The Luxor: The Dark Pyramid of Vegas
In the thick of the Las Vegas Strip stands an immense, glossy, jet-black pyramid. It is difficult to see inside through the opaque, onyx glass. The pyramid has no markings. At night, an eerie beam of bright, white light shoots skyward from the pyramid’s north point, visible for miles and miles beyond in any direction. In front, a lone sphinx reclines, a perpetual emptiness in its eyes. Taken in at once, the area is an uncanny reinterpretation of Ancient Egypt. It is a slice of a faraway era and desert placed in the midst of another desert. Even viewing it in photos can induce a feeling of uneasiness.
At the very front of the property, an obelisk inscribed “LUXOR” finally reveals the name of the property. The outwardly ominous appearance of the Luxor Las Vegas hotel and casino is no coincidence. Since its construction, the Luxor has been a magnet for strange, chaotic energy and tragic events: fights, terrorism, disease outbreaks, fatal accidents, suicides.
The History of the Luxor
The Luxor debuted on the Vegas Strip in October 1993 after only eighteen months of construction. At 30 stories, the Luxor pyramid is three-quarters the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza, its inspiration. The Luxor pyramid’s light beam is the strongest beam of light in the world, visible even to pilots flying hours away in southern California. Inside, its interiors are lined with murals and statues depicting Egyptian iconography, mirroring the strongly themed exterior. The resort is also home to the only full-scale reproduction of King Tut’s tomb outside of Egypt.
The hotel-casino was the creation of Circus Circus Enterprises. An early example of the short-lived “family friendly” era of Vegas, the Luxor was intended to be a resort aimed at children as much as adults. With an Egyptian theme and sleek design, the resort strived to appeal to both families seeking theme-park-like experiences, and wealthier clientele than the Circus Circus crowd.
Of course, in the wake of the string of deaths it’s dubiously, mysteriously caused, it’s darkly ironic to consider how family-oriented the Luxor was once designed to be.
The First Deaths: The Luxor’s Construction
William Bennett, then-CEO of Circus Circus Enterprises, was efficient. Too efficient. He managed to keep the Luxor’s opening costs low at ostensibly all costs. The Luxor’s initial costs were only $375 million, a number dwarfed by its rival and contemporary, The Mirage, which opened at $630 million.
However, Bennett’s financial efficiency did not come without another price tag: lives.
Construction wasn’t completed by the time the Luxor opened. As a result, some guests stayed in rooms that weren’t entirely finished. The hotel’s elevator system, called “inclinators”, due to how they follow the hotel’s slanted shape at a 39-degree angle, didn’t work correctly, either. Not long after opening, the building itself was literally sinking into a soft spot—which was highly uncommon for the typically hard desert floor.
It is quite likely that the resort’s construction was a rush job on a tight deadline that couldn’t be met. In the process, at least two construction workers “reportedly” (as it is believed that their deaths were covered up to protect the resort’s reputation) died. Some local sources suggest as many as seven workers perished in building the Luxor. Perhaps significantly due to the main pyramid’s steeply sloping shapes, the Luxor’s construction is considered to have been extremely difficult and dangerous. The resort’s construction may very well remain the most treacherous construction process in the history of the Strip.
The fallen workers have not gone completely forgotten, however. At times, especially in quiet parts of the hotel, the ghosts of the construction workers can be seen. When the Luxor’s Nile Riverboat ride was still operational, some guests claimed to have seen their ghosts roaming the tunnels.
They are far from the only paranormal presences within the complex.
Accidents and Suicides
Since its calamitous construction, the Luxor has been maligned with remarkably bad luck. More specifically, its guests, visitors, and employees have suffered.
In September 1996, just a few years after the Luxor’s opening, a woman jumped from the 26th story of the hotel, falling to her death. Immediately, the woman died from severe head injuries. Per Clark County’s Sgt. Bill Keeton: “it was over very quickly.”
Her injuries were so severe that she could not be readily identified, and she carried no identification on her. The woman landed by the old buffet’s entrance, which shortly after her death was completely, thoroughly cleared out and converted into a food court.
It’s never been made evident why the woman jumped. Her sadly very real death has become the stuff of morbid legend. Stories that she was a sex worker who, grieving a recent HIV diagnosis, killed herself, have proliferated in the decades since the woman’s death. Like the construction workers, her ghost is believed to haunt the 26th floor, as if, also like them, her spirit is trapped in the last place where she was alive.
This woman is not the only Luxor occupant to have fallen, intentionally or not, to her death. There have been at least a few other falls, such as a man falling to his death from the 10th floor. His death, unlike the woman’s, has never been ruled a suicide.
In May 2007, in the Luxor parking garage, a coffee cup was left atop the car of a 24-year-old Luxor food court employee. When the employee went to remove the cup, the cup exploded. A homemade explosive device was inside the cup. The employee died from shrapnel inside the bomb.
