Last week Andrew headed out to Las Vegas and did some Coaster Investigating on a ride we don't hear much from anymore, Desperado at Buffalo Bills in Primm, NV (CA/NV Stateline). Rumors have been rampant for years about the coasters demise as catching it running seemed to be a rare occasion. Did Andrew get this seemingly elusive credit? Read on to find out.
Written by Andrew Cunningham
Last week I took my first ever trip to Vegas for a work event. Like any proper enthusiast, I used my trip to a new city as an opportunity to get some credits!
The coasters in Vegas were easy enough to find information on, but when I started researching what was involved in getting on Desperado at Buffalo Bill’s, I really struggled finding any reports that were less than 10 year old. Many friends have told me that they’ve made the trip out to Primm in recent years, only to find the coaster SBNO during hours it was advertised as being open.
It was also top of mind for me that Titan at Space World is due to close at the end of 2017, making it the first Arrow hyper to be retired. Given Desperado’s erratic operating schedule, it’s not far fetched to wonder if it may follow Titan’s fate within the next few years. Luckily, I was able to get on Titan back in 2011, but if I wanted a chance to complete the Arrow hypers (nerd alert!), I feel like I needed to put Buffalo Bill’s towards the top of my priorities list.
So, with that in mind, I decided to make a trip to find the status of this infamous coaster, once touted as one of the world’s most extreme and famous rides.
About a week before I made my trip, I reached out to the casino via email to ask if the coaster was even operating anymore. The casino responded and told me that they will not operate Desperado unless they have at least 10 riders on the train and the wind speed is less that 30 mph at the top of the lift.
Welp, it wouldn’t be Nevada if you didn’t have to rely on a little bit of luck!
I called the casino the day of my trip, just to see if I could check the wind speeds. I was redirected to the rides department at least five times, and everytime the phone would ring once or twice and then completely disconnect. Things weren’t looking good, but I decided to roll the dice and take the drive out to Primm anyways.
So I grabbed a rental car and took a drive out into the desert. The drive itself is only about 40 minutes from the Las Vegas airport, so it’s not too bad. Just be prepared to stare at a LOT of desert as you make your trip to the middle of nowhere.
Pulling up to the casino, I was ecstatic to see that the coaster was running!
Oh, and just a reminder. It can get really, really hot out here! Time to head inside ASAP!
Upon entering the Casino, you immediately walk underneath the monorail station. The monorail was built to connect Buffalo Bill’s to its neighboring casinos, but it looks as though it has not operated for quite some time.
The next thing you’ll come upon is the log flume that runs through the casino floor. If you follow the ride path, it’ll take you back to the ticket counter and ride area.
Looks like we made it to the right place!
Ride stats and fun signs greet you as you come up to the ride area.
Well… some of the signs are fun. Some are a little more concerning…
Once up in the station, I was told that half the airgates were broken. If I stood behind an airgate that didn’t open, I was told to just walk around to another airgate. It wasn’t exactly crowded, so it wasn’t too much of an issue.
Speaking of not crowded… I have to say that they weren’t too strict on that “minimum of 10 riders” rule that they emailed me about.
So how was the ride?
As far as Arrow hypers go, I thought it was better than Titan but worse that Magnum. Now I’m just missing Blackpool to complete my Arrow hypers! Woohoo nerd accomplishments!
It was honestly pretty rough, but I did enjoy the classic Arrow ejector hills. The three hills leading up to the midcourse were brutally intense when riding in the back. Three cheers for lap bar bruises!
(Seriously, I love intense rides that try to kill you)
Moving on from Desperado, I wanted to check out the log flume!
The flume is really nice, especially in the Nevada heat.
The lift hill takes you out of the Casino and into Desperado’s mountain. It passes by an area that looked like it was once set to be developed into an amusement park. There is a half-built train ride that runs around the area (the elevated concrete structure). There also used to be an S&S tower out here, but it is long gone.
Wohoo! Through the mountain!
After dropping out of the mountain, you do a short outdoor section outside Desperado before heading back into the Casino
The ride path inside the casino is well themed. The flume used to be a shooting ride, complete with rifles to shoot at the targets with. Unfortunately, the guns have long since been removed from logs, so the interactive element is no longer functioning.
Overall, I was really happy (and apparently lucky) to get on Desperado. The entire casino was pretty much deserted, and it didn’t look like it’s had much life in a while. Between the removed rides, the SBNO monorail, the half built railroad, the hit-or-miss Desperado schedule, and the missing guns on the shooting flume, it’s clear this casino attractions are operating on a pretty slim budget.
It also looks as though Desperado is down to one train. When pulling through the maintenance bay, it looks like the other two trains are being used as spare parts donors.
And with that, I made my drive back to Vegas so that I could take on much less interesting coasters.
If you’re a hardcore enthusiast, I would definitely try to make it out to Primm to check out this unique Arrow creation. It looked as though Desperado’s days are numbered, and judging by stories from friends, it is pretty lucky to even find the coaster operating anymore. I wouldn’t be surprised if the thing was fully SBNO within the next few years.
With that said, Buffalo Bill’s is at least much nicer than Circus Circus, but is still a far stretch from your average Vegas resort. It is a very interesting and unique place, seemingly limping through time as a relic of the short lived amusement boom that came through Vegas in the 90’s.
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