$25 million overhaul to yield a louder, hotter Mirage volcano

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Mirage's new volcanoStand close enough and you could feel heat. That was always one of the more visceral appeals of the Mirage volcano: the ability to delight in the sense of manufactured danger. As much as the casino it's been attached to since 1989, the volcano has come to symbolize the modern era of Las Vegas casinos: gaudy and over the top.

As the $630 million Mirage introduced the concept of the destination resort -- drawing visitors with its Siegfried & Roy magic show and zoolike habitat featuring white tigers, lions, leopards, a panther and Atlantic bottlenose dolphins -- the Strip-front volcano lured millions with its shooting flames and booming explosions.

In 2006, Wet Design, the firm responsible for Bellagio's dancing fountains water show, enhanced the iconic volcano with taller fire, louder explosions and hotter faux lava. A $25 million makeover, which is slated for unveiling on Dec. 8, promises an even more audacious experience.

Innovations include music from the Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart and Indian tabla player Zakir Hussain and an updated sound system featuring more than 60 Meyer Sound cabinets throughout the lagoon. The Mirage website (www.mirage.com/attractions) has video chronicling the creation of the soundtrack.

"To put percussive sound to the image of fire and have it dance around a lagoon is something I've never done; I've never birthed a volcano," Hart said in a statement. "Zakir and I immersed ourselves in the legends and myths and studied what really makes a volcano work. The result, a true union of the senses, will rattle your bones, just like a real volcano."

Using the latest in flame-expression technology, Wet created 120 FireShooters, which will shoot fireballs more than 12 feet in the air. As the volcano erupts, fireballs will fly, lava will flow down the mountain and flames will dance atop the lagoon. Spectators will still be able to feel the heat.

The new volcano completes three years of propertywide renovations and expansions. The popular Jet nightclub opened in January 2005. The topless Bare pool opened in the summer of 2006, followed by the December 2006 unveiling of Cirque du Soleil's production of "The Beatles' Love." Property officials spent $110 million upgrading the hotel's 2,765 rooms.

"The Mirage and our fiery volcano have long been symbols of the energy and excitement Las Vegas offers," Mirage President and CEO Scott Sibella said in a statement. "We recognize that to remain at the forefront of this dynamic destination, the Mirage must deliver trendsetting attractions that excite and entertain."

For more information on the Mirage, visit www.mirage.com or call (702) 791-7111. To book, call (800) 374-9000.

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