DSCF2641When the Mirage Casino Hotel opened back in 1989, the erupting volcano in the lagoon out front, was one of the first free spectacles on the Las Vegas Strip.  Even today, this iconic attraction is one of the most popular shows in town!  Large crowds still gather to watch this display of water, light, sound and most of all, FIRE, and if you’re a first-time visitor to Vegas, it’s definitely a must-see!

Designed by WET, the same firm which created The Fountains of Bellagio, the Mirage volcano has undergone two renovations; one in 1996, the other in 2008.  The mechanism that makes up the volcano is basically a large fountain, enhanced with lights, smoke and large fireballs, some of which can shoot higher than 12 feet in the air.  Oh, and I’ve heard that to mask the smell of the natural gas that creates that fire, the scent of pina colada is added to the gas stream!

As I recall, the original volcanic eruption was signaled by short intervals of rumbling noises about 5 minutes before the actual show began.  The lights on the facade of the mountain went from white to red, a bit of smoke began spilling from it’s lip, and then the show would truly begin.  The fountain would begin shooting water in the air, with red and orange lights shining on it and within it, creating the illusion of lava bursting upwards.  The fountains were then joined by the fire jets, as the eruption became more “violent”.  Eventually, small streams of fire would creep down the mountainside and set the lagoon on fire, through the use of twisting gas pipes just beneath the surface of the water.  All of this played out to a recording of actual volcanic sound effects.

The show these days, since the volcano’s renovation, is fairly similar.  There are no longer warning rumbles and the lighting on the mountain no longer changes to red.  The eruption itself, however, is seemingly larger and more spectacular, and the rivers of fire in the lagoon have been replaced with dozens of fire jets which shoot intricately choreographed fireballs in synch with the volcanic sounds and a new musical score by Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and Indian composer Zakir Hussain.  The finale of the eruption is a massive burst of fire that has to be seen (and felt) to be believed!

Oh, one thing that’s always mystified me, is that there are ducks who swim in the lagoon, but never end up getting roasted!  They must have some sort of internal “duck danger” sense that allows them to swim away before the firestorm hits.

To get a good view of the volcano, and to avoid having the backs of strangers’ heads in your pictures, I’d recommend getting to the front of the Mirage lagoon about 15 to 20 minutes before showtime.  You should also know that if you’re up front for the eruption, you’re going to feel the heat of that fire.  It’s definitely intense!

Bring your cameras, bring your kids, or just be a big kid yourself.  I mean, where else but Las Vegas are you going to be able to safely watch an erupting volcano?  And it’s free!

Show Schedule: Every hour on the hour from 7pm until 11pm.
                           *Show schedule may vary and may be canceled
                            due to high winds.