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No ticket or pamphlet
August 31st-September 2nd, 2002
General Observations - After a 6 hour drive and nearly killing a pedestrian (people are so insane and three parties were at fault, including Scott and the pedestrian and another vehicle), we arrived at our hotel 5 miles outside of the city, in a town called "Pleasantville". The hotel was half the price of the ones in the city (even the scummy ones, so we opted for that . . . erroneously). The rain began once we entered Pleasantville and continued till we left Pleasantville! Not just rain, but whipping winds and at times, torrential downpours. Staying in the casino hotels would have offered much desired cover and we would have been able to park for free, rather than going in and out of the parking garages as many as three times a day.
Suggestions: Stick with either Casino Hotels because parking is free, the traffic won't be as bad and you'll save money on gas as you can walk everywhere. In addition, it's hard to find a good restaurant outside the hotels. Though there is food like McDonalds, no good "chain restaurants" like Applebee's or such were noted. There were mostly hole in the wall dirty looking foreign food places (Italian, Greek, Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Sushi bars etc). However, Casino Hotel was expensive. Up to 35.00 EACH for breakfast! Up to 45.00 for dinner EACH! Beware of the Boardwalk buffets; all you can each was the cheapest cardboard/instant mashed potato/hardly any choices foods. And your drink is in a small paper cup; cheap paper plates that ooze underneath and still over $7 a person. The meat was processed; like that you see in a Banquet frozen dinner! HORRIBLE. Also, outside of the casinos, it's difficult to get breakfast in Atlantic City unless you are into donuts. Ugh. I had Steak and Eggs in a casino (with nothing else with it) and it was like 16.00 and the steak was inedible. Scott's pancakes were 12.00 and this was a few years ago! Imagine now.
Things to watch for: Tolls! We spent 16.50 on tolls and traffic is still horrible there. Parking! There is no free parking in Atlantic City; which is in contrast to your Monopoly board. If you park on the streets and don't work at a business or live there, you will be fined and towed I'd imagine if caught going to the boardwalk or Casinos. However, contrary to popular belief, cheap parking is available in the parking garages at the casinos. All the hotels we parked at were $2 each for up to 8-12 hours. A real deal. Parking outside in lots was less convenient and much more expensive, usually $5-$10 for a couple hours.
Shopping: Expensive shopping is found in the Casinos. Don't even go into the clothing stores! I went into Caesars and considered buying a couple guest towels that were fairly nice looking. At $34, I almost bought one, but when I felt the quality was only as good as a $5 towel from Martha Stewart at K-Mart. As for the Boardwalk, there are cheap items there to be had, but they are "cheap" items. T-Shirts for $2! But worth only $2... Get the picture? Everyone goes for the Taffy which is made on the boardwalk, but I never got that far. Same items are found as with any touristy area: T-Shirts, shot glasses, snow globes, postcards... the old standards.
Gambling: Slots: There's a bunch of ranges for the tourists. Nickel (5 cent), Quarter (25 cents), 50 cent, and dollar ($1) slots are available. Nickel slots are located near the entrances so that when you walk by with your change, you'll go in to play a few and then say well, I got a quarter or two, let's do that and you go further in. Next thing you know, you're fully in at the dollar slots throwing $20 bills in the machines. However, it isn't that way for us with the tables, located at the center of the casinos, as you needed quite a few bills to pretend you had money. A bit of something to consider: You can't put single dollars into the machines! Only $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills accepted. If you want quarters, you'll have to go to cash cages. Nickels and quarters are the only currency actually played in the machines. Other machines, (50 cents and $1) used TOKENS. You have to put a bill in and when you win, you are paid with tokens or credits. Use the credits and keep playing or cash out the tokens. Machine bets were from 1-5 at a time. So you were paid 1-5 times the amount you put in. If you lose, that's how much you lost. There are cash machines that will change larger bills into smaller bills. The smallest it goes is $10, so if you put in a $20, you'll get 2 $10 bills. These machines too, go up to $100. For cashier's checks, traveler's checks and larger bills, you must go to the cash cages. Yes, there are credit card/bank machines to debit funds from your accounts. Tables: I am not sure. We couldn't afford it. Minimum bets were $15 or more... I didn't see anything less than that. Games available included craps, black jack, poker and roulette. Betting: Keno and horse racing. If there was other betting (football, boxing or whatnot), I didn't note it, but my guess is somewhere there was. I wasn't looking for it, so didn't note it.
