Tuesday, 6 November 2012

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Choosing a Vegas Magic Show for Kids

One of the very first magic shows I ever saw in Las Vegas was Siegfried and Roy. It was a few weeks before the tragic show where Roy was attacked by one of the tigers, and it was pure Vegas glitz and glamour. Lori and I sat in the front row, I got my arm slobbered on by one of the white tigers, and I remember leaving the show thinking that aside from a couple of mild sexual references, that was a show I would have enjoyed taking my kids to.

Since that trip, my kids have had the opportunity to see a bunch of magicians perform in Las Vegas. Some have been brilliantly entertaining - family entertainment at it's absolute best. Others...well let's just say that their best trick was making the money we spent on tickets disappear. There's been a whole array of magicians come and go through the showrooms of Sin City, but if you're trying to figure out which one to take your kids to, here's the lowdown on the five major magic shows that are currently calling Las Veags home.

David Copperfield

This definitely isn't your cheapest option, but there is nobody more polished than David Copperfield performing these days. All the tricks are large size illusions, and many of them involve audience participation. The first time we saw his Vegas show, there was a trick where David pulled two girls from the audience and switched their underwear. That trick has (thankfully) been retired, so now the only questionable part of the show is when the AFLAC duck urinates on the audience, and from my experience, that's one of the younger crowds favorite parts.

Where: Hollywood Theater at the MGM Grand
When: Various dates throughout the year. 
Price: $77 - $110 although his show is often available at a slight discount at Tix4Tonight outlets. 

Mac King 

If you want to rate them on a value basis, you can stop the search right here. Mac King performs an afternoon show at Harrahs, and although it's listed under "magic" in the show listings, it's just as likely to make you laugh as it is to impress you with it's slight of hand. Don't get me wrong - the magic is good - but Mac has a genuine self-depreciating humor about him that relates really well to the younger crowd. There's a couple of "Tie me up" jokes that will probably go over your kid's heads, but I guarantee that what they're going to take home from the show is the "Cloak of Invisibility". My kids still mention it every time they see a yellow raincoat.

Where: Harrahs Casino
When: Tues - Sun, 1pm & 3pm
Price: Officially, $43.95, but there are coupons just about everywhere for free admittance with the purchase of a $9.95 drink. The showroom is Vegas style cabaret seating, meaning that the location of your seat depends on where the usher seats you. A small tip will usually land you very close to the front. A $20 tip for our family landed us in the front row, and Lori on stage as a volunteer.

Nathan Burton

Another afternoon magic show, this one by America's Got Talent alumni, Nathan Burton. The tricks here are on a slightly larger scale than Mac King and they are very impressive, but Nathan lacks a little bit of the charisma that Mac brings to the stage. Still, aside from a couple of scantily clad showgirls, everything in this show is perfectly child friendly. Just make sure your kids don't get any ideas from the "Microwave of Death" trick.

Where: Saxe Theater in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood
When: Daily (except Monday) at 4pm
Price: $32 - $82 for VIP seating with a pre-show closeup magic performance. Discounts are usually available online at Vegas.com.

Criss Angel

I've offered my review of Criss Angel's Believe before, so I won't take you down that path again. Suffice to say that the suitability of this show for your kids depends on your tolerance for foul language. If your kids have the ability to block out every other word being shouted from the stage, then it might be acceptable. Of course, the suitability of this show for everyone else depends on their tolerance for mediocre magic. If you have the ability to block out poorly rehearsed magic, then really why are you at a magic show anyways?

Where: Luxor Hotel and Casino 
When: Tue-Sat at 7pm, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday at 9:30pm. 
Price: $75-$185 but even the Luxor website doesn't sell them for that much. If you really have to see Criss Angel on a family trip, try the two shows for $90 deal and pair it with the Tournament of Kings at Excalibur. Your kids will probably enjoy that show a lot more.

Penn & Teller

Penn & Teller are famous for revealing how some magic tricks are done, and when they do it on national TV it can be fascinating. Of course, on television they're under the control of the network censors. They certainly aren't having any controls placed on them during their live show, and if there's a non-child appropriate magic show in Las Vegas, this is it. Penn spouts off on his political and religious beliefs throughout the show, matching Criss Angel curse for curse (Although to be fair, since Teller doesn't talk, Penn is cursing for two.) and even belittling one parent for bringing their 13 year old to the show. The magic is decent, but this is definitely a show best left for the adults.

Where: Rio Hotel and Casino
When: Sat-Wed at 9pm
Price: $86-$116 although discounts are readily available at Vegas.com

This post is a part of Travel Tips Tuesday at Suitcases and Sippycups and Walkingon Travels. If you didn't get here from there, you should go check it out. There's people there who probably know why Jello counts as a salad. I hope somebody can explain it to me.

Written by Steve Pratt