The Curse of the Luxor Hotel (Part 3)

a halftone illustration of the Luxor hotel with the words The Curse of The Luxor Part 3

Check out the rest of my look at the legends surrounding the Luxor Hotel: part 1, part 2


The last couple days, I've talked about some of my nostalgia the Luxor (as it was when I visited in 1995) and some of the original aspirations and creativity behind the now-believed-to-be-cursed hotel.

Las Vegas itself has changed since the early '90s. After the foray into themed resorts and family-friendly splendor, it was decided that gambling and drinking was better business. I imagine the margin on casinos is way, way, better than the margin on free Nile river board rides and overpriced kids' menus. Because of that, the "family fun" parts of Vegas were phased out.

I mentioned Treasure Island, before—if you’ve seen Miss Congeniality 2, you may remember that the resort hosted a nightly pirate-themed show there back in the 1990s and early 2000s. (I remember seeing it and thinking it was cool.)

Well, in 2003, Treasure Island took out that show and replaced it with what the president of the casino called a “sexy and beautiful, adult Broadway-caliber show.” I don’t really know why he seems to think that Broadway provides adult entertainment—maybe he’s thinking of the old Times Square before that got Disney-ified, but whatever. It sounds like the hotel’s owners realized that kid-friendly pirate stuff may not appeal to adults looking to party and lose a bunch of money at casinos.

Also, around the time of the revamp, Treasure Island rebranded as “TI,” which seems really weird to me, because 1) it just makes me think of the rapper, and 2) it isn’t memorable and doesn’t really say anything, whereas at least Treasure Island fits with the casino's theme.

In 2013, the "Sirens of TI"–the adult version of the show–was shut down and replaced by a shopping and entertainment center with a CVS as the anchor tenant.

So sounds like Vegas has gone the way that NYC has—take out everything interesting and replace it with a CVS.

(Ready for a NYC-related digression? Despite living a couple subway stops away from Manhattan, I only go aboveground there every couple months—mostly I just pass through on my way between Queens and Brooklyn. Manhattan is mostly offices, bank branches, drugstores, and empty storefronts these days; it's been hit by the same profit-driven impulses that Vegas has. Price out everything cool and unique and replace it with whichever bland tenant can pay the highest rent. It's a real bummer and it seems to strike everywhere.)

Likewise, Excalibur has gone through a similar de-theming and emblandening. The hotel once featured a statue of Merlin on a high turret of the castle. It was cool and went well with the dinky Merlin-fighting-a-dragon pyrotechnics show that happened hourly outside at the castle moat. Well, they shut down the attraction in 2004 and in 2007, they replaced the Merlin statue in the tower an advertisement for Dick’s Last Resort.

As for the rest of the Excalibur: Starting in 2006, they started removing the medieval themes, most of which were gone by 2010. Come on, it's a tacky castle-shaped hotel! Why not lean into that? You're not gonna be able to get people to forget they're in a large, brightly-colored castle, even if you take away all the fun bits.

The Luxor today

Sadly, the same thing happened with the Luxor.

The Luxor had been built by the Circus Circus Enterprises, but was purchased by MGM Resorts International in 2005. In July 2007, the new owners spent $300 million—almost as much as Circus Circus spent to build the hotel in the first place—to renovate 80% of the Luxor’s public areas. They stripped out the Egyptian theming and replaced it with generic-feeling, kinda seedy-looking restaurants, bars, and lounges.

There are two shows at the Luxor these days: a topless show called “Fantasy” and a Carrot Top comedy show. There’s also a club on the casino floor called “Cathouse.” I'm not here to judge various forms of entertainment, but thematically and philosophically, it's a far cry from painstaking reproductions of King Tut's tomb.

Sadly, the Nile River ride that I loved so much as a kid was only open for three years, from 1993-1996. After that, they drained the river ride and filled it in to have more public walking space.

I started this series talking about that sweet, sweet early '90s optimism that characterized the Luxor's creation. The cutting-edge technology that bragged about using to create those attractions seems quaint and extremely dated by our standards, and those attractions are closed now anyway. The Luxor has lost its shine. (Though not literally; the Sky Beam is still going strong, as far as I'm aware.)

One concrete example of how the Luxor is valued these days: It's wild how cheap it can be to stay at the Luxor. As of writing this (in May 2023), the cheapest room rates range from $30-$200, depending on what nights you want to stay there. Double digits for a hotel room is just, you know . . . real cheap.

(Probably false) rumors about the Luxor's future

When I first released my podcast episodes about the Luxor in late 2020, I saw that during summer 2020, rumors had started flying that the Luxor was being considered for demolition.

Well, I'm happy to say that the hotel's still around. Interestingly, I was reading some articles about the supposed demolition a month or so before writing the original episode scripts, and I found that several of the articles had become dead links by the time I recorded (though I still found a few sites from July 2020 that address the rumor that the Luxor, and possibly the Excalibur, may be torn down.)

I know the games industry is extremely powerful, so I don’t know if financial pressure or something else brought down the original articles I read, but just to be clear: I'm just repeating a rumor, and the fact that the original articles have been taken down make me think it may have been a false rumor, or at least a killed one. I feel a little skeptical of those 2020 claims that the hotels would be more valuable if they just didn't exist. It doesn’t really seem like a great time to tear down a couple hotels and then spend probably a billion dollars building new ones, though what do I know?

The now-removed article on, which I found on, said:

De-theming casinos in Las Vegas has happened fairly frequently in recent years, as the perception of themes has evolved from cool to kitschy (or downright tacky) over time.
Many changes have already been made at Luxor to move away from its original theme, but it’s virtually impossible to re-imagine a massive pyramid.
The same dilemma is faced by Excalibur. Good luck tweaking a castle.
Our sources say company officials have discussed demolition of both Luxor and Excalibur for at least five years, but have been unable to proceed due to union contracts. It’s possible the COVID-19 shutdown has paved the way for what’s to come for Luxor.

Like I said, I don’t know that I believe the rumors. But there are tons of stories of old classic Vegas hotels like the Sands, Riviera, and Stardust being demolished. Also around 2020, there were false rumors of demolitions of other hotels, like the Rio. But at any rate, the Luxor hotel today is a far cry from its original beginnings as an experience to rival a theme park.


Alright, that's enough about the history of the hotel.

Tomorrow's blog post will be the text version of the podcast episode that drops tomorrow, but I'll be back next week with tales about the creepy side of the Luxor.

Let me just say . . . there seem to be some real bad vibes there nowadays.

Check out the rest of this series about the history and hauntings of the Luxor hotel:

This article doesn't link to sources as comprehensively as usual, because I wrote it based on my original episode notes, which I penned when I was worse at adding specific in-line citations. But all of the sources I used are linked at the bottom of the episode shownotes page. And I'm not proud of it, but I can tell you that a ton of this info is from Wikipedia.