I was aware that Las Vegas had become more family-friendly in recent years, and that most of the casinos had "attractions" of one sort or another, but I didn't realize until I got there that there were so many thrill rides. I went on four.
Star Trek Experience, Las Vegas Hilton: I expected this to be more of less the same as the Star Wars-themed Star Tours ride I rode at Disneyland this summer, but it was better. For one thing, the shuttlecraft simulator part of the attraction was better. But what really set it apart from Star Tours was what came before the simulator: a ride down an out-of-control turbolift, and a walk through a reproduction of the bridge of the Enterprise. The Star Trek Experience get extra points for the Star Trek museum you walk through to get to the ride, and for attention to detail. The Enterprise crewman who led us through the bridge was made up as a Bajoran, complete with prosthetic nose ridges. The only disappointing part was that during the part of the shuttle simulation that takes place above the Las Vegas strip, they didn't take the opportunity to destroy one of their competing casinos. That would have been brilliant.
Manhattan Express, New York, New York: This roller coaster features an impressively steep first drop, a 180-degree loop, and a 540-degree corkscrew. It ended a bit too abruptly, in my opinion, but all in all it was a very good roller coaster. But in the end, just a roller coaster. Not much to say about it.
Race for Atlantis, Caesar's Palace: The Race for Atlantis is an IMAX 3D motion simulator ride, purporting to take riders on a high-speed chariot race through the streets of Atlantis. Unfortunately, it seemed a little dim and blurry to me. To be fair, I have poor depth perception even with glasses, but I've seen 3D presentations like this before, and I didn't have the same problem, so I think it was the projector. They may be using a lower wattage setting on the projector to extend the life of the bulb. But aside from that, it was not unimpressive: the motion simulation was terrific, and the 3D effects were very good.
Big Shot, Stratosphere: The defining element of the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino is the adjacent 1,149-foot observation tower. The Big Shot shoots riders 160 feet up the antenna atop the tower in 2.5 seconds before free-falling back to the base. I'm not sure exactly how high you get on the ride, but I'd guess it was about 1000 feet above the ground. We rode the Big Shot at night, and the view of the city was amazing. The feeling of weightlessness you get as the ride starts its descent was a little disconcerting, but the view made up for it.