• Friday , 23 February 2018

Tropicana in Atlantic City Helps Get Rid of the Grinch for the Holidays

Photos, story by Cassie Hepler

We’re not going to lie. We were feeling a little bit like a Grinch this holiday season. But somehow a weekend girls trip to the Tropicana in Atlantic City, N.J. made us get in the spirit of the season by the end of the weekend. We even ended up getting a few unexpected gifts for family and friends!

Upon arrival, it is good to know there are two parking lots. Since we were staying all weekend, we opted for the $10 for the whole weekend lot (that’s only $5 a day, a steal in AC)! We parked on P2 (or was it 2P?) but regardless, know where you left your car (a cell phone shot is always a good reminder). Get onto the elevator, go to the casino floor and get ready for some walkin’ about. It’s practically a mall full of stores, boutiques, restaurants and more when you pop out on the second floor (go to the first floor via the elevator past the Irish pub on your right).

We were comped in the North Tower and sort of stumbled upon the hotel desk on the second floor. Our best advice is continue on until you hear/smell/see the familiar sounds of casino life and ask someone at every turn where to go. Fortunately there are a lot of friendly faces willing to guide lost visitors everywhere. We later found out there was another (fancier, we assume) tower with security on the other side of the casino. The funny thing about huge casinos is just by the time you leave, you finally know your way around!

Up the elevators (the ones facing the ocean have a lovely view as you ascend) blasting 80’s music all weekend (we can dig it) and into Room 1244 we go for a weekend to remember…