Entertainment: Various ranges of pricing. Most comedy and music acts seem to be between $35-$150 per ticket. Acts are singers, dancers and comedy shows mostly. No, I didn't see any circus type acts or anything off the wall, but you never know, some might come to town, but not this weekend. However, in less than two weeks is the Miss America Pageant. The annual Pageant always takes place here.
Drinks: are expensive at shows. 2 Sodas and two Raspberry hi-balls (I forget the name but it have absinth Vodka and Raspberry Schnapps in it) cost us $20. I am assuming they want you to buy more, because they make the drinks strong! Though drinks are expensive here, they are free in the casinos. You can get coffee, soda, water, or beer, wine, cheaper standard drinks (like screwdrivers) are free if you can find an attendant. Nothing fancy though, you'll have to pay for that! The attendants hardly go by, so snag one when they do. Believe it or not, I saw more attendants near the nickel slots than the dollar slots.
Tipping: Tipping is standard to cost . . .10-20 percent as you would anywhere else. I didn't tip at the buffet. Not for someone bringing me one pop and taking away one paper plate! I don't know about the free drinks. I guess tipping is optional though nice and if you do, tip in cash. Not tokens for the slots. It's not like it used to be! *** A nice person emailed me with this tip: if you tip the waitresses $1, and they'll come back every 20 minutes or so. Otherwise the wait is much longer.
Freebies: There are freebies and promotions, but not that much. For instance, if you got a trump card, you would get a free T-Shirt or Beach Towel. Also, when you use the card, you swipe it into a kiosk and get points which enter you into drawings for things like NICE cars. According to someone who got one, you can sign up for one before you go and you'll get coupons for discounts and while spending money there, you may get free bonus points to use towards future stays, meals and other items. While there, we saw a Mustang and a Lexus given away and a few drawings here and there for $500-$5,000. The only other freebies I know about were given to high rollers. They were the beneficiaries of free suites, free limo use and personal attention (credit, people bringing them drinks that we couldn't get etc).
Taxis and Buses: Taxis are sort of expensive. I am not recalling the prices right now, but they seem standard to New York City prices. Buses are everywhere and probably much cheaper. If driving your own vehicle, you will probably be stuck behind small mini buses or large tour buses frequently.
More Casino information
The casinos are all the same. For example, the prices of the slots are the same and the games are the same. The only difference is that they have slightly different decor and the games have different graphics on SOME of the machines. All of them had pretty much the same type of machines though. There were basically three standard type machines at all the casinos. The standard "cherry, bar, bar" slot, the draw poker (only get to deal and one more shot), and a machine that was similar to the cherry, bar, bar, slot; but had multiple lines you could play (up down or diagonally). Very few offered blackjack but some did. I didn't really see any other type of slots. Graphics were based on themes such as Addams Family, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, I Dream of Jeannie and other such TV favorites. The odds of winning don't change casino to casino. Not that I noticed. They all took my money easily, though my best payout was at the Resorts. Scott and I sat side by side and won somewhere between $350-$400 on $20 but subsequently spent some before cashing in $297; a $277 profit. Of course I lost most of that the next day. Don't think you'll go there with $200 gambling money and take two days to blow it. A good rule of thumb is $1-$10 a minute for the cheap at heart like me! Scott and I was wasted 35-40 quarters and 85-90 dollar tokens and a couple $5 bills in about 10 minutes! As for giveaways, treatment, amount of personnel, I didn't see much difference in any casino that we went into which included the following: Tropicana, Ballys, Caesars, Trump Plaza, Trump Taj Mahal, Resorts
