Could You Be Gil Grissom? CSI: The Experience in Las Vegas, NevadaSeptember 19, 2011 No Comments
If you have ever seen the TV show CSI or any of its incarnations, you may have wondered what it would be like to be a real-life crime scene investigator. Tracking clues, following evidence and discovering the truth behind some of the most puzzling cases of all time? Who wouldn’t want to try their hand? Now you can do just that in Sin City. At the MGM Grand Hotel on the famed Las Vegas Strip, CSI: The Experience takes visitors deep inside the world of forensic science. Can you solve the crime? Dad and I had the opportunity to do just that during our recent Las Vegas trip.
About CSI: The Experience
Originally created for the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History in 2007, CSI: The Experience toured the United States before settling in its permanent home at the MGM Grand Hotel. The exhibit was developed in full partnership with CBS, the television network that owns CSI, and characters and scenes from the franchise are prevalent throughout. However, the cases that visitors solve are brand-new, developed exclusively for the exhibit, so even rabid fans of the show will not be able to predict the outcome.
The experience offers three different cases from which to choose. Each case focuses on slightly different forensic techniques, although there is some overlap. As of 2011, a single case costs $30. Children under age 12 and military members pay $25. The attraction often runs specials allowing you to solve multiple cases at a discount. Coupons are sometimes available, so look through the various coupon books, available at all hotel concierge desks, before paying full price. CSI: The Experience is open daily from 10 to 10, with the last admission at 9.
Dad and I arrived at the attraction around 4 pm. The three available cases were listed on one wall along with a few details about each. After a bit of deliberation, we selected “A House Collided.” We were given clipboards and pencils along with a printed sheet of questions to answer at each station. After a few minutes’ wait, we entered a small theater with several other groups of visitors.
In the short film, CSI creator Anthony E. Zuiker explained a bit about the TV show and forensic scientist Ron Singer explained a bit about the science of crime scene investigation. Then lead character Gil Grissom took over to explain our mission. We would be responsible for performing various CSI tasks to solve our crime and reporting our results directly to him.
When the film ended, we headed directly to the crime scene for our case. Each case is color-coded and numbered, making it easy to find the relevant stations. The premise for “A House Collided” is that a car has crashed through the wall of a suburban home. The driver is dead, but was it really the crash that killed him? Who was he, anyway?
As Grissom stresses throughout the attraction, “the dead cannot speak for themselves.” Our goal was to follow the evidence and avoid jumping to conclusions. At the crime scene, our printed sheet instructed us to sketch everything we saw. It was easy to feel like a real investigator as we carefully examined the scene, paying particular attention to things that seemed out of place.
Our next stop was a station with crime scene photos. That gave us the chance to compare our drawings to the detailed photos to see if we missed anything important. Then we were off to the labs, where we analyzed a wide variety of evidence found at the scene, from blood spatter patterns to shoeprints.
Each station was extremely realistic, filled with exactly the sorts of scientific equipment that would be found in a real CSI lab. At each station, we interacted with a touch screen computer or other simple equipment to solve a portion of the puzzle. Employees were on hand to point confused visitors in the right direction, but they would not supply answers or give more than the vaguest of clues.
After visiting all the stations and solving all the puzzles, it was time to give our report to Grissom. A large bank of computers sat in the center of the room. The first step was to log in, using the investigator ID number printed at the top of the questionnaire. Then we entered all of our data. At each step, we were asked to formulate a conclusion based on the data we had. The last step was putting it all together, determining the details about the dead man and the circumstances of death.
We both successfully solved the case, earning our CSI diplomas. The diplomas were sent to our email addresses free of charge, although the gift shop offered framed copies for a fee.
Tips for Parents
The attraction is officially recommended for kids aged 12 and over. The puzzles are somewhat complicated and there is a lot of reading involved. However, many families with younger children thoroughly enjoy a visit. The younger your kids are, the more help you may need to provide, but the experience is set up in a way that makes this easy to do.
Of course, crime scene investigation deals with sensitive topics such as murder and drug use. But CSI: The Experience handles these things in a scientific manner with no sensationalism. If you allow your children to watch the TV show, there is no reason not to allow them to try the attraction.
The official website offers a downloadable Family Forensics Guide. Filled with CSI-style activities to try at home, the guide shows kids what to expect and helps build excitement for the experience. Download the guide well in advance of your trip, as some of the activities are a bit messy and not necessarily easy to do in a hotel room.
The computerized system is fail-safe. If you get something wrong, the computer directs you to go back and try again. This ensures that everyone is ultimately a winner and creates an experience that is fun rather than stressful.
We spent approximately two hours exploring the attraction in detail, checking out the equipment and watching clips from the show. If you focus solely on solving the case, it may take as little as an hour or so.