Of the dozens of casinos situated along the Vegas Strip, none seem to receive as much attention as the Bellagio. The most expensive hotel ever built when it initially opened, it’s hard to believe a time without its famous dancing fountains.
However, truth is the Bellagio is only slightly above gambling age itself, looking to celebrate its 24 birthday this coming October.
In addition to its famous choreographed water feature, the Bellagio attracts high-end boutique shoppers looking for a bit of Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada, or Gucci, and the casino of course also attracts plenty with its 5,600 square-foot BetMGM Sportsbook, and high table limit poker rooms.
But despite its worldwide fame, there are many secrets and fun facts about the Bellagio that a lot of Vegas visitors don’t know about.
Vegas is all about the crazy experiences and stories you come away with, so let me introduce you to some of the Bellagio’s most interesting facts, history, and stories.
Before you book though, be sure to read this popular blog post that offers up the ultimate first-timers guide to Vegas covering etiquette and all the do’s and don’ts.
What is the Most Famous Casino in Las Vegas? Crazy Secrets and Facts about the Bellagio
Image credit: May Wong (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
Sits Where the Dunes Hotel & Casino Once Stood
Long before Bellagio’s fountains began dancing, the site was home to the Dunes Hotel & Casino for nearly 40 years. The casino had a bit of an Aladdin vibe going on, complete with a giant sultan statue that stood at the entrance.
Known as the “The Miracle in the Desert”, The Dunes featured a large Arabian Room theatre that saw performers like Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, the latter of which performed in a sultan costume himself.
The Dunes Casino’s sands eventually shifted in 1993 when it was brought down in a spectacular implosion set to a massive fireworks display and cannon blasts from Treasure Island Hotel and Casino’s ‘HMS Britannia, which was witnessed by some 200,000 onlookers.
Fast forward 5 years later, and the Bellagio was born.
Bellagio was Inspired by an Italian Commune on Lake Como
Inspiration for the Bellagio in both name and design came from all the way across the Atlantic in a small Lombardy commune of northwestern Italy.
Italy’s Bellagio sits on a cape of land that splits the gorgeous Lake Como in two. Due to its position on Como, the commune is known as the “Pearl of the Lake”. Ironically, the Bellagio in Vegas sits pretty much in the middle of the Vegas Strip.
Italy’s Bellagio is far less busy than the Vegas casino, with pedestrian-only roads, beautiful villas, and gorgeous gardens like the Melzi Gardens.
Lake Como of course attracts just as many celebrities as Vegas does, with stars like George Clooney, Richard Branson, Lionel Messi, and Gianni Versace all either currently having or having had homes along the lake which Vegas’ Bellagio manmade lake tries to emulate.
If ever in Bellagio, Italy, check out its beautiful churches like the 12th-century Basilica of San Giacomo, try some windsurfing, or maybe simply take a boat tour on the lake.
Bellagio Features a Giant Blown Glass Masterpiece
You only need to head into the lobby of the Bellagio to be blown away by the more than 2,000 hand-blown glass flowers that make up the artwork known as Fiori di Como by Dale Chihuly.
The chandelier-like light installation greets you overhead in the lobby ceiling, and once again was inspired by Italy, this time its fields of springtime wildflowers.
The artwork was commissioned by Steve Wynn before the casino resort opened and took roughly two years to complete. The piece weighs in at an astonishing 20 tons, an incredibly fact being that it’s suspended from the ceiling.
The artist has a shop at the Bellagio as well as in Macau’s MGM Grand Casino.
Image credit: daneshjai (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
Bellagio has a Conservatory
This one may not be as much of a secret for anyone who’s ever been to the Bellagio, but it has a massive 14,000-square-foot conservatory and botanical gardens you can walk through freely 24 hours a day.
The best part of the conservatory is that its displays are always changing to match the seasons. A team of over a hundred staff work hard to keep the gardens stunning, planning each season’s displays a year in advance.
The displays always feature plenty of flowers, combined with artistic sculptures depicting animals, people, and objects. This is in addition to the many ponds, bridges, and gazebos that are present.
Explore butterfly houses in spring, pumpkins in the fall, Christmas trees over winter, American patriotism during the summer, and a special display for the Lunar New Year.
The Bellagio goes one step further with its flora by having an herb garden on its roof. You can also score some free gardening tips from the onsite horticulturists each day just before noon.
Photo credit: May Wong (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
There are More Bellagios
You may not realize there is a sister hotel to the Bellagio in Shanghai, going by the name Bellagio Shanghai. It may not have a lake or a fountain, but it does sit along a pretty nice stretch of waterfront.
The hotel borders the Suzhou River and is just a short walk to the Bund promenade that runs along the western bank of the Huangpu River.
While there is no casino associated with Shanghai’s version, it does match the same opulence as the Bellagio in Vegas if not exceed it. Some rooms feature private terraces with grand views, while the suites come with your very own butler. There’s also a very lux-looking indoor pool and spa.
Meanwhile, over in Dubai there is another Bellagio in the works, due to open around late-2022. Bellagio Dubai will be accompanied by a new MGM and Aria and will be built on a manmade island overlooking Jumeirah Beach, featuring a fountain along with waterfalls.
Bellagio also has a Chocolate Fountain
If you thought the outdoor dancing fountains were mesmerizing, wait until you lay your eyes upon its indoor chocolate fountain.
Claiming to be the world’s largest chocolate fountain, the feature is located next to the Bellagio Patisserie and allows visitors to watch as over 2,000 pounds of chocolate flow through hundreds of feet of piping as it cascades from a height of nearly 30 feet.
The chocolate waterfall blends milk, dark, and white chocolate, with the same mix of chocolate circulating for roughly a year at a time. Sadly, there’s no way to sample any of the flowing goodness, a twisted sense of torture if you ask me!
Image credit: Sarah Nichols (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr
The Bellagio Fountain Lake has Seen Jet Skis
While Bellagio’s 9-acre lake is plenty enough space to run a jet ski, it’s generally not on offer. That is of course unless you are super famous and have the kind of money that talks!
Both Bruno Mars and Richard Branson have taken jet skis out on the Lake, the musician doing so to make his 24K Magic video super cool and the Virgin billionaire business magnate doing so to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of direct Virgin flights between London and Las Vegas.
While you may not have much luck jet skiing or even swimming in the Bellagio Lake, unless of course you want a night in jail, you can rent a jet ski in Bellagio, Italy along Lake Como.
Where there’s money there are often robberies and the Ocean’s Eleven crew aren’t the only ones to have a crack at stealing some cash from the Bellagio.
In 2000, over $150,000 in cash and casino chips was stolen from the Bellagio’s cash cage by two gun-wielding men.
Ten years later in 2010, a man on a motorcycle rode up to the entrance of the Bellagio and proceeded to steal $1.5 million in casino chips from the gaming tables. He managed to initially escape the authorities but was eventually tracked down after he attempted to sell the chips online.
Then in 2017, a man in a pig mask accompanied by a few other masked men performed a smash-and grab with sledgehammers at the Bellagio’s Rolex Shop. Two years later, another man demanded money at the poker room and was ultimately shot and killed when fleeing after he fired upon the police.
These are just some of the intriguing stories and secrets the Bellagio has. I encourage you to visit and maybe uncover a few for yourself an maybe discover even more secrets like the Bellagio’s signature cocktail and a Picasso gallery that’s housed in one of its restaurants.