16 Outrageous Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos That Were Never Completed

16 Outrageous Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos That Were Never Completed

Shannon Quinn - August 27, 2018

Las Vegas has a short history since it was founded in the middle of the deserts of Nevada in 1905. It did not begin to have its reputation as “sin city” until the 1920s and 30s, when people began to go there for relaxed divorce laws, drinking, and entertainment. Since then, the city has continued to grow. In Las Vegas, bigger is better, and casino owners are always trying to outdo one another to attract the attention of tourists who are ready to spend their hard-earned money.

With so many new attractions being built on a regular basis, it only makes sense that not every single idea made the cut. You may be shocked to see which hotel and casino ideas were almost a reality in Las Vegas.

16 Outrageous Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos That Were Never Completed
This 3D model laid out the concept of The Moon hotel and resort. VegasTodayAndTomorrow.com

1. Las Vegas visitors nearly had a chance to sleep inside the Moon… well sort of.

Why fly to the moon when you can experience it on Earth? A 3D model of the hotel- which actually did look like the real moon- was made to show just what this place would have looked like. This hotel would have had 10,000 rooms and multiple floors of gambling. Add on a convention center, a shopping mall, plus indoor golf and tennis.

Since the moon’s gravitational pull controls the ocean tides, it only makes sense that they wanted to install an indoor wave pool. This would be surrounded by other pools and spas, including one with a water slide that emptied out into one of the moon’s craters.

For a bit of adventure, guests could use the rock climbing wall, or jump in a replica of the Apollo mission land cruisers, and ride over bumpy terrain to feel like they just landed on the surface of the moon. The project would have cost $5 Billion to complete.

16 Outrageous Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos That Were Never Completed
Construction workers were very happy to work on the Playboy Hotel in Atlantic City when it was being built in the 1980s. Credit: The Press of Atlantic City

2. The Playboy Hotel and Casino which provided many memories for Donald Trump.

Las Vegas is “sin city”, so adding a Playboy Hotel would only make sense, right? Beautiful girls in bunny outfits serving drinks and dealing cards would be very appealing to some people. After much planning, they eventually opened a hotel in Atlantic City instead of Las Vegas, and it opened in 1981. It cost $130 million to complete, which was actually much cheaper than the cost of opening a similar attraction in Las Vegas.

It would turn out that having an entire hotel and casino dedicated to the Playboy just wasn’t working out in New Jersey. In 1988, The Playboy Club opened in Las Vegas, and Hugh Hefner designed the layout himself, so it was much more on-brand. This time, it wasn’t taking up an entire building. Just an entire floor of a high-rise. They had floor-to-ceiling windows, fireplaces, and pinball machines. This club had a much more intimate feeling, so the men felt more like they got to live in Hugh Hefner’s shoes for a day. Customers felt that they were part of an actual club that had the exclusive privilege of hanging out with Playboy bunnies, instead of just one of thousands of people hanging out at a casino.

Not surprisingly, the Playboy Casino and Hotel tanked. In 1989, the hotel was sold to Donald Trump, because he had a lot of great memories in that building. His casino and hotel also failed, and that location had to be torn down.

16 Outrageous Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos That Were Never Completed
Concept 3D art of the Titanic hotel, complete with the giant iceberg. Credit: LasVegasTodayAndTomorrow

3. The Titanic Hotel which had features and names that were probably in bad taste – maybe it’s best it never came to fruition.

Almost anyone who has seen pictures of The Titanic or watched the movie has probably thought at least once- “I wish I could have seen it in person.” Well, at one point, they wanted to profit from the popularity of the movie in 1999 by opening up a hotel and casino that was shaped like a life-sized replica of the RMS Titanic. It would have been 400 feet tall, and had 1,200 rooms. The main hallways and entertainment areas would have had vintage features to look like the interior of the ship. A giant iceberg would have been standing next to the hotel. Inside would have been a nightclub named “Club Ice Breaker”.

While the hotel was never made, there is still a Titanic artifact exhibit in Las Vegas. If the hotel had actually been built, it would have cost $1.2 Billion. Investors were ready to make it happen, but the Las Vegas City Council rejected this idea because it would have required tearing down the homes of local residents in order to build the hotel.

