Atlantic City is the Place to Be!
After nearly two years of being down to only seven casinos, Atlantic City is once again making history. Only this time it is not about casino closings, but casino openings. The new lucky (we hope) number of casinos in town starting now is nine. This post will tell you a little about the two latest additions to the Atlantic City casino scene and and more specifically, what you can look forward to at each if you decide to go there opening weekend.
Now that both Hard Rock and Ocean Resort Casinos have received their licenses from the Casino Control Commission and passed Monday’s and Tuesday’s “soft opening” with flying colors, they are both good to go. In other words, nothing can get in the way of the grand opening festivities that both casinos have planned for Thursday, June 28. So whatever else you may have on the day’s schedule, do try to set some time aside to visit Atlantic City and check out the two new casinos. Starting June 28, Atlantic City is the place to be!
Best Bets for Opening Day at Hard Rock and Ocean Resort Casino, Atlantic City
As mentioned in my post last week, the traffic is going to be terrible and the crowds are going to be ridiculous. So plan accordingly. Eat before you leave home, wear comfortable attire and sensible shoes, and leave for Atlantic City early.
Fortunately, the two casinos are within close walking distance of each other, so if you want to visit both, by all means do so. Hard Rock’s address is 1000 Boardwalk, and Ocean Resort’s address is 500 Boardwalk.
Make your first stop the Hard Rock LIVE Mark Etess Theater. Arrive shortly before 11 a.m. and you’ll be just in time for the guitar smashing opening ceremony.
The rest of the day and evening will be free to spend as you please. One attraction, of course, but at this casino resort far from the only way to spend your time, is the casino floor, where you can happily choose from 2,100 slots and 120 table games.
No, there won’t be any sportsbook open at Hard Rock–at least not yet, so you will have to walk over to Ocean Resort Casino or take the jitney to the Borgata. But with all the other activity and excitement going on right there at Hard Rock, you might prefer to just stay there and enjoy it.
When you feel like taking a break from the slots or gaming tables, take a walk around the resort and enjoy some of the other great amenities it has to offer, like its restaurants and lounges, and the Rock Shop, Rock Spa & Salon, and Body Rock Fitness Center. And the Sugar Factory with a floor-to-ceiling candy wall is perfect for families with kids.
But also keep one eye on your watch so you won’t miss the fireworks that start on the Boardwalk outside Hard Rock at 10 p.m.
Hard Rock has eateries for every taste preference and price range, so you have plenty of options. But with the opening day crowds being what they are, I suggest eating during an off hour, if possible. Of course, if you have your heart set on one of the fine dining establishments, your best bet is to make a reservation beforehand.
Here are some of your options:
- Il Mulino – Trump Taj Mahal players will be delighted to welcome back this fine this fine Italian restaurant.
- Kuro – Japanese food
- Song – Chinese food
- Council Oak Fish – Like the name suggests, seafood is king at this place. With not only some of the freshest fish in Atlantic City, but a music lounge, wine tasting room, open kitchen, and beach views, what more could you possibly want from a restaurant?
- Hard Rock Café – Unlike the other restaurants at the Taj, Hard Rock Café remained open even after the casino closed. The restaurant did have to close for a while for renovations later, but now it’s back bigger and better than ever. The new 400-seat restaurant features both indoor and outdoor live music stages and panoramic ocean views.
In fact, there will be lots of music entertainment on the menu all weekend long, and it’s free, too. So check the entertainment schedule below and time your visit to the Hard Rock Café so you can eat heartily and be happily entertained at the same time.
- Fresh Harvest Buffet
- YOUYU Noodle Bar – In Chinese, this word means the hope for good things in life, and “yu” by itself means delightful.
Opening weekend entertainment
Hard Rock Atlantic City has promised no less than 300 nights of entertainment during its first year. But on opening day, no need to wait till the sun goes down. The music starts at noon!
- 12 p.m. Lobby Bar – Johnny O
- 1 p.m. Hard Rock Café Boardwalk Stage – Song Blast
- 1 p.m. Beach Bar – Smashed Band
- 3:30 p.m. Lobby Bar – Nicole Henry
- 4 p.m. Hard Rock Café Boardwalk Stage – Jerry Blavat
- 6 p.m. Lobby Bar – Matt Giraud
- 7 p.m. Lobby Bar – Spencer Battiest
- 8 p.m. Beach Bar – Quinn
- 9 p.m. Hard Rock Café Boardwalk Stage – Phil Sendek
- 9:30 p.m. Council Oaks Lounge – Nick Fradiani (American Idol winner)
- 9:30 p.m. Lobby Bar – Groove Marmalade
- 10 p.m. Hard Rock Café – Frankie Moreno
Similar free lounge entertainment will be available for those visiting the property over the weekend. You can check the scheduled lineup here.
However, the free entertainment is only the beginning. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, starting at 10 p.m., DAER Nightclub will also be rocking. Michael B. Jordan gets the party started on Thursday and Tiesto will keep it going Friday, followed by Ludacris on Sunday.
The casino also spared no expense in bringing in two major headliners to the Hard Rock LIVE Mark Etess Arena. Carrie Underwood will take the stage at 8 p.m. Friday night and Pitbull will do likewise at 8 p.m. Saturday night. The Carrie Underwood show is reportedly sold out, but maybe if you’re a big player or know someone who is, you can still get a ticket. At this late date, any tickets that are still available at the box office for either show will be top price.
Ocean Resort Casino
The Ocean Resort Casino grand opening is supposed to officially get underway at 1 p.m., two hours after the Hard Rock guitar smashing. As for what the special festivities will consist of, I can’t tell you because no one told me. In other words, you won’t find out till you get there and, hopefully, are pleasantly surprised.
On the other hand, if one of the reasons for your visit is to try your luck in the casino, this could really be your lucky day. But wiith 2,000 slot machines, more than 100 table games, eight poker tables, plus sports betting, how do you decide what to play first?
By the way, offering sports betting has been high on this casino’s priorities for a long time, and that’s why Ocean Resort Casino is able to offer this option sooner rather than later. As of this writing, the Borgata is the only other Atlantic City casino which is currently taking sports bets, although probably not for long, with football season almost around the corner.
Meanwhile, Ocean Resort Casino has partnered with William Hill to offer a brand new 7,500 square-foot state-of-the art sportsbook. It should be ready in about six weeks, but in the interim, starting June 28, in fact, sports betting will be available instead at a temporary location
Ocean Resort Casino doesn’t have quite as many restaurants as Hard Rock, but guests still have a good number of choices, like all of these.
Upscale dining (reservations are necessary)
- Amada – Jose Garces’ famous restaurant for Spanish cuisine
- American Cut – Marc Forgione’s steakhouse
- Dolce Mare – Italian cuisine
- Café 500 – open 24/7
- Wahlburgers – the burger chain owned by the Wahlberg brothers
- Distrito – Tacos and other Mexican street food
- Sky Café – for lunch or dinner on the pool deck or overlooking the ocean
- Villain & Saint – food served up with rock ‘n’ roll
- Zhen Bang – for noodles and sushi
Opening weekend entertainment
According to the Press of Atlantic City, actor comedian, and TV personality Jamie Foxx, will be hosting the festivities. In addition, assorted big name DJs and rappers will be performing throughout the weekend at HQ2 Nightclub and Beachclub. On Friday, June 29 Diplo will be the main attraction, followed by Jermaine Dupri and Kaskade on Saturday, and the duo Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano on Sunday.