Foxwoods was the very first casino I ever visited when I was first legally able to gamble. I found my way to what I thought was the casino with $60, nearly ran out of money playing quarter machines, and then got a hit that basically brought me even. I walked out shortly thereafter.
I quickly learned that I had only explored one small casino out of a number of them that the property had, and this preceded the expansions that would come in recent years.
Foxwoods is one of the largest resort-casino complexes in North America, starting out as a bingo hall and then transforming itself over the course of nearly 30 years into the megalith it is today.
Over the past few years, with gaming proliferating, they’ve been taking steps to try to diversify the options, including a zip line from the top of the Fox Tower, a drop tower, a 4-D movie theater and the addition of a Tanger Outlets shopping center. This is on top of a series of renovations that have happened to other spaces, including a new Bingo Hall (back where the Bingo Hall originally existed earlier in the property’s history), new gaming spaces and new expo space.
Many of the remodeling efforts finally begin to bring a touch of unity to a property that always felt like it was built in phases, with decor that felt disjointed as you went from one area to the next. This is still the case, although the more modern look and feel of many of the new areas help to blend things in a bit more.
But it’s the overall sprawl of the property that emphasizes the way it was built. The main core of the property revolves around a rectangle that connects the Bingo area and bus lobby, the Rainmaker Casino, the Grand Pequot Casino and hotel, and the Great Cedar casino and hotel. The Fox Tower and Tanger Outlets are newer additions; the outlets serve as a second connector between the Fox Tower area of the property and the Grand Pequot area. And now, they’ve announced yet another massive addition, this time a Great Wolf Lodge that will add another hotel and an indoor water complex.
Whereas Mohegan Sun seemed to work off a master plan that kept everything nearby, Foxwoods seems to have built out where it was convenient. Walking from Fox Tower to the Rainmaker garage can take 15-20 minutes. I can count on Foxwoods to get my step counts up.
That said, there are plenty of great things to be said about the property. The distinct gaming zones each have their own vibe, and so each player type can find a lot to like. Fox Tower seems to draw a younger crowd, Grand Pequot seems to draw the more die-hard players, and so on. Unlike Mohegan Sun where it’s two main (and massive) gaming areas, Foxwoods has more casino sections, which have also shifted around over the years (Festival Slots closed a few years ago for the Bingo Hall; a new gaming space opened in an old ballroom section, and so on).
While Foxwoods at one point had nearly 10,000 slot machines, it’s still among the larger facilities in the country with about 3,500 slot machines, as well as a lot of table game options across the property, video poker, keno and more. A modernization effort over the past few years has seen most of the older machines swapped out with newer machines, not unlike their competitor down the road.
Foxwoods has been in phases removing many of the oldest machines in each section and leaving just a few of them behind, in favor of newer, more modern machines and game types. This will put them in more favorable competition with the newer casinos.
One downside to the cutbacks at Foxwoods is some casino zones, and food options, are closing much earlier and more frequently than before. The amount of 24-hour facilities has shrunk dramatically in recent years, including places like Dunkin’ Donuts, which you would expect to be 24 hours.
Basically, food options become dire after 11 p.m., especially on weekdays, so keep that in mind if you’re going to be visiting for a late night stop or an overnight visit. Given the size of the property and the growth of competition, it’s understandable that things have to be balanced out, but there’s times that it feels like it went a bit too far.
Foxwoods is still a fun facility to visit, though, and if you’ve never been or haven’t been in awhile, you’ll find a lot of big changes have happened in recent years. It’s definitely a resort to check out if you find yourself in New England.