21 things to know before staying at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas

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Decades after its “Wizard of Oz” theme was retired, the emerald green color of the MGM Grand Las Vegas still stands out at night on the multicolored Las Vegas Strip.

But have you ever wondered why the hotel is that color or what other secrets the Las Vegas property’s colorful history may contain?

The iconic MGM Grand is a fixture on Las Vegas Boulevard (aka “the Strip”) with an interesting story to tell, both past and present. Within the giant property, you’ll find acres of pools, a massive casino, larger-than-life experiences and an incredible array of shows and events, but you might be surprised to know that the MGM Grand is a hotel that almost never came to be.

Whether you are planning your first stay or regularly visit, odds are there are a few things you may not know about this classic Vegas property. Here are 21 facts about Sin City’s MGM Grand to know before you book a stay and pass through its doors.

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It’s the largest single hotel in the US

MGM Grand Las Vegas. (Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International)

It’s true that the combined Venetian-Palazzo property is physically larger than the MGM Grand. However, only the MGM Grand can claim it’s the largest stand-alone hotel in the U.S.

The massive property features a whopping 4,996 guest rooms and suites spread across 6.6 acres. Additionally, there are numerous pools and waterfalls, plus a 380,000-square-foot convention center and a variety of shops, clubs and restaurants.

The casino is the largest on the Strip

Being the largest hotel in the U.S. should give you a hint that the MGM Grand doesn’t do anything small. At 171,500 square feet, the sprawling casino is the largest on the Strip.

You’ll find every kind of gambling you could desire. There are more than 175 table games, such as baccarat, craps, blackjack and more. If table games are not your thing, you can try out some of the 2,000-plus slot machines when you’re not playing the progressive slots or video poker. There are 36 different 60-inch plasma screens for racetrack and sports betting, too, for those who would rather bet on an event than play slots or table games.

(Photo by Ryan Smith/The Points Guy)

Should you want something really special, visit the virtual reality gaming lounge called Level Up. Or, if you’re having a party or entertaining guests, consider reserving a SkyBox, which gives you and up to 19 of your companions a higher-up view of the action and access to your own dedicated server for drink orders.

Related: Everything you need to know about casino loyalty programs

A multitude of pools are available

(Photo courtesy of MGM Grand)

The MGM Grand’s pool complex covers 6 1/2 acres and features four pools, three whirlpools and a lazy river, plus tons of extras like waterfalls and cabanas.

Given how many people visit the pool area daily, it’s not uncommon to see guests strolling through the casino and hotel with rafts as they make their way to or from the lazy river. You’ll discover ample lounge chairs for relaxing by the pools, too, should you crave some vitamin D and a quiet place to curl up with a good book.

Don’t expect a laid-back vibe at all of the hotel’s pools, though. The adults-only Wet Republic Ultra Pool provides one of the most sought-after pool party scenes in Las Vegas thanks to its rotating roster of DJ headliners, decked-out cabanas and endless supply of cocktails.

The lion outside is the largest bronze sculpture in the Western Hemisphere

(Photo by Ryan Smith/The Points Guy)

While we’re covering superlatives and things that are larger than life, let’s talk about the lion statue that sits in front of the hotel at the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue. It’s the largest bronze statue in the U.S. — and possibly the whole Western Hemisphere — according to the Las Vegas Sun.

Snellen Maurice “Snell” Johnson created this giant statue in 1997 in honor of Leo, the famous MGM lion that greets you at the beginning of the film studio’s movies. It’s hard to miss, standing 45 feet tall, measuring 50 feet wide and weighing 50 tons.

A smaller version is on display inside the hotel’s main lobby.

(Photo by Ryan Smith/The Points Guy)

Its massive arena hosts big-time events

Like the hotel itself, the on-site MGM Grand Garden Arena is huge, featuring 17,000 seats. It has welcomed locals and visitors alike since 1993 and cost an impressive $28.4 million to build.

You may recognize it from past stints hosting the Academy of Country Music Awards and the Grammy Awards, but the venue remains a popular option for Vegas events. A number of mainstream events take place here annually, including concerts by big-name acts, sports competitions (such as professional wrestling and boxing super fights) and televised award shows like the Latin Grammy Awards.

