We were just in A.C. for a college basketball tournament, to cheer on my MSU Spartans. While in the East Coast gambling mecca, we hit a couple of the well-promoted family holiday events. Here's my quick take on what we saw:
The Tropicana indoor snowfall (every 15 minutes) was underwhelming, but the kids liked it. The Trop's holiday light show (supposedly the largest light show in the tri-state area) was, um, pretty lame. The blinking lights on the giant tree are set to music barely audible inside the busy Tropicana Quarter. The light action was repetitive, redudant, repeated itself and generally just keep doing the same thing. Yeah, kinda like that. There was also a trio of performers, singing and moving like music box figurines (kinda like that scene in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang). Other than the fact that the toy soldier on the left freaked me out in a there's-no-way-my-kid-is-standing-near-him-for-a-picture-kinda-way, it was an okay show.
It's all free at the Tropicana, so there's no real downside (expect the long walk through the smokey casino floor to get to the Quarter from the boardwalk), but I'd recommend spending more time at the sandy beach alcoves on the 3rd floor of the Pier at Caesar's then catching the impressive water show there (also free). Hop one of the hand-pushed rickshaws and treat your kids to an enclosed ride down the boardwalk (Caesar's to the Trop is a long walk for little legs - the ride should cost you $10-12).
Yeah, the Caesar's Pier has about 15 sandy beach cutouts on the south side of the building, each complete with 6 white Adirondack chairs. Kids (and adults) can take off their shoes and socks and sink their feet into the cool sand, all while looking out over the beach, boardwalk and Atlantic Ocean. Very, very cool. All the pubs and restaurants are right behind ya up there, so grab a drink and a bite to eat while relaxing in the sand. The big, clean (and sparkly) bathrooms are nearby to clean up.
There is also an awesome candy store, just as you walk into the Pier from the 1st floor. Lots of crazy, not-often-seen confections in there. Your kids will love it!
Boardwalk Hall, where the tournament was held, proved a fantastic place to watch basketball with kids because there isn't really a bad seat in the smallish place nor is there one extremely far away from the action on the court. The venue provides an excellent chance to get close to the action. Five years ago, the Bear was in Boardwalk Hall for a Norah Jones concert. She was 5 months old at the time (the Bear, not Norah Jones) and the event was her 1st indoor concert...now she was back to see her 1st college basketball game. I'd never have guessed Atlantic City would be such a memorable place in the musical and sporting life of my 1st child.
It's sure to be the place where she losses her 1st hand of blackjack as well, but we've got a few years before that.