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Vegas Strip polished with Aladdin Resort opening

Rawls, Wilson to open Blue Note, but celebs could be scarce

LAS VEGAS — The Strip skyline becomes more fantasy-filled as the Arabian-themed Aladdin Resort swings open its doors Thursday.

Set on the site of the old Aladdin, which was imploded in 1998, the 2,600-room hotel is the first mega-resort of the millennium as well as the first casino to open in Vegas in nearly a year. Costing $1.4 billion, the casino complex is touted as the Strip’s largest and is located on prime real estate directly across the street from the Bellagio and next door to Paris Las Vegas.

Despite its prestigious address, grand opening festivities are decidedly low-key. Noting the opening problems of a couple of its predecessors, there will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony sometime after 6 p.m., and fireworks will follow. But celebrity sightings will be few.

According to Lynn Holt, Aladdin spokeswoman, “We think the casino opening of itself is quite a party.”

Although the resort is ready for occupancy, the plan is to open 500 rooms per night to guests. By next Tuesday, all rooms are expected to be available.

The rooms are to be brought online gradually to make for a smoother transition for their operating team and for visitors, Holt said.

Star power will be present at the grand opening for the Blue Note jazz club with headliners Lou Rawls and Nancy Wilson. The second Blue Note in this country and the first in the West, this rendition will jazz up Desert Passage, a lavish 500,000-square-foot shopping mall attached to the Aladdin.

Saturday night, Enrique Iglesias will headline for the first time on the Strip by inaugurating the renovated 7,000-seat Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts, which had a $25 million makeover.

By mid-December, more entertainment is skedded when the Aladdin showroom bows with its signed — but as yet unannounced — show.

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