Here is our room in the North Tower with marble seated shower that took a good 5 minutes to heat up. In a monster of a casino this size, we’re surprised we got any hot water! Free WiFi was a nice perk, which seemed to get busier at night… we had our suspicions on what people may be watching.
Our view out the window, to the left. The ocean was slightly visible to the right but mostly blocked by buildings. Request an ocean view if they have them! Another tip: Check in early (3 p.m. instead of 4 p.m.) if you can because it gets packed!
Straight into the holiday spirit we go! The holiday sing-along on the boardwalk brought out everyone’s Christmas spirit. It was hard not to get jolly with these ladies.
Tropicana gave out Santa hats to brighten everyone’s day.
People who brought out a toy for Toys for Tots were entered in a $100 and $50 Macy’s card giveaway.
These singers were so festive and really jamming out.
More carolers joined in on stage and the mayor popped by to announce someone special’s arrival.
In Atlantic City, Santa arrives on the Boardwalk with in his EMT truck with blinking lights.
Reindeer such as this lady was adorable next to Santa. We were glad it was an unusually warm December and so was she we’re sure!
From the holiday sing-along, we rushed inside and went straight to dinner at il Verdi, which was conveniently at the bottom of our elevators.
Some bubbles to start and celebrate the beginning of our weekend were in order with some garlic oil and tempting bread basket.
With some great choices of wine, bubbles and more at great prices, we opted for the II Procescco, Mionetto.
The burrata with house made mozzarella with cucumbers were a nice twist with aged balsamic vinaigrette.
This mushroom and truffle risotto was stick to your ribs delicious and those chunky portabella mushrooms were thick and chewy like steak.
Flash-fried chili calamari with a side of marinara and a lemon to drizzle was one of our faves – and such a heaping serving, we may have ate some for breakfast.
Cavatelli with jumbo lump crab meat is not finished until there is a rainfall of cheese sprinkled on top. Those chunks were generous and sometimes larger than the pasta – just the way we like it.
Ghnocci is excellent as is but add some mixed mushrooms and a sprinkle of cheese and it is pure carbalicious delight.
These cheese filled beignets were an excellent end to dinner, especially with all the fresh berries and medley of dipping sauces such as white chocolate, milk chocolate and caramel. The fruit may have gotten dipped in the sauces too.
We were even paid a visit by the curious chef who wondered who was loving his food so much! Chef Jack Flanigan, originally from South Philly, poses for a photo in dining room as they wrap up for the night.
We shimmied into the Holiday Magic show with general admission seating a tad late and quickly asked if we could move closer to see the show and capture some photographs. These lovely ladies were dancing to the 12 Days of Christmas each time the singer would change his verse. DSC_0098
Some of the costumes were really cool and these were full of winter sparkle, glimmer and glam.
We loved these spiky headpieces and the magic shows. Soon they cover the woman in the box and make her disappear, it was pretty impressive!
A whole other impressive magic trick. You’ll have to see the show to know! DSC_0140
Santa shows up to surprise everyone and looks very familiar. These dancers costumes were amazing – and it was impressive that they did whole dances in heels.
Streamers explore into the audience and get lots of happy reactions from the audience.
This special little girl pulled from the audience got some loving attention from Santa Claus.
Out came the decorative Christmas trees with sparkly stars in the background.
These singers swooned and sang while the dancers behind them did some impressive acts…
Like this man jumping over his dancing partner!
A gorgeous robe on a talented singer with fur for days, so very festive.
This headpiece was amazing as the lady in white receives a magic trick gift.
Snow sprinkles out and all over the audience during a rendition of “Let It Snow”.
Dancer from the Holiday Sing-A-Long appear in their blue velvet dresses.
And each dancer jumps for Christmas joy during their performance.
Reindeer ladies prance on stage while the singer jams out to “Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer,” Elvis style.
There’s a lot going on here during “My Favorite Things” including a very funny and loveable kitten.
Dancing ladies in sparkle dresses twirl mid-air during the finale.
Santa Claus (who we suspect is actually a Lady Claus) spots us and gives a wave.
And a thumbs up!
We went on our merry way back toward the hotel room and our next stop, 10 North Lounge. We were greeted by some eager wanna-be friends but preferred chatting amongst ourselves and discussing what’s been going on in our lives. With a relaxing fireplace hearth and cozy chairs, there is smoking allowed and you can see right out on the casino floor if you like people watching.
The entrance to 10 North Lounge near the North Tower hotel rooms.
Will Ferrel on TV and a glowing fire. Does it get any better?
Yes it does with two glasses of prosecco! And then we remembered we can take our drinks back to the room, Vegas style. Which of course let to a Cinderella bedtime so we could wake up early for more fun in the morning.
It was a beautiful sunny Saturday in December, very unusual but perfect for walking the boardwalk which is right outside the hotel.
Adding to the festive décor is Tropicana’s famed 25-foot Poinsettia Tree located in Palm Walk. Oh poinsettia tree, oh poinsettia tree please keep us from getting lost again! This served as a great home base to get ourselves oriented again.
The long corridor that was like being back in a mall in the 80’s, so nostalgic and fun!
The view from the second floor was tropical and twinkling. Below, two notable stores – Starbucks and Godiva, both not to be missed.