We did not go to the Sands, Hilton, Claridge or Harrah's. As for kiddy entertainment, there's not much to do. Unlike Vegas with its arcades in every casino (big arcades with skeeball etc), and amusement park rides, shows and outdoor spectacles like erupting volcanoes and pirate ship duels, there's nothing like that in Atlantic City. Keep the kids at home. I saw kids in strollers at midnight. Not cool. There are no really themed hotels other than Ballys, Caesars and Taj Mahal. Nothing like New York New York, Circus Circus, MGM grand, Excalibur or Luxor. Oh, one huge note about the casino gambling tokens... you cannot use a Bally's $1 token (chip) in a Trump machine or vice versa. I did note that I couldn't even play a Trump Plaza token in a Trump Taj Mahal, though owned by the same man. However, you could at times play them in certain machines here and there if you were persistent enough. The only absolute 100% refusal were silver vs. gold tokens. One would NOT work in the other EVER. I'd recommend that every time you change casinos, you cash out. There are cash cages with personnel and there were also automated changers which were quite nice. Each casino has cash cups free of charge and they are neat souvenirs, so feel free to take one as you walk out the door. They don't care. As a matter of fact, I took home five cups this time. I have another collection from Vegas as well. Beware some machines have ashes in them. Why? Because smokers are free to smoke in Casinos. Even in the halls etc. This is ONLY in the casinos and nowhere else. They know smokers will leave if they can't smoke, so to keep people there, they allow it. Some of the machines will take your money and not play or won't cash out because it's stuck or it's run out of coin. I lost a $10 bill in one. You have to stand by the machine and flag someone down. They are always around and the wait shouldn't be long.
The City in General: Not very attractive. Trash ridden. Buildings are decrepit. Derelicts are on the street here and there. Traffic is insane and most of the traffic is at night. A hooker noticed... adult porn stores. Tons of lights. Streets are grid-like, but some hidden and short and you can find yourself driving in circles aimlessly. Park Place for example had one building on it; a casino. At least that's all I noted. You will not see porno ads and escort services advertised by pamphlet handed out like you do in Vegas or on free newspaper holders like you do in Hollywood. However, a couple free papers did have some ads in the back. But no nudity in them. One thing was different though that I considered very interesting: the buildings had a vast array of styles. I saw a lot of Northeastern influence. For example, I found a lot of inner city tenement looking buildings like New York City has, some double/triple Decker homes like Rhode Island has some classical Bostonian brick buildings. Some Eastern Cape Cod were around, and I saw other Western style buildings: some with Stucco in the California style (even the red tile roofs). I even saw a couple colonial style, Tudor style and even Louisiana New Orleans style! Very interesting. Almost every style is represented here. Most of it in seemingly trashy condition. However, occasionally you'd see a nice home sandwiched between a couple boarded up homes and other strange phenomena like that. Unlike Vegas, you will not go into a gas station or 7-11 and play a slot. Slots are ONLY in the casinos in Atlantic City. Gas stations and 7-11's can be found easily. Only big supermarket I saw was OUTSIDE of the city. Of course, we didn't go to far beyond Casino row. Wear comfortable shoes. There's a ton of walking involved in the city and especially the 4.5 mile boardwalk. Take plenty of water too and don't carry a purse or heavy bags. Where a fanny pack with only your essentials in it for the best time.
Kid's Entertainment: Scott saw one small movie theatre. I noted ads for a water park, Jellystone park and another amusement park called Storybookland. Along the boardwalk and in the mall were arcades. They even had a couple slot machines, but they weren't gambling. You'd get tokens and could redeem those tokens for prizes: not money. Warning! We went into one and put quarters in one of those Quarter machines... normally, elsewhere in the world, if you hit it right, the quarters drop off and you collect what drops. WRONG. Here, you get tokens and no quarters. Not wanting a plastic snake, we gave all our tokens to some kids. The personnel there said it was because they didn't have a gambling license, but as far as I know, most places offer the cash equivalent and it's not considered gambling. However I am aware some also give tickets (equivalent to the tokens). So adults may not want to put their money in there... No Zoos were noted in the area but there were a few very tiny parks. Adults would not be wise to let the kids there alone as most were not fenced in and were on busy streets. Of course, the best place for kids is the beach. *** Via an email from Sallie, I was given this tip: Kids' entertainment - there is a zoo in Cape May, it's free (accepts donations) and it's quite clean. The zoo has covered walkways overlooking the animals so you can visit even in the rain. Along the boardwalk she says is a Ripley's Believe it or not and miniature golf. I did see the golf and the fudge shops she mentioned but forgot to state that. Thanks Sallie!
