Hard Rock Outlines Major Changes for Mirage, Rio Getting a Facelift Too

The Mirage became one of Las Vegas’ first megaresorts when casino impresario Steve Wynn unveiled the property in 1989. The casino offered guests one of the largest hotels in the world at the time and checked in with the biggest construction price tag as well at $630 million.

The property became a must-see for many Sin City tourists, including the iconic volcano right on the Strip, the property’s animal habitats for dolphins and tigers, an indoor tropical forest, and serving as the performance home for magicians Siegfried and Roy from 1990 to 2003. The property even hosted the first Las Vegas performance of Cirque du Soleil.

But like everything in Las Vegas, changes are brewing at the property. The resort was purchased by Hard Rock International, owned by the Seminole tribe of Florida, in December 2022 and more of the company’s plans for the project were recently revealed – including the closing of the iconic volcano. Hard Rock is also known for their New Jersey online casino.

Changes at the Mirage

Las Vegas visitors can still check out some of the Mirage volcano’s final eruptions, but the explosive activities will come to an end soon. The company already closed the Siegfried and Roy Secret Garden and Dolphin habitat.

Hard Rock has a complete renovation in mind and the property will receive a complete facelift and rebranding beginning in either 2024 or 2025.

The property will become a Hard Rock property including the construction of a new guitar-shaped hotel as seen at the company’s flagship property Hollywood, Florida. The hotel tower is expected to be 600 feet tall and reshape the Vegas skyline. Despite the construction, the casino will not close down.

“The 3,044-room casino resort will continue to operate as The Mirage Hotel & Casino until the renovation and rebranding of the property to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas is complete,” the company noted in December’s announcement of the completed purchase. “The process is anticipated to take an extended period, but ultimately will dramatically reimagine every aspect of the resort and change the Las Vegas skyline with the addition of a Guitar-shaped hotel tower adjacent to Las Vegas Boulevard.”

A New Spot For Local Gamblers?

As the project gets underway, Hard Rock management is taking creative steps to keep visitors coming in the doors. Some guests might be turned off by staying in a construction zone but the company is taking steps to keep gamblers coming back.

A major part of that is reaching out to locals. Many Vegas-area casinos do this, but are usually located off the Strip or in the suburbs. Mirage will now offer fully free parking for locals, something other Strip casinos don’t offer.

Locals will also see discounts on entertainment and restaurant meals as well as some happy hour discounts. The savings also apply to the spa and salon. Reduced prices are found at many casinos catering to local players, but this is a different strategy for a Strip property.

As a side benefit, management hopes many players also return when the changes are complete at the new Hard Rock.

“I know that the market has grown, and I wouldn’t be doing my part if I wasn’t trying to do everything I could to grow the database for Hard Rock,” Hard Rock/Mirage President Joe Lupo told Las Vegas Review Journal. “I want people to understand what a great property this is. I think it obviously hasn’t been the priority in the past.”

Changes May also be Coming to Rio

Another major Vegas property may also be seeing some changes as well. The off-Strip Rio was the home to the World Series of Poker for 17 years, but that ended in 2021. The series moved to Bally’s (now the Horseshoe) and Paris, both located on the Strip.

The change came after Caesars Entertainment sold the property in 2019 to Dreamscape Properties in 2019. The Rio has seen better days and Dreamscape recently secured $850 million in funding, with some of that meant for updating the property.

Additionally, the company has made known that it would be willing to sell some of its expansive parking area for a potential Major League Baseball stadium should a team move to Las Vegas.

The New York-based real estate investment firm is also interested in adding more casino properties in Las Vegas and across the country. Dreamscape also works in the hospitality and residential real estate segments as well.

“As Dreamscape continues to evolve and expand, we knew the gaming and entertainment sector would be a natural fit and become a central part of our business,” CEO and founder Eric Birnbaum said in the announcement of the funding deal. “We are passionate about creating dynamic lifestyle experiences. I strongly believe that with our team’s unique development capabilities, investment acumen and deep operating expertise, we are poised to become a differentiated player within this space.”


Sean Chaffin is a longtime freelance writer, editor, and former high school journalism teacher.