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Loads of Entertainment at MPI Conference

August 1, 2001, 12:00 AM EDT

Meeting Professionals International World Education Congress opening night networking party Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas Sunday, 07.22.01
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Todd Walton, the director of special events at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, and his special events team pulled out all the stops for the networking event on the opening night of Meeting Professionals International (MPI)'s World Education Congress in Las Vegas.

Held in the hotel's beach club, the event was just one of the more than 20 million-dollar events that Walton orchestrates each year, and it included a smorgasbord of sights, sounds and experiences for the more than 3,000 attendees. With more than 120 entertainers, 50 managers and at least 200 waiters and staffers, the club was turned into a 12-ring circus, and even included a beachy decor scheme, complete with sand and waves.

The event started when 18 buses arrived from the Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino at a special entrance to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, where guests were greeted by two blond Fabio look-alikes. Then Mandalay Bay mascots “the Bird Girls” arrived holding live cockatoos to lead the crowd onto the indoor beach.

The hotel's beach area was filled with entertainment, food and drink. MPI members were treated to Rama the Glass Eater, the King Charles Troop Unicycle Group, stiltwalkers, psychic readings, musicians, contortionists, Zamora the Torture King, a midway arcade filled with prizes to take home and a barrel organ player. Entertainment was supplied by Maria Battaglia's Always Entertaining Inc. (which handled more than 70 of the 100 entertainers), Orion Productions and Las Vegas Models and Entertainment.

The event's main entertainment was a live concert on the beach by Hall & Oates (presented by House of Blues - Las Vegas). Everyone gathered on Mandalay Bay's sandy beach, sitting on hundreds of plastic inflatable chairs and wading into the water to watch the band's performance, which was followed by a laser light show finale from YLS Entertainment and Light America, fireworks from Pyritz Pyrotechnics and the Desert Mermaids synchronized swimmers (from Orion).

And just when guests thought it was over, the House of Blues gospel choir surprised everyone with a performance on the way out, and as guests left the building, a pajama-clad group of performers lay sleeping on the floor--evidently a performance art-style way to say “good-bye and good-night.”

--David Adler

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