The landscape of Vegas is constantly changing. Resorts rise and fall constantly, making way for larger, brighter and more luxurious hotels and casinos. But when a resort is due to go, it goes down with a bang! Nowhere but in Vegas does the demolition of an old casino garner as much attention as the opening of a new one.

In this article we take a look at the top five casino implosions that happened in Vegas.

1. Hacienda

Hacienda CasinoDate opened: 17th October 1956
Date demolished: 31st December 1996

Hacienda opened its doors in 1956 at a cost of $6 million. This resort dominated the southern end of the Strip with its 256 rooms and the biggest swimming pool in the area.

It had undergone several renovations during the years and changed owners’ hands many times throughout its long life. In 1980, the Hacienda opened a 300-room, 11-story addition.

In 1995, the Hacienda was finally bought by Circus Circus Enterprises, but by then, it had been literally dwarfed by the mega-resorts that had spawned throughout the years. Barely a year later, this casino was scheduled for demolition.

The last guests checked out from Hacienda on December 10,1996 and the resort met its fate a few weeks later. The implosion of the Hacienda took place on New Year’s Eve and was broadcast live on the Fox Network as part of their New Year’s Eve telecast. At the stroke of midnight, explosions went off making Hacienda fold onto itself and implode. Despite the implosion, parts of the old resort still stood and the next day a wrecking crew was brought in to demolish the remaining ruins. Nowadays, The Mandalay Bay, Four Seasons and THEHotel sit upon the site which Hacienda used to occupy.


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2. Sands

Sands Casino DemolitionDate opened: 15th December 1952
Date demolished: 26th November 1996

The Sands was a historic Vegas casino that was inaugurated on December 15, 1952, and perhaps is best known for being the home of the Rat Pack.

The Sands was the seventh resort to grace the Strip and was distinguished by its bright red neon sign that proclaimed to the world: ‘A Place In The Sun’.

This is the musical birthplace of singers Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr and company, who delighted the crowds at the legendary Copa Room Stage. These icons of the 50’s made The Sands famous during their filming on location of Ocean’s Eleven.

The Sands was the place where the stars came down from the sky. Regulars at the resort were able to rub shoulders with the stars at the lounge after the late-night shows.

In 1967, The Sands was bought by the infamous recluse Howard Hughes for $14.6 million. Hughes added a 17-storey cylindrical tower, which contained 777 rooms.

In its final years, The Sands became a shadow of its former glorious self, forgotten amidst the building boom of the 90’s that saw bigger, glitzier resorts sprout up. Its last owner, Sheldon Anderson, finally took the decision to close The Sands down and implode the building in 1996.

This historic landmark, so beloved by the guests it once received, gave way to The Venetian Hotel, another historical building that still graces the Strip to this day.


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3. Aladdin

Aladdin Casino DemolitionDate opened: 31 March 1966
Date demolished: 27th April 1998

Not even a genie could have saved Aladdin from its inevitable doom.

Right from the beginning, this property was plagued by numerous problems, so much so that it earned itself the moniker The Vegas Jinx. Name changes, re-modelings, owner changes, openings and closings, several bankruptcies and even mob dealings left their mark on Aladdin’s chequered history.

When it opened, guests were treated to a paradisiacal experience with petals falling from the ceiling. Not only did Aladdin have its own golf course, it also had a no cover charges policy and three different shows every single night. Just a year after its opening, Aladdin hosted Elvis and Priscilla Presley’s wedding.

In July 1976, Aladdin celebrated the grand opening of its Theater for the Performing Arts which cost $10 million to build. In 1981, this theatre was used by Iron Maiden in their first ever concert in the US.

On November 25, 1997, Aladdin closed its doors forever. The entire resort was imploded at exactly 7:27 pm on April 27, 1998 to make way for a new resort. Only the theatre was spared. The land was used to build the New Aladdin at $50 million, but even this went under after a series of financial problems. On June 2013, it was finally sold to Planet Hollywood, which re-opened the resort with much aplomb in 2007, only to be acquired by Caesars three years later.


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4. Dunes North Tower

Dunes Casino DemolitionDate opened: 23rd May 1955
Date demolished: 27th October 1993

Standing on the spot which is now occupied by the Bellagio, Dunes opened its doors in 1955 and it was the tenth resort to open on the Las Vegas Strip. It got off to a bumpy start as it ran into financial difficulties just a year later and was purchased by two businessmen who had dealings with the mob.

Having started off as a low-rise resort, the new owners decided to add the North Tower in 1961. This tower house one of the finest and largest hotels at the time. In 1979 a second tower was constructed.

Unfortunately, Dunes was never able to shake off its financial woes and on November 17, 1992, it was sold for the last time to developer Steve Wynn for $75 million. Since it couldn’t compete with the newer and more exciting mega-resorts that were being built, on January 26, 1993, the Dunes closed its doors for good and a liquidation sale followed to clear it from its contents before the implosion.

Dunes kicked off the implosion trend in Vegas with the implosion of the North Tower. This was an extravagant affair that involved much pageantry and a major display of pyrotechnics before the tower came tumbling down in a fiery and spectacular crash in front of thousands of witnesses who showed up. The iconic Dunes sign was consumed in a fireball fuelled by 16,000 liters of aviation fuel.

The South Tower came down less than a year later in July of 1994, without the fanfare and media exposure that its older brother got.


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5. Landmark

Landmark Casino DemolitionDate opened: 1st July 1969
Date demolished: 7th November 1995

When the Landmark hotel was inaugurated in 1969, it stood quite small in comparison with the larger mega-resorts on the Strip.

Although it only had 525 rooms, Landmark had to wait eight years in construction limbo before being officially opened. Only after significant cash injection made by Howard Hughes could the resort finally welcome its first guests.

Unfortunately, after all the hype that surrounded the Landmark’s opening — it played host to some of the greatest stars of the time — dark times befell it once more thanks to the financial troubles and the low profit it was turning. Also, it was received with mixed feeling by the Vegas community who couldn’t make up its mind over the futuristic architecture.

The Landmark remained open all throughout the years when it stood on the Strip, but it simply never raked in enough money to make it worth the owners’ trouble.

By 1995, Landmark was old, in a bad shape and very unpopular following a string of incidents owing to poor design and safety. This led to the decision to wire 100 pounds of explosives around the base and clear out all of its contents.

On November 7, 1995, at 5:35 am, Landmark was demolished in seventeen seconds flat. This tower was split into halves and as one half keeled over and crashed to the ground, the other stood defiantly for a short while before also buckling down under its own weight. The implosion was immortalised in the film Mars Attacks which used actual footage of the demolition in the film.

The 22-acre plot where Landmark stood is still used as a 2000 car parking lot and there seem to be no plans for developing the site for now.


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