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Shows Planner

Reserved-Seat Ticketing

Most hotels offer reserved-seat show tickets, and nearly all the Las Vegas shows are available through corporate ticketing networks such as Ticketmaster or Vegas.com. If you don't buy in advance, an old-fashioned visit to the show's box office is still your best bet for minimizing add-on charges. It's advisable to purchase tickets to concerts or the hotter shows, such as the Cirque du Soleil productions, ahead of a visit. For smaller shows or spontaneous decisions, "half price" has become the new "full price," thanks to an explosion of discount kiosks along the Strip. Only pay full face value for a headliner name or a show you really want to see. Remember that for the popular titles, casinos control their inventory and make sure their big players are always taken care of. If advance tickets are no longer available, check for last-minute cancelations. Your chances of getting a seat are usually better when you're staying—and gambling—at the hotel.

If you plan on spending a fair amount of time at the tables or slots, call VIP Services or a slot host to find out what their requirements are for getting a comp, paid tickets that have been withheld for last-minute release, or perks such as premium seating or a line pass (it allows you to go straight to the VIP entrance without having to wait in line with the hoi polloi).

Find Out What's Going On

Information on shows, including their reservation and seating policies, prices and suitability for children (or age restrictions), is available by calling or visiting box offices. It's also listed in several local publications or websites.

The Las Vegas Advisor (3687 S. Procyon Ave., West Side 800/244-2224 www.lasvegasadvisor.com) is available as a monthly printed newsletter at its office for $5 per issue or $50 per year. An online membership is $37 and the website has become a font of free news and coupons. It's a bargain-focused consumer's guide to Las Vegas dining, entertainment, gambling promotions, comps, and news.

The stories tend to be of the fawning press-release variety, but two free visitor publications are filled with show listings and discount coupons: Today in Las Vegas (www.todayinlv.com) and What's On, the Las Vegas Guide (www.whats-on.com) are available at hotels and gift shops.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal, the city's morning daily newspaper, publishes a pullout section each Friday called Neon, with free distribution separately. It provides entertainment features and reviews, and showroom and lounge listings with complete time and price information. In the tourist corridor, the daily Review-Journal is wrapped inside a Daily Visitor's Guide that includes show listings. The newspaper also maintains a website (www.lvrj.com), and entertainment reporters blog about the latest developments. The Las Vegas Sun, a competing daily that once had separate distribution, is now a section inside the Review-Journal but maintains its own editorial staff and website, www.lasvegassun.com.

Three alternative weekly newspapers are distributed at retail stores and coffee shops around town and maintain comprehensive websites. They tend to be the best source for coverage of the nightclub scene and music beyond the realm of the casinos: Las Vegas Weekly (www.lasvegasweekly.com), Vegas Seven (www.weeklyseven.com), and Las Vegas City Life (www.lasvegascitylife.com).

What's New?

Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson tribute The Immortal is due to land at Mandalay Bay in May 2013 as the company's latest resident Vegas title. Elvis has left the building though; Cirque replaced the underperforming Viva Elvis with Zarkana in late 2012.

Celine Dion, Rod Stewart, and Elton John continue to rotate dates in the 4,300-seat Colosseum at Caesars Palace, where they were set to be joined by resurgent country-pop diva Shania Twain in late 2012. Carlos Santana moved into the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay for about 30 shows a year in 2013, and 2012's two-week stand by Motley Crue at the Hard Rock Hotel was a home run that will not only command an encore by the Crue, but will inspire other rockers to copy the model of a limited run.

Blue Man Group was set to move from the Venetian to the Monte Carlo in late 2012, with the campy Broadway hit Rock of Ages set to replace it. Blue Man Group displaced the hip-hop dancing Jabbawockeez, who planned to move from the Monte Carlo to a new theater on the attractions level of the Luxor in 2013.

Despite the economic downturn and the pinch of competition from nightclubs, restaurants, and shopping, the number of shows in Vegas is increasing. Depending on how you count comedy clubs and short-haul headliners such as Dion, the total number of shows in 2012 was more than 100. It seems the city isn't ready to surrender its self-appointed status of "The Entertainment Capital of the World" just yet.

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