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Poof! Aladdin Returns to Vegas--Transformed

August 13, 2000

The latest fantasy mega-resort on the Las Vegas Strip, opening Thursday, sports a "1,001 Arabian Nights" theme, 130 stores, 21 restaurants, a 7,000-seat showroom and two casino areas. And we almost forgot: nearly 2,600 rooms, with plans for each to get its own computer terminal.

The $1.4-billion complex consists of two projects, with separate ownership: the Aladdin Resort & Casino and the Desert Passage shops and restaurants, which wrap around the hotel on three sides. It is built on the site of the former Aladdin hotel, where Elvis Presley wed Priscilla Beaulieu in 1967; the structure was torn down in 1997.

Besides de rigueur Vegas flamboyance--flying carpets, ebony horses and a lighted "Enchanted Garden" wall in the casino, a Moorish marketplace raked by "thunderstorms" in Desert Passage--the project has a sedate element: a separate high-stakes gaming area in the European style, meaning small rooms and gourmet food.

Although management insists all guest rooms will be open Thursday (minus computer terminals, for now), they concede that the theater, some of the shops and several restaurants won't be ready. Among the latecomers: the first-ever branch of New Orleans' landmark Commander's Palace restaurant, renowned for bananas Foster and other Big Easy cuisine.

Room rates start at $139, except for the opening weekend (from $199). Telephone (877) 333-WISH.

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