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Lasvegasstriplvcva_6Animatronic dragons, volcanoes that erupt on a dime, fountains that dance to music, satin-clad female pirates doing battle and trapeze artists under the big top are some of the fascinating free sights in and among all the Las Vegas hotels on the Strip.

The Fall of Atlantis is an animatronic wonder in Caesars Palace‘s Forum Shops, the most successful shopping mall per square foot in the world. The Fall starts at 10 a.m. and goes throughout the day, portraying the quandary of King Atlantis as he tries to decide which child will take his throne. At the other end of the mall, the Festival Fountain show features the animatronic portrayals of Bacchus, Venus, Apollo and Pluto in learned and humorous discussion.

The dancing waters in the man-made lake in front of the Bellagio are one of the most relaxing and pleasant sights of the Strip. With the precision of ballerinas and the jolting creativity of a Van Gogh, the fountains have been used as the backdrop for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of newlywed couples. They are also featured at the end of the movie remake, "Ocean’s Eleven."

What gets you about the volcano that erupts in front of the Mirage is that you know it’s just light-coloredwater that’s spewing out of the conical shape, but the heat from the fire can really be intense. There’s no narration to go along with the faux blast, it’s just something you have to stop and look at, knowing you’ll never see anything quite like it anywhere else in the world.

Then there are the pirates of Treasure Island, er … make that TI. Treasure Island was the name of the resort when Las Vegas was trying to be more Disney-fied. After a huge drop in tourism after 9/11, the city went back to its more adult roots and Treasure Island changed its name to the more urbane TI. Its pirate show also changed. Where before it had swashbucklers of the kind you might find in "Pirates of theCaribbean," now the white-washed ship is adorned with white-silk-clad maidens who do battle for the throngs of onlookers.

Perhaps the best thing about the freebies of Las Vegas is that, well, they are free. And in a town where you can lose your shirt in the time it takes to say "Las Vegas," that’s nothing to sniff about.

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