I've been back for a week already, here is the review I promised, finally! I appreciated all of the advice from this forum, so hopefully this will help some other newbies!
I'm not going to outline each minute of our trip but will instead mention some of the highlights, and the kinds of things people ask about. Note: we are more into sight-seeing and shows than clubbing, fine dining, gambling etc. so if that is your kind of trip, you may not find my review useful! The nice thing about Vegas, is it's whatever you want it to be.
1. GRAND CANYON $89.99 BUS TRIP WITH LOOKTOURS
This trip was pretty good, for the price. If you are able or want to pay much more and do an air trip, you might be happier, but if you are bound to a bus it was pretty good. The stops at the Canyon were at nice locations and gave a decent amount of time (just under an hour each). Warning: the "stop" at the hoover dam on this particular trip is only that, about 2 min. to take a photo, not even on the "good side". The lunch was just ok, but there are stops along the way to get snacks if you want. We got back just after 8pm.
We arrived on a very busy night, checked in at airport which was great. We had requested a room high up with strip view, king bed, non smoking. We had to take a smoking room for 1st night but they moved us afterwards. Our 2nd room had a pool view which I actually preferred to the strip view, as the Flamingo pool area is so nice. The Flamingo was fine -- we had a good rate & I can't really complain. If you're looking for something "posh" or themed, it's not so much, but it's in a great location and has everything you need. We only ate at the buffet for breakfast, which was not bad, but not as good as Paris or Aladdin, which were fantastic, for the same price. In the Valet lobby there are some intersesting pictures & write-ups on the wall about the history of the hotel, if you are into that kind of thing.
This was our first Cirque show & it was amazing. Definitely worth the price. We sat in the upper section and did not regret it. As mentioned many times on here, there is a lot going on all around you, not just on the stage, and if you want to have the best "view" it's not necessary to be close up. It's best to be central but also not necessary.
4. ELTON JOHN THE RED PIANO
The show could have been longer but was very very good. Elton sang a great selection of songs and the videos were interesting. I would have liked him to tell a few more "stories" but this was more of a "show" than a regular concert, so that's ok. We sat in the first row, pretty central, in the 2nd balcony (cheapest seats). Our view was not bad despite being high up, except the very top of the video screen was cut off. I would think that if you can afford to pay the price to sit in the first few rows, it likely makes the show that much better, but I wasn't willing to pay that much.
5. SECOND CITY COMEDY AT FLAMINGO
Very funny but again could have been longer. Worth the price if you get the 2-for-1 tickets in the little magazine in the stand on the street. (Vegas Values?) If we'd paid full price I think I'd be disappointed. I would go back on the all-improv night -- the cast we saw were quite good at the improv, but only did improv for about 1/3 of the show.
6. PARIS & ALADDIN BREAKFAST BUFFETS
We only did buffets for breakfast, allowing us to skip lunch, as we were so full after each, we practically had to roll out. These two breakfast buffets were both delicious and had LOTS to choose from, for $12.95 each. I liked Paris best (mmm crepes) and my husband liked Aladdin best.
7. BELLAGIO FOUNTAIN SHOWS
I have to mention these because hubby and I were both blown away by how something that sounds so simple, is so amazing! We watched 4 of the "shows" and loved them all, especially the Chicago "All that Jazz" one. Also saw the Elton one from above, in the Paris Eiffel tower, which was neat to see. If/when we are back, will try to catch as many as possible.
8. EIFFEL TOWER AT PARIS HOTEL
Went up at night, line wasn't too long, amazing view & actually was able to get some good photos. $2 coupon in one of the little free magazines. Glad we did this.
9. FREMONT STREET EXPERIENCE
To be honest we found the laser shows kind of cheesy. I think kids would enjoy them. We were more interested in the "Neon Museum" pieces along the street -- old neon signs that were true "vintage Vegas", with explanations of where they came from. (like the old "lamp" from the Aladdin) Cool. Also found good cheap souvenirs here (best prices were at the ABC store).
10. MANHATTAN EXPRESS ROLLER COASTER AT NYNY
Cool & fun but we got stuck at the very back, so it was kind of bumpy. If I were to do it again, I'd wait until I could be closer to the front. Note: $4 off coupon in the free Showbiz magazine.
We did not do much -- mostly slots and the guys tried some black jack. My best was winning $40 on $2 roulette at Fitzgerald's on Fremont. Fun! And I'm Canadian, so after exchange that's $50! woo hoo!
12. BAND AT INDIGO LOUNGE IN BALLY'S: "CAT DADDY"
If you want to see a good free show, this band was very good. They play blues, motown etc. and we were quite impressed. Most nights after 11pm I think. There is a signboard outside the lounge saying when they play.
That's probably long enough.... We did lots of other stuff but these are the highlights. Let me know if you have any questions! Thanks again to all who offered advice in planning.