It’s not difficult to come up with plenty of superlatives when it comes to Las Vegas hotels and casinos, with just about every one touting something as the biggest, largest, best feature. The MGM Grand on the strip is indeed the largest single hotel in the United States (with a total of 5,044 rooms) and was the largest in the world when it opened in 1993. It also has a storied history that, with its Hollywood studio connection, began with an extensive Wizard of Oz theme and continues to wow with plenty of gargantuan attributes (and egos). Here, we check out five facts about the property that continue to impress.
A replica of New York City’s infamous Studio 54 night club – complete with a “Man in the Moon” with a spoon under its nose – opened in the hotel in December 1997 and closed in February 2012. Elton John, a frequent guest of the original, visited the club on opening night. And the club was even name-checked by the Stereophonics in their 2001 song, “Vegas Two Times.” After the space closed, it was then converted into a lavish nightclub.
The Bite Fight
The fight between Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson on June 28th, 1997 was originally billed as “The Sound and the Fury,” but it would later be known as “The Bite Fight” since it became one of the most bizarre bouts in boxing history. Taking place inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Holyfield was an underdog and Tyson was defending his WBA championship, with Holyfield dominating during the first two rounds. During the third round, Tyson came out of his corner with a fury and bit Holyfield on his right ear and spit out the piece on the ring floor. He wasn’t disqualified at the time, and Holyfield was able to continue so they kept on fighting – and Tyson bit his left ear. It wasn’t until 2009 that Tyson apologized to Holyfield, while on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Game of Chance
So many movies have been filmed along the Strip, but one in particular took place inside the MGM Grand. At the end of Vegas Vacation, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) gathers up his family and they play their last $2 on a game of Keno. The elderly man they sit next to (Sid Caesar) ends up winning and, when he suddenly dies, they take his ticket and cash out. It turned out to be Ceasar’s last onscreen role, and Keno wouldn’t last much longer at the location either – it’s no longer offered at the casino.
Las Vegas loves glitz and glamor and the five-level nightclub and restaurant Hakkasan doesn’t disappoint. The 80,000 square foot space (which reportedly cost between $100 to $200 million when it was created) is a decadent way to spend an evening. And the model servers don’t have just one outfit, they change for each resident DJ set (up to four times) and Steve Aoki co-designed the uniforms for his nights.
The hotel loves its leonine imagery since it is based on the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios lion mascot, Leo, and when it opened in 1993, guests walked through a giant, cartoonish lion’s mouth. Turns out that’s bad luck in Asian culture, so it was later nixed during a renovation and a more traditional entryway took its place. The property also had an iconic lion habitat that opened in 1999 that was featured in the casino area, but it closed permanently in 2012. Now the property is guarded by Leo, a 45-foot tall bronze sculpture weighing 50 tons, which makes it the largest bronze sculpture in the United States.