Las Vegas is a fake place that still manages to exist.
"Las Vegaaaas" —Dean Martin, probably
I. KNEW. NOTHING.
Here is what it's actually like to visit Las Vegas in style, and all of the things you can expect to happen to you while you're there.
1. Your hotel will romanticize the past, but exist in the distant future.
2. Sometimes this will be terrifying.
3. I repeat: They follow you onto the elevator — and into your hotel room.
4. But that's OK, because basically every hotel lobby is amazing and full of things to look at.
5. Slot machines are basically iPhone games now.
6. You WILL play the Star Trek slot machine.
7. It will make NO sense.
8. But most importantly, you will choose MAXIMUM "chair intensity."
9. You WILL lose. Oh, how you will lose. But WILL you? Yes, you will.
The modern video slot machines work on a "purchased credits" system, for convenience and, I assume, to add a layer of abstraction that makes the money feel less like real money — like the in-app micro-transactions of their tiny iPhone cousins. You can lose part of your dollar's worth of credits and be left over with a balance that you can withdraw (so you don't walk away empty-handed) or add more money to (because you still have 48 cents left in the machine, so you might as well play again).
From a psychological standpoint, it's pretty brilliant, and there's something appealing about not walking away completely empty-handed, which is presumably what the games' designers are going for. Rather than lose my entire dollar, I was given a voucher for 6 cents, which I chose to keep as a souvenir rather than redeem it and make eye contact with an actual human being while they used two fingers to slide me the least valuable coins currently available in America.
10. There is a slot machine for literally every theme.
11. Invoking nostalgia for a pop-culture entity is another pretty great way to get people to toss in a dollar for the hell of it.
12. There's also the "WTF" factor.
13. Seeing some of the branded slot machines might be a little disappointing — and feel downright unwholesome.
14. And some of them are just way, way off.
15. Speaking of big shots, you might be treated like one.
16. You will see the world's saddest Mario.
"Gee, sure looks nice in there."
Like Hollywood Boulevard and Times Square, the Las Vegas Strip is now home to unlicensed costumed street performers: mostly pop culture characters, but some specifically Vegas-centric, like Caesar, heavily plumaged showgirls, and — of course — Elvis.
But for this Mario, the princess will always be in another castle.
17. And some Despicable Mes just going about their day.
18. Depending on the casino, many dealers have been replaced by robots.
19. You will be expected to engage with local wildlife.
"Every animal on Earth is endangered," says Philip Admire, the fiercely protective curator of the Dolphin Trainer for a Day program at Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage Hotel and Casino.
While advocating for a better environment for the dolphins in the wild, Admire and his crew teach visitors the art and science of raising domesticated dolphins, from the parts you know — triggering natural behaviors with hand signals, the occasional dorsal tow (read: dolphin ride) — to scrubbing food buckets and handling frozen herring like a pro.
This will look fun in photographs but actually be terrifying.
20. The dolphins also own a snack bar.
21. The Mirage also has an indoor jungle.
22. You will have the best meal of your life at Nobu in Caesar's Palace.
23. Your second-best dining experience will be the DIY s'mores at N9NE.
24. You can also eat these little clown poops.
25. You can buy sex dice in a vending machine. They're already conveniently calibrated to the most erotic of all acts.
26. Here's a Mad Men slot machine.
27. What about daytime on the strip? Well, you can go to an oxygen bar!
28. It is so, so dumb.
You will feel imperceptibly different while wearing the world's worst The Fault in Our Stars cosplay, while simultaneously, mall kiosk employees give you free samples of "relaxation" doodads like a first-generation iPod connected to electrodes that causes your back muscles to involuntarily spasm and an alien sex toy for alien sex and also your face.
You will have these items aggressively sold to you and it will be awkward when you say, "No thank you, this is akin to a trap."
29. You can put your girlfriend in a tiny car wash.
The "Aqua Massage" is promoted as "greatly reducing stress," but is, in actuality, a coffin where they vacuum-seal you in plastic (to keep you dry) and then shoot jets of water at your back to create a massaging effect.
When the man running this semi-aquatic sarcophagus tells you it is your turn to be tightly wrapped in plastic and sealed inside it, you will have an actual panic attack (the opposite of relaxing!) and have to wait outside until your girlfriend is done enjoying her reinvigorating death trap.
30. To cheer you up, she will buy you Coca-Cola from many lands.
31. You can scope out this totally normal hamburger ad.
This sexy pickle is one of the mascots (?) of Holstein's Shakes and Buns at The Cosmopolitan. You love her and she loves you, and this is Las Vegas, so you might as well get married.
32. You'll learn that "This is not a toy."
If you mistake this pillowy, plush strawberry with a pleasant smile and big, googly eyes for a toy, everyone will know you are a first-time visitor to Las Vegas and pity you. It is clearly labeled, in fine print on the back, NOT a toy.
33. At the end of your trip, you will go out onto the terrace and the view from your room will be spectacular.
34. But in the end, Las Vegas might not change your vacationing habits that much.
All uncredited photos taken by Daniel Kibblesmith for BuzzFeed.
Some meals and experiences furnished by R&R Partners and The Las Vegas Tourism Board.