The Trans Siberian Orchestra light rocking Christmas tree. It was pretty impressive and a nice break to watch, listen and enjoy at the Tropicana Holiday Light Show with daily shows until January 3, 2016 will be presented every hour on the hour starting at noon. Families will love the stunning holiday décor and music, with the marvelous 35-foot tree in the center of it all. Plus, they’re bringing the wonder of the holiday season to Tropicana’s Multimedia Light and Sound Show on the boardwalk with a free holiday-themed light and sound show playing daily.
On the agenda for dinner that night was Carmine’s Italian family style restaurant.
With locations all over the place including the Bahamas, there is a sister restaurant only in NYC which we now of course want to check out asap. And with a bread basket this big with great selection, we knew we were in for a treat.
We started with the Chardonnay which was buttery and creamy, an excellent suggested choice for the upcoming appetizers.
This is what we want all salads to look like with thick, meaty portabella mushrooms on top and tons of spinach. And it was huge!
Baked clams meant for two but was eaten by one (we’re not saying who) but this little piggy went to town. Slightly salty, certainly buttery and crispy tops make for a great treat.
Back to bubbles, we went with this suggested Lambrusco, a slight red prosecco that was sweet and tart at the same time. Since the tannins in red wine usually produce a pounding headache, this was a close compromise to a rose.
Lucy, our lovely waitress for the night, suggested this wine with utter confidence we would like it. as she carefully pops the cork.
And with the looks of things (and then taste), she was certainly right. A new wine to put on the Christmas list for someone special!
For the gang of teetotalers, there’s the pineapple julep which was sweet, savory and refreshing.
The golden rule is as soon as you leave for the restroom, the food comes. We tested this theory, and of course were not surprised at its arrival. What blew us away though was the sheer size of the platters! Family style indeed, this could have fed four easily. The Porterhouse with peppers and onions was cooked perfectly at chef’s suggestion (always the best way to go with steak)!
And for the vegetarians (or vegans, they actually have a whole separate menu for that), Giardiniera pasta full of veggies and so creamy tasty, it would satisfy any meat eater. We literally had to box most of it up to save room for dessert, which was even more tempting and hard to choose.
We opted not to order the Titanic ice cream because it was literally the size of a ship – and we were on a schedule. Otherwise, we may have indulged.
So onto the chocolate cannoli we went, which was lined in chocolate and dipped into pistachio peanuts – in a choice of 3 or 6. We barely fit one in!
Strawberry shortcake with marbled chocolate slices was a mile high of yuminess. The cream balanced out the sweet sauce and shortcake nicely. After stuffing our faces, the lovely Lucy suggested an aperitif to finish the meal and we took it to go, it tasted just like almonds and honey – Frangelico.
Then we went to go see the Magic Men show, because it’s a girls weekend, naturally…
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Of course there were military men… with their shirts off and one lucky lady on stage who got a ton of attention from the fellas.
This lady in front of us was shoving dollar bills down the “beefcake” guy’s undies.
And the lady behind us also got molested. Apparently having a camera is a love/hate situation.
Up next were the military men in white. The ladies were generally well-behaved…
Until these guys start taking their clothes off. We swore there was going to be hair-pulling fistfight between the ladies in front of us who kept standing up and blocking the ladies behind us views. Don’t mess with ladies night and half naked men!
Of course, they had to throw in some 50 Shades of Grey which drove the women mad.
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And one lucky lady got some special treatment behind the red light screen, although we ran into her later and she didn’t see anything new back there!
After getting the ladies all riled up in a tizzy, it was intermission time. For only $20, ladies lined up to get molested for a couple minutes each.
Some were more into it like the lady on the left and others seemed to be running away like the lady on the right. That’s a lot of beefcake to deal with at once!
Ending the show with Gladiators swinging their swords around was excellent and all screaming women seemed to agree. Or maybe it was the bars placed in the theater to keep ’em liquored up and loud?
Beefcake is back for more at the very end when he rounds up the ladies for another opportunity to pay $20 to get molested by the meaty men.
To the newest spot in the casino Tango’s we went next to discuss our favorite parts of the show and have some girl time.
We hunkered down in the comfy leather chairs and watched people of all ages form a small dance spot near the doors and have fun.
Bubbles were in order after seeing such an entertaining show and a glass of chardonnay. Other options included craft cocktails and a decent beer menu.
We head over to Boogie Nights and look who’s there! It’s the Magic Men guys, ready for round two apparently.
Soon they were taking their shirts off and women were in a mosh pit just to see and/or touch those washboard abs. We tried to get a photo but nearly got mauled in the process!
This 80’s lady dancer kept things groovin’ on the platform. Boogie Nights is a nice mix of people of all ages, races, creeds and colors. Not to mention the medley of eras that kept people grooving all night long!
Taking the good elevator down in the morning, we couldn’t wait to get outside on an unusually warm December day and put our toes in the sand one more time this year.
The boardwalk was mellow and picturesque, unlike the usual busy buss of summertime.
Tropicana looks lovely from the beach and reminds us why it’s a good choice for a AC casino all over again. Beachfront is prime property in our book, being beach bums and all.
One last view of the beach and the seagull staring back at us before we go. See you in 2016, Atlantic City! And as usual, we’re pretty sure we did AC well.

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