When I visited Bellagio for the first time after reopening the first place I visited was the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. This should come as no surprise as I’ve written about this great free attraction pretty often over the years. Most recently I listed this as a free thing to do while social distancing in Las Vegas.
The display is as beautiful as anyone would expect. The good news is that guest kept their distance most of the time. Unfortunately, this changed slightly towards the end. There was a bit of congestion because everyone needed hundreds of Hello Kitty selfies.
One change is that there’s a new route and organization when viewing the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Guests now form a line and enter from an entrance at the side of the display towards the hotel tower. There are ropes leading guests through the display with markers for social distancing and prime Instagram locations.
As I mentioned, most guests were keeping their distance using the markers on the floor throughout the display. Unfortunately, there’s a bottleneck towards the end with the gazebo leading towards Hello Kitty. After this area guests lost patience trying to navigate the space while traffic backed up.
The disorder continued at the end as many guests posed for a picture with Hello Kitty. Those not interested in the amazing floral display attempted to leave creating a bit of a chaotic end. Overall though, most guests were respectful of everyone’s personal space.
“Magical Kansai” Exhibit
The “Magical Kansai” Exhibit at the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens features an appearance of pop culture icon Hello Kitty. The display takes guests on a cultural voyage through the Land of the Rising Sun. “Magical Kansai” pays homage to the customs, traditions, and landmarks of Japan’s Kansai region.
In addition to Hello Kitty, the display features intricate replicas of significant sites in Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara. This reflects MGM Resorts’ commitment to celebrating Japanese culture. It should be noted that MGM Resorts is looking to build its first integrated casino resort in Japan sometime in the future.
The “Magical Kansai” display at Bellagio will be in place through September 12.
Celebrating Hello Kitty
In celebration of Sanrio’s 60th anniversary and new to this year’s Japanese display is the beloved pop culture icon Hello Kitty. The loveable cartoon character is in the Conservatory’s South Bed wearing her Bellagio kimono as she flies a kite.
Historically, kites in Japan were a device to communicate across long distances. Hello Kitty flies the kite as a symbol of communication and friendship with the Conservatory’s visitors.
Hello Kitty at Bellagio is 14 feet tall and is made of 30,000 preserved roses in multiple vibrant colors. As you enter the display, and to the right of Hello Kitty, a family of Sika deer watches over the Conservatory. Sika deer have flourished in Nara Park for over 800 years. They’re considered one of Japan’s natural treasures.
Beyond Hello Kitty
Sure, Hello Kitty is the most talked-about display at the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens but there’s more. When guests enter the Conservatory’s East Bed, they see an enchanted bamboo forest.
Bamboo is a symbol of prosperity, purity, and innocence in Japan. Bamboo rises from a traditional Japanese moss garden. This creates a moment of tranquility as visitors pass through a large statue of a lion’s head. The influence for creating this display is the Shishi Den at Osaka’s Namba Yasaka Shrine.
The wide-open mouth of the lion is believed to swallow evil spirits and bring about success and good fortune. The bed has four Japanese-style stone lanterns, illuminating the pathway.
There’s a stunning 30-foot replica of the iconic Osaka Castle stands as the focal point of the West Bed. The Edo-era landmark has gold trim and sits above a lively water feature home to live koi.
The bed signifies spring’s arrival, as cherry blossom trees, synonymous with springtime in Japan, create a magical canopy over the regal structure. The blooms feature koi kites that often dot early summer skies in Japan. It’s believed that these kites attract good health and strong futures for families and their children.
There’s symbolism everywhere you look at this display at Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Lush botanicals, floral butterflies signifying endurance, change and hope, and a grand floral clock embellished with Bellagio’s signature “B” decorate the base of the bed.
The North Bed showcases a rendition of the three-story pagoda that is part of the Seigantoji Temple in Wakayama Prefecture. The temple sits beside a beautiful depiction of Nachi Falls, the tallest waterfall in Japan. The Bellagio Horticulture Team acquired an authentic, century-old Chokibune boat that delicately floats in a pond with live koi.
Marc Meltzer covers Las Vegas, gaming and men’s lifestyle for various outlets. Check out his blog at Edge Vegas.