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MGM Resorts plans zip lines for south Strip

For visitors who think walking from Luxor to Excalibur is a little too, well, pedestrian, MGM Resorts International has come up its own version of rapid transit.

The owner of both Strip resorts has commissioned plans to connect them with a zigzag of three zip lines, launching at the apex of the Luxor pyramid and landing at the roof of the tram station at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue. In addition, a shallower run would go from the middle turret above Excalibur’s main entrance to a point over the walkway to the corner.

On Tuesday, the Clark County Planning Commission put off a vote on the project until at least April 17, allowing the Federal Aviation Administration a chance to review it. Although the planned zip lines would be lower than existing structures, the agency looks at any proposal in the vicinity of McCarran International Airport.

MGM spokeswoman Yvette Monet declined to divulge details, calling it "a very tentative plan."

The FAA form raised the possibility that work would start next month, but Monet wrote in an email that there is "currently no timeline. As a company, we are constantly researching new ideas … in this highly competitive market. As with many major projects, this evaluation process often requires us to file paperwork or receive tentative approvals from local agencies."

At a January meeting of the Paradise Town Advisory Board, project consultant Greg Borgel of Moreno and Association explained the zip lines lightheartedly.

"This is intended as an attraction between Luxor and Excalibur for people who don’t want to walk … or perhaps for folks who have decided that bungee jumping is a bit too rich for their tastes," he said.

Ziptrek Ecotours Inc. of Whistler, British Columbia, which would run the operation according to papers submitted to the county, also cited a "positive environmental message (that) will highlight city, corporate and community environmental initiatives.

Although soaring across parking lots attached to a ¾-inch cable might not have much to do with nature, the papers said that guides would give "educational sessions" at various junctures.

The complete tour would take about two hours, starting and ending at Excalibur.

No admission prices or construction budget were listed.

The concept follows the zip line installed on Fremont Street in October 2010.

The Fremont Street Experience LLC, which owns the canopy and stages for downtown promotional events, has decided that the undisclosed sales have been strong enough to build a permanent and more elaborate version, according spokesman Thomas Bruny. He said that plans would be unveiled in about a month and that operations would start before the end of the year.

The MGM plans, as shown in drawings submitted to the county in December, call for building a launch platform just below the light atop the Luxor at 339 feet above street level, then running 950 feet between the two adjacent towers. Patrons would land on the roof of Excalibur’s south tower at an elevation of 238 feet.

Then, zippers would climb stairs to an adjacent platform to ride to the north face of Luxor’s east tower, a distance of 340 feet and a drop of about 20 feet.

After walking to another platform on the east face of the tower, zippers would ride 1,440 feet — more than a quarter mile — and finish on the roof of the tram station, descending from 217 feet to 110 feet.

By comparison, Ziptrek described the line from the front of Excalibur as "short and low," about 500 feet long and dropping about 30 feet.

Each line would have four cables that could support four people at a time, much like the one on Fremont Street.

Contact reporter Tim O’Reiley at toreiley@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290.

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