entertainment mecca will be home to the biggest hotel in the world with four 30-story emerald towers housing 5,005 rooms. They’ll be surrounded by three casinos, eight major restaurants, three auditoriums and 12 major attractions in a 33-acre theme park. All for $ 1.028 billion. “We have raised the price of admission to this business in Vegas to $ 1 billion,” MGM Grand Inc. exec veepee Alex Yemenidjian told Daily Variety. The former entry price was set by hotel/casino resort Mirage at approximately $ 650 million, he said. (Ironically, the $ 1 billion budget is roughly the same figure that former film studio-owner Kerkorian and his holding company Tracinda Corp. received from the sale of the MGM studio in November 1990.) During a slide show presentation about the mega-project, Yemenidjian noted that MGM Grand was given the greenlight by the courts to build the theme park despite legal battles with Disney. Referring to earlier lawsuits between Disney, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists film studio and MGM Grand, Yemenidjian added: “Disney won against the studio, but Disney lost against MGM Grand.” Robert Maxey, prexy/CEO of MGM Grand Inc., explained: “That means we can use the MGM name on a theme park anywhere in the world including Orlando as long as we do not make live movies in the theme park.” Maxey confirmed that the Vegas resort is ahead of sked and on budget. “Seventy-three percent of the $ 825 million construction budget has either been paid out for work completed or committed on fixed-price fully guaranteed contracts.” The 12 attractions in “the theme park (are) not quite as advanced because the rides come in from wherever they’re manufactured and assembled on the site,” Maxey said. In another lawsuit, MGM Grand won the right to use the world-famous MGM name and lion logo, so visitors will walk through the paws of a seven-story-tall Leo before reaching the yellow brick road, a crystal re-creation of Emerald City and the Wizard of Oz. “You’ll meet the Wizard, who will hopefully give you luck,” Yemenidjian said; the yellow brick road lets out at a casino with 3,500 slot machines. The average daily hotel rate is a competitive $ 70 and admission to the theme park will likely be $ 24 for adults and $ 16 for teens. A separate youth hotel with day care and an MGM camp for toddlers are meant to encourage family visits. Yemenidjian figures the MGM theme park will beat the line-up problems the Disney parks face through the use of “time tickets,” which will limit attendance to 7,000-8,000 visitors at a time. Experts predict that means a maximum 20 -minute wait. Two of the 12 attractions are vying to be the “signature” attraction, said Yemenidjian: A river raft ride in a re-creation of the Grand Canyon rapids, and Deep Earth Exploration with an “uncontrollable voyage to the center of the earth.” MGM Grand public shareholders will likely be pleased to learn that “half of every room night has already been pre-sold for the MGM Grand for ’94.”
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