Last month, when we were in Las Vegas, we had an opportunity to tour Wayne Newton's estate, and I don't even know where to begin. I mean, I could tell you about all of it, but trust me when I say that you really have to see it for yourself. It's a really fun and fascinating way to spend an afternoon in Sin City.
I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about everything that the tour includes, because, honestly, part of the fun of visiting Casa de Shenandoah is having those moments when you find yourself face to face with something that seems completely improbable and as the tour guide verifies what you're seeing with an explanation, you just have to say, "Wait. What?"
So, let's just cover some of the basics in broad strokes, and then you can just trust me that there's a whole lot more on the actual tour.
Your visit will start in the visitor center across the street from the estate, where you'll have your option of choosing a couple of tours--one just includes the three-bedroom mansion, but you're going to want to splurge for the Platinum ticket, which includes tours of the grounds and museum.
In the visitor center, you begin your visit by watching a brief film about Wayne Newton's career, his passions, and his home. The opening sequence, with a digital bald eagle soaring over the Las Vegas strip before landing in Wayne Newton's driveway, is a little over-the-top, I'll admit. But then again, we're talking about Mr. Las Vegas, here. The rest of the film really does a great job giving you a new appreciation of Wayne Newton's talent, his pride in his Native American heritage, and his devotion to charitable causes and serving our nation's veterans.
After the film, you'll get on a little shuttle bus and go through the gates to the estate. We started off in the stables, where Newton's prize-winning Arabian horses are bred and trained. The horses were gorgeous animals, and our guide gave a really informative tour of the stable. We also learned that whenever a new colt is born at Casa de Shenandoah, Wayne Newton is there so that he can personally cuddle the baby horse while he sings to it. To heck with bonding with its mother. These horses bond with Wayne Newton, himself!
Horses aren't the only animals at Casa de Shenandoah, though. They have other animals, too, like African crowned cranes, rabbits, two different kinds of wallaby, many different kinds of parrots, a donkey named "Donkey Schoen", a monkey that paints abstract art (which they'll sell to you in the gift shop), a chihuahua (which belongs to the monkey--yeah, the monkey has a pet), and about 50 terrifying peacocks that are perching on nearly every railing or ledge on the property. Apparently, they've tried (unsuccessfully) to contain the peacocks on the tennis court, but still, they're everywhere. Oh, and they have a penguin named Charlie. Just the one penguin, but they're trying to find other penguins to bring in so that they can breed it.
None of that is made up. I know you think that I'm making that up, but it's the honest truth.
When you get to the tour of the three-bedroom mansion, you quickly realize that Wayne Newton was a bit of a pack rat, and also an impulse shopper. Frequently, on the tour, the guide would point out an interesting or unusal piece of furniture and explain how Wayne Newton happened to be in India where he found a crystal snooker table sitting outdoors covered in bird poop, but he fell in love with it and just had to have it. So he brought it home. But that "he had to have it, so he brought it home" bit is a sort of a theme to the tour.
The house was built in 1974, and it really hasn't been renovated or redecorated since then, though they did board up the chute in the panic room that could take people off-property in the event that criminals or other enemies of Wayne Newton somehow managed to infiltrate the gated compound. His tastes are extravagant and eclectic--he's got a Renoir on the walls, along with paintings by Red Skelton and Margaret ("Big Eyes") Keane.
After touring the three bedroom mansion, we went to the museum, where you can see lots and lots and lots and LOTS of Wayne Newton's memorabilia. There are a million stories to go along with the eclectic collection, and the guide really seemed to relish the opportunity to share those stories with us. You can also tour Wayne Newton's private plane, which had to be decommissioned when a change in aviation regulations grounded the aircraft in Detroit. Without new engines, the plane couldn't fly. The plane sat in a hangar in Detroit for a few years until Wayne Newton had it disassembled, put on the back of a flatbed truck, and had the pieces shipped to Las Vegas, where the plane was re-assembled on a slab of pavement that our guide dubbed, "the world's shortest runway."
You also get to see Wayne Newton's collection of classic automobiles, which are displayed next to a drum set that was a gift from Pearl Bailey's husband, a sofa that was used in the film, "Gone with the Wind" and a mannequin displaying a costume from the film, "The Great Caruso." None of it really makes any sense, as far as why the dress and the sofa and the cars and the drums are all in the same place, but by this point in the day, you've stopped trying to connect the dots. If you're a "linear" person, you might want to have a couple of drinks before taking the tour.
If you're planning a trip to Las Vegas, and you're looking for something fun to do that's "uniquely Las Vegas," this could definitely be the tour for you. I mean, I wrote this whole long post, and I still have stories that I'm telling to my friends about the tour that I didn't even include, here. So book this tour, and rest assured that you'll have some great stories to tell.
And, naturally, we'd be happy to help you put together a really fun Vegas vacation. We can package a tour of Wayne Newton's estate with airfare, hotel, shows, tours and outdoor activities to give you a crushingly awesome trip to Las Vegas. Just drop us a line to get us started!