The Boardwalk/Beach: Lots of places to get hot dogs, pizza, pretzels and touristy food. Stay clear of the buffets on the boardwalk if you want good food or a nice quiet cozy place to eat. Unlike Vegas, there are no $1.99 Buffets that serve great food. There is a Planet Hollywood on the boardwalk and though I didn't see it, I think a Hard Rock Cafe is also there. The boardwalk stretches over 4.5 miles. We only saw a few blocks of it due to the harsh rains. Along the boardwalk you may find street performers being statues, singing, playing instruments or doing mime etc. There are benches and little statues of cowboys, flamingos, a big directors chair or other such thing to take pictures of/with. One side of the boardwalk pretty much contains the shops/food places and casino entrances, while the other side is beach, marsh or water; however there is a 70 shop mall there too, with some unique shops. My quest on the boardwalk was to find THE salt water taffy place that originates all the taffy sold in Atlantic city. It's supposedly world famous. I never had the chance to find it because of the rain. The boardwalk also has people with carts that will take you for a ride down the boardwalk (I think they're called Jitneys), but it's quite expensive: $5 for 5 blocks and I imagine you need to tip them, though I don't know. It's sort of like a rickshaw, but it's pushed from in back where a runner runs behind the cart to push you. You can swim at the beach. Lifeguards were on duty, even when it rained! A couple fools did indeed swim then. If it gets dangerous, they'll close it down. Temperatures are usually moderate.
Surrounding area: We went to a couple of the little cities in the surrounding area. The look of the areas was not much better than in the city. I even thought I spotted a treasure... an antique store that looked rather large and quite promising. It was a cluttered junk shop. If there were treasures in there, it was buried way under a lot of other stuff too dirty to pick up. If fire ever caught hold there, the occupants would surely perish as it was hard to walk in and surely a death trap.
Police/Fire/Banks/Bail bonds/Post offices/etc. Same as in every city, except there seemed to be more than the normal share of Bail Bonds. Stamp machines found in our hotel and a grocery store. Newspaper is available from vendors on the streets or in stores. Police are around a lot and their station is called "public safety" not the jail or station!
Summary: Atlantic City is a place to gamble, maybe see a headline act and to satisfy your curiosity. Other than that, head to Vegas instead. You will get the same thing there only much, much better. The only things Vegas doesn't have is the Boardwalk and Taffy. If you want a hotel and can afford the big bucks, go for the casino hotels. It's convenient to the gambling and boardwalk and the parking will be free. You will also have cover if it rains! That's about all I can say. Enjoy the photos and if you go, I hope I've helped you know what to expect. PS Notice Trump Plaza, Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Marine, Trump Tower... yep, all owned by the same guy and you know? Those were the places that took most of our money. Go figure!
Left to right: 1) Atlantic City at Night 2) Trump Plaza 3) Beach Scene 4) Another Beach Scene 5) Caesar's Palace
Left to right: 1) Inside Casino 2) Caesar's Statue 3) Showboat Casino 4) Statue I don't know what it is! If you know, please email 5) Beach
Left to Right: 1) Showboat Casino 2) Showboat Casino too 3) Showboat Casino yet again 4) The Gazebo where the statue is in above row; have no idea what it is though; if you know, please email! 5) Taj Mahal
Left to right: 1) Taj Mahal 2) Boardwalk postcard 3) Trump Plaza Postcard 4) Caesar's Palace Postcard 5) Harrah's Postcard
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