Friday, July 29, 2016

Viva Nerd Vegas!

Think Vegas is just for the blown-out club bros and Asian businessmen willing to spend small fortunes on pai gow? Think you’ll have to leave your Spock ears at home? That is highly illogical. There is an inordinate amount of bars, shops and attractions in Las Vegas that cater to the geek community (Editor’s Note: We use the terms “geek,” “nerd,” “drip,” “square” and “dork” in the least pejorative, most prideful sense). Whether you’re into Doctor Who or Doctor Octopus, there is a community gathering in outlandish costuming somewhere in the city, waiting for you with open arms.

Hopefully you’ve realized how cool Downtown Las Vegas is by this point. While you’re visiting Fremont East and nearby Arts District, be sure to mosey on over to Neonopolis, the mall at the end of Fremont Experience. Here you’ll find Toy Shack, specializing in buying and selling vintage toys from iconic brands of the ‘80s. As the definitive voice of all things toys in Las Vegas, the store’s owner Johnny Jimenez Jr. appears regularly on the popular television series “Pawn Stars.” The Shack boasts more retro G.I. Joe figurines and rare Hot Wheels products than you can shake a stick at.

For those who “want to believe” and live by the motto “the truth is out there,” The National Atomic Testing Museum’s Area 51 exhibit is out of this world. Created with input from former Groom Lake employees, the Area 51: Myth or Reality exhibit explores the real truth, the real programs and addresses the secrecy surrounding America’s most secret base. This Smithsonian Institution-affiliated museum details the myths, presents the evidence and lets you decide. Plus, the gift shop sells really cool “Area 51 Security” baseball caps!

Stan Lee apostles rejoice! Marvel nerds can snap a selfie with the likes of Spider-Man, The Hulk and Nick Fury at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum inside The Venetian. The latest exhibit, Marvel Super Heroes 4D theatrical adventure, incorporates 3D, interactive film screenings with special effects like wind, water and scents. Viewers must save Las Vegas from Dr. Doom’s evil plans. Definitely bring your camera along. Instagram will love that photo of you next to the 15-foot-tall replica of The Hulk. As an added bonus, Pokémon Go trainers receive 10 percent off the cost of admission. If you didn’t know, the Strip is lousy with Pokémon.

The beloved Pinball Hall of Fame is less than a 10-minute drive from the Strip, but we’d drive a long way for this. With more than 10,000 square feet of pinball machines from the 1950s up to the ‘90s and classic arcade games such as Centipede and Donkey Kong, it is surprising this living museum is not more popular. There is no admission charge. All pre-1990 machines cost 25 cents per play, and the newer machines cost 50 cents per play. All of the money is either spent on repairs or donated to non-denominational charities in the valley. We’ll see you there! You can catch us posted up at the Simpsons arcade game.

CSI: The Experience is easily one of the coolest attractions offered by a Strip resort. Fans of the popular television show will delight at the chance to solve a triple murder using forensic crime labs and help from the show’s characters. You’ll perform realistic CSI tests, such as matching DNA, examining bullet casings and identifying single strands of hair, but hurry. The clock is ticking! If you pay for the upgraded cable television package and watch Discovery ID exclusively, this is the Las Vegas Strip attraction for you. Find CSI: The Experience at MGM Grand.

This is the bar you’re looking for. Millennium Fandom Bar at the base of SoHo Lofts in Downtown Las Vegas is the kind of place cosplay enthusiasts can unabashedly nerd out while drinking specialty geek-tails like “BB-8,” a vanilla vodka and butterscotch liqueur concoction, and “In Groot We Trust,” made with two kinds of rum, Midori Melon and Sprite. The bar is littered with Star Trek and Star Wars memorabilia, superhero regalia and other pop-cultural flotsam. If you ask nicely, the owner may even let you play with the light sabers… replicas of course. We all know what happens when you mix light sabers and cantinas.

Honorable Mentions

Bad Owl Coffee is a Harry Potter-themed coffee shop in Henderson, a quick detour if you’re driving out of town toward Los Angeles or Phoenix. Billed as “serious coffee with a hint of magic,” Bad Owl is a full-service coffee shop, offering everything from nitrogen-infused cold coffee to “Butter Brew” lattes.

The Sci-fi Center, a few minutes’ drive west of the Strip, sells comics, collectibles and art to only the most discerning dorks. However, the big draw here is the screening room in the back, where you can catch a weekly late night double feature. Recent screenings have included such cinematic masterpieces as “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and “Megaforce.” Each week concludes with “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” complete with audience participation and shadowing by local RHPS troupe, Science Fiction Double Feature.

You didn’t think we’d leave fans of the undead off the list, did you? Zombie geeks can get their fix and then some at Las Vegas’ very own Zombie Apocalypse Store. If you need freeze-dried rations, brass knuckles and a ream of zombie paper targets but don’t want to make multiple stops, Zombie Apocalypse Store has you covered. They even host regular zombie hunts, during which patrons can gun down actual zombies (read: shoot paintballs at guys dressed like zombies).

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