Two men were later convicted of creating and placing the bomb, but they didn’t know the victim. Furthermore, there was no apparent motive as to why they made or left the bomb.
In June 2010, in a suite at the Luxor, a former University of Nevada, Las Vegas football player, DeMario Reynolds, got into an altercation with Jason Sindelar, a mixed martial arts fighter. According to police, the two men were friends, but Sindelar and his girlfriend’s fighting fatally destroyed their friendship.
During a party, Sindelar and his girlfriend verbally fought in the Luxor suite. Reynolds intervened. He asked the MMA fighter to leave the party. Witnesses reported that Sindelar was highly drunk and angry. The fighter then attempted to grab his girlfriend by the throat and hit her.
Reynolds further intervened, trying to restrain the fighter in a “bear hug on the bathroom floor,” per one witness. After a short while, Reynolds let him go, and went into the main bedroom. Sindelar followed. Punches were exchanged. The first fight was broken up quickly. The fighter left the suite.
Unfortunately for Reynolds, the conflict didn’t end there.
Sindelar soon returned to the suite. He lunged at Reynolds and proceeded to strike him in the chest and head. The fighter pulled the other man to the floor, and continued to hit him relentlessly.
The fight was broken up again. Party attendees contacted security. By the time Reynolds was taken to Desert Springs Hospital, he’d already been brutalized too badly. He died from his injuries at the hospital.
Naturally, such fighting is woefully not unusual when alcohol and tempers come into play. But this fight, unlike the average intoxicated spat, abruptly ended in death.
If you recall the Luxor’s “inclinators” mentioned earlier, you remember that they are the odd, diagonal elevators at the resort. That detail is important, as even that aspect of the Luxor is seemingly cursed.
In 2012, an airman from Nellis Air Force Base got into a fight with a colleague in the first-floor lobby of the Luxor’s west tower. The colleague pushed the airman against an elevator door, which then inexplicably opened—despite no elevator compartment being present. The airman fell 25 feet down the empty shaft to the basement level. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition.
In the six years since the fall, there have seemingly been no clear updates on the man’s condition, other than some sources stating that he later died from his injuries.
As if the Luxor didn’t already have a history of troubling incidents, in 2012, the resort faced bacterial contamination that led to three hotel guests falling ill.
The Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ disease, was found in water samples at the Luxor after testing. Though the Luxor did respond appropriately, superheating and chlorinating the water system to kill the water-dwelling bacteria, this effort couldn’t save one guest, who died from the infection.
Worse, after the first two cases of Legionnaires were discovered, the Luxor’s water was tested, but no bacteria showed up on that test. This mysterious discrepancy likely allowed the bacteria to somehow go undetected long enough to later contaminate and kill the third affected guest.
There are a wide variety of theories as to why the Luxor has been the site of so much strife.
Perhaps the horrific events at the Luxor are in no small part due to the resort’s Egyptian theming.
The Luxor imported reproductions of ancient Egyptian artifacts from Egypt for its King Tut replica display. Touting truly traditional craftsmanship, the methods and materials used to create the replicas were the same as those in ancient Egypt. Unfortunately, this careful attention to detail and cultural importance did not extend to the rest of the property.
Per one common theory, the Luxor has been cursed for its inattention to ancient Egyptian beliefs. The Luxor only has one sphinx. Purportedly, having two sphinxes is essential to protect the pyramid, as is thought to be the case with the original Great Pyramid of Giza—there was likely another sphinx by it that was destroyed.
Most importantly, the shape of the pyramid is thought to inherently have mystical properties and possibly even attract dark energy. Unless an eye (or the shape of one) is one day placed at the top of the pyramid, the Luxor’s pyramid will supposedly remain cursed forever.
Further, guests of certain superstitious cultures have been reluctant to even enter the Luxor due to it being modeled after a tomb, which is thought to bring bad luck (not ideal when you’re seeking out a place to gamble) and morbidity.
The most popular theory as to why the Luxor is possibly cursed is rooted more in American history than mysticism. Where the Luxor now sits was once the site of a popular burial ground for mobsters’ victims, as it was, at the time, off the beaten path. As is common knowledge, a property built atop a graveyard never has good fortunes.
No matter what the explanation, the Luxor has been indisputably an epicenter of grievous incidents.
Visiting the Luxor
Despite its misfortunes, the Luxor is obviously still open, operational, and otherwise successful.
If you’re curious to see the Great Pyramid of Vegas in all of its glory in-the-flesh, you can visit the Luxor for yourself on the Strip. While you’re on the Strip, if you’d like to uncover much more of Vegas’s haunting, haunted history, consider joining our Vegas Ghosts tour experience.
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