Those itching to embark on a lunar jaunt might be better off considering booking a future flight on Southwest, not SpaceX, bound toward another dusty, bone-dry destination associated with crippling disorientation: Las Vegas.
As recently reported by the New York Post and other outlets, self-described Canadian “architectural design and intellectual property licensor” Moon World Resorts (MWR) has (again) proposed a $5 billion resort and casino complex for the Las Vegas Strip that would be anchored by, well, the Moon. The ersatz celestial orb would, if completed as envisioned, tower 735 feet over the Strip as the world’s largest sphere at 1/75,000-size of the actual Moon and be the second-tallest structure in Sin City, behind the Strat observation tower and tied with the unfinished, Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed Fontainebleau/JW Marriott project. (By comparison, the MSG Sphere, a globular entertainment venue that is now actually under construction at the Venetian Resort, stands 366-feet-tall.)
The 5.5-million-square-foot integrated resort complex—potentially operated by a “5-star hotel operator you would know well,” teased MWR to the Post—boasts all standard qualities of your typical Las Vegas Strip behemoth: several thousand hotel rooms, a bevy of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, luxury retail, a plus-sized spa and wellness center, beach club, convention center, a 2,500-seat theater, and a casino larger than two football fields. What sets the proposed property, simply dubbed Moon, apart from an already crowded pack is that it specifically caters to those stricken with lunar wanderlust. Because this is a town that already offers simulations of far-flung locales like Venice, Paris, New York City, and ancient Rome, a trip to outer space without leaving Las Vegas isn’t all that quixotic of an idea.
Reads a project submission published in September by Designboom: “Moon exemplifies the Bilbao effect. It borrows on the legendary genius and undeniable intellect of fellow Canadian visionary, Frank O. Gehry; then injects a steroidal overdose of grandiose scale and complexity to our next human home; Earth’s moon.”
The main event at Moon, as detailed by the Daily Mail, would be a 10-acre “active lunar colony” on the top floor of the sphere that’s accessible via a dedicated “shuttle station” situated atop a nightclub, naturally. Moon-bound visitors will board roller coaster-esque “hyper-speed” shuttles that wrap around the spherical superstructure and blast upwards to a vast, crater-laden lunar surface. Here, visitors can explore a settlement that “precisely mimic those [lunar colonies] now under serious active planning by NASA, ESA and many others” via roving “moon buggies” per MWR. Flying to the Moon Las Vegas-style will cost $500 for a 90-minute excursion, and MWR anticipates that 2.5 million visitors will fork over the cash for the voyage annually.
“Without question, when guests venture onto the lunar surface, for the first time in their lives, they will believe they are on the Moon,” explained MWR cofounder Michael Henderson.
Although significantly less spendy than a civilian ticket to space, $500 is a sizable chunk of change to spend on a 90-minute Vegas diversion, no matter how immersive. This is especially true when you consider the existing presence of Big Shot, a pneumatically powered tower ride at the Strat (tickets start at $29 per head) that, with a little imagination required, isn’t too dissimilar from being launched into the heavens, complete with the experience of weightlessness.
While a healthy amount of skepticism has been directed at Moon, it’s apparent that MWR believes that the tourism market for Earth-bound lunar excursions is more robust than ever; perhaps strong enough to attract potential investors. Henderson also told the Daily Mail that the company is in “’active discussions with potential regional licensees in various global locations” and thinks Moon would make for the perfect new addition on a parcel of land currently owned by Wynn Resorts Corporation. In addition to Vegas, MWR aims to open additional Moon resorts in Spain, China, and the Middle East in 2026 or 2027. The company anticipates that construction of the spherical structures, which would be built to LEED standards, would last roughly four years.
Five years ago, Henderson and MWR co-founder Sandra Matthews’ attempted to bring their singular casino-resort concept to California’s Coachella Valley, and, nearly 15 years before that, the idea was pitched a first time for Vegas but ultimately fizzled out. The Coachella proposal never caught on either, and now it would seem that MWR has re-set its sights on Vegas.
“If there was a word to supersede impossible, I’d use that,” Aftab Dada, general manager for the Hilton Palm Springs and president of the Palm Springs Hospitality & Restaurant Association, told the Desert Sun of MSR’s concept back in 2016 when it was proposed for Coachella.
Although MSR’s lunar-themed resort-casino concept has been kicking around for over two decades now and the likelihood of it being realized in Vegas (or elsewhere) still may be slim, you certainly can’t accuse the company of failing to shoot for the Moon.