16 Outrageous Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos That Were Never Completed
The Xanadu concept art has inspired a lot of other hotels and casino designs in Las Vegas. Credit: Library of Las Vegas

4. Xanadu, one of the greatest hotels that was never built.

During the Yuan Dynasty in China, the emperor had a summer palace called Xanadu. Apparently, it’s just such a fun name to say, that it was borrowed for the rest of time. In the 1970s, there were plans to create a hotel and casino by the same name, except that it was designed to look almost like it belonged in the middle of a South American rainforest. It was planned to have a tropical theme. It was canceled due to a conflict in building on top of existing sewer lines.

The concept drawings of Xanadu looked different than any other Las Vegas hotel at that time. Unfortunately, it became the most copied design, and in later years, architects everywhere were borrowing from the original design to make new casinos.

In the 1980s, the song “Xanadu” by Olivia Newton John was at the top of the charts. “A place where nobody dared to go. The love that we came to know. They called it Xanadu.”

The movie Xanadu premiered in 1980, starring Olivia Newton John. In the film, there is a nightclub called Xanadu. Acrobats were walking on tightropes, and talented dancers were performing on stages throughout the club. There were also people on roller skates jumping over one another. Basically, the movie made this out to be the greatest nightclub ever. Unfortunately for the movie, it flopped in the box office. Even though the plot of the film was terrible, the song by Olivia Newton John was at the top of the charts that year.

Arguably, a Xanadu hotel based on the nightclub in the movie may have actually done really well in the 1980s, if they installed a roller disco with neon lights near a separate dance floor. However, since the original plans had already flopped, it would never come to pass. Party-goers in Las Vegas had to settle to dancing to the song in other nightclubs.

16 Outrageous Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos That Were Never Completed
The Harmon Hotel is wedged in-between stores, which made it very difficult to dismantle. Credit: Los Angeles Times

5. The Harmon had to be torn down by hand.

The story of The Harmon is a testament to the importance of hiring a civil engineer who knows what they’re doing. In 2009, The Harmon was just one of the many buildings created in a brand new complex called CityCenter. They wanted The Harmon Hotel to be built next to a luxurious shopping center so that people could conveniently wake up and go looking for some Louis Vuitton. The full project cost $8.5 billion.

Unfortunately, when the buildings were already erected, the inspectors declared that the stores were fine, but the structure of the 26-story hotel was not safe enough to withstand an earthquake, and therefore it would be too dangerous to allow customers to stay there. The building would need to be torn down.

Normally, hotels need to come down and be blown up with dynamite, because it is a much faster process of taking a building down. However, since The Harmon is right up next to so many stores surrounding it, that would be impossible. Everything had to be torn down by hand.

16 Outrageous Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos That Were Never Completed
Concept art for the London hotel and casino. Credit: Bergman Walls & Associates

6. The London Resort and Casino

As the name suggest, the London Resort would have been a mini replica of London, England. The main attractions would have been a hotel that looked like Big Ben, a recreation of the Tower Bridge, and the Ferris wheel, The London Eye. Stores look like townhouses lining the street, and surely, the products sold there would have been of European origin. The hotel would have had over 2,000 rooms, and the casino would have been massive. The city of Las Vegas discussed adding other replicas of major cities, like San Francisco. However, Donald Trump ended up buying the land where this resort would have gone. Trump Towers now stands in its place.

16 Outrageous Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos That Were Never Completed
Concept art for Star Trek themed attraction in Las Vegas. Credit: Goddard Entertainment Group.

7. The Star Trek Casino and Hotel could have been any Trekkie’s dream.

In 1992, a designer named Gary Goddard proposed building the life-sized replica of the spaceship from Star Trek, the U.S.S. Enterprise, to display in the middle of Las Vegas. Goddard helped design many of the attractions at Disneyland and Universal Studios in his 20’s. When he got older, he became the set designer on dozens of Hollywood films, and he has a design firm specializing in the entertainment industry, including Las Vegas. The idea of having this spaceship as an attraction evolved into the concept art of a full-blown resort. Science fiction fans everywhere would have loved to see the Star Trek Casino and Hotel become a reality, and nerds from around the world would have probably traveled just to be there.

