A longtime Las Vegas Strip fixture, the Diamond Inn Motel, has closed and is fenced off.
Diamond Inn opened in 1955, and is located across from Mandalay Bay, not far from the Las Vegas sign.
Rumors are the motel will be demolished, leaving the fate of Diamond Inn’s iconic pink elephant a giant question mark.
There are lots of misconceptions around the history of Diamond Inn Motel, some of it comes directly from the Diamond Inn Motel.
The motel’s Web site says the motel was built in 1940, which is false. There was a structure on the site built in 1940, but the motel was built and opened in 1955.
The official Web site also falsely claims the pink elephant “came from Disney World,” a complete fabrication.
We first learned about the closure of Diamond Inn Motel from a Twitter follower, who expressed our concerns about the elephant.
— Vital Vegas (@VitalVegas) October 24, 2023
The first mention we can find of the closure came from a great Twitter follow, Vintage Las Vegas.
Desert Isle Motel, aka Diamond Inn, 1964. The last independent, 50s-era motel on the Las Vegas Strip was recently closed, fenced off, and is being demolished. What happens to the pink elephant? pic.twitter.com/WWZ3bngZFN
— Vintage Las Vegas (@summacorp) October 23, 2023
Vintage Las Vegas also shared an image of the elephant statue when it stood at the Bagdad Inn. The motels had ownership in common, Arby and Ruth Alper.
The Diamond Inn Motel Web site says of the eye-catching elephant, “He used to trumpet loudly, but the noise caused some accidents. Because of that, the county made the owner take the sound mechanism out.”
Sounds like more elephant dung, but who knows.
The official site also says, “The Diamond Inn is still standing proud and operating with a profit after all these years…” So, probably best to take everything with a grain of salt.
Needless to say, the pink elephant has seen a lot over the decades, and it’s not in the best shape.
The owners ponied up for some repairs and a paint job in 2016.
We’d love to see the pink elephant saved, but it’s possible the statue will just fall apart when it’s removed.
The same thing happened with the Buck and Winnie statue at Harrah’s. While it was a sentimental favorite of cheese-lovers, it wasn’t salvageable (it was truly disgusting, actually), so out it went for good.
Then again, the pink elephant at Diamond Inn Motel has survived this long, against all odds, so maybe it will turn up again somewhere. While not a neon sign, perhaps the Neon Museum could intervene and ensure it finds another home.
That happened with the Golden Goose downtown. It was saved by the Stevens Brothers, who needed the block for Circa, and donated the vintage sign to Downtown Project (along with the Las Vegas Club’s baseball player) and was restored and put on display.
While elephants never forget, Las Vegas sometimes does, in its shark-like need to constantly move forward. Kitsch has its place, but it’s been overwhelmed by sports and superstar residencies and new and shiny in recent years.
The pink elephant is in the Library of Congress, for chrissakes.
We reached out to Diamond Inn Motel to see what’s next for the property, but we haven’t heard back yet.
Here’s hoping there’s an effort to save the pink elephant, rather than kitsching another classic Vegas icon goodbye.