WSOP 2017: Rock in the Rio at KISS Mini Golf
Starting with the memorable 2003 final table won by Chris Moneymaker, players making the final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event have found themselves the central figures of ever growing spectacles of light, sound, and action.
They become rock stars, in a way, at least for a few days.
Having been treated to a thoroughly gripping opening act over the last week-and-a-half at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, this year's final table has finally been set. We're having to wait a couple of days, though, until Thursday's curtain-raising when the band will be introduced and the show will at last begin.
Looking for other ways to rock in the Rio during the interim, your intrepid reporting duo took a walk back through the convention center to the far end of the casino to experience a different sort of spectacle -- a highly entertaining round of miniature golf in the rock-n-roll-themed amusement attraction KISS by Monster Mini Golf.
For music fans of a certain age, the band KISS epitomized over-the-top arena rock, combining elements of glam and metal to produce adrenaline-fueled shows that consistently thrilled young audiences while terrifying their parents.
A long sequence of best-selling albums and singles through the '70s and '80s by the makeup-wearing, blood-spitting, flame-throwing act helped create an enormous fan base, with the "KISS Army" fan club reportedly once boasting more than hundred thousand members.
Besides the hit songs, television appearances, solo projects, feature films, and sold out concert tours, the band's relentless marketing proved legendary, with merchandise including comic books, action figures, pinball machines, and more.
For just about every other popular group it would be hard to imagine a miniature golf course devoted to their music and career, but for KISS it seems only fitting. And it's a lot less strange to find such a place tucked into the corner of a casino than you might think. A relatively inexpensive gamble, in fact.
Founded in 2004, the Monster Mini Golf franchise has differently-themed courses all over the country. Their KISS course first opened at the Rio in 2012 and has proven consistently popular ever since.
As you might have guessed, the usual quiet of the gentlemen's game is replaced by nonstop cacophony with KISS songs constantly blaring (spun by a "KISS Radio" live DJ in the corner) and concert footage projected on a loop. Reporting what we scored on a hole back and forth to each other as we played meant we had to shout it out loud.
Black lights hang from the ceiling, illuminating the glow-in-the-dark barriers surrounding the holes and the humorous cartoon-like murals of the band filling every available inch of wall space.
There are laser lights. Some of the props surrounding the holes include numerous guitars, drums, busts of band members, and one of Gene Simmons' iconic platform "demon boots." On the final hole players must hit the ball up the length of Gene Simmons' outstretched tongue.
Cooled by air conditioning, it was plenty comfortable -- no firehouse, and hardly hotter than hell. Certain holes proved more difficult than others, and missing a tunnel or loop could be a score destroyer.
Open seven days a week, players can rock and roll all nite if they wish, though a round only takes about a half-hour at most. I don't recall what par was on each hole, but it had to be deuce.
There was more that we didn't explore, including an extensive gift shop, arcade games, the "Rock 'n' Roll All Night" Café, and even a "Hotter Than Hell" wedding chapel. All very Vegas. And very KISS.
All in all, KISS Mini Golf proved a fun way to spend this pre-final table interim. Fans of the band will lick it up, and even those without great expectations have nothin' to lose.