According to the 2010 U.S. Census, approximately 19% of Americans have a disability that restricts at least one of the major activities of daily living.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) was a panacea in opening the country to those people with the most significant forms of disability. Still, its implementation has been slow in many areas, and few travel destinations have truly excelled at creating an accessible environment. Las Vegas, Nevada is one exception. With the majority of physical disabilities occurring at older age, Las Vegas, its hotels and casinos have long been poised to tap into the disability travel marketplace. And tap into it they have!
Transportation & Infrastructure
One of the most important measures of a city’s accessibility (for tourism) is its transportation infrastructure. Are adapted taxis available? Is public transit accessible and reliable? Are wheelchair users and slow walkers able to roll/walk the sidewalks? Las Vegas checks all of these boxes, which makes it easy for people with disabilities to move from place-to-place like other tourists.
ADA taxis with wheelchair ramps are plentiful and can be ordered on-demand, making Las Vegas one of the few cities in the world where this is possible.
Accessible buses connect Las Vegas Boulevard with Fremont Street, McCarran Airport and other parts of the city. Two bus routes, SDX (Strip and Downtown Express) and The Deuce, run up and down The Strip at regular intervals, with the latter operating 24 hours a day. Unlimited ride day passes are available for just $8 per day ($4 for people with disabilities) and offer a great way to save money on transportation in Vegas.
The wheelchair accessible Las Vegas Monorail makes 7 stops along the Strip on a route that runs from MGM Grand all the way up to SLS Las Vegas and Sahara Avenue. Tickets cost $5 per ride, or you can purchase unlimited ride passes from $12 per day. A number of free trams also operate along the Strip. The three trams/routes are: Mandalay Bay-Luxor-Excalibur, Bellagio-Crystals-Monte Carlo, and Treasure Island-Mirage. These are free to ride and will save you a lot of walking.
If you do prefer to walk or roll, you’ll have no problem doing that in Las Vegas. Sidewalks are maintained along The Strip and elevated walkways (with elevators) connect many of the top properties. Street crossings are well-marked and accessible, with some intersections using elevated pedestrian bridges to allow for continuous flow of traffic.
ADA Accessible Hotel Rooms
There are more wheelchair accessible hotel rooms in Las Vegas than in any other city worldwide. Having tested quite a few of them myself, hotels in Vegas run the entire gamut of ADA compliance – from partial to full, with a few properties going above & beyond. At Bellagio, you’ll find ceiling-track transfer hoists available in some adapted rooms.
One area where Las Vegas hotels really shine is in the detailed accessibility information provided during booking. For most travelers, the Las Vegas hotel booking engines provide enough information to determine whether or not a room will meet one’s access needs.
All of the Las Vegas casino hotels offer ADA guest rooms with either a bathtub or roll-in shower, with a few rooms containing both. And, unlike major brands like Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott, Vegas hotels take the ADA’s “dispersion” requirement seriously, offering accessible accommodation across many room types, including suites and rooms with balconies.
Casinos & Gaming
The Las Vegas casinos might just be the most accessible entertainment venues in the world. With gambling odds in the casino’s favor, they want to make it easy for every visitor to play games of chance, regardless of their physical abilities.
Whether you are a high-roller or a low-budget player, Las Vegas casinos offer something for everyone. From slot machines to table games, you’ll find accessibility everywhere. Casino hosts are happy to lend wheelchair users a helpful hand by moving chairs from the table or slot machine to make gameplay accessible. At table games, players with disabilities should be accommodated when asking for additional time to place bets or participate in the game. Should you have a need, speak up and ask for a reasonable accommodation that will make the experience more accessible to you.
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Related: Tips For Visiting The “Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas” Sign.
A wealth of entertainment awaits vacationers in Las Vegas, the city which is often called “The Entertainment Capital of the World.” Vegas staples like Cirque du Soleil (which has 7 shows on deck) run year-round, while musical artists come and go with residencies or one-time performances.
Among my favorites are Cirque du Soleil’s “O” and “Mystere” (at Bellagio and Treasure Island, respectively), the Absinthe variety show at Caesars Palace, Le Rêve – The Dream at Wynn Las Vegas and Penn & Teller’s magic show at Rio. If you’re looking for something a little more risqué, check out one of the many topless shows. While my favorite (Jubilee) closed last year, the X Burlesque at Flamingo, X Rocks at Rio and X Country at Harrah’s have received stellar reviews. Each of these venues have wheelchair accessible seating, with many shows offering tabled floor seating which is also accessible.
Beyond the performances, be sure to explore other activities: take a ride on the High Roller ferris wheel at The LINQ, go underwater at Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef aquarium, solve crimes at MGM Grand’s CSI: The Experience, or watch a volcano erupt at Mirage. I also highly recommend connecting with your inner superman on the SlotZilla Zoomline at the Fremont Street Experience. Elevating platforms make SlotZilla the most wheelchair accessible zip line experience in the world!
Whether you’re just getting started traveling with a disability or you’re a globe-rotting wheelchair user like me, Las Vegas is a destination that is sure to delight. With so many activities and experiences being accessible, you’ll never run out of things to do, and the city will never bore you. There’s something for everyone in Las Vegas, so hop on a flight and make the city your own!
For more information on disability-friendly travel, check out my website at www.wheelchairtravel.org.
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