There’s an impressive golf experience inside

The Topgolf location behind the MGM Grand. (Photo courtesy Top Golf)

Topgolf fits in well with the “go big or go home” approach to many things at MGM Grand, so it may not come as a shock that there’s a location within the property. Everything you’ll need to perfect your swing, including a Callaway fitting studio, a golf pro shop and 120 climate-controlled hitting bays, is available here.

Not to mention, the MGM Grand’s Topgolf outpost has its own bars, pools, VIP cabanas, private suites and event spaces, providing a fun scene befitting its Vegas address. If you’re a golf fan — especially one who isn’t a fan of the Las Vegas heat — you won’t want to miss this facility.

The West Wing of the hotel was once the Airport Marina Hotel and Casino

While you may assume that this Vegas icon was entirely new when it was built, it actually repurposed a structure from a former property on the Strip.

In the 15-story West Wing tower, you’ll find more than 700 rooms that once belonged to the Marina Hotel and Casino, which welcomed guests from 1975 until 1989, when it was bought by MGM. This is why the rooms in that tower are smaller — and often cheaper — than the ones built for the 1993 opening.

It was originally a ‘Wizard of Oz’-themed hotel

When the MGM Grand opened its doors in the early ’90s, it featured a “Wizard of Oz” theme that included all kinds of memorabilia, plus the movie’s signature emerald green color. Guests entered by walking through a giant lion’s mouth, and life-size statues of the characters immediately greeted visitors inside.

(Photo by: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group/Getty Images)

Many of these features have gone away with updates and remodels over the years. However, you can still see the iconic emerald green color beaming from the property every night.

There was once an on-site theme park

Back when the MGM Grand opened in the early 1990s, there was an entire theme park located on the hotel grounds.

Outside where some of the pools and the hotel’s Signature accommodations now reside, the former MGM Grand Adventures gave visitors countless thrills as they rode roller coasters, traversed river rapids and enjoyed a 3D experience, among other activities. The theme park even had a backlot-style ride similar to what you’d find at Universal Studios or Paramount Studios near Los Angeles.

Although the theme park underwent some changes to try and stay afloat, especially as the ’90s came to an end, the efforts weren’t enough to ramp up visitor numbers, so it permanently closed in 2002.

Room options are plentiful

A Grand room with a king-size bed at MGM Grand. (Photo by Ryan Smith/The Points Guy)

While most hotels have a few room types — standard, preferred view, junior suite and deluxe suite — the MGM Grand has a bunch of room types spread throughout several towers.

In the previously mentioned West Wing, which is the oldest part of the hotel, you’ll find many of the property’s standard accommodations. They often go for below $100 per night throughout the year, making them a great bargain for budget-conscious travelers.

Grand rooms feature much larger windows, seating areas and desks. The views also tend to be better — especially if you get a room on a higher floor or one that overlooks the Strip.

Beyond the historic tower lies the three-tower Signature area, an all-suite offering that provides extra amenities like in-suite kitchenettes and a private pool available exclusively to Signature guests. Given how spacious the Signature suites tend to be and their distance from all the action in the heart of the property, these accommodations can be a great option for families who crave some separation from the lively facilities.

For those looking to truly unwind while in Las Vegas, there are the property’s Stay Well rooms. Designed to help guests combat stress, fight jet lag or detox, each booking includes access to the Cleveland Clinic’s online wellness programs. Additional room amenities (think: essential oils, softer lighting and air purification systems) are also provided.

In the main tower many floors above the lobby lie the MGM Grand’s 51 Skylofts, an option made for luxury-seeking guests. Boasting a separate lobby on the 29th floor and an array of exclusive perks, including concierge and limousine services, personal butlers and restaurant delivery from the many options downstairs, the one-, two- and three-bedroom Skylofts offer just about everything you could need to feel like a celebrity when you visit Vegas.