However, this was just concept art, and there was never any real plan to make the Star Trek Casino come to life. A few years later, though, the Hilton Hotel had a temporary attraction called Star Trek: The Experience, which gave guests a very similar sort of experience to what Goddard had envisioned. Today, we know that the Star Wars franchise had a longer staying power, compared to Star Trek, and Disneyland is covering sci-fi themed accommodations and attractions.

16 Outrageous Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos That Were Never Completed
Screenshot of the casino in Ocean’s 13. Credit: YouTube

8. The Bank was a fictional hotel created in Oceans 11 – but nearly became reality.

The Oceans 11 franchise are iconic Las Vegas movies, so it would only make sense that the city could cash in on their popularity. In the movie Ocean’s 13, the main characters rig a brand new hotel and casino so that they are guaranteed to win big payouts when they gamble. The casino in the movie was fictional, and it was filmed in multiple locations in Los Angeles. They used a combination of executive offices and sets built from scratch. However, the movie became so popular, they thought about turning it into a real-life casino called The Bank, after Al Pacino’s character in the movie, Willie Bank.

Even though it didn’t work out, the Asian-themed casino called The Red Dragon in Rush Hour 2 was turned into a real hotel and Casino, called The Lucky Dragon.

16 Outrageous Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos That Were Never Completed
In Las Vegas, there are Addams Family slot machines that people can play. Credit: Addams Family Wiki

9. Addams Family Resort and Casino creeped its way out of reality.

While it’s creepy and spooky, people still loved the mansion in The Addams Family TV series and movies. For a while, designers considered building a hotel in Las Vegas that looked like the Addams family mansion. Imagine being greeted by Lurch the butler, or Cousin It. However, this spooky dream never became a reality. Even though we never got a hotel and casino, there are still Addams Family themed slot machines in Las Vegas. There is also an Addams Family musical, which has performed in Las Vegas.

16 Outrageous Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos That Were Never Completed
Concept art of the WWF hotel that would never be. Credit: YouTube

10. WWF Casino would have been $100 million behemoth.

A woman named Linda McMahon was a successful entrepreneur who helped to run the WWF. McMahon wanted to build a wrestling-themed hotel and casino on the location where the Debbie Reynolds Hotel once stood. She purchased the existing casino for $8 million and announced her plans to spend $100 million to remodel the location into the WWF Hotel and Casino. The plan was to obviously have live wrestling matches as entertainment, but also give guests the opportunity to stay in rooms based after their favorite wrestlers – like The Rock. They created a concept video that showed a large tower-like building with the letters “WWF” on the side that projected video footage of the wrestling matches.

However, about a year later, McMahon realized that she was in over her head. The casino and hotel business was completely out of her wheelhouse, and she had to abandon the project. Two years after purchasing it, she sold the building and land for $11 million. Thankfully, she did not lose any money. She actually came out with $1 million in profit after paying for all of their expenses.

Linda McMahon is a personal friend of Donald Trump, who encouraged her to pursue the casino in the first place. After Donald Trump became president, he made Linda McMahon head of the Small Business Administration in Las Vegas.

16 Outrageous Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos That Were Never Completed
Harley Davidson hotel concept design. VegasTodayAndTomorrow.com

11. The Harley Davidson Hotel and Casino that had to slam on the brakes.

In Las Vegas, a lot of people drive motorcycles around the city. The Harley Davidson store in Las Vegas does extremely well with their sales too. So the corporation thought that maybe it would be a good idea to expand into the hotel and casino business. The concept art includes two hotel towers that were designed to look like huge, shiny exhaust pipes standing on both sides of the building. The main building had a casino, restaurants, entertainment, and of course, Harley Davidson merchandise. The dream would never come to life. Fans will have to stick to their biker bars to congregate in the city of sin.

16 Outrageous Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos That Were Never Completed
Michael Gaughan is a successful casino owner. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

12. Western Themed Kactus Kate’s paled in comparison to the grand plans of other Las Vegas giants.

A man named Michael Gaughan already owns a successful business called The Gold Coast Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. He wanted to expand his business to the other side of the city, and build a resort called Kactus Kate. As the name suggests, this would have been western-themed. It was also relatively small compared to some of the other ideas on this list, with just 450 hotel rooms. Everything was approved and ready to go from the city council of Las Vegas, but Michael Gaughan realized that all of the other new hotels and casinos being constructed in that same area were much bigger and better. He knew that if he built Kactus Kate, it simply could not compare, and he was likely to lose money. So he backed out of the plans.

