Archived News

Dynamite rotunda comes to life at Harrah’s Cherokee casino

fr rotundaHarrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel never had an entrance that made visitors stop and say wow — until now.

With a major $633-million renovation on its final leg, casino visitors are met by an impressive waterfall, soaring trees, a dazzling light and sound show, and a giant wrap-around movie screen in Harrah’s new rotunda.

The just-opened rotunda is considered the crown jewel of the expansion, and a must-see even for non-gamblers. The centerpiece of the rotunda is twin 68-foot waterfalls that cascade from the ceiling to a collection pool in the floor.

Brooks Robinson, general manager of the casino, called the waterfalls and the rotunda experience its “ambassador piece” — a tourist attraction unto itself, intended to rival any other casino’s key feature like the famous fountains outside the Bellagio in Vegas.

Wrapping behind the waterfalls, a massive, floating, spiral staircase leads up to the second floor.

Surrounding the staircase is a 140 foot-long LED screen. The screen plays 15 themed videos with synchronized lighting and audio. The mini-shows feature everything from an artistic retelling of the Cherokee origin story accompanied by what can only be described as epic music to let people know that something important is happen to a comical video of a squirrel using two North Carolina trout to water ski. Children can enter the rotunda, unlike the typical age limit for the rest of the casino since there is no gaming located in the entry hall.

Related Items

The synchronized lighting that moves with the videos and music emanates from eight 60-foot-tall tree columns decorating both the first and second floor of the rotunda. The trees are filled with more than 30,000 colored LED lights that are digitally programmed to create a multitude of programmed color combinations.

“They (the architects) really helped our vision come to life,” said Leeann Bridges, vice president of marketing at Harrah’s Casino and Hotel.

The rotunda is part of a larger casino renovation that includes new restaurants, shops and games. The $633-million remodel and expansion is a monumental attempt to change the face of Cherokee’s casino into a resort destination and draw a new demographic of gamer. Once complete, Harrah’s Casino and Hotel will have added a third tower of hotel rooms, a new entrance to the casino and a suite of new restaurants, dining spots, bars and lounges, including a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. It also did a major expansion of the gaming floors.

The project had 1,100 construction workers at its peak and 43 architects and interior designers.

Up the staircase of the rotunda to the second floor is the new World Series of Poker room, one of Harrah’s first introductions into table games since the passage of the gaming compact that allows for poker and other table games to be played at the casino.

And farther to the right, an old-style Italian café building, the restaurant Brio, juts out from the wall, breaking up the modernity of Harrah’s fresh new look. And, farther passed is a new ladies apparel store, Studio; a gift shop; and Sweet Stop, a candy store.

Leave a comment

Smokey Mountain News Logo
SUPPORT THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS AND
INDEPENDENT, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALISM
Go to top
Payment Information

/

At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.