Related: Inside the Skylofts at the top of the MGM Grand 

If you’re not quite satisfied with the Skylofts’ offerings, there’s an even more luxurious option available: The Mansion at MGM Grand. This Tuscan villa-themed property is considered one of the best and most expensive hotels in the world, with rates regularly starting at $5,000 a night and costing as much as $25,000 per night, depending on how many bedrooms are in your villa. By reserving one of these villas, you’ll get access to a private butler plus a separate pool, spa and restaurant you can only visit if you stay at The Mansion. Only those in the know — i.e., people on the VIP list or those who book through a travel agent with connections — can snag a villa here.

 

There are dining options aplenty

(Photo by Ryan Smith/The Points Guy)

The MGM Grand has everything from fine dining to a food court like you’d expect to find at your local mall. Within these options, you’ll find American steakhouses, Irish pubs and eateries specializing in East Asian or Italian fare. Additionally, there are a few bars, casual snack venues and a pizzeria located below the hotel in the walkway connecting the monorail and self-parking areas.

For those with an appetite for American food in a sit-down atmosphere, venture to Crush or Craftsteak, the latter of which is linked to celebrity chef Tom Colicchio. Both serve classic American cuisine with a modern twist. Or, opt for creole comfort food from Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House.

International options are available, too. Try the Mediterranean-inspired dishes at Greek Sneek, the modern Chinese cuisine at Hakkasan Restaurant or the contemporary Japanese fare at Morimoto Las Vegas. If you don’t mind splurging on dinner, there’s also upscale Joël Robuchon, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant with French-inspired tasting menus that can cost as much as $1,000 for two people.

A multitude of nightly shows are available, too

(Photo by Ryan Smith/The Points Guy)

It wouldn’t be a true Las Vegas resort if there wasn’t top-notch entertainment available on site. At the MGM Grand, there’s something for everyone.

The current headlining show features magician David Copperfield, but there are other on-property events to choose from, too. Music and dance lovers can check out the Jabbawockeez, while those who enjoy circuses and street performances can check out Ka, a modern show put together by Cirque du Soleil. Additionally, guests can catch a show at the hotel’s comedy club, which is linked to actor and comedy legend Brad Garrett.

There are resort fees, but you can avoid them

Resort fees are a major headache for those who frequently travel, and they are especially rampant in Las Vegas. Just about every property in Sin City seems to have a pesky resort fee attached to its room rates, and oftentimes you don’t know it until after you’ve booked a room and go to pay the bill.

Nightly resort fees at the MGM Grand are $39 plus tax (13.35%), which can really add up over the course of your stay.

Luckily, you may not have to pay them. That’s because you can get them waived if you have elite status in the MGM Rewards loyalty program.

You can easily get elite status with MGM Rewards

(Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

If you don’t stay at MGM properties enough to earn elite status in the MGM Rewards program on your own, there are a couple of simple ways to qualify for elite perks.

Those who have the MGM Rewards™ Mastercard® get automatic Pearl status (the lowest tier). This is enough for free self-parking at MGM Resorts, which usually costs $15 per day (plus taxes) at the MGM Grand.

You can also match your status from World of Hyatt to MGM Rewards for free. Depending on your World of Hyatt status, you’ll get MGM Rewards Pearl status as a Discoverist or MGM Gold as an Explorist or Globalist with Hyatt. While the Pearl status perks are a bit limited, with Gold status and up, you’ll receive additional benefits like complimentary valet parking (which costs $26 on weekdays and $30 per day on weekends) and waived resort fees. You can also get room upgrades (when available) and use the Gold Lounge for a quicker, more comfortable check-in experience.

Keep in mind, though, that you must book directly with MGM to have your resort fees waived. Booking via Hyatt can have mixed results, meaning you may be on the hook for resort fees regardless of your MGM Rewards status.

(Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Electric vehicle charging is free

If you’re driving an electric vehicle, you’ll be happy to know that you can recharge it for free in the self-parking structure at the MGM Grand.

(Photo by Ryan Smith/The Points Guy)

After entering the parking area, look for the charging stations on the lowest level of the garage. Remember, only those who pay or qualify for waived parking fees can access the EV charging points.

Related: What it was like to rent a Tesla for the very 1st time

There’s direct access to the monorail

The Las Vegas monorail runs from the Sahara Las Vegas to the MGM Grand, essentially following the Strip and stopping at some of its biggest resorts.

