The Sphere Experience (Las Vegas)

The Sphere Experience



3.4/5 Pros

  • Great screen and sound technology
  • Movie with great scenes Cons

  • First part of "Experience" not sufficiently scaled and well-organized
  • Catering in the Sphere poor
  • Movie closing with questionable message
  • Too expansive

I guess it is hard to argue against when one is stating that the Sphere in Las Vegas is currently the most exciting new concert venues in the world. The circular ball with all-around display has become one of the key icons of Sin City’s skyline. When my wife and I visited Sin City in late December 2023, it felt just too tempting to give the arena a try – primarily to satisfy our curiosity, but also to share our thoughts with you. At the time of visiting, there are scattered (U2) concert dates, but majorly, the venue is showing a movie specifically made for that technology, Postcards from Earth, as part of The Sphere Experience. This is also the show we visited.


Las Vegas Sphere – Location & Transport

The 2.3 billion USD Sphere is located right East of The Venetian, just a few steps away from the Las Vegas Boulevard / “The Strip”). There are several attractions in short walking and driving distance. The next Las Vegas Monorail station is Harrah’s & The LINQ. There is also a bus stop in front of the venue, EB Sands after Koval (bus line 203). If you arrive by car, you can also pre-purchase a spot at the onsite parking lot. However, the prices are extremely high (up to 75 USD lot parking, 100 USD valet), so that parking in one of the casino hotels and company parking is likely favorable.

There are two main entrances to the Sphere. One is directly from the Sphere Plaza. The majority of visitor is using a footbridge from The Venetian Resort. Sometimes, the Sphere is also referred to as The Sphere at the Venetian Resort.


Las Vegas Sphere – Arena & Ticket Situation

Especially when the large outside screens of the Sphere are showing a smiley looking at you, you just have to love the building. Within that structure, there is an 18,600 spectators venue, split into four levels. The entrance level is equivalent to the level of the block 100 seats, which are currently not used for Postcards From Earth. Also some of the very outer seats in the upper ranks (blocks 200 to 400) are not sold for that show. The logistics within the venue is very good and even though we “just” had seats in block 305, the comfort is fine, even for my body size. Having said that, the stairs as well as the whole venue are extremely steep. I neither want to be in the Sphere when the escalators are not running or when you have to evacuate it for whatever reason.

Apart from a very new sound system, the key feature of the Sphere is the large, curved screen, which you might a bit of jokingly call a “Super-IMAX” experience. In contrast to a pure Odeon, there is also the possibility to have a stage on the ground level. I feel that in that case, the very low block 100 options are a great (likely: damn expansive) option. I am not sure if I would enjoy a concert from the steep angle you had from our seats. It would likely somehow feel like being in the very upper balcony ranks of a good, old British theater. Unfortunately, the screen had quite some issues. It is not too bothering that there is a green hot pixel somewhere, which is very often quoted. But parts of the screen on the upper right side did not operate well and flickered the majority of the show. Even if you don’t focus on it, you recognize it in the corner of your view. I felt that to be very disturbing.


Ticket Situation for The Sphere Experience

My review is only based on the The Sphere Experience. It does not cover the U2 shows, which might be more difficult to get tickets for, even though the prices are likely higher. The Postcards From Earth shows do not sell out the venue at all. However, as far as I heard, the up to four shows per day (staggered in 2:30 hrs time slots) typically have an attendance of 4,000 to 5,000 people (each – not per day!). Thus, if you don’t want to be on one of the very fancy seats in the 200 ranks, you can decide for a visit rather short notice. The ticket prices are rather high, though. Our tickets were 169 USD each, including all taxes and fees. Better tickets are about 249 USD – and of course, there are more posh VIP options as well.


Las Vegas Sphere – Food & Shopping

The whole catering and hospitality aspect of the Sphere was likely the most disappointing point about Las Vegas’ new venue. We checked out a steak sandwich (which was named a torta, but finally was a sandwich…), which really did look nice, but was an absolutely weak experience, regarding the price of 19 USD (plus tax, of course – and they even ask for tip at a self-service). The sandwich was very dry and somehow starchy and could not keep up with lovely arena sandwiches I had in other US places. I went for street tacos, which were better, but definitely not a treat as well. Another key issue was that The Sphere Experience is keeping you on the lower level, where the interactive show elements are located (see below). However, this level does not at all have any tables or benches, where you can place your food and eat it. We just made use of a catering booth, which is not in use for that experience. No idea how to consume your bite when U2 is around. A weird additional fact was that the straw was too short for the drink size.

