Top 10 Las Vegas hotel gimmicks

Dancing fountains

The classic – and most elegant – Las Vegas gimmick comes courtesy of the Bellagio. Every 15 to 30 minutes during the evening, the dancing fountains outside burst into a choreographed show. They're set to music – whether operatic, Sinatra standards or pop megahits. The Bellagio also serves up a fine art gallery, the world's largest chocolate fountain and Cirque du Soleil's incredible aquatic-staged show, O. See Bellagio.com

A volcano

The Mirage also hosts a Cirque show – Love is set to Beatles music – and offers up glorious indoor gardens to boot. But it gleefully leaps into kitsch absurdity with its huge fake volcano, which regularly erupts with surprisingly fearsome pyrotechnic displays. See mirage.com

A shark slide

Las Vegas has plenty of cool pools, but none are quite so bold as the Golden Nugget's. It curves around a mini-aquarium, where gawping fish and a few sharks spend their days. However, there's also a water slide, which passes through said aquarium at high speed. Also riding high on the gimmick factor is the largest gold nugget on earth, which is proudly displayed near the gaming machines. The 27-kilogram "Hand of Faith" was discovered in Kingower, Victoria, by a guy with a metal detector in 1980. See goldennugget.com

A rollercoaster

The enjoyably rowdy New York New York offers up copies of the Big Apple's most famous buildings, but running through them all is a massive rollercoaster. It's not a tame, little one either. It's a proper stomach-churner with big drops that sends you upside-down and puts you through considerable G-force. See newyorknewyork.com

Gondola rides

Like New York New York, the Venetian apes a cityscape. This time it's Venice, with scale replicas of the Palazzo Ducale, Rialto Bridge and Campanile alongside a miniature Piazza San Marco. Running through this are a series of indoor "canals", navigated by men in stripy shirts nobly punting gondolas full of eager tourists. See venetian.com

An Eiffel Tower

The Paris, as the name would suggest, goes in for an ersatz French theme. With a big Montgolfier balloon outside, acting as a sign, and a two-thirds life-size copy of the Arc de Triomphe. But the most ballsy imitation of the French capital comes courtesy of the replica Eiffel Tower, which stands 165 metres tall outside, and has a much-loved restaurant at the top. See caesars.com/paris-las-vegas

The world's most powerful light beam

There's plenty of audacious Egyptian-theming inside the Luxor, although its most interesting attractions are the genuinely excellent Bodies and Titanic exhibitions. Pretend it's about the culture all you like, though – it's inside a 30-storey black glass pyramid, and at night the world's most powerful light beam shoots out of the top. At 42.3 billion candela, it can be seen by planes up to 443 kilometres away. See luxor.com

Bird-shaped cocktail glasses

By Vegas standards, the new kid on the strip is very toned back. The Park MGM restricts itself to nature-themed decor, plus aromatherapy and circadian lighting in the Stay Well rooms. That is until you get to the Juniper Cocktail Lounge, where marvellously madcap cocktail design includes the "Little Birdie" in a bird-shaped glass with strips of Thai basil acting as a tail. See parkmgm.com

A hardcore zipline

The Rio, home of Penn and Teller and an absolutely humungous wine cellar, is also where you'll find the Voodoo Zipline. Going between the hotel's two towers, 50 storeys high, this ride sees you strapped into a little chair, then sent flying waaaaaay above the hotel pools. See caesars.com/rio-las-vegas

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Jousting contests

Of all the themed hotels in Las Vegas, Excalibur is arguably the most delightfully silly. The medieval, knights in shining armour kitsch is topped off with the Tournament of Kings show. Here, guests feast in a 900-seater arena while mounted "knights" fight, and all manner of special effects and pyrotechnics go off. There's some sort of Arthurian plot in among it, but this is really about men on horseback driving lances into each other over dinner. See Excalibur.com

The writer was a guest of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (visitlasvegas.com), MGM Resorts and the Golden Nugget.

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