16 Outrageous Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos That Were Never Completed
The Desert Kingdom would have been a combination of Bali and other tropical places. Credit: Goddard Entertainment

13. The Desert Kingdom flopped thanks to poor follow through.

The concept of The Desert Kingdom was to mix African and Asian elements to make the perfect tropical resort. The concept design was a recreation of a resort in Bali, Indonesia. At night, guests would see water and light show as they sat outdoors surrounded by tiki torches. ITT Sheraton purchased the land in 1993 in order to make the Desert Kingdom a reality, but it was never actually developed into a resort. The land was eventually sold, and the Wynn Las Vegas now stands in the spot where The Desert Kingdom was planned to go.

16 Outrageous Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos That Were Never Completed
Elysium would have been a futuristic hotel and private jet emporium. Credit: Bergman Walls & Associates

14. Elysium created a futuristic escape for private jet passengers.

The concept art for the Elysium hotel looks like something constructed 100 years in the future, or in an episode of The Jetsons. The original idea was conceived by a firm named Bergman Walls & Associates. They wanted to build Elysium directly across from the McCarron International Airport. This would be a hotel for pilots and upper-class customers looking to fly in private jets. They could easily access a hotel near the airport, instead of going into the city of Las Vegas. Even though it had a great concept, and it may have made sense in some ways to build it, the project was never actually started.

16 Outrageous Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos That Were Never Completed
The Chinatown Strip concept art. Credit: Steelman Partners

15. The Chinatown Strip

The Imperial Palace was built in Las Vegas in the 1970s, and it was overhauled in 2012. Since it already had an Asian vibe, the owners at Caesars Entertainment Group thought they would make over the hotel in order to create an entire “Chinatown Strip”. This would have been modeled after architecture from the Ming Dynasty. The attractions would be much like any other Chinatown in cities around the United States, which always have amazing food and shopping. In the end, they decided to spend $550 million to develop a new hotel called The Linq, instead.

16 Outrageous Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos That Were Never Completed
Concept art of the fire-breathing dragon that would be placed outside of The Excalibur Hotel. Credit: Gary Goddard Entertainment

16. The Excalibur Dragon was actually an addition to an already existing hotel but didn’t quite make the cut.

The Excalibur Hotel already exists in Las Vegas. It looks like a white medieval castle inspired by the Sword and the Stone. This hotel is great for anyone who loves fantasy, but there could be so much more. At one point in time, Gary Goddard planned to install a fire-breathing dragon in front of the hotel. The idea turned out to be far too expensive, and the attraction was never built. However, a similar concept now exists in Harry Potter World, where the Gringotts Dragon breathes fire a few times a day.


Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

Dream City: The Vegas Skyline That Might Have Been. Erin Ryan. Las Vegas Weekly. 2012.

List of Las Vegas Casinos That Never Opened. Wikipedia.

Hugh Hefner’s Atlantic City Playboy Casino. The Press of Atlantic City. 2017.

Playboy Officers to Sell Casino in Atlantic City. New York Times. 1982.

Moon Resort. VegasTodayAndTomorrow.com

Almost Las Vegas: The Hotels That Never Were. Vegas.com

Xanadu (Film). Wikipedia.

A Titanic-themed Resort Almost Opened in Vegas — and That’s Not Even the Craziest Failed Project. Yahoo News.

Demolition of Vegas’ Never-Opened Harmon Hotel Beings in Two Weeks. Jay Jones. Los Angeles Times. 2014.

WWF Bails Out on Hotel Project in Las Vegas. TheGlobeAndMail.com

Adaptation or ‘Disaster’?. Las Vegas Sun.

Linda McMahon says WWF-themed casino big holds powerful lessons. Wade Tyler Millward. Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Dreams. VegasTodayAndTomorrow.com

In Las Vegas, Too Many Hotels Are Never Enough. The New York Times.