One thing I was really surprised about was that there was hardly any merchandise. On the seating levels upstairs, there was one booth with a few items. After the show, there is hardly any opportunity to grab a shirt and show off with it once you are back at work. Due to the very short rotation of the shows, they almost push you out of the arena to open it for the next shift. There might be a Sphere shop at the Venetian or at another location, though.


Las Vegas Sphere – The Sphere Experience

If you buy tickets for the The Sphere Experience, they tell you that you get an (almost?) two hour experience at the venue, a one hour interactive and immersive experience before the movie, followed by the movie. We had a show at noon – and I think the best way to illustrate what is really going on is describing our experience. First of all, the time ticketed is the time when the Sphere is opening the gates. As everybody is keen on that great pre-movie experience, the area in front of the gates is packed. Either you arrive there very early (and say farewell to the ones who just left the previous show) or you will be in the venue, depending on your position in the line, after five to fifteen minutes.

There are several robots in the venue you can talk to… In theory… Because there are just a couple of them and 4,000 to 5,000 people who want to have their experience in the same moment as you do. We were lucky that one of the avatar stations, which do a full 3D scan of you, was initially broken. Once it was fixed, we were quite in front of the line. After the scan, you receive a video by e-mail. I have to say that the quality is poor, there is no augmented reality, no movement or similar in it as well. Finally, we agreed that the best use of the one our pre-movie experience is to check out the food… Which was not a great experience as well. As the movie is kicking off right in time, i.e. in our case at 13:00, you will also dedicate some of that first hour to get to your seat, sit down and wait for the show.


Postcards from Earth Movie and Screen Experience

After all the negative thoughts, there is the show as such. The story is roughly that you get introduced to two main characters, who have been put into a deep sleep something. At the beginning, you don’t know the story, but finally, it is that our planet has been destroyed so much that we had to move to another one. The message behind that is a bit of questionable. I feel that there are more straight-forward and realistic scenarios to solve climate crisis. While the first minutes of the movie just run on a rather small, square section of the screen, the majority is using the full size of the bowl. In regards of screen quality, watching experience and also in regards of sound, the Sphere is amazing.

The movie is full of great pictures and impressions. I definitely enjoyed watching it. Having said that, the total duration of the movie, excluding credits, is some 48 minutes. Even if I add some minutes for credits, this means that your two hour experience advertised is finally burning down to a some 50 minute movie experience in excellent quality. As you see in some pictures, sometimes, straight lines like buildings turn into curves just due to the way the screen is made up. This did not harm my visit.


Las Vegas Sphere – Service

We had quite a lot of things on our Vegas bucket list and thus went to the show short notice. The staff and the ticket sales were very nice. It is a bit of strange that even if you are at the venue, they sent you the ticket as a text message to your mobile (this is also working with foreign phones), which is prolonging the purchase unnecessarily compared to a good, old paper ticket. WiFi is working well in the arena. Both of my German mobile phone connections I ran at that time struggled to get access to mobile network in the arena, though. The main one was fixed to AT&T and hardly worked inside the Sphere at all, which the second one, being flexible, also just had scattered reception.

I already wrote above that the post-show experience is rather made to get the people out of the venue quickly. You have to state that at least regarding the level of people who typically attend the show, this is rather well organized and works very effectively. You might not end up with the best possible direction for you, though. The toilets were sometimes a bit of hard to spot. Furthermore, the bathrooms were too dark.


Las Vegas Sphere / The Sphere Experience – My View

People are buying thousands of tickets each day for the Sphere. I did so as well. I have to say, I am not happy with that. Finally I paid over 150 USD for a 50 minute movie experience. The pre-show is not worth it, the catering definitely needs some adjustments. Even the flickering parts of the screen are just not what I would expect from an experience priced and marketed like that. The Sphere has quite a potential, but I am not sure whether it is really worth it in a long-term. Do you rather look at the screen or at the stage when you attend a concert there? Currently, the venue is the star of your visit. You made it there. You can tell it to your friends. And you see a nice movie with a very questionable message there (would Vegas be the right place to state that we have to care for the environment, though?). If you are interested in the technology and experience, I would suggest a visit. Otherwise, it is not a good value for money, even in Las Vegas relations, in my point of view. in Las Vegas

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