Saturday, May 12, 2018

Around the World in 80 Minutes

One of the bigger draws in our neck of the woods is about 15 miles away, but it might as well be 1000.  Around here, most things go just a little slower.  The banks still have banker's hours, and most of the town shuts down by 10pm.  The contrast of Winstar World Casino and Resort is a bit stark, to say the least.

When you look at it, it stands out, impressive against the backdrop.  Turn your head in one direction and there is Thackerville, a tiny Oklahoma border town, turn it the other way and you there is the whole world looking back!  Winstar World Casino is the largest casino in the whole world.  Including Vegas.  It is a giant loop of casino and resort that is divided up into different regions of the world as you walk along.  You can go from New York to Italy to Beijing in steps, not flights.

Years ago, before the casino was built, people in the small towns around here thought of Thackerville as the backwoods.  People in a town with 2 stop lights used to joke about them as being "small town".  At some point, however, developers started buying up large chunks of land, which shot up all kinds of flares in a place where everyone knows everything that goes on in the area, or so they thought.
At first nobody knew what to think for sure, though, because of confidentiality agreements and corporate land grabs.  Rumors circled, and the leading one was that Disney was the purchaser.  A small tie to one of the purchases linked back to a company that was owned by the mouse, and the fire was started.  Everyone was blown away by the thought of middle America Disneyverse.  Then suddenly... nothing.  The rumors faded away, and life moved on as things seemed to stop moving with the Thackerville mystery project.  Years passed and people forgot about the project as kids grew up and they had kids, and football seasons came and went.  Then all of a sudden, there was construction.  Big construction.  In a whirlwind, there were buildings going as fast as they could be built.  Mostly like big circus tents at first, then replaced by more permanent structures.

What they thought would be a playground for families became, well, actually a playground for families.  They built a casino for sure, but there were giant park like pools, and a coliseum style venue where you would have once expected a banjo to be played that now housed performances from the likes of Hall & Oates, Willie Nelson, Lil' Wayne, and Weezer.  There are all kinds of restaurants to enjoy and tons of activities.  As I've mentioned in previous blogs, I love seeing live music, so having a world class act performing minutes from our front door is as my kids say, pretty awesome.

Winstar is always a lot of fun for us to visit in our downtime, and our guests always come back with great stories.  People watching is for sure a guilty pleasure I indulge in and if you do too, there are few places you can see such a varied amount of people in one place.  I have seen grannys in zany t-shirts sitting next to gentlemen in 3 piece suits.  The Bond-like juxtaposition to the mob-mom from the Goonies on vacay at the slots is something to behold for sure!