Sega VirtuaLand

From Sega Retro

VirtuaLand Outside.jpg
Sega VirtuaLand
Location: Luxor Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Opened: 1993-10-15[1]
Closed: 1998

Sega VirtuaLand was an amusement center opened by Sega in Las Vegas, USA. Located in the Luxor hotel and opened alongside it in October 1993, the venue was one of Sega's largest and most high-profile up to that point in time, both in the western world and globally.[2]

At the time of opening, it was described as the first in a line of 100 planned VirtuaLand centers across the USA;[3] these plans were latterly shelved, with the Sega City and GameWorks chains instead occupying its purpose. Sega are believed to have stopped managing the facility around 1998.

History

Development

During 1992, Sega established new regional amusement divisions and opened test amusement facilities outside of Japan for the first time in a number of new countries, including the United Kingdom,[4] Taiwan,[5] and Spain,[6] in an attempt to replicate its success in running directly managed amusement facilities in Japan.[7] A country where the company had previous arcade presence and a pre-existing official amusement division separate from Sega of America (Sega Enterprises Inc., headed by Tom Petit), the United States, had not seen any Sega-affiliated amusement venues since the sale of the Time-Out chain in July 1990, however a return to operations occurred alongside Sega's expansion to new territories with the Game City arcade in Dallas, Texas.[8]

Game City is presumed to have been sufficiently successful, as on August 16 of the following year,[9] Sega announced a three level business partnership with Circus Circus Inc. to develop three amusement facilities in locations owned by them in America.[10] Two would be arcades located in the Grand Slam Canyon and Midway centers, whilst the other, planned to be one of the flagship Sega-branded venues in the western world, would open as a main attraction of the Luxor in Las Vegas, an ambitious new 30-story pyramid complex combining a hotel, family entertainment facilities, and a casino.[10] The main attractions of the planned facility would follow the lead of other centers opened by Sega during that year, including Sega World Hakkeijima Carnival House in Japan.

Opening

Eight-player Virtua Formula setup at VirtuaLand

Sega VirtuaLand eventually opened alongside the Luxor itself in October 1993. The venue was a 20,000 square foot complex, which as well as housing coin-operated arcade games, contained bigger mid-size attractions, such as two AS-1 motion simulators, a pair of R360s, and an eight-player Virtua Formula setup.[11] Characterised by its fusion of the Luxor's own ancient Egyptian theming with high-tech Sega branding, VirtuaLand used specially made light shows and promo videos, alongside recent ad campaign material such as Welcome to the Next Level and Sonic the Hedgehog as a mascot. An additional on-site "Sega Store" could also be found, for which Howard Drossin was commissioned to create Virtual Sonic.[12]

As one of Sega's largest high-profile openings up to that point in time (outclassed only by the recently-opened Sega World Bournemouth and a number of similar venues in Japan), VirtuaLand and its opening received much coverage and interest from the media, including numerous gaming and Sega-focused magazines globally. Due to its status as a major entertainment attraction of the Luxor complex itself, it was frequently cited in travel publications,[13] for a time becoming one of the most recognised amusement facilities created by Sega outside of Japan as a result. True to this status, it received new games from the company regularly; Virtua Fighter was soon on location, and Dennou Senki Net Merc was reportedly going to be supplied when released.

Demise

Following VirtuaLand's opening, it was claimed that Sega intended to open around 100 further centers under the same name across the United States.[14] However, these would never materialise, with Sega focusing more on establishing links with larger companies such as Disney to introduce its Amusement Theme Park concept during 1994.[15] Despite the opening of a successful exhibition space at Innoventions, the ATP plans fell through, and after the establishment of the offshoot Sega City amusement arcades, the GameWorks chain of urban entertainment centers was instead made for North America in a joint venture with DreamWorks and Universal Studios. One of the first locations opened was in Las Vegas,[16] effectively superseding VirtuaLand's status as a flagship facility.

Though the earlier Sega City venues would be rebranded under the GameWorks name upon its introduction, VirtuaLand is thought to have stayed much the same into 1997. Sega appears to have later removed most of its larger simulator equipment and dropped involvement with Luxor at some point during the late 1990s, with their former space stripped of its branding and subsequently renamed "Games of the Gods" in 1998.[17] Following this, it continued to operate as an unbranded arcade, retaining several of its original games (including an Indy 500-upgraded Virtua Formula) to the end. Alongside the nearby IMAX Ridefilm simulator and Tutankhamun exhibition, it reportedly closed permanently around 2009.[18]

Videos

Gallery

Magazine articles

Main article: Sega VirtuaLand/Magazine articles.

External links

References


Sega-related venues in the United States
GameWorks
Sega Center
Sega City
Time-Out
Others
P.J. Pizzazz | Game City | Sega VirtuaLand | Innoventions | Sega Speedway | Sega Station Kansas City | World Sports Grille