To reach the MGM Grand’s station, which is the southernmost one on the line, you can walk through the underground passage that’s accessible from various covered walkways by the hotel lobby.

A single ride on the monorail costs $5 for adults, or you can buy a day pass for $13. A pass that’s valid for one week of rides is also available for $56.

The hotel’s rate calendar can help you find a good deal

When you hear about all of these extravagant features and acres of pools, you may think the MGM Grand carries a hefty price tag. For the more luxurious rooms, that’s definitely true, but other accommodations are often relatively affordable.

With the hotel’s rate calendar, you can plan a trip that won’t cost a ton of money. Once you input the number of people in your group and how many nights you wish to stay within a two-month period, the calendar will display available rates so you can pick the cheapest options. If “SO” is showing on the dates you wish to select, the property is sold-out.

Typically, Sunday nights through Wednesday nights are cheaper in Las Vegas. Additionally, the hottest months (July and August) tend to offer lower rates for hotel stays, as fewer people are willing to brave the high temperatures. When you consider these factors, you can find standard West Wing rooms for as little as $55 per night.

(Screenshot from MGM Grand)

If you have a particular period in mind for your visit, plan on booking at least a month in advance. For holidays, you’ll want to lock in your reservation as soon as possible, as those dates quickly get expensive.

It’s within walking distance of T-Mobile Arena

Nicki Minaj performs during the 2017 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. (Photo by John Shearer/BBMA2017/Getty Images for dcp)

Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena hosts a growing number of big-name events.

The MGM Grand is less than a half-mile from the arena, meaning those able to walk can get there in about 10 minutes. Walking also means you won’t need to deal with traffic and look for a pricey parking spot when you visit.

You can bring your dog

While it won’t come cheap, you can bring your canine companion with you to the MGM Grand. Up to two dogs are welcome in each guest room, so long as their combined weight is 100 pounds or less. The property also offers numerous fee-based services for your pooch.

Know, though, that there are charges attached to everything involving a four-legged friend. Pet fees start at $100 per dog per night (excluding taxes). Additionally, amenities and services like dog walking, welcome kits and pet sitting cost extra, too.

There are also several rules you must abide by when staying with a dog, such as keeping the dog(s) crated when you’re not present, so be sure to review the hotel’s terms if you plan on bringing your dog.

There’s a ‘Hunger Games’ exhibition

(Photo by Ryan Smith/The Points Guy)

At the on-site, interactive The Hunger Games: The Exhibition, you’ll find set re-creations and displays that explain the technology used in the popular movie series. Plus, the exhibit lets you test your skills in the Capitol’s Tribute training area during archery drill competitions with other visitors.

While the exhibit is interesting, it’s a bit pricey for what it is. You’ll need no more than 30 minutes to explore, and you can only participate in the archery training event once with your $29.95 admission ticket.

The good news: At least the entrance fee is reduced for hotel guests. Were you not staying at the MGM Grand, you’d have to pay $49.95 per adult to enter.

Ride-hailing services cannot pick you up at the front entrance

(Photo by Ryan Smith/The Points Guy)

If you’re looking to use ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft during your stay, you won’t find them at the front entrance by the lobby. That’s because only traditional taxis and contracted shuttle services can use the front entrance.

To find your Uber or Lyft driver, follow the underground corridor with shops, the walkway to the monorail and signs to the self-parking area. Outside the doors leading to the self-parking garage, you will see a lit waiting area with benches and multiple signs letting you know that you’re in the right spot.

Bottom line

The MGM Grand has played a major role in Las Vegas since it opened as part of the family-friendly renaissance on the Strip in 1993. It has lived through several eras of Las Vegas tourism, shed its skin a few times and also grown in size. While it is no longer the biggest hotel in the world, it’s still pretty darn close and quite massive in its own right.

Despite being far from the newest accommodation option in Las Vegas — that’s Resorts World, in case you were wondering — the property is a solid option for all kinds of travelers. Whether you seek affordable rooms, a superb location or an abundance of on-site amenities, you’ll find it at the MGM Grand. It remains a force to be reckoned with.

Featured photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

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