My family was in search of something new and exciting to do on our trip to Las Vegas this summer. We stumbled upon the Neon Museum during our search for an outing. Read on for our experience at the Neon Museum Brilliant! show, along with some tips we wish we had known before our visit!
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What is Brilliant?
We really did not know what to expect from the Brilliant! show. It seems as though the Museum keeps an air of mystery about it so that people will be interested in watching. I will admit, their strategy worked with me!
Brilliant! is an outdoor show held in the North Gallery of the Neon Museum. The Brilliant! experience is completely separate from the Neon Bone Yard and therefore requires separate admission.
How do you get to the show?
You must be sure to purchase tickets to Brilliant! in advance. Show tickets are sold for small groups during specific time slots. We wanted to experience both the Brilliant! show and the Neon Boneyard, however we did not realize that early night shows would sell out so quickly. Our only semi-reasonable option was to go at 9:30 p.m. for Brilliant! since we were taking children with us. We did not do a daytime walk-through because temperatures were reaching 105 during the day.
When we checked in, we were given wristbands and the option to either wait outside or in the air-conditioned gift shop. Not to worry, a docent will run in to announce that your show time is about to start. There were some fun souvenirs sold in the gift shop. My personal favorite was a miniature “Welcome to Las Vegas” neon sign.
Once our scheduled time was up, docents rounded up everyone in the group and walked us across the parking lot to the North Gallery.
Everyone waited in quiet anticipation in front of tall gates, wondering what we would see on the other side.
What is the experience like?
Once the gates opened, we walked in and found several unlit signs arranged in a circle. There were two tall towers with benches wrapped around each one. We were asked not to take video or pictures until the Brilliant! show was done.
There was not enough room on the benches for everyone to sit. However, due to the nature of the show, I think it’s better to stand unless you really are unable to do so. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes as the show is about 30 minutes long.
The Neon Signs
To my surprise, a recording came on announcing that these signs were not functioning. I admit I was disappointed and previously under the impression that all of the signs lit up. However, music started to play, and then the magic happened.
It turns out that the two towers shine lights on the neon signs in such a way that they look as though they are restored to their former glory!
Some music plays and different scenes are flashed upon one of the neon signs.
The music, lights, and scenery give you the feeling that you are being transported back in time to the Vegas that your grandparents might have experienced in their youth.
The music and lights are crafted in such a way that you are taken to one sign at a time. You get to watch it dazzle and ponder upon how it might have looked back in the day.
My favorite signs were most definitely The Terribles and the Liberace neon piano. I have never seen these signs, and the music and light show for those two signs were especially entertaining in my opinion.
Once the show was over, we were given a few minutes to walk up close to the signs and take pictures. The kids really loved being able to get pictures with the signs.
Tips for enjoying the Show
- Go at night if you want to see some lit signs. There are over 200 signs in the Neon Boneyard. Only eleven of the 200 signs have been restored. This means that 11 signs are lit up the way that you would expect. Signs that have not been restored are lit up when special lights are flashed on them. These lights flash on the unrestored signs in a way that makes them appear as though they are lit up. My understanding is that it is very expensive to restore these signs. When you see how large some of these signs are, and the number of bulbs on each one, it’s not hard to see why.
- Buy tickets early! Tickets are released a month in advance of the show. My experience was that popular time slots vary based upon the season. For example, early night time slots fill up quickly in hot months.
- Get your discounted and combo tickets when possible! We were able to find some tickets via Groupon. There were options for both Brilliant! tickets, the Neon Boneyard, or a combo of the two.
- Take advantage of NARM benefits if applicable. The Neon Museum is a member of the North American Reciprocal Membership (NARM) program. Be sure to take advantage of this benefit if you are a member.
- Know when to go! Hot months: Go in the evening during hot months. Las Vegas gets incredibly hot during the summer months. It is the desert after all! When we were there, temperatures were as high as 105. It didn’t cool off too much more in the evening. The temperature was 100 degrees when we went to watch the show at 9:30pm. Cold months: Go to the show at the earlier times. It can get very cold.
- Take a car: I personally recommend either driving your own car or taking a cab. Although we enjoyed the museum experience, the area was a little dicey in my opinion. Especially if travelling with children, I would skip the bus and take a direct ride to and from the museum.
If you’re taking kids along:
- Consider your child’s temperament: If your child gets bored easily, or is extremely sensitive to temperatures, you might want to reconsider your visit with kids in tow.
- Take a night drive down the strip before you visit. This will get everyone excited for the visit to the museum and help the kids understand what you will be looking at, and why it is so exciting.
- Show kids some pictures of old Las Vegas. This will make the visit all the more interesting when they recognize some of the signs.
During show time:
- Be on time or risk missing your tour. When you purchase a ticket, it is essentially a guaranteed spot for a timed tour. There is a limited number of tickets for the show. Per the website, you forfeit your ticket if you are more than 20 minutes late for your tour.
- Don’t sit down during the Brilliant! show unless you have trouble standing. The show starts off focusing on one sign, then moves on to another, then another, etc. It goes around, back and forth. You want to be able to move around.
- You must be on a guided tour if you plan on visiting the Neon Boneyard at night. There is a separate Neon Boneyard where you can see signs (not part of Brilliant!). There is general admission for the Neon Boneyard during the day, where you can walk through on your own. Guests must be accompanied by a tour guide in the evening.
- History buffs in particular will love going to the Neon Museum. The Brilliant! Show is definitely focused upon the history of Las Vegas. My understanding is that tour guides at the Neon Boneyard also provide history while showing you around during night tours. I would personally love that, but am unsure how young children and people less enthusiastic about history would fare.
- Take pictures only at designated times. Visitors cannot video record during the show. You must wait until the Brilliant! show has concluded to take pictures. Pictures are allowed in the Neon Boneyard, however you must stay with your tour guide if it is during a night tour.
- Visit the gift shop. They have some fun items. The sign in the lobby is also fun to look at.
I hope that you have found this post informative and useful. I hope that you enjoy your visit to the Neon Museum!