UFOT spotted over Strip: TV show brings zip line stunt to Company resorts

LAS VEGAS – Sharp-eyed pedestrians and motorists on The Strip may have noticed several UFOTs in the skies over Las Vegas Tuesday.

That would be Unidentified Flying Overhead Tourists. (Or in keeping with the new Monte Carlo VIP ad campaign, they could be Vertically Inclined Players.)

The thrill seekers were zip lining nearly 40 stories in the air between New York-New York and Monte Carlo, a dare-devil stunt coordinated for a new NBC reality TV show, Escape Routes.

Footage from the Las Vegas episode will air this Saturday at 8 p.m. on NBC.

All of the filming took place over the course of several hours Tuesday, though crews arrived days in advance to set up the cables, platforms and mechanics required to safely pull off the stunt. Company employees from various departments at both resorts assisted with the lengthy set-up.

“I first heard about it few months ago. I’ve seen a lot in the years I’ve been here, but never have I seen anything like this,” said New York-New York Executive Director of Operations Greg Goll. “My first impression was, ‘Geez, you’ve got to be crazy!’”

A dozen contestants – six teams of two – were challenged to complete a dramatic high wires course that traversed both resorts. The zip line was only the first part, though it was arguably the most dramatic; contestants began on a 38th floor, outdoor balcony at New York-New York and soared more than 1,000 feet through the air to a special rooftop platform at Monte Carlo next door.

Having crossed the initial span, contestants were made to traverse two more cables strung between the tips of Monte Carlo’s hotel tower wings. While the initial zip line was mechanically propelled, contestants pulled themselves hand over hand along the subsequent spans, dangling upside some 32 floors above the street level. Not everyone managed to finish the entire course.

Brothers Derek and Drew Konzelman, from Seattle, are among those competing for the show’s grand prize package: a 2013 Ford Escape plus $100,000 in prize money. They’d visited Las Vegas just once before for their sister’s wedding in 2005. (“But we didn’t do anything like this!” Derek said.) They had minimal prior zip line experience, they said.

“I did a zip line as a kid in Boy Scout camp, but it wasn’t 38 stories up between two buildings,” said Drew Konzelman minutes before they harnessed him up and sent him flying through the air.

Tuesday’s high-wire course was the final challenge of the six-episode series. Brett Lemick, a contestant from Los Angeles, said previous stunts included training with firefighters and operating a water-powered jet pack. The show’s producers and organizers seemed to have saved the best for last, he said.

“If this were a fireworks display, this (zip line) would be the grand finale, that’s for sure,” he said.

The stunt took lots of coordination, not only among the show’s crew members, but also with Corporate Public Relations and various operations departments at both resorts. Monte Carlo valet was closed each time a contestant passed overhead, and the New York-New York roller coaster was likewise intermittently shut down. Traffic was halted on Rue de Monte Carlo with the help of Metro police officers. Engineers at both resorts helped the show’s producers select the best places for the elaborate rigging and platforms.

“Our department was involved with the initial site walks, taking the crew up to different rooftop areas,” said New York-New York Assistant Engineering Manager Jim Lawson. “It’s our engineers who are in these equipment rooms and places where few other employees ever go. We know where the best views are, the best access points.”

Mr. Lawson’s team removed several large outdoor vents from the hotel tower’s exterior so crews could access suitable tie-off points for the rigging. But that was no big deal, he said.

“The biggest thing with us was that we were disappointed we couldn’t do it ourselves!” Mr. Lawson said. “I would have done it in a second. How many people can say they’ve zip lined between New York-New York and Monte Carlo?”

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