Rock and Roll All Nite and Party Every Day
Over the holidays this year I was on a business/vacation trip to Las Vegas, NV, which afforded me the opportunity to finally check-out KISS by Monster Mini Golf. I say “finally” because I am an old-school fan of Kiss (the legendary rock band), and I’m also a big fan of blacklight mini golf. The thought that someone had actually combined the two instantly piqued my interest. The problem is that KBMM held its grand opening on March 15, 2012… Exactly 10 days after I moved away from Las Vegas for good. I knew my chance to play KBMM would finally come eventually, and it did over the Christmas holiday 2017. So here it is… “Review: KISS by Monster Mini Golf in Las Vegas, NV”
Kiss By Monster Mini Golf is located inside the Rio Hotel and Casino. You have to walk through pretty much the entire casino floor to finally reach the attraction. My first impression was that the actual blacklight mini golf course at KBMM was smaller than I anticipated. This was a surprise to me, as the attraction moved to the Rio in 2016 to be in an “expanded space”. Being the apparent flagship location of Monster Mini Golf (one of the major franchises in the blacklight mini golf industry), I just expected the course to be larger. I have played other blacklight courses in the Las Vegas area that are larger. I’m not going to lie… At first I was a tiny bit disappointed.
More Than Mini Golf
I want to be perfectly clear about something: While the actual blacklight mini golf course at KBMM is on the small side, the attraction itself is a large 13,000 square feet! What I quickly came to realize is that KBMM is far more than a black light mini golf course. KBMM is a shrine to all things KISS! As their website says:
“The environment is filled with arcade games, a special event room, a colossal sized KISS and rock ‘n roll gift shop, and a rock ‘n roll wedding chapel with themed wedding packages.”
If you are a KISS fan, this is your Mecca. The KISS gift shop is super-sized. If you’re looking for KISS merchandise, this is the place for you. In fact, it became apparent to me that the business strategy of KBMM was to make the attraction 40% mini golf course, 60% gift shop/museum/shrine. It is probably a smart business strategy, as I’m certain selling a $40 KISS tee shirt is more profitable than an $11.95 round of golf. But of course people buy those shirts after playing (and paying for) the round of golf. It is definitely not an accident that only half (or less) of the attraction is dedicated to the actual mini golf course. Smart business!
As this is a blacklight attractions blog, I should get down to it, and discuss the actual blacklight mini golf course. I want to be crystal clear on something. The course is not large, but it ROCKS!
At first glance the course appears (like many other blacklight courses) to be using painted bricks as the course rails, but upon closer inspection they are not bricks, but some other hard material. The ball action off of these rails was good, and as you’d expect at a brick course. While the holes themselves are not going to win any awards for mini golf innovation or complexity, there is a nice variety of course variation from hole to hole. The place where Kiss by Monster Mini Golf excels is the theming. I’m not going to mince words here. The theming at KBMM is AMAZING!
I Was Made For Lovin’ You
Monster Mini Golf as a company is known for high-quality blacklight mini golf theming, and they pulled out the stops to create the KISS course. To start with, the walls of the building are painted with blacklight murals depicting key moments in KISS band history, along with a bit of band trivia. The paintings are excellent, and provide so much to look at (and read), you almost can’t take it all in as you play. On the lower end of things, the course designers used what appeared to be actual road cases painted with UV reactive paint as props thoughout the course. These cases seemed to be used as a kind of “fill” between the larger, more interesting set pieces. Another prop that seems to have been pulled right off the band bus is a UV painted drum kit, that has been separated, and used as obstacles. It’s a very cool effect. On the larger end of things, there are a variety of HUGE custom-created KISS props that are simply amazing. There are multiple giant guitars throughout the course. These guitars must be at least 10 – 12 feet long. A favorite of mine is the giant replica of Gene Simmon’s axe bass (originally created by luthier Steve Carr).
Other giant props include replicas of some of Gene Simmon’s gothic boots from his stage costumes. The quality on all of these large props is quite high. The giant props at KISS by Monster Mini Golf can compete with any competitors at the top end of the blacklight industry, and even rival theme park quality. Putting a glowing golf ball underneath a giant Gene Simmons blacklight axe bass is an experience not to be missed. The final hole of the course is a giant Gene Simmons head, with his signature extra-long tongue serving as the ramp (upon which the golf balls must travel to reach their final destination).
Shout It Out Loud
Beyond the blacklight props, the course also utilizes a number of video walls playing an endless series of KISS videos (music videos and concert footage). The effect is cool and adds energy to the proceedings. A live DJ plays KISS (and only KISS) songs at a fairly loud volume. It’s not “rock concert loud”, but it’s definitely loud enough to let you know you’re not at your grandma’s mini golf course. Colored stage lights were lightly used throughout the venue as well, adding a rock concert look without disrupting the blacklight effect on the golf course. With all this gear being used, it’s kind of surprising that the mini golf course itself did not seem to use any electronics. No smoke machines erupted after sinking a putt. No audio messages from the band were triggered. Given the plethora of sights and sounds that assault your senses (in a good way) at KBMM, I didn’t find the lack of electronics to be a true detriment, with the exception of the final hole. Once you make your final putt up into Gene Simmon’s mouth, you really expect something to happen. Not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but it is my one suggestion for course improvement.
Crazy Crazy Nights
Without question I recommend KISS by Monster Mini Golf to all of our readers (of the Blacklight Amusement Blog). The mini golf action is decent, and the world-class blacklight scenery and props are well worth the visit. This venue is a master class in blacklight theming. If you find yourself in Las Vegas, step out of the casino for an hour or two and drive over to the Rio to check out this great blacklight attraction.
Blog post author: T.M. Kinsley
[Tiki Storm LLC was not compensated by Monster Mini Golf or the Rio Hotel Casino